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Moving? Things to Consider Before Packing Begins

moving Most of us at some point in our lives have relocated. Whether it was moving to a new house with our family as a child or packing up and heading across state for college, we all can appreciate how much effort goes into the prepping, planning and packing. Wonderful, new beginnings await us when we move! Here are some handy tips to relieve some of the stress of moving, helping you enjoy the process (and this exciting time) instead.

Know you’re moving? Organize all of the paperwork. It’s important to keep all paperwork in the same spot so you don’t spend time looking for it when a question about the move surfaces. Did you hire movers? Have their information on hand. Is your new house a rental? Make sure you have contact information in case something goes awry upon arrival and you can’t access your new apartment or home. By keeping all moving documents in one spot, you’ll not only avoid the stress of not being able to find something in a jiffy but also enjoy a more efficient move from start to finish.

To Do Lists are Key! As with any big event, keeping a list of “to-do’s” is crucial. You wouldn’t plan your daughter’s engagement party with no planning, invitees, or reservations, would you? With a move, it’s also important to keep track of the steps involved throughout the process. In many cases, it’s simply a good idea to keep a running list of things you may need to remember at a later time. This list can hold important numbers, due dates and more. It’s just one more way to stay organized during a very busy – but exciting – time.

Take photos. You may be feeling sentimental as the move approaches, but this tip has a different motive in mind. Photos come in handy for many reasons. By taking pictures of your knick- knacks before and during the move, your life will be easier once you make it to the new place and you’re trying to unpack and decorate. Know what else? Taking photos of electronic wires and connectors will help you when you’re trying to hook up the TV at the new home just in time to watch the big game! Also, if items get damaged in the move, you’ll be able to let the movers know their condition prior to the move…with the proof of a photo.

Don’t pack items you won’t be needing anymore. I’ve written about decluttering when trying to sell your home, but it’s important to also not spend the time and the effort to pack items you won’t be using in your new home. Moving is the perfect time to declutter! If you are no longer using that cabinet and it’s been in your basement’s storage room, try to donate or sell it. You can also ask yourself, “where will I need this item in the new place”? If you don’t have an answer to that question, it’s likely time to part ways with it.

The internet is filled with practical (and sometimes off-the-wall!) packing tips to prepare you for your next big move. A little preparation and forethought will go a long way, starting off life’s next phase in the right way. Are you interested in that new home or wanting to learn more about selling your existing home? I’d love to help! I’ve assisted many families and individuals in the Metro-east area and beyond find their dream home. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Spring is the Best Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard (Part II)

Tony Range, Horticultural Supervisor, St. Louis Zoo

In the second part of the series, It’s Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard, Tony Range, horticulture supervisor for the award-winning and beautiful St. Louis Zoo, shared some best practices with me. Tony and I visited recently to discuss tips for homeowners wanting to add beauty and interest to their outdoor spaces at home. Our meeting was fun and informative as we chatted about proper planting techniques, native plants, and how to create stunning landscapes based on any given surroundings.

The St. Louis Zoo is a well-known and beloved attraction in our area, but did you know that it also houses its very own greenhouse? Thousands of plants are grown at the greenhouse and are displayed throughout the park May through October. Next time you visit the zoo, make sure to pay attention to the brightly colored plants and flowers scattered along the zoo’s pathways and inside the buildings, creating a lovely atmosphere for visitors and for the animals calling the zoo “home”. Enjoy the Q & A below from our recent visit!

Now that it’s spring, it’s the perfect time to beautify your home’s outdoor landscaping. What tips would you give homeowners about the use of plants to enhance their home’s appeal?

Many of us are running out to purchase annuals, hanging baskets and more for our homes now that the weather is warming. I think what most people don’t realize is that once the plant leaves the greenhouse and goes to a nursery, they can quickly become nutrition deficient. In the greenhouse, plants are treated with nutrients to keep them healthy. Once they transition to a store and then to a home, within a couple weeks of constant watering and no nutrients, their soil is leached. Plants are hungry and need more than just tap water to flourish and survive.

Nutrient-rich plant food like Miracle-Gro™, added at least once each week to your plants, will help them grow. Today, there are even slow release fertilizers on the market with Terra-Sorb (a water absorbing gel) which offers a slow-release fertilizer for your plants and flowers. Terra-Sorb doesn’t dry out as quickly and is another way to ensure that your beautiful hanging baskets and potted plants continue to impress neighbors and friends throughout the season.

Also keep in mind, dirt is what you sweep up off of your floors whereas soil is a living, breathing entity full of microbial activity, teaming with life. Without a good, healthy soil we would have nothing to sustain our daily lives.

Are there any plants you would recommend based on our planting zone in the Midwest and which ones prefer sun or shade?

There are many plants that I love and recommend! Dragon Wing Begonias tolerate heat and the sun quite well, Silver Falls Dichondra like sun or shade and are easy to maintain, and the Dazzler Merlot Mix Impatients are shade tolerant, lovely and landscape friendly. Just keep in mind that annuals, like petunias, are tropical by nature and are typically heavy feeders, requiring fertilizers to flourish.

A tip I also like to offer is that around July 4th, it’s best to cut back those petunias you may have purchased on Mother’s Day about a quarter or half of the way. This will flush the new growth out, and you’ll love the results. Simply “pinch” to the leaf nodes. Also, when purchasing 6 packs of the plants from your local nursery, steer clear of the ones that are “tangled up”, long and misshapen. Pulling and unwinding their delicate foliage and roots is very damaging, so it’s best to find the packs that are short and tidy.

As a Realtor®, I see a lot of homes with neglected landscaping. Any suggestions that you can make to convince them that curb appeal is important?

I recommend choosing plants and plant materials scaled to the home. Not all landscaping needs to be elaborate. When planting, if the homeowner follows some basic rules, the landscaping undertaking can be fun and can really enhance their home’s curb appeal.

For instance, planting perennials in groups of 5’s and 7’s offer a bigger visual impact. When planting in groups, you’ll be happier with the overall look. Shrubs, Knockout® roses and more work best in groups of three. Even planting a Juniper, for example, should be spaced out and if you plant one in your landscaping, think about planting another one in a different section. The rule of thumb is to never plant just “one” of anything.

I like to think of plants for landscaping as notes on a musical scale, stagger the plants and always place them in groups for an impactful and beautiful display!

What are some other tips you’d like to share with our readers?

Play off the landscape with the use of limestone boulders and other types of hardscape. If you’re lucky enough to find a boulder with moss naturally draped on it, it will be a beautiful and unique addition to your curb appeal. I recommend the use of hardscapes in the winter months, trees with interesting branching habits, evergreens, birdfeeders and ornamental grasses. The Taylor Juniper is a tree that I love, with a striking appearance, growing to about three feet wide and up to twenty feet tall. Also, Blue Spruce “Fat Albert” lends a colorful blue tone to the winter landscape.

The importance of feeding and grooming your landscape plants and flowers can’t be stressed enough. Adding fertilizer is a key component to a lovely yard with curb appeal. Treating your plant’s root system with care also plays a key role in their health. At the zoo, when construction and maintenance is happening amongst the landscaping, I always let the crews know how important it is to go around the plants and trees. Disrupting the roots is much like cutting off an arm or a leg for us – they need their roots intact because it provides important nutrient and water uptake along with structural stability.

Tony Range is a horticulture supervisor at the St. Louis Zoo and also a contributing author for STLZOO Magazine. I appreciated the time he took out of his busy schedule to offer planting and landscaping tips for homeowners.

 If you or a loved one is in need of a licensed Realtor®, contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard: Part One of a Two Part Series

beautifying your yardAs winter becomes more of a memory and the weather turns to sunnier days, it may be time to take a peek at your landscaping and start the plans for beautifying your yard. Does it require some TLC? Not sure what it may need to become that beloved, family-friendly space again? I can help! My next two articles will be highlighting yard beautification, including an interview with Tony Range next month. Range is the lead horticulturist for the St. Louis Zoo and will offer his suggestions on how to maintain a yard that will be the envy of your neighbors, all season long.

If you are looking to enhance the overall look of your home, a beautiful, outdoor living space also increases the value of your home. A relatively recent and increasingly popular trend for homeowners is the creation of a backyard retreat, turning a home into a wonderful place for entertaining, hanging out and enjoying when the weather is inviting and the days are longer.

Homeowners who add a deck to their property or enhance their custom deck prior to selling, usually recover the cost in the sale of their home. Decks that need repairs or seem neglected can often turn away buyers because they will see additional expense and future maintenance projects. If you have a deck, it may make sense to paint or re-stain it, add some new, brightly colored cushions to your outdoor furniture, and display some potted plants and flowers. Investing in your deck and outdoor living area also adds additional space to your home, making it appear larger for potential buyers.

Even if you own a home with no future plans on selling it, Consumer Reports indicates that today’s consumers are thriftier and stay home more to entertain and to spend family time. Homes with outdoor living spaces are cited as one of the most appealing ways to spend a nice evening with those you love! When weather is prime, many clients love the idea of “outdoor living rooms. Turn off the iPad and head outdoors to toss a Frisbee in the backyard, sharing stories of the day with your kids. When you invest in your backyard, you are investing in so much more: time with family and friends.

Another way to enhance the beauty of your yard and create a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests is by adorning your entrance, driveway and more with assorted annuals and perennials. Flowers like Petunias, Snapdragons, and Knock out Roses are great additions to your landscaping. A Southern Living article cites putting a low fence between your house and the street to give an illusion that your house is farther away from the road than it truly is andit’s also a great space for planting flowers and vines.

If you have unsightly structures in your yard and you’re not sure how to hide them, strategic planting can help! Some sheds, garages, outdoor work spaces and utility boxes in subdivisions can be less than attractive. Adding window boxes and flowers to work sheds, setting attractive planters filled with flowers atop structures, and placement of potted ferns can be great additions to your outdoor ambience. Incorporating plants and flowers close to the structure, and incorporating planters onto the walls of the structure will make it seem like a seamless accompaniment to your landscaping.

As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, offer tips to enhance your home’s beauty, and share my knowledge of our local market. The real estate process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with my guidance! And don’t forget – next month’s blog will offer additional landscaping tips from Tony Range, St. Louis Zoo horticulturist. In the meantime, you contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

7 Best Apps For Preparing to Sell Your Home

apps for preparing to sell your homeNavigating the housing market can be difficult, but most people have a tool in their pocket that they don’t realize can help get them through this stressful time: their smartphone! These powerful tools have come a long way from just making phone calls or sending text messages. Check out these seven apps that can make preparing to sell your home a breeze!

1) ColorSnap

Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk of your hometown main street and a bluebird catches your eye. That bluebird is the most perfect shade of light blue – a shade that would look exquisite on the walls of your guest room. Luckily you have the ColorSnap app by Sherwin-Williams. With a simple snapshot, this app can match your photo to find paint colors. You can then see how that particular color looks in sample scenes, in day or night lighting. ColorSnap makes painting your home even easier with its paint calculator. Simply enter your room dimensions, and it will estimate how much paint you need.

2) Panorama 360

This free app allows you to take high-quality, 360-degree panorama pictures and videos for free. Do not underestimate the power of panoramas, especially in the housing market. Capture the essence and personality of your home with a panorama picture or video, and let the home speak for itself.

3) Homesnap

Good for both home buyers and sellers, Homesnap allows users to see home value estimates, taxes, lot boundaries, school zones, interior photos and more just by taking a picture. This can be used to the seller’s advantage by scoping out the competition. Based on your findings, you can adjust your selling price, increase your promotion efforts, or even up your interior design game.

4) Houzz

Houzz is an app favorite for designers, home owners, and renovators. Its genius lies in the technology that allows you to see what furniture and products look like in your actual home. Browse through over 5 million trending products and materials, then simply use the “View in My Room” feature to see what they look like in your space. Read hundreds of articles written by design experts, and get professional advice on your home project in the “Advice” section. Houzz also has a vast database of active home improvement professionals for you to find, hire, and collaborate with.

5) MagicPlan

Measuring room spaces and dimensions are probably one of the biggest hassles of home selling. MagicPlan makes this process a breeze: no need for measuring tapes, no need to move furniture, no need for expertise. It measures the space and draws floor plans by simply taking pictures. The app itself is free, but if you want to download your floorplan in PDF, JPG, SVG, DXF, CSV, or PNG formats, there is a one property plan purchase for $2.99.

6) Pinterest

Okay, of course everyone who isn’t living under a rock has heard of Pinterest. But did you know you can use their app to browse for design inspiration? If you are selling your home, your interior design should be stylish, trendy, and organized. Pinterest can help create the space of your dreams! Not only does it give inspiration, but you can search for furniture and products based on your needs. If you are more of a Do-It-Yourself person, there are many projects with step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade your home.

7) Ikea

After spending hours on Pinterest (or is that just me?) you may be ready to start furnishing and staging your house. Ikea not only has affordable prices, but their sleek, modern style looks great in almost every space. Get inspired with their catalog, browse through furniture, optimize your space with every organizational device made on earth, and do it all while sitting in bed. Does it get any easier than that?

The time has come and gone where a home seller has to sit and worry about whether their houses will sell. Take matters into your own hands (literally) and try out one of these cool apps! If you need an extra set of eyes, a professional opinion, or help with staging your house I can help with that, too. As a licensed Realtor, it’s my goal to help you feel comfortable and confident in the selling process, so give me a call at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com

HOAs Explained: Reasons & Benefits

HOAsNot every community offers HOAs to homeowners, but HOAs are definitely on the rise. In 1970, only 1% of neighborhoods had HOAs. As of last year, 1 in 4 homeowners were part of an HOA according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. When talking about an HOA, or Homeowner’s Association, with friends, it may elicit smiles from some and grimaces from others. Often, people share varying opinions about HOAs, mainly because HOAs can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, individual homeowners will have different personalities and preferences about what an HOA should offer.

What is an HOA? Rules and membership dues vary, but generally speaking homeowners who live in a neighborhood must abide by its regulations and pay a fee that aids in the management and maintenance of the community in which it serves. Condominiums and townhouses are often part of a homeowners association, but today HOAs also include freestanding homes in neighborhoods. An HOA often pays for maintenance of common space, subdivision entranceway, community pool/rec center, tennis courts and rec centers.

One major benefit of having an HOA is that it helps preserve your community so that it looks its best, functioning smoothly and efficiently. A new trend we are seeing is that instead of annual HOA dues, monthly HOA fees are added to include benefits to the homeowner. Lawn maintenance and even snow removal are part of the community’s HOA, making it easier to enjoy evenings and weekends full of play and family activities, instead of all the maintenance home ownership may entail. In the Edwardsville area, Cloverdale and Brookshire Hamlet are two communities that offer this type of HOA incentive.

Another benefit of buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA is community appearance standards have to be met. Fines will be imposed if your neighbor’s unkempt lawn becomes an issue or if their siding begins to fall off. With an HOA, you are less likely to see obnoxiously painted homes and landscaping in complete disarray. Some HOAs do also have rules about how many cars are allowed in the driveway or if an RV can be parked on the property.

Association management is also often included with an HOA. The HOA board can help if you have a problem with a neighbor’s dog barking incessantly, for example. Instead of going directly to the neighbor over the dispute, an HOA can assist with the problem and hopefully help you resolve the issue.

How it works. HOA regulations are usually set by a committee or board of directors and can then be enforced by a paid management company or by volunteers. You can even become involved with the HOA in order to have a voice in the decisions being made. When part of an HOA, homeowners can request a rule change or an individual waiver, but there’s no guarantee that the request will be permitted.

You may be thinking, “Well what’s not to like about an HOA?” Overall, an HOA adds value to your home and community. However, for some buyers, an HOA seems too limiting on what they can and cannot do in their neighborhood. Having a management association tell you that you can’t park your camper in the cul-de-sac or place decorative metal sculptures all over your front yard may seem too restrictive to some people. Prior to buying that home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the regulations because many communities have different rules. If you know that your new community doesn’t allow a certain sized flag hanging from the mailbox before you buy, it won’t seem to be as big of an issue later.

If you are deciding between two homes in different communities, check both of their HOAs. Fees will vary, as well as benefits. Because I am familiar with the many wonderful neighborhoods in our community and the HOAs they offer, I can help you make the right decision concerning which neighborhood is best for your lifestyle. Most of the homeowners that I work with appreciate HOAs and the higher standards that a homeowner’s association provides. By understanding the regulations and fees in every community, you’ll be able to make a more educated decision on which home (and neighborhood) is best for you.

I am fortunate to live and work in such a vibrant community, one that offers a wide selection of neighborhoods appealing to homeowners with different tastes and preferences. I can help you navigate through the entire purchase process, and that includes homeowner’s association information when applicable. If you are ready for a change, give me a call at 618-978-2384 or contact me here. I look forward to working with you and finding you the dream home you’ve always wanted!

It’s Spring…We’re Livin’ La Vida Local! Local Activities Near Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, IL

Local Activities Near Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, ILOne of the best aspects about living in Edwardsville, Illinois and its surrounding communities is the many activities that “spring-up” during the spring and summer months. There is so much to do locally when the weather is nice you may not ever have to cross the river into downtown St. Louis! I thought it would be fun to share a sampling of the fun events in this great community. Start planning your weekends now and experience everything there is to love about livin’ la vida local!

Goshen Market, May-October. Love fresh produce and veggies, arts and crafts? Then you don’t want to miss the Goshen Market in Downtown Edwardsville on Saturdays, May through October. At the market, you’ll find fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, naturally raised meats – beef, pork and poultry – along with baked goods, pottery, jewelry, other fine arts, honey, soaps, seedlings, cut flowers and more. Located in green-space adjacent to the courthouse downtown, you’ll love the energy and the family-friendly fun that Goshen Market has to offer. The market fills downtown Edwardsville with a little something for everyone on Saturday mornings, rain or shine. Learn more by visiting there website at http://www.goshenmarket.org/.

9th Annual Taste of Edwardsville, Saturday, May 13. This great event is the biggest fundraiser for Edwardsville Neighbors in Need, an organization that raises funds to ease the financial burdens of local families with various needs. Over the years, Taste of Edwardsville has grown to include 20+ local eateries, live music, and a fantastic silent auction. Money raised goes to local families facing a medical or emergency hardship whether it’s an illness or an injury and helps pay for things like medical bills, mortgages, food or gas cards. Tickets for the event include unlimited food tasting and drink specials. Want to mix and mingle in the community? Don’t miss this delicious affair, with tickets going on sale April 13, 2017. Last year tickets sold out in 24 hours so don’t delay.

Next up, Bonifest! The St. Boniface Bonifest has been a Memorial Day Weekend tradition for over 30 years. Another family-friendly event, Bonifest is filled with carnival rides, food, music, raffles and fun. The 5k run is a favorite for the community and happens Saturday morning of the festival. A great 5k for all ages and abilities, it takes runners through historic Leclaire Park and many other wonderful, tree-lined streets in Edwardsville. The activities are located at the church at the intersection of Vandalia and Buchanan in downtown Edwardsville. It’s a great way to “kick off” the summer months in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon!

Get your “kicks” at Route 66. Celebrating its 20th year in 2017, the Edwardsville Route 66 Festival is one of the best ways to experience the community, offering a classic car show, great food, drinks, vendors and history. Headlining acts rock the stage at City Park, adjacent to the Edwardsville Public Library downtown. There are bounce houses for the kids, crafts in conjunction with the Edwardsville Art Center and more. This year will even be more exciting with 20th Anniversary “surprises” that will surely knock your socks off. Block of your calendar now for June 9-10, 2017 and learn more about the festival at http://www.edwardsvilleroute66.com/.

Glen Carbon Homecoming – Father’s Day Weekend. A great way to spend time with dad is at the Glen Carbon Homecoming that happens every Father’s Day Weekend. This year, June 16-17, Main Street in Glen Carbon, Illinois is blocked off and filled with food, carnival rides and fun. The homecoming parade kicks off the festivities on Friday night, with back-to-back activities to follow for all ages. Whether you enjoy local music or a night out to catch up with friends, the Glen Carbon Homecoming is another tradition you don’t want to miss. They also offer a 5K Covered Bridge Run on Saturday morning that people flock to.

There are so many fun things to do with friends and family in the Edwardsville and surrounding areas in the spring and summer, it’s difficult to list them all. The City of Edwardsville also offers the Edwardsville Municipal Band weekly summer series, a variety of movies shown outdoors at City Park as well as musical entertainment, great shows at the local Wildey Theater, and a vibrant downtown experience filled with top-notch restaurants, boutique shopping and more.

If you or a loved one is looking to relocate to the Edwardsville or Glen Carbon area, please contact me for all of your real estate needs at 618-978-2384. I’d be happy to share more information on the abundance of wonderful places to go and things to do in the area. Springtime brings with it even more to do in the thriving community of Edwardsville!

Quick and Easy Getaways For Couples and Families

Getaways for Couples and FamiliesIt’s happened to all of us: you glance at the calendar and realize, surprisingly, that there’s an upcoming weekend that is entirely open. No kid’s sporting events, games or practices. No family commitments. It’s just two blank boxes below Saturday and Sunday with nothing to do. Do you finally organize that downstairs storage room, clean the garage, or deep clean the carpets upstairs? Well, that would be the practical thing to do. Or, do you whisk your family or loved one away for a play day or weekend, fully taking advantage of the free time that rarely seems to materialize anymore?

If you like to shake things up (which I think you probably do), here are some great getaways that won’t break the piggy bank or force you to take vacation days off from the busy work week. Put some gas in the tank and get ready to see some wonderful sights – all within a short car ride.

Kansas City or Bust! Whether you like Kansas City BBQ or a weekend full of shopping, Kansas City, Missouri is only a handful of hours away from the Metro-East. Museums for kids and adults alike are abundant, as well as some top-notch overnight destinations like Great Wolf Lodge. Water parks like Schlitterbahn and CoCo Key are available for hours of fun, and the Kansas City Zoo offers over 200 acres of animals and attractions. Check out the website, www.visitkc.com, for a plethora of information about places to stay, events, restaurants and more. The website even lists “33 Free Things to Do in Kansas City” without paying a dime.

Looking for an adult-only destination? Check out the many Hermann and Augusta, Missouri wineries that are less than two hours away. If you’ve only enjoyed the sweet flavors of Stone Hill wines from the grocery store shelves, it’s time to experience a Missouri winery first-hand. There are over 10 wineries in Hermann, MO alone! There are also many Bed & Breakfasts to choose from, making your visit memorable, relaxing and truly unique. Camping and motels are also available for your overnight or weekend stay. Check out the Hermann website at http://hermannmissouri.com/index.html for more information. Augusta, Missouri wineries are a bit closer to home, offering an abundance of wineries, places to stay, a brewery and year-round entertainment. Plus, the views are breathtaking! Both historical districts are worth a day or weekend trip. Learn more about the Augusta wineries at http://www.augusta-missouri.com/wineries_brewery.htm.

Another destination that caters to families as well as couples is St. Charles, Missouri. Old Town St. Charles offers a unique experience, whether you are a foodie at heart or love to shop, a street in this neighborhood is touted as being “one of the most historic main streets in all of America”. You can take a Main Street Walking Tour, boutique shop for finds available nowhere else, stop and have a glass of wine, and enjoy a unique culinary experience with friends. Start planning your trip by visiting the website at http://www.historicstcharles.com/. St. Charles also has casinos close by if you’re feeling “lucky”. Hollywood Casino and The Ameristar Casino offer entertainment, many restaurants, and of course some of the best gambling around. Turn your visit into an overnight stay at one of the casino hotels, fully enjoying what this great town has to offer.

This is the perfect time of year to enjoy the famous Mississippi River from many “hot spots” in Grafton, Illinois. Just minutes from Alton, this Calhoun County location is known for American Bald Eagle watching and many other activities. Grafton Zip Line Adventures, Pere Marquette Lodge and the Loading Dock and Ice Rink are just a few of the destinations that are sure to please your date on date night or your entire family. Experience the Grafton Riverfront from a local restaurant overlooking the water, or head to Brussels Ferry, a free ferry transportation that heads across the Illinois River at IL Rte. 100. Before you plan your trip, visit the awesome Grafton website at http://www.enjoygrafton.com/.

Of course, St. Louis and Chicago are two cities that are close-by as well, offering a vast variety of things to do and places to see. If you have an available weekend and are starting to get the winter blues, don’t worry! Turn your “blaahs” into “aahhs” by taking advantage of the wonderful things to do, just a short drive from the Metro-East. I know the local market and have first hand experience about the many benefits living here has to offer! Looking for a new place to call home? Give me a call at 618-978-2384 and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

It’s the 2017 Relocation Resource List!

relocation resource listAll of us know that change can be hard, especially if it involves uprooting our families and moving them into an entirely new town, with new schools and unfamiliar surroundings. There may be mixed emotions filled with excitement about the new opportunity, but also likely some fear of the unknown. Of course, it’s important to find a new home that you love, making you feel comfortable as you adjust to the new environment. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of reputable resources that could help acclimate you and your loved ones to this new community? Well, I’ve compiled a list of resources to help navigate you through the beloved communities of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, with the hope of making the transition even easier (and more fun, too).

Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. In our community, there are many, many small and large businesses alike that have joined the local chamber. It’s a wonderful organization filled with good people and great resources. There’s a tool on their website that offers ways to search businesses, places and things. Looking for an area restaurant? Most likely, they are a chamber member and are listed on this website with a link to the actual business. Fortunately, most businesses have some sort of web presence today so you can always find more about them online. Learn more about the Ed/Glen Chamber here http://www.edglenchamber.com/home.htm.

Edwardsvilleonline.com. This handy website is another “go-to” resource for people relocating to the Edwardsville area. Residents of Glen Carbon and Edwardsville, as well as surrounding communities like Troy and Maryville, can also go to Edwardsvilleonline when searching for local events, new businesses that are opening in the area, and more. Local organizations can also submit their own events to the website, so you can find a number of things to do, whether it’s a church craft fair, local 5k, or a larger-scale community-wide event in the area. Here’s the link to Edwardsvilleonline: http://www.edwardsvilleonline.com/. It also offers an easy-to-use search engine if you are looking for a specific business.

Both communities have their own websites. Edwardsville’s can be found at http://www.cityofedwardsville.com/ and Glen Carbon’s link is http://www.glen-carbon.il.us/. City business information is available at both sites, including information on administrative services, public works and parks and recreation. If you are on Facebook, you can also follow both community Facebook pages for up-to-date events as well as other newsworthy information.

District 7 is a wonderful, award-winning school district, and if you are relocating with school aged-children you can find more information about the district by visiting the website http://www.ecusd7.org/. For children aged pre-K through 12th grade, District 7 is known for top-notch education as well as extra-curricular activities, including a variety of team sports. Locally, the area also offers private schools for children, including a recently built Catholic High School in Glen Carbon (http://mcgivneygriffins.com/).

Other resources include the Edwardsville Arts Center, located attached to the Edwardsville High School, offering wonderful, affordable art classes for the community as well as a gallery and gift shop you won’t want to miss. The local YMCA offers not just one but TWO locations (Esic Center and Meyer Center), filled with so many classes it will be hard to choose your favorite. An indoor pool, outdoor pool, tennis courts, gymnasium and fitness centers at both locations make it easy to stay healthy. A class catalog and more is available online at http://www.edwardsvilleymca.com/.

Edwardsville and Glen Carbon offer a perfect combination of small town warmth with all of the amenities you’d find in a larger city. Conveniently located just 20 minutes away from St. Louis, you’ll enjoy the short drive to a larger metropolis but will also soon learn that wonderful dining, shopping and activities are available right here, without having to cross the river! I am happy to answer more questions you may have about the area or offer advice. Contact me here or call me at 618-978-2384 with your relocation inquiries. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Selling Your Home? Winter Tips to Set the Stage

selling your homeSelling your home in the winter months can be tricky. With back- to-back holidays and usually a lot of entertaining, finding time to do it all can seem overwhelming. It’s also not the most ideal time to put a home on the market because the home, no matter how stunning, may not show as well when it’s cold, rainy, snowy and miserable outside. Plus, if there’s sleet or a snowstorm, it’s hard to get buyers to that Open House on Sunday! Guess what? There are still many things you can do to make your home look welcoming and ready for that perfect “new home shopper” this winter. People still are looking for homes and generally, there’s less competition because of a lower inventory.

Easy access. During the cold, winter months, it’s important to have a safe path to your home that is snow and ice-free. Don’t forget any side walkways or access from your driveway. This is important no matter what time of year it is, but especially important when the path to your home can be difficult to navigate due to snow and ice. When visitors pull up to the home and see you’ve made a hospitable path to the front door, they will notice.

Let there be light! I’ve said it before, but lighting is so important when trying to sell your home. Strategically open up those blinds to give off a pleasing amount of light in the home. If you want to set more of a cozy mood, utilize holiday lights on the mantel and candles at an open house. Today, there are so many variations of wickless candles and battery-powered candles it’s hard to tell which ones are real! Display the lighting properly and it will transform your room. Also, because it can be a bit more dreary outside in the winter, make sure to brighten darker rooms with open blinds and lamps in corners. Use a pop of color with pillows and throws. After all, it’s the holiday season! Take advantage of using tasteful lighting and décor.

Holiday decorations. When trying to sell your home over the holidays, it may not make sense to cover every corner of the home, every open space on the wall, with decorations. It’s best to limit the holiday décor so the potential buyer can still see the “bones” of the home. Too many holiday decorations may detract from the home itself. If you aren’t sure what may be considered “too much”, I’m happy to offer suggestions. There are also many online resources you can use for decorating ideas.

Making sense of scents. When showing our homes off, we tend to want to deodorize it with sprays, candles and oils…especially if we have pets. At some point our noses become immune to all of the smells! For guests, the smells can become overwhelming. Make sure that you keep the scents to a minimum when opening up your home for buyers, especially during this time of year because there are more good smelling, seasonal options available. Another tip is if you burn a sugar cookie candle in the entryway, it’s also a smart plan to offer cookies in the kitchen so as not to disappoint! A clean, well-kept home will always impress the eyes AND the nose. It’s fine to add a holiday scent to the mix, just don’t overdo it.

It’s all in the mood you create. With the winter weather, you have the perfect environment for bringing buyers into your cozy, warm home. Especially during the holidays, most of us relish the time we spend enjoying family, friends, and entertaining. The stage is set! Now is your chance to showcase your home to its best potential. Hang those fluffy robes in the master bath, use fresh pine in the entryway, hang wreaths and place dried, winter flowers around the home. When you sell your home, you are also selling a vision of things to come and memories made within it.

It’s a bustling time of year; so don’t add undue stress to it. There are small things you can do to show off your home’s beauty and potential, without having to start a big remodeling project this holiday season. Adding less stress to this already busy time will let you focus on your family and the year ahead. Want more expert advice? Contact me at 618-978-2384 or by email. I’m sure I can find you the perfect home, making 2017 the best year yet. Happy Holidays!

Tips on Keeping Your Home Safe

keeping your home safeOur homes are often our sanctuaries, offering personalized comfort that we can’t find anywhere else. We keep our favorite snacks in the refrigerator, the temperature just the way we like it, with the right fluffy pillows and soft blankets positioned perfectly in our bedrooms when it’s time to finally rest for the evening. The saying “home is where the heart is” is popular for a good reason: it’s true. But what if our “home haven” becomes compromised due to a property crime? Even though the Metro-east communities that I serve are the safest places to live, work and play, it’s good to know there are many things that homeowners can do to reduce the chance of their homes being burglarized. Of course, it’s always smart to install a home alarm system and there are many companies and security options available today. Other than the technical security approach, here are some tips that will help with keeping your home safe.

Away on vacation? Keep it off of social media. If you have 700 friends on Facebook, it’s probably not likely you would invite all of those people to your next BBQ. Most importantly, your social media posts and pictures can also easily be shared, so even if you feel secure that only loved ones know you have an empty house, you can never be sure. Once that post is on social media, it can fall into the wrong hands. Even discussing your plans openly in a public place can pose a threat to your property when you are out of town. Make sure you also let your children know that sharing out of town plans on social media (or talking about it elsewhere) is not a good idea.

Dog ownership. There are many reasons to own a pet. It can teach a child responsibility and pets can be wonderful companions, too. Dog ownership has long been cited as a deterrent to home intruders. It’s been proven that burglars have been known to target homes without dogs. Of course, with dogs also comes responsibility so it’s not a good idea to purchase a dog solely to protect the home. This security measure just happens to come with a “perk”…a four-legged friend that can also help keep your home safe when you are away!

Keep it lit. It’s easier to commit a crime in dark, inadequately lit areas. A well-lit area is counterintuitive and generally avoided by burglars. By ensuring that your outdoor lighting is functioning properly and the lighting is in the appropriate spots of your yard, it will definitely deter criminals. It’s also recommended that motion censors be installed in the driveway so you have a bright, welcoming spot upon arriving home, keeping you and your family members safer.

Put timers on electronics and lights. Believe it or not, this older method still works today for deterring criminal activity. This technology has also advanced in recent years, making it easier than ever before to turn on lights, TVs and radios from a remote device. Not only does this mean you can come home to a house that’s not eerily quiet, it also allows for a safer environment if you happen to live alone or have a spouse that travels often.

Securing sliding doors and windows, utilizing a security system and installing deadbolts on your doors will also help keep your home sweet home safe and secure. As mentioned in last month’s blog, having a home safe is also another way to keep your most important items protected against a home invasion (or natural disaster). When most home invasions happen, burglars want to move as quickly as possible so it’s often unlikely they will want to spend time trying to access a home safe.

Home safety is important to all of us and the tips listed here are some simple recommendations that work well in conjunction with a home security system installation. Being aware of your surroundings, while also being proactive about home security, can help deter any break-ins from happening. A safe, comfortable and secure home is also a happy one! Want to learn more? Please contact me for all of your real estate needs at 618-978-2384. I’d be happy to share more home safety tips with you.