How to Pet Proof Your Home and Yard

How to Pet Proof Your Home and Yard

Pet Proofing 101

As you may have guessed from our latest ad “Somebody to Love” we truly believe that a pet makes a house a home. Because our pets are so important to us ensuring they are safe is crucial. We reached out to our friends at HomeAdvisor to see if they had any tips to do so and as usual they came through with paw-sitively awesome advice.

When pet-proofing one’s home and yard, it is important to look at items from a pet’s standpoint and consider what things they are likely to play with, chew, or otherwise get into. If these items can hurt or even kill, then they should be removed or relocated into an area that the animal cannot access. Pet-proofing a home can take time and even some research so that it is done properly. Pet owners should also take into consideration the damage that a pet can cause to their personal belongings and take steps to prevent that as well. Ideally, pet-proofing should occur before bringing a new pet home; however, it can be done during a home improvement project or at any given time.

Bathrooms and Laundry Rooms

Toilet bowls are filled with water and often tempt pets to drink from them. This can cause a pet to drown, or it may poison them if toilet bowl cleaners are inside. The bathrooms and laundry room of a home are filled with a number of other items that are toxic to pets. Medications, both prescription and otherwise, are often kept in a bathroom, as are things such as bathroom cleaners, chemical drain openers, and deodorizers. Sharp items such as razors are also kept in bathrooms and can cut and seriously injure a pet that plays with or swallows them.

Laundry rooms are also a place where chemicals such as bleach and detergent are stored and regularly used. Fabric softener sheets may seem harmless; however, they are often impregnated with chemicals. Open dryers are tempting to pets that may climb inside to sleep, stay warm, or hide. This can be dangerous if the door is accidentally shut and the machine turned on.

  • Place any medications into a medicine cabinet and keep it closed.
  • Close the doors to the washing machine and dryer when not in use.
  • Check inside the washing machine and dryer before starting, particularly if it was left open and unattended.
  • Store laundry and bathroom cleaners and other chemicals inside of a cabinet. If a pet can nudge open a cabinet, use child locks or higher cabinets.
  • Close the lid to the toilet when not in use.

Living Rooms

In the living room, there are numerous items that are a threat to one’s pet. Unstable or top-heavy furniture can fall if jumped on or if bumped hard by a playful animal. Many types of potted house plants are known to be toxic if chewed or swallowed. The cords to drapery and window blinds are a choking hazard if they accidental loop around a pet’s neck, while electrical cords, if chewed on, can shock or electrocute one’s pet or start a fire.

paying the pet insurance

Certain items need to be protected so that pets do not damage or knock them over. Candles, for example, can either catch a pet’s tail on fire or may be knocked over and start a fire. Furniture and toys must also be protected, as they risk damage from chewing and scratching or they may cause a pet to choke. Certain items that contain batteries can be swallowed and will poison a pet or cause internal burns.

  • Move or cover cords and electrical wires so that they are not easily reached or cannot be chewed on.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Place a fire screen in front of fireplaces that are in use.
  • Keep a toy chest for children’s toys and put them away when they are not being played with.
  • Properly dispose of old batteries and keep all others in a closed drawer or cabinet.
  • Check what plants are and are not poisonous to the type of pet in the home. Only purchase plants that are not toxic.

Kitchens

Kitchens are an overall dangerous place for pets to be. Jumping pets have access to countertops and tables, while all animals can easily get to anything that’s within their reach, such as kitchen trash cans or food on the table. When it comes to threats, food is the most obvious culprit, as certain items, such as chocolate and raisins, are toxic while others represent a choking hazard.

Kitchen cleaners such as liquid soap and bleach are also poisonous. Curious animals may crawl into a small space under and around the refrigerator or oven, while others may actual climb into an opened dishwasher and could be trapped within if someone closes it without checking it.

  • Only use garbage cans with secure lids, and ensure that they are closed at all times.
  • Keep cleansers locked away in a cabinet with childproof locks.
  • Block access to small spaces that lead behind the refrigerator or other appliances.
  • Put food in covered containers instead of leaving it exposed on a counter or table.
  • Keep utensils in a closed drawer, and push breakable china back on counters where it cannot easily be knocked down and broken.
  • Consider installing a safety gate to keep pets out of the kitchen while cooking.

Bedrooms

Although the bedroom may seem like an overall safe place for pets, it is the unexpected, little things that can prove problematic for pets. Electrical cords are dangerous to pets that are chewers, and small items such as earrings and hair pins may also be chewed or swallowed. Discarded shopping bags are a suffocation risk if a pet sticks its head inside and is unable to shake it off. Moth balls in closets or drawers are toxic, as are certain house plants that may be kept in the room.

Dog

  • Keep windows closed, particularly on the upper floors, to prevent pets from falling out.
  • Check that all windows have screens that are secure and in good condition.
  • Place mothballs in a location where they cannot be reached. If there are cats, keep the mothballs in a container.
  • Use containers or jewelry boxes to store jewelry or hair pins.
  • Cover cords or keep them out of reach.
  • Check closets and drawers before closing them to ensure that kittens or other small pets are not hiding inside.

Garages and Basements

Garages and basements are two areas where a pet will likely spend the least time. Unfortunately, they are both areas that are highly dangerous no matter how much time a pet spends there. Because these are areas outside of the main house and protected from the elements outdoors, they are places where deadly chemicals and other potentially lethal items are stored.

Toxic items that are commonly stored in garages and even basements include antifreeze, which is sweet-tasting but can cause a cat or a dog’s kidneys to fail if consumed. Motor oil, gas, battery acid, and car wax are just a few other dangerous car-related items. Additionally, pesticides, rat poison, paint, and paint thinners are examples of items kept in either location that can be lethal to a pet. Sharp and small items can cause injuries if stepped on or if swallowed, and even machinery, including one’s car, can be lethal.

  • Store screws and nuts in jars with lids.
  • Install cabinets to store chemicals, and keep them closed when not in use.
  • Verify the safety of any plants kept in the room.
  • Regularly check the floor of the garage for spilled or leaked antifreeze. Clean thoroughly as soon as possible.
  • Always check for cats or kittens in the car engine by banging on the hood prior to starting the car.
  • Unplug electrical tools and store them where they can’t fall.

Yard

Often, pets such as dogs and even cats like to go outdoors for a little playtime or to bask in the sun. Nature, however, represents numerous threats to pets as they spend time in the yard. Gardens, weeds, and other naturally occurring plants and flowers can all seem appealing to a cat, dog, or other outdoor-venturing pet.

Certain items that are used on the lawn, flowers, and plants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, mulch, and compost, may contain chemicals or elements that a pet should not eat, drink, or lick. Cocoa mulch, for example, is toxic, yet the smell is tempting to animals, and compost may contain food items that pets can choke on or that is toxic to them. Care must be taken to also protect pets in yards with fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, pools, and ponds.

  • Install a fence around the yard to keep stray animals out and pets in.
  • Remove poisonous plants from the yard, and check with a knowledgeable nursery before planting anything new.
  • Put a barrier around gardens to keep pets out.
  • Never leave pets alone when a fire pit is in use.
  • Add fencing around pools to keep unaccompanied pets away.
  • Use an enclosed shed to store chemicals, or keep them in a cabinet in the garage.
  • Consider creating a fenced-off area specifically for a dog to play in when outdoors.

This content originally appeared on HomeAdvisor

Housing Report: Spring Selling Season

Housing Report: Spring Selling Season

Coldwell Banker agents share the top spring selling season trends they’re seeing in their markets.

Spring selling season is in full swing, and everyone knows that means real estate markets are heating up all over the country.  But what does that really mean — and how do these trends vary from market to market? We turned to those who know best – Coldwell Banker agents, of course – to see what type of activity they’re seeing in their areas. Here’s what they had to say:

“Buyers are better prepared and have more knowledge of the market to make a quick decision. Inventory is picking up for the spring selling season. Smart homes are becoming a norm.” – Lev ShalomayevColdwell Banker Kueber Realty in Glendale, NY

“Even though the weather may not be hot and may not feel like spring yet, our market is crazy hot! Things are selling in days of being listed, with multiple offers!” – Brandon Grass, Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty in Kelowna, BC

“It’s important now, more than ever, to have your buyers truly qualified. With more competing offers than I’ve seen in my whole 8 years, sellers want squeaky clean schedules with as few conditions as possible. So I try to confirm that they can (where the risk is low) go in with no conditions at all.” – Melissa Mummery, Coldwell Banker Coastline Realty, Port Dover, ON

“The market is very healthy at all price points. If you price it to sell, it will. Properties under $1 million are going under contract in 7 to 21 days. In our luxury market, listings over $2 million have had recent success. Multiple sales over $5 million are averaging around $8 million.” – Chris McDonnellColdwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Vail, CO

“Our market is smoking hot! Day on market is lowest we’ve seen in quite some time, and we’re seeing a lot of multiple offers.” – Pamela Smith, Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, Kitty Hawk, NC

So there you have it! If you’re considering putting your house on the market or looking to buy this season, please call me at 617-372-1870.

Your Home’s Honey Do List for May

Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

The tulips are blooming and the yard work is piling up, but all you can dream about is Memorial Day barbecues. Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

1. Curb Appeal – Because April showers bring May flowers, it’s time to think about your home’s curb appeal. Does your front door need a refresh? Could your outdoor lighting use an update? Does your mailbox need a makeover? Check out these 7 Major League Upgrades to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal.

2. Give Mom some Love – Because Home is Where Mom is, consider showing Mom your appreciation this Mother’s Day (May 14th) by giving her one of these unique homemade Mother’s Day gifts. Another welcome gift for every Mom is a helping hand around the house (see #5 on this list)!

3. May is for Mold? – Did those April showers cause water problems in your home? Use this brief guide to mold and moisture to clean up and prevent mold growth in your home.

4. Spring Into Action – Take advantage of the spring weather and get out of the house! See how many items on this list of Free Things to Do Outside the House you can tackle before June.

5. Glass Houses – People who live in glass houses…have a lot of windows to clean! Tackle outdoor windows and doors with a glass cleaner to let plenty of that spring sunlight inside.

6. Inspect for Termites – Termites are more active in the spring and summer months when the air is warm and moist. Check your home for termite damage, paying special attention to anywhere wood meets the ground. Watch this video to learn how you can inspect your home this May.

7. Prep Your Home for Sale – If you’re getting your home ready for sale this spring, there are several items that many home sellers overlook. Do you have a copy of your survey on hand, or have you compiled a list of service providers for a buyer? These 9 often overlooked items when prepping your home for sale can help seal the deal with today’s savvy buyers.

8. Grilling Time – Now you’re ready for that Memorial Day backyard bash. To make sure you never unexpectedly run out of gas in your grill, consider checking out this handy product.

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

What Does My Dog Do When I’m Not Home?

What Does My Dog Do When I’m Not Home?

We’re glad you asked.

Usually your dog starts the day off by checking some very impawtant emails.

dogcomp

Then, your dog likes to take a nice relaxing shower before taking on the day…

dogshower

…followed by a hearty breakfast.

breakfast

Gobbling up a delicious meal takes a lot of effort, so pretty shortly after eating, it’s nap time!

giphy

Then your dog likes to invite friends over, because otherwise, what’s the point of having the house to yourself?

playing

After playtime, it’s time for your pup to catch up on all of his or her favorite shows.

giphy (1)

Just when your dog thinks his day can’t get any better…

mefzx (1)

You come home!

What Should I Ask My Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home?

What Should I Ask My Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home?

Buying a home comes with many questions. Find out what questions to ask your real estate agent at the beginning of your home search.

Since buying a house is an enormous investment, it’s best to know what questions to ask at the beginning of your home search. Acquiring information about the qualifications of your agent and the homebuying process can help protect you from unpleasant surprises and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are some essential inquiries to make:

Are You Experienced?

Question agents about their qualifications. Ask if they specialize in particular communities. Inquire about how many years of experience they have and their percentage of successful transactions.

Should I Rent or Buy?

It’s wise to purchase a home when your financial situation is sufficiently strong. Renting may be a better option if you lack the funds needed for a down payment, have debt, or a low credit score. Your agent can give you a buy-versus-rent analysis within your market.

What Are the Costs of Homeownership?

First-time homebuyers may not be aware that the costs of homeownership extend beyond the monthly payments on the principal and interest of the loan. Expenses also include taxes and insurance, as well as utilities and maintenance. The exact monetary outlay may be difficult to estimate, but your agent can give you a general idea of what to expect.

What Preparations Do I Need to Make Before I Can Write an Offer?

In certain areas, a property won’t stay on the market long, so you need to be prepared to act quickly when you come across your dream house. Give your agent a realistic price range of what fits your budget, and then he or she can help you navigate the process of getting the necessary cash in an account that is ready to use.

03.31 questions to ask agent - agent with woman

How Do I Learn More About the House and/or Neighborhood?

Before you sign the dotted line, you’ll want to know more about the neighborhood you may be moving to. Ask your agent to provide insight into the livability of a neighborhood. You should also ask your agent if the property is in close proximity to a major source of noise like a train station or busy freeway.

Has the Property Changed Ownership Often?

Finding out how long the present owner has lived in the house can help you figure out if there are long-term issues with the property or the surroundings.

May I Speak to the Sellers?

Having a direct conversation with the seller can be a great advantage because sometimes they will be candid about the reason they’re moving, and any aspects of the property. If possible, contact the former owner for another opportunity to discover more about the property.

When Was the House Last Updated?

With the intent of uncovering needed updates that could pose a major expense, ask when the house was last updated. Inquire specifically about the age of the roof, wiring, and appliances. See if the drainage system needs to be replaced.

What is the Minimum Offer the Seller Will Accept?

See if the seller is willing to negotiate on the lowest acceptable offer. Speak to your real estate agent to develop a sound plan for negotiation that will keep you in good standing with the seller.

How Long Has the Property Been on the Market?

Find out if the house has been languishing on the market for some time, or if the seller has received considerable interest from potential buyers. This knowledge will be of value in gauging if you have negotiating room when making an offer.

03.31 questions to ask agent - agent with couple

Can I Get the Home Inspected Before I Sign the Contract?

If you can get the home inspected before signing the contract, you aren’t obligated to buy if the property needs costly repairs. This downside is that it carries a risk that during the inspection, the seller could accept another offer before the inspection is finished. The solution is to have an inspection contingency in the contract that permits you to get out of the sale if the projected repairs exceed a certain limit.

When Can I Move In?

You’ll need to know this to schedule your moving plans. In most cases, you can move after escrow or closing, but an experienced agent can give you an accurate time frame.

 

Asking your agent questions is of utmost importance when buying a home. The answers can maximize your chances of buying a home that will offer you many years of enjoyment.

 

The Hottest Bathroom Design Trends of The Year

The Hottest Bathroom Design Trends of The Year

From towel warming drawers to curbless showers, here are the top bathroom trends for 2017.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

The bathroom design trends of 2017 have arrived! While you shouldn’t redo your entire bathroom based on these trends, you can redo some smaller projects that will last. Here’s a look at the latest in bathroom amenities and décor for your consideration.

Heated flooring and built-in appliances

Heated bathroom flooring is a growing trend among many homeowners. It comes in concrete, vinyl and tile options, which makes it easy to match your existing decor. In addition to providing heat to the entire bathroom, heated flooring also helps to reduce noise and prevent the spread of dust and other allergens.

Built-in refrigeration units — used to store organic remedies and medicines — are also popular bathroom additions. Towel- and robe-warming drawers are also trending in 2017.

Small-scale luxury

Designer sink fixtures; free-standing, single-person bathtubs and walk-in showers are popular one-off bathroom additions. Space-saving shelving in place of traditional cabinetry is also a sought-after bathroom upgrade. While you might not go for platinum faucets, you can use beautiful silver, copper or nickel pieces to accent the bathroom & make it look top rated.

The bathroom design trends of 2017 have arrived! While you shouldn’t redo your entire bathroom based on these trends, you can redo some smaller projects that will last. Here’s a look at the latest in bathroom amenities and décor for your consideration.

Heated flooring and built-in appliances

Heated bathroom flooring is a growing trend among many homeowners. It comes in concrete, vinyl and tile options, which makes it easy to match your existing decor. In addition to providing heat to the entire bathroom, heated flooring also helps to reduce noise and prevent the spread of dust and other allergens.

Built-in refrigeration units — used to store organic remedies and medicines — are also popular bathroom additions. Towel- and robe-warming drawers are also trending in 2017.

Small-scale luxury

Designer sink fixtures; free-standing, single-person bathtubs and walk-in showers are popular one-off bathroom additions. Space-saving shelving in place of traditional cabinetry is also a sought-after bathroom upgrade. While you might not go for platinum faucets, you can use beautiful silver, copper or nickel pieces to accent the bathroom & make it look top rated.

Curbless showers

Curbless showers open space and create a sense of luxury. The curbless design also pairs well with decorative tile and cutting-edge shower fixtures. If you have a shower already, you can redesign it to be smaller and more open. If you have a bathtub, you might need to pull it out and start fresh.

Three-dimensional tiles

Three-dimensional tiles can serve as individual focal points or eye-catching alternatives to painted accent walls. 3-D tiles also range in price, making them affordable for most budgets. Make sure they don’t take away from the entire appearance of the bathroom, though. You might consider a backsplash for the counter area if you want the look as a smaller feature.

Mediterranean-inspired designs

Mediterranean-inspired design is a meeting of old-world style and modern glitz. This design style combines the elegant charm of terracotta with the glamor of modern metallic. Mosaic tiles can also add richness to the space and accent the tub or shower area.

Rustic and industrial

Bare copper pipes match exposed brick and concrete accents. Speak to a contractor to see if exposing your copper pipes is right for your bathroom. Additionally, warm wood cabinets and drawers add to a rustic feel by creating an inviting atmosphere.

Dark colors

Dramatic, somber colors are coming to the bathroom. The combination of white fixtures and dark colors prevents a gloomy feeling – especially when coupled with gold accents. If white seems like too much, consider neutral colors. Tans, creams and greys are a good compromise that still look nice.

Conclusion
If your bathroom no longer gives you joy, maybe it’s time to rediscover a look that will break your notions about the space. Whether your space is small or large, the trends of 2017 will help to turn it into a place of relaxation and luxury.

5 Ways to Sell Your House Stress-Free

5 Ways to Sell Your House Stress-Free

Selling your home can be stressful. Here are 5 ways to stay focused and positive as you sell your house stress-free.

You’ve made the decision to sell your house. You may have been mulling it over for years, or perhaps a sudden life change has prompted you to make the leap. Whether you’re relocating for a job, empty-nest downsizing, or just need a change, you’ve made it past the first hurdle of reaching the decision!

But the many complicated logistics of selling your house may feel overwhelming. Before you get stressed out and change your mind about the whole thing, know that there are some great ways to stay focused and positive as you navigate this important step. Here are some tips to help you sell your house stress-free to make this leap a very positive one.

Be Clear About Your Objectives Up Front

two ladies talking

A lot of communication is required when selling a house, so it’s critical to set a clear set of objectives to yourself and everyone else involved in the process: your real estate agent, your family, and your friends. From the outset, determine an attainable selling price for your home with your real estate agent, and set up clear and reliable lines of communication.

Be clear with your family and friends about what they can expect during the process, and what you’ll need from them to help facilitate the situation with as little stress as possible. Determining your goals and expectations and sharing them clearly with those closest to you is a critical step in eliminating undue stress as you maneuver through the process of selling your home.

Stay Flexible

You may have an idea in your head of how long it will take to sell your home. If it begins to take longer than what you expected, the stress will grow. Keep in mind that there are so many variables at play—the location, the price, the market—and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you set your mind to a too rigid deadline. An immediate house sale is rare, so it’s best to curb your expectations and stay flexible as the process unfolds.

Keep Things Tidy

bedroom white

You may be required to show your home to potential buyers at a moment’s notice. Maybe they’re in the area and want to pop in to view your home, or perhaps some out-of-towners want to add your house to their list before ending their visit. You won’t be so easily rattled by these last-second requests if you work diligently to keep your house tidy and in order at all times.

Make beds before leaving for work in the morning, never leave dishes in the kitchen sink, and keep up with the laundry and vacuuming. Thoroughly clean the bathrooms every week. If this is overwhelming, consider hiring cleaning help during this transition period. You may want to consider enlisting the help of a willing friend or neighbor who can help with last-minute tidying up if you can’t leave work. Keeping things neat consistently will dramatically reduce your stress level when last-minute showings come up.

Leave the House for Social Activities

Sometimes the pressure of unexpected showings and persistent phone calls can begin to take an emotional toll. To stick a pin in the building stress of selling a home, give yourself permission to get out of the house on occasion.

Go out to dinner with friends. Take a long weekend trip. Go to a museum or sporting event. Think of this time as an investment in your personal well-being, by getting your mind off the house sale for a bit. Getting out of the house can work wonders, especially during the first few weeks your house is listed.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

man stretching

No matter how all-encompassing it may seem, selling a house is never more than one piece of the large pie of life. Don’t forsake your other needs and demands while navigating the process of selling a home. Maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the process by eating healthy meals and getting plenty of exercise and sleep.

If you plan to move out of town, you may not be inclined to get a gym membership or join a yoga class. But you can still walk for a half hour every day or take the kids to a park where you can blow off some steam together.

Getting the appropriate nutrition is a natural way to help your body fight stress. Drink more water, pass on the fried foods, and get more hours of sleep than normal. You’ll thank yourself for the extra effort.

Selling your house can be stressful, but if you set realistic expectations and come to terms with the certainty of uncertainty for the time being, you’ll make it through with a smile.

Selling the Family Home?

Selling the Family Home? Three Questions to Consider About Your Homeowners Insurance

Getting ready to sell your home? Make sure you have the answers to these three questions.

By Ryan Hanley

 

The number of home sellers continues to increase across the United States, which is reflected in new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

According to the NAR, 5.54 million homes are expected to be sold in the United States this year. The NAR also has predicted the national existing-home price will rise around 4 percent in 2017 — a positive sign for home sellers.

Although the U.S. real estate market is improving, selling the family home may seem impossible at times, particularly for those who still need to find a real estate agent and complete various home improvement and maintenance tasks. Plus, there often is an aspect of selling the family home that goes unaddressed — homeowners insurance.

With the right homeowners coverage in place, you’ll be able to safeguard your home and personal items as you navigate the home selling process.

Before you sell the family home, here are three questions that you’ll want to consider about your homeowners insurance, including:

  1. Are sufficient coverage limits in place?

 If you remain in your house while you’re trying to sell it, your current coverage will stay intact. However, you may want to check your homeowners policy to guarantee that sufficient coverage limits are in place.

For example, many potential homebuyers may view your residence over the upcoming weeks and months. Your homeowners policy likely includes personal liability coverage that protects you against damages to people injured by you or your property, but the standard amount of this coverage is usually about $300,000 per occurrence. Thus, you may want to boost your personal liability coverage accordingly.

It also is important to note that your personal belongings will be covered by your homeowners policy as long as you stay in your home. Conversely, if you own rare antiques, collectibles and other valuable items, you’ll want to insure these belongings properly.

Contact your insurance agent if you’re uncertain about whether sufficient personal property coverage limits are in place. This will enable you to provide details about any valuable items in your home, establish the optimal coverage limits and guarantee that you’re protected throughout the home selling process.

Furthermore, if your home will remain vacant while you sell it, you’ll want to notify your home insurance agent immediately. A vacant home presents some unique exposures, so the risks associated with insuring this residence are higher than those associated with a traditional house. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that your home insurance agent can offer supplemental coverage for your unoccupied house — or find out whether you’ll need to purchase a separate vacant home insurance policy.

  1. Will you need a renters policy?

 If you intend to move into temporary housing while you sell the family home, you may want to purchase a renters policy.

Renters insurance represents an ideal option for property owners who plan to rent an apartment, condo or house temporarily. It covers losses of personal property such as computers, furniture and electronics. In addition, renters insurance safeguards you against losses due to natural and manmade disasters, theft and vandalism.

On the other hand, if you decide to move in with a family member or friend until your home sells, your personal belongings will be covered under his or her homeowners policy. This family member or friend may need to bolster his or her homeowners policy’s coverage limits as well, however.

Remember, a family member or friend who offers temporary housing will need to account for his or her personal belongings, along with your personal items. As a result, this individual may need to increase his or her homeowners policy coverage limits to ensure that an entire home and all of the belongings stored in it are insured.

  1. Are you moving out of state?

 Let’s face it — moving can be a hassle, especially if you are relocating out of state. You’ll need to pack up all of your belongings and ensure that they can reach your final destination quickly and safely. Perhaps most important, you’ll need to guarantee that your personal items are fully insured for the time it takes to move them from one location to another.

If you plan to hire a moving company to assist you with an out-of-state move, find out what types of insurance are available in advance. In many instances, a moving company may require you to sign a release bill of lading, which means that you will be covered for a given value of your personal belongings based on an amount of money per pound. A moving company also may offer full coverage for the value of your personal items, but keep in mind that the fees associated with this type of coverage can be expensive.

Lastly, your home insurance provider may offer moving coverage that comes with your existing homeowners policy. There are numerous third-party moving insurance options at your disposal, too.

When it comes to selling the family home, review your homeowners insurance carefully and talk to your agent before you introduce your residence to the real estate market. By doing so, you’ll be able to safeguard your house and personal belongings and focus on what’s important — showcasing your residence to a wide range of potential homebuyers.

About Ryan

Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, Content Warfare. Ryan has over 10 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.

Lindsay is the the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and recently welcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016. Lindsay and her two Joes love spending their time playing with their cat Rory, watching sports and vacationing in Cape Cod.

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How to Partially Finish Your Basement on a Budget

How to Partially Finish Your Basement on a Budget

Transform your basement into a living area, laundry, bathroom or workspace you can use now — without a full renovation.

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Houzz Contributor, Nicole Jacobs

We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement, but fully developing this square footage can be expensive. Add up the costs of framing, flooring, drywall, electrical and finishes,and your project may run into the thousands of dollars. Introduce new decor, and you’ve got an even pricier endeavor.

But there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space while avoiding the hefty price tag of a full remodel. Partially finishing your basement can offer warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here is how to get the most out of an unfinished basement without breaking the bank.

Create an Industrial-Style Living Room

1. Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color, such as black, creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.

2. Ditch the drywall. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.

Another tip is to drywall only some areas of the room. A limited use of drywall can demarcate spaces, add interest and keep costs down.

Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board. OSB, which is typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction — making it an unconventional choice for walls — is acreative, less expensive way to cover your concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

3. Capture the power of white. This basement obviously gets a lot of natural light, thanks to the fact that it is a walk-out basement-style space. But a great way to provide the illusion of light and to add ceiling height is to paint everything white. In this room, with the exposed ceilings and walls painted a crisp white, it’s hard to tell where the walls end and the ceilings begin.

4. Establish a focal point. Go ahead and furnish your unfinished below-grade space as cozily as you would your upstairs, finished rooms. A great way to do this is to furnish around a focal point. Here, the designer created a focal point for the room by adding a bar and a shelving area with space for a TV, books and games. Graphic rugs and large, soft furniture and lighting bring warmth and life to the space.

Note that this basement is, like the other examples, mostly unfinished. The ceilings are open, the concrete block wall is painted, and it appears the concrete floor is as well. Finally, the owner chose white wall paint. This room shows how this simple formula for a basement can form the backdrop for a cozy living space. The finished decorative and soft furnishing elements add the comforts that make the space feel homey.

Outfit a Laundry Room

For many of us, basement laundry means a dark and dank place to toss the clothes in, pull them out and quickly run back upstairs. But this doesn’t have to be the way we choose to live. A little effort can convert an ugly space to one where you’ll want to spend time.

1. Get creative with paint and decor. This basement laundry is left nearly entirely unfinished, but with some creativity it’s become a clean and bright corner nonetheless. The exposed ceiling joists are painted a deep charcoal, the concrete floor is a fun red, and wood shelving and furniture add interest and utility. A throw rug warms up the floor, and what appears to be reclaimed wood boards frame off a private bath.

2. Install cabinetry. The money saved on finishing flooring, walls and ceiling can often be better spent on cabinets in your basement laundry area. Additional cabinetry can be used for a variety of things, like storing dry goods, linens or out-of-season clothing.

Build a Bathroom

Adding a bathroom to your basement can be a worthwhile venture. In addition to being functional, it adds a lot of value to your home. But basement bathroom additions are costly, especially if you don’t already have the plumbing and drains roughed in. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, finishing it on a budget will be rewarding.

1. Just do the basics. This bathroom, which abuts one of the laundry rooms I’ve featured, is mostly unfinished. Creatively sectioned off with wood planks and paint, it proves that a bathroom need not have marble and high-end finishing to be warm, cute and functional.

2. Dress up with shine. Another otherwise unfinished space with exposed ceiling joists and concrete walls and floor, this bathroom has all the components to be completely functional, yet also sharp. Stock cabinetry is added for necessary storage, and the mirror, lighting and accessories provide some glitz. Mirrors and other shiny accessories can be found at a variety of price points, helping you to stick with your budget.

3. Leave it open. Another way to save some money in your basement bathroom is to skip the walls altogether. Here, a section of the basement is used for the bathroom, which is open concept. The shower is made out of a tiled curb with a curtain bar, giving it a modern look when privacy is not a concern. The toilet, not seen in this photo, is in a separate, walled-off enclosure behind the wall with the towel bar.

Workspace

Workspaces are often hard to come by, and if you can designate a corner for one in your basement, you’ll be glad for it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to create a bright and functional zone out of, well, nothing.

1. Furnish and decorate. This basement office room works so well because it really has everything you need. Again, this is essentially a raw basement that has been cleaned up with paint. Two collapsible tables are tucked into a corner to create ample desk space. An antique-style armoire and side table add hefty traditional elements that dress up the zone and offer storage. An area rug warms the painted concrete floor, and the bright task track lighting is layered with the warm glow of a table lamp. The pretty butterfly mobile finishes this space.

2. Make a rug statement. Carpet tiles are a cost-effective option for basement flooring as they can be purchased by the box and laid out to separate a zone or add warmth to a bare concrete floor.

3. Make a spot for the kids. Kids come with a lot of stuff, from toys to books and crafts, and a neat little work area in your basement is the perfect spot to organize it all.

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