Probably less than a decade ago, we would have never referred to our homes as being “smart”. Today, it’s a common term connected with the latest technology, creating a home that would be suitable in a Jetson’s cartoon, entertaining us with futuristic toys and conveniences like we’ve never seen before in a standard home. In today’s world, you don’t have to be part of the rich and famous to have a smart home with amenities at the touch of a button. I wanted to share highlights of a recent PCMag.com article sharing the “best of the best” smart home features trending this year.
What exactly is a “Smart Home”? The term smart home simply means homeowners can connect many of their standard amenities and devices to the internet. This goes beyond just computers and phones, also encompassing clocks, door bells, lights, window blinds, and home entertainment systems. Did you forget to lock your door before leaving? Certain smart homes will let you know and even lock it for you. When devices are communicating together and working together, sending information as well as receiving it, it’s often referred to as the “Internet of Things”, or IOT. Essentially, a smart home is one that is automated, giving homeowners the ability to control items around the house with a touch of a button or voice command. Different levels of automation have different cost levels, so it all depends on what you want and what you can afford.
Hubs and Controllers. Alexa is a voice assistant available at Amazon, compatible with a Bluetooth speaker called Echo. Alexa works with smartphone devices and with some thought, you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house just with the sound of your voice. Tie in the Echo Dot, it will add to the Alexa functionality. Echo Show even offers a touch screen.
Wink Hub 2. The PCMag editor’s choice goes to Wink Hub 2, a home automation system that works with Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Looking towards the future of home automation, it is also compatible with Philips Hue Lighting and the Netgear Arlo camera and Google Home. The editors believe this system to be one of the most reliable, widely supported hubs tested.
Logitech Harmony Elite. This home automation device controls things the “old-fashioned way”- with buttons. The Logitech Harmony Elite is like a universal remote, but offering oh so much more! You can connect more than just a stereo system and TV – it will also work with infrared devices in your home, ZigBee, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Surveillance Cameras. Today, there are wireless, weatherproof and easy to install surveillance cameras that can keep your home and belongings secure. One camera, the Netgear Arlo Pro, offers two-way audio and sound-triggering recording. With wireless features, there’s flexibility in where to place the camera. If you’re interested in indoor security cameras that keep an eye on your home while you’re away, the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera may be ideal. You get 24/7 monitoring via ADT’s Canopy service with no contract. A smaller option is the Tend Secure Lynx Indoor, a small home surveillance camera delivering video in color, clear night vision and two-way audio. It even offers facial recognition technology. At the $60 price tag, this is one of the more affordable home surveillance cameras.
Locks and Home Security Systems. Apple HomeKit enabled Smart Lock, available at Amazon, mounts over your existing deadbolt to provide connectivity to your door. It also uses Bluetooth to your smartphone, making it easy to access for you or your guests. ADT also offers the ADT Pulse, with 24/7 monitoring and customer service support. It’s the most robust, full-service home security system tested and can be tied in with other automation platforms. The Abode Home Security Starter Kit is ideal for the do-it-yourself crowd, easy to install and can be paired with dozens of Z-Wave and ZigBee smart home products. It also supports the Alexa products. With the Abode, you can monitor lights, locks, and more.
Heating and Cooling. As a homeowner, one of the biggest expenses we have is our heating and cooling (HVAC). Protect your investment with a Nest Learning Thermostat. With Nest, you get built-in Wi-Fi with geo-fencing support and a furnace monitor. It’s never been easier to control your home’s temperature from afar. The Ecobee3 Smart WiFi Thermostat is another thermostat you can control remotely. It also monitors multiple sensors in various rooms of the home to make sure your system is working efficiently.
Sci-Fi Cooking. Want to cook some ribs this fall in the backyard, but can’t get off work in time? Check out the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, a grill that you can control remotely using apps for iOS or Android. The app will tell you when the food is ready. Another smart oven, the June Intelligent Oven, has high-tech features that are mind-blowing. Wi-Fi, a camera, and artificial intelligence that lets you weigh, monitor and cook just about anything with little input, turning your kitchen into a home of the future!
No matter what type of home you are in the market to buy or sell, as a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help individuals and families during the entire real estate process. I know about the hottest trends, from popular paint colors to high-tech amenities. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
Selling your home can be an exciting yet (sometimes) emotional time. If you’ve been in your home for a while, every part of the house tells a story. Strolling from room to room, you can vividly remember rocking your baby to sleep in the rocker in the bedroom’s corner, your first puppy’s favorite sleeping spot in front of the fireplace, and your daughter’s Sweet 16 party in the backyard pool. So many wonderful memories have happened over so many years! With those years and memories made, you’ve also accumulated a lot of “stuff” and perhaps some spots in your home that need to be freshened up. Because it’s impossible to sell those memories with your home, it’s important to rely on staging strategies to entice the new homeowner with images that can be completely their own.
I recommend to clients that it’s best to de-clutter and thoroughly clean the home prior to placing any home on the market. It’s okay to leave a few family photos up, but best to remove most of them because when selling your home, you want to make sure the potential buyer visualizes where his or her photographs will be displayed. Straighten closets; pack up unused items and scattered toys or accessories. Today’s buyers prefer neutral colors, walls and floors, so if you have time and money in the budget to paint, it’s not a bad idea to spruce up the main living spaces.
Why is staging important? A properly staged home creates something called “lifestyle vignettes” (RealtorMag.com) for interested homebuyers. When buyers walk through a home and see a chessboard on a comfortable ottoman, placed directly in front of the stone fireplace with drinks on the end table, they begin to see themselves in the scene. As a Realtor® in the Metro-East, I know which trends are working depending on local demographics. I can help you work with current trends, letting you know which ones are working locally, so you can create a buyer’s dream house. Depending on the home, it may only require organization and some fresh paint.
When you set the stage for potential buyers to see a home filled with fun and friends, it usually also involves food. Many stagers recommend setting the tables and the bar areas with nice plates, cloth napkins and drinking glasses, using a lovely centerpiece to tie it all together. The set up doesn’t have to be overly fancy, either. Simply use matching tableware to create a home that appears perfect for entertaining, whether it’s a family breakfast or a larger gathering with friends and family in the dining room.
Simple staging techniques don’t have to cost a lot of money, either. If you want to entice buyers to walk through that front door, it’s best to stage your entryway with a nice, new welcome mat, colorful flowers or greenery and a clean, welcoming entrance. Potential homeowners often drive by homes even before they schedule a walk-through, so it makes sense that you spend some time and energy on sprucing up the front of your home, helping to make a positive first impression.
Have a dark hallway or a wall that needs a new look? Maybe you’ve taken down some family photos and need something to replace the wall decor? Mounting mirrors in strategic places of the home can do a number of wonderful things. Mirrors enlarge spaces, add modern touches to the home, and light up hallways that lack natural lighting. Mirrors hung directly across from a window or placed next to one add even more lighting to the home, pulling in more sunshine. Many stores even sell mirrors in multi-packs and sizes, creating an impressive collage display that anyone can create.
Other staging tricks that work include outfitting a bathroom with white linens, fresh new shower curtains and some spa-like accessories. After you de-clutter the bathroom, it’s easy to update any bathroom with items that turn your outdated bath into a luxury spa. To set the stage, you can roll and stack new bath towels, place special soaps in a dish on the counter, and even add an orchid or other flower next to the sink.
Staging your home may require a little bit of forethought and some financial investment, but sellers will be happy to know that most staged homes sell faster than homes without staging methods. Look at photos online or in magazines, pay attention to displays at furniture stores, and think about items in your home that you can use (and items that may need to be placed in storage) to create a cozy, lived-in ambiance in your home that’s picture-perfect. Colorful vases, lanterns, books and plants can all be used to produce those “lifestyle vignettes” buyers are looking for in a new home.
As a licensed Realtor®, it is my goal to help individuals and families sell their home with confidence. I want the process to be pleasurable and profitable. If you aren’t sure why your home hasn’t sold yet or want tips on staging your home, I can help. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
Have you ever stepped foot in a home during the home search process and fell in love instantly with it? Some styles and house plans simply impress us more than others. The type of home you tend to prefer may also be different depending on your stage of life. Just had a baby? You probably want the bedrooms on the same floor. Have an aging parent living with you? Two master suites would be ideal. Individual preferences and styles may change over time, but the following trends have been popular and gaining traction for many new home seekers in 2017.
Outdoor living continues to impress people looking to buy a new home. Whether seeking manicured yards in a simplified living community or finding a home that backs up to secluded woods, homeowners are taking advantage of their outdoor spaces. This trend is reminiscent of “resort-style” amenities for families wanting to enjoy their homes more than ever before. Why go on vacation when you can bring the vacation home? Pools, outdoor kitchens, and big front porches for catching up with neighbors are just some features that really enhance outdoor living. Other trends like landscaped courtyards and four-season rooms also turn a home into a retreat you may never want to leave!
The use of glass is also a popular element in homes that take advantage of outdoor living. Large, floor-to-ceiling windows are just another way to “bring the outdoors in” and enjoy the views. Living areas, even smaller ones, will benefit from added glass to make them feel larger. Some designers even incorporate sliding walls of glass and screens leading to outdoor spaces (like a pool or hot tub). More glass or easy access to the yard is just another way to take advantage of the home’s neighborhood, amenities and green space. If you live in a lovely setting, why not enjoy the beautiful view by adding more windows or French doors?
Although not surprising, the basements of today aren’t being built simply as places to store your overflow items. Nine-foot ceilings in basements continue to be quite popular, even if the homeowner isn’t planning on finishing the basement in the short term. Homes are being built with taller basement ceilings because not only does it add resale value to the home but also makes the basement more inviting and livable when planning for additional living space. Another trend has surfaced and 9-foot and 10-foot ceilings are preferable features for buyers today with a decreased interest in vaulted ceilings.
Homes today are often being built as forever homes, with “aging-in-place” accommodations still being very popular. This is a newer trend and one that has really made an impact on how people are buying and building homes. With people living longer, it makes sense to live in a home that will be comfortable for years to come. Features like main floor master suites, easy access to every part of the home (with little or no stairs) and taller bathroom counters, comfort-height toilets and walk in showers, the aging in place home can come in all sizes and styles to better suit the homeowner.
There are many trends that are popular today, going beyond just wall colors and flooring styles. Builders are also still focused on energy-efficient homes with high-tech tools to help manage the home’s heating and cooling with the intention of using no more energy than the home creates. Whether it’s an energy-saving fireplace or water efficient fixtures and appliances, the energy efficient home will continue to develop with technology.
Trends are fun to talk about, but the most important feature when looking for a new home is defining YOUR lifestyle. Your house should be the place you feel the most at ease, and as a licensed Realtor®, I have helped families find the best home for their personalized style. Whether you are selling your existing home or looking for a more suitable home to reflect your current lifestyle, I can help. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at email@example.com.
Depending on your lifestyle and your desire for outdoor living, you may have different reasons for purchasing a home for its outdoor spaces. Some of us would prefer to have limited weekend warrior duties, preferring a small backyard or simplified living neighborhood. Others, with growing families and a love of the outdoors, may seek a home with a large yard that backs up to a wooded tree line. If beautiful outdoor living spaces make your heart skip a beat, there are wonderful home features and add-ons to enhance your outdoor living for years to come.
Outdoor rooms, a trend that has been emerging for years, is one of the best ways to fulfill your love of the outdoors. Outdoor rooms can be created by the use of architectural devices such as columns, walls, and ceilings, offering transitional spaces that extend your living spaces out into the crisp, fresh air.
Years ago, patio furniture was quite simple; functional, with not a lot of style and comfort. Outdoor furniture had a distinctive look and it definitely didn’t look like furniture that you would want to spend hours upon hours sitting on. But today’s outdoor furniture has mimicked the furniture in our living rooms, with colorful cushions, pillows, end tables and rugs, all made to withstand the elements of the outdoors (within reason) and bringing your guests outdoors, too.
Privacy is important when homeowners are looking for an outdoor room. Usually this can be accomplished with a tree line, fence or decorative wall. By creating some seclusion for your outdoor living space, not only does it offer the privacy we all crave but adds to the intimacy of your space. Not every dinner party should be interrupted by the curiosity of your next-door neighbor!
Outdoor kitchens, once deemed home features of only the rich and famous, are now achievable options for the aspiring homeowner. Outdoor kitchens can include structurally integrated fire-pits and fireplaces, TVs and custom counters built around the “grill-masters” favorite Weber grill. With comfortable seating and even a beverage refrigerator, this extension will rival many indoor kitchens. The addition of an outdoor space, like a kitchen, supports multiple functions for the homeowner. It will likely also deter guests from always entering the home if you own a pool and instead offer a defined living space for the whole family when entertaining outdoors.
Porches and decks are wonderful outdoor living spaces that have also been modernized. Porches are now being built out of composite materials, extending their life and requiring little maintenance. Screens and enclosed patio walls have turned standard decks off the great room into spaces that can even be used year-round. Offering you shelter from the sun and the elements, even when it’s raining you can still enjoy those 360° views of your backyard’s garden that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. By adding a ceiling fan, furniture and other comfort items, your outdoor living space will be your favorite gathering spot.
Another option for shade is the Pergola. Pergolas can be added to outdoor spaces that may not have existing ceilings or overhangs, offering a way to cool off in the midday summer heat. In a variety of sizes or custom made, pergolas are also a nice decorative touch to your deck or porch. It’s a lighter, more permeable way to enhance outdoor living, but yet very effective. Adding just a little shade to an otherwise sunny spot will also mean you can decorate your patio with flowers and furniture that might not be able to tolerate the heat otherwise.
There are several outdoor living features homeowners may look for in a new home, depending on personal style preferences and interests. With my assistance, I can help you find that perfect home with incredible outdoor living spaces that suit you and your family. I know the local real estate market and have first hand experience about neighborhoods with the best green space available. If you are looking for a new place to call home, it’s time to give me a call at 618-978-2384 or contact me here so that I can help turn your dreams into reality. Happy summer!
If you have ever watched “Tiny House” shows on HGTV, you’ve probably talked about the downsizing pro’s and con’s of a smaller home. In some cases, the homes are so tiny it seems almost unrealistic to believe the families can live comfortably on top of each other every day! Even though tiny houses aren’t for everyone, there are some real benefits to downsizing your living space but it really does depend on your lifestyle.
Discussions about downsizing can begin to happen when the oldest child registers for college courses on a campus two states away. Or, if you’re lucky, you have retirement plans to escape a few months each year to a golf course community on a beach somewhere. Why keep that 3,000 square foot home when you’re only living in it part time? Whether you are tired of your oversized current home or are just in the mood for a change, downsizing might be the ideal scenario for you.
Less of a house also means less upkeep and many empty-nesters (or soon to be empty-nesters) like the freedom that a smaller sized home allows. Let’s face it, when your children get older they begin to spend less time at home. As young adults begin to leave home and venture out into the world for their education and careers, the home begins to become more tranquil with less cleaning and picking up constantly after everyone. Soon, that larger home that was filled to the brim with kid’s belongings becomes less clustered and tidier. Is it really necessary to have those empty bedrooms and closets that are barely filled anymore?
Sacrificing size does not mean you have to sacrifice amenities. There are many areas in the Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and surrounding communities that offer beautiful options for couples or smaller families wanting to downsize. Many clients still want the luxury in their smaller homes, just with less square footage. Big islands, high-end appliances and countertops with outdoor living space is still considered important to clients wanting to downsize. You may have to sacrifice smaller second bedrooms and storage spaces, but the trade-off will be worth it to get nicer amenities without too much sacrifice. Brookshire Hamlet, The Enclave at Augusta Greens, and Villas in Bethalto are just a few of many communities now focused on big living but in a smaller home footprint.
Many simplified living communities, like @ Cloverdale, are built with the empty-nesters in mind. For example, the @Cloverdale community boasts modern and functional amenities, like first floor master bedrooms, open floor plans, and spacious front porches, all within easy walking distance from downtown Edwardsville. In the @Cloverdale community, the front porch functions as an extension of the home and is the perfect place for friends to gather and make memories happen. Both @Cloverdale and Brookshire Hamlet, another simple living community, take care of the outdoor maintenance so you don’t have to.
There are many reasons homeowners decide to downsize. The good news is downsizing size doesn’t mean you have to downscale your new home’s craftsmanship. Builders today acknowledge and appreciate the fact that people are living longer, having healthier lifestyles and seeking the convenience of smaller homes as they age. The empty-nesters trend is here to stay, which means more options and variety when looking to downsize.
Take advantage of my expertise on the many wonderful communities in Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and beyond. Whether you need a larger home for a family of 8 or are looking to downsize, it’s easy to find the perfect place to call “home” in the Metro-east. I make it my priority to know the local market and have first hand experience about the many benefits living here has to offer. Ready for a change? Then it’s time to give me a call at 618-978-2384 so I can answer your questions and find you the home of your dreams, sized just right.
Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking about things to do as a family, particularly if you have younger kids spending the entire summer at home. If you are lucky to take some time off from work during the summer break, or if you have a babysitter or nanny helping out while the kids are home, there are numerous local day trip options and summer camp activities that will keep your children busy with things-to-do, education and fun.
There’s no better place for “monkeying around” than the St. Louis Zoo. Recently voted America’s Top Free Attraction, this summer playground offers enough variety for kids of all ages. Open 9am-5pm daily, there are over 15,000 animals being cared for at the zoo. Their website is perfect for planning your visit, making it easy to hit all of your favorite spots. Check it out at https://www.stlzoo.org/.
Another great day trip to St. Louis is the City Museum. But be warned: there are many nooks and crannies at the museum and keeping track of the youngest of children is not an easy task! It’s recommended that you include your cell phone number on their wristbands, and for every six kids sixteen and under, at least one adult is required. There are some age restrictions on activities and slides, so it’s best to “know before you go” and visit their website at http://www.citymuseum.org/visit/policies-and-restrictions/. Whether you love the idea of indoor “Enchanted Caves” or a 10-story Spiral Slide, the City Museum is an amazing venue filled with adventure.
If you like water parks, living in Edwardsville is a perfect place to “stay cool” when it’s hot. There are several options for splashing around, including Raging Rivers in Alton, Illinois. Water slides galore; it’s only a thirty-minute drive for a full day of fun. If you want something a little closer to home, Collinsville, Illinois offers Splash City Water Park with a lazy river, toddler area, pools, slides and more. Of course there’s also the recently built Leon Corlew Park and Splash Pad in Edwardsville, a free activity for splashing around, enjoying a picnic lunch, and soaking in the sunshine.
A local Edwardsville treasure is the Edwardsville Children’s Museum, a wonderful place for younger children to play and learn. With a number of summer programs to enjoy as well, your child will love the wonderful classes available, and you’ll love the affordability! Playgroups, crafts and more will certainly be ideal for combating your little one’s boredom this summer. Visit their website at http://edwardsvillechildrensmuseum.org/ for a complete list of museum activities and programs.
Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville is a wonderful asset for those of us living in the Glen Carbon and Edwardsville community. This university offers a variety of classes for kids during the summer months, making it easy to find something perfect for your child. Their long-running Writing Camp, for kids 8-18, is ideal for children who wish to combine learning with recreation. Children receive practical development in writing skills combined with full and vigorous activities like hiking, swimming and sports. Student to teacher ratio is 1 to 12 and children are grouped by age. Their Art Camps for kids K-12 are ideal for different ages and abilities. Want to learn more? Visit their summer camp link at http://www.siue.edu/summer/camps/index.shtml. Additional art classes are also offered year-round at the Edwardsville Arts Center (EAC) with additional options for summer camps. If you haven’t visited, you are missing out! Pottery-wheel classes, painting, and more can be found at the EAC.
Lewis and Clark Community College also offers College for Kids over the summer, providing yet another option for learning and fun. The Edwardsville N.O. Nelson Campus is host to many of the classes as well. More than 20,000 young people have participated in hands-on learning in math, science, creative arts, technology and languages since the program’s inception in 1989. Their online catalog can be found at http://www.lc.edu/c4k/.
Summertime is the perfect time to take advantage of the wonderful things to do in the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon communities. Downtown St. Louis is only a short drive away, offering so many additional options it will be easy to satisfy the entire family with summer activities. I know the local market and have first hand experience about the many benefits living here has to offer. If you are looking for a new place to call home, it’s time to give me a call at 618-978-2384 or contact me here so I can answer your questions and find you the home of your dreams.
Nothing beats a lovely, fall day at one of the many parks in any of the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, Illinois communities. Whether you want to pack a picnic lunch and bike to one of the parks taking one of the miles and miles of bike trails, or stroll to a neighborhood park just two blocks away, it’s easy to see why so many people love the area. Our four-legged friends love the area too, and you can see it in the wags of their tails and friskiness in their play. Want to live somewhere where pets not only have plenty of places to roam, but the best medical care and daycare centers around? Edwardsville and Glen Carbon may be your dream come true!
It’s not just about where you live, but also about your way of life. So many of us have made our beloved pets members of our family. They travel with us when running errands and often are treated to salon services more regularly than we treat ourselves! Having a community that embraces outdoor living at its best, which includes an overall acceptance of our furry friends, is an added benefit to living in the Edwardsville area. Plus, there are many amenities in Edwardsville that offer boutique-like benefits for taking care of your pet at affordable, “small town” prices. Here are some qualities that make Edwardsville and Glen Carbon a pet-owner’s haven!
Outdoor living at its best. Move over, urbanites! It’s not just the big cities that have dog parks! Glik Park in Edwardsville as well as Miner’s Park in Glen Carbon both have very nice dog parks where leashes are optional. Glik Park offers a larger, fenced-in area where your dog can play with other dogs safely, leash-free, while the Miner’s Park area is smaller although large enough to play catch and enjoy the fresh air. Both Edwardsville and Glen Carbon have parks and recreation links on their websites where you can find more information on the two dog parks as well as the many other parks online.
Edwardsville and Glen Carbon offer bike and walking trails that are often accessible from the many neighborhoods and subdivisions, making it easy to get outside with your pet(s) and exercise. Thanks to the Madison County Transit (MCT) Trails system, many abandoned train lines have been paved and turned into pedestrian and bike trails, offering residents and visitors alike more than 85 miles of scenic trails to enjoy. It’s a beautiful way to spend time with your pet and enjoy the changing seasons.
Pet lovers also enjoy the benefits of the outdoors when shopping and dining in downtown Edwardsville. Pull up a chair at one of the many restaurants in the downtown area that boasts outdoor seating. While you’re enjoying a cup of coffee or tasty lunch your pet is able to cool off in the shade by your side. And don’t forget to visit Goshen Market every Saturday morning from May to October, offering fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts and more. You may see just as many pets as you see kids at this fun, family-friendly bazaar held downtown by the Edwardsville Courthouse.
Only the best for our pets! There are many pet options for veterinary services, groomers and more in the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon area. Do you prefer to wash your pet but would like to avoid the mess? Try Four Muddy Paws where they have a separate room with many walk-in tubs for your pooch as well as hair dryers. You can either do it yourself or have one of their professionals help out. They also offer homemade treats, dog food, and so much more. There’s even a new shop in downtown Edwardsville, Whisker Bones Supply Company, that is a dog bakery and shop with exclusive treats for your four-legged friends.
Need a boarding service for your pet? There are many to choose from in the area. Traveling Tails offers a “no kennel” approach for pets, with doggie daycare, grooming, and more amenities. You can even watch your pet via live video streaming if you miss them while they are away. There are too many choices for reputable, quality dog groomers and boarders to list here, so it’s always best to ask around to find out which one would suit your pet the best. Only you know what’s best for your pet.
Not only does Edwardsville and Glen Carbon offer plenty of parks and green-space for their residents, it offers lovely homes in historical districts with large yards and overgrown trees where pets can play. Newer communities also offer quality-built modern homes with lovely yards, tree-lined sidewalks, and friendly neighbors. It’s so nice to have so many options for a family home, making memories with our pets along the way.
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. Whether you are already a pet owner or would like to be, you can’t beat the Ed/Glen communities!
We take pride in our homes, but when is the last time you did a home inventory? Not only does a home showcase our personal taste, but it also holds a collection of mementos that we’ve gathered over the years. Photo albums and family photos on the wall are displayed proudly, surrounded by artwork and trinkets from past vacations, sharing memories with friends and family. Along with all of those memories that hang on the wall, we also surround ourselves with the comforts of home like 3D televisions, state-of-the-art gaming systems and quality sound systems. But what if a home disaster strikes?
No one likes to believe that a natural disaster or house fire can happen, but unfortunately emergencies can occur. In the event of an emergency, irreplaceable items lost (like photos) can be devastating. Fortunately there is something you can do about household items and purchases that you’ve made over the years. By keeping an inventory of the items in your home, it will be easier to assess their values and obtain replacements. Because even if you can’t replace that antique grand piano, your insurance company will still be able to assess its value and replace it with a new one…to be enjoyed for future generations.
If you don’t have a home checklist, it’s probably time to start taking inventory so that you can keep tabs on how much you own. Although this process does take a bit of effort, focus on tackling one room at a time. Once you’ve accomplished completion of this important undertaking, you’ll be able to enjoy more peace of mind because you’ve planned for adversity.
- Create a spreadsheet. You can either purchase a software program or app to help get you started, or simply create a spreadsheet on your own by using Excel or another program. FEMA, for example, offers an online checklist to follow or you can check with your insurance agent on their recommendations.
- Document what you own. The easiest way to outline your possessions is to list the items by room, item description, quantity, model and serial number. Also, it’s ideal to include the year and store where the item was purchased, along with the cost. Larger, more expensive line items should include receipts and appraisal information, if applicable.
- Include photos and/or video. It’s never been easier to include digital photographs within your checklist document. Take photos of your homes’ exterior along with interior room photos, too. Today, many homeowners walk through their homes and create a video that showcases what they own. Have you recently purchased a big, beautiful entertainment center that you intend to pass on to your adult children one day? Take close-up photos or video of the items you consider to be “big-ticket” items.
- Back it up! Now that you have created a spreadsheet for each room of the home with accompanying photographs, it’s important to back up the document on a flash drive. It is also a good idea to print out one or two hard copies, keeping one in a secure location at home and another at a close relative or friend’s home, just in case.
Moving forward, it will now be easier to track receipts and warranty information, adding key purchases to your list as time goes on. Many insurance agencies recommend that homeowners purchase bank safe deposit boxes for warranty paperwork as well as insurance policies, legal documents and marriage and birth certificates. Today, there are many options available for placing a fire safe in the home for easy access to the paperwork and your backed-up home inventory checklist. In the event your home is robbed, having a fire safe is also an ideal place to keep expensive jewelry or items that you only use occasionally. Having a clear picture of what you own will also make it easier to decide if a future purchase is really necessary. Many homeowners, after creating a home inventory checklist, decide it may be time to start downsizing their possessions after all!
Continue to follow my blog for future home-ownership tips. As a licensed Realtor, not only do I understand the local real estate market, I also understand the many intricacies that go hand-in-hand with buying and selling a home. If you are planning on buying a new home, selling your existing home, or even are in need of expanding or building, I have the experience and knowledge you want to make all of your dreams come true. Contact me for your real estate needs at 618-978-2384.
Whether it’s your first time buying or selling a home, or you consider yourself experienced in real estate, it’s always important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Buying or selling a home can be quite a task and as a Realtor for many years, I have heard about negative experiences as well as success stories that can go hand in hand with real estate transactions. I like to offer some universal pointers and reasons why I recommend relying on a Realtor instead of attempting to go it alone. It should be an exciting time in your life, so why make it overly challenging?
Choosing a Realtor you feel comfortable with is an important part of buying or selling a home. Whether a Realtor approaches you at an open house or you meet she or he at a bustling office, always check their license and credentials. Many of us in the industry hear stories about professionals still selling homes when their license has been expired or revoked. With the power of Google, searching Realtors online has never been easier. A good Realtor will have more than just a LinkedIn profile, making them appear reputable. Many Realtors have online reviews from those who have worked with them. If the Realtor is newer to the profession, they may not have many reviews but that’s okay too. The best approach is to ask around and get recommendations about any agent you are interested in working with, whether they have a large portfolio yet or not. If you feel at ease with the Realtor and feel that they listen to you, you are likely taking that first step in the right direction!
People hire real estate professionals for many reasons, but one of the main benefits of having a Realtor involved is because the home selling/buying process can be time consuming. If you are thinking you may want to put up that “For Sale by Owner” sign in your front yard, for example, be prepared for additional effort and energy that goes along with selling your home. Do you know if you are selling in a buyer’s market? Are homes sitting empty on your block already? Trying to sell your home on your own, while working a full-time job and raising a family, can be a big undertaking. Balancing your work, life, and family time can be hard enough. Adding additional time and energy required to sell your home may turn into an overwhelming experience. Luckily, Realtors can help make the process a smoother one. Realtors know all of the “tools and channels” for selling your home so you don’t have to.
A good Realtor also knows what price range to list your home within and can work in conjunction with “home stagers” to make sure any walk-throughs or open houses make a great first impression. If you are looking to buy, Realtors often know homes for sale even before they are listed, making it a smart decision to contact a Realtor when you are beginning your new home search. Having a large real estate network, Realtors specialize in knowing everything about the communities in which they work, including which home just added that in-ground pool you may be looking for in your new home!
With any real estate transaction, there is paperwork involved. Learning about the laws of your particular state that govern real estate transfers can be a lot of work if you are not experienced. Different laws mean different kinds of paperwork, and Realtors will handle everything you need to do with a simple “sign here” sticker once you’re ready to buy or sell. There may be encumbrances that are on your home or mandatory disclosure laws involved and a Realtor is happy to take the burden off of your shoulders, walking you through the entire process. When dealing with a more complex transaction, trust your Realtor and take a deep breath! Although the process may seem perplexing to you, a skilled Realtor has seen it all and will know what to do. After all, a Realtor’s reputation is at stake and they rely on your review of their services to be successful.
Finding or selling a home should be an exciting occasion, signifying a change in your life. Whether it’s a new baby, job relocation, or marriage, a trusted Realtor can help make the adventure less stressful from the legwork to the paperwork. I know there will be questions along the way, and am more than happy to share my knowledge with you. It’s better to ask every possible question than to feel confused during the home buying or selling process. Knowing the local market, I have first hand experience in what potential buyers look for in our area. Contact me for your real estate needs while the mortgage rates are still low. 2016 can be the best year yet for finding you and your family an ideal home for making new memories!
Today, all of us strive for a simpler way of life. In many ways our days have become simplified with the invention of robotic vacuums that can sweep floors while we’re at work, camps for dogs that can exercise your pet for you, and cars that can even parallel park! There’s even a new refrigerator that can tell you what items you may be running low on if you didn’t have time to make a list before grocery shopping.
The definition of “simplified living” means something different to all of us. In terms of home ownership, simplifying your home’s upkeep can help homeowners focus on other things, like their golf game or travel. Smaller homes are becoming more popular and trendy, especially for “empty-nesters”. Empty-nesters often include parents that for the first time in decades have an empty home, with children that have either left for college or started families of their own. Unless you have regular out-of-town guests or a large family, downsizing a home’s size offers many advantages. If you’re on the quest to find a new home, it’s best to set your priorities first and figure out what simplified living means to you.
Just because a home is smaller, doesn’t mean it lacks the amenities that many of us prefer. Any homeowner can appreciate the benefits of an organized home. An organized home takes away the stress that goes along with not being able to find your son’s football jersey or your daughter’s homework assignment. When you have designated spaces in the home for items, it’s easier to be organized. Having a desk or alcove in the kitchen for paying bills, plentiful closet space, and an organized mud room are all simple concepts but can make a big difference in your daily routine. There are many, lovely Metro east communities that offer newer homes with all the “bells and whistles” but with less square footage.
For instance, the new development @Cloverdale, located in the heart of Edwardsville, offers a lifestyle of single-family living in a designed community that focuses on front porch living and outdoor activities, and offers freedom from home ownership upkeep. In Bethalto, there are the Villa’s at Sportsman Park with lots still available. These homes are an ideal size for empty-nesters or smaller families, offering many amenities (and bragging rights) that the larger custom homes offer. Contact me if you want to see any of the newer communities and I’d be happy to give you a home tour.
If you are focused on simplified living, it’s important to be realistic about what you have time to maintain within your home. If your work schedule goes beyond the normal “9-to-5”, it may not make sense to purchase a new home with a big backyard or pool. Unless you have budgeted a lawn care service or pool service to take care of those outdoor spaces, opting for a neighborhood with a community pool or a smaller lot may be the best route to take. Luckily, the Edwardsville community and beyond has many beautiful parks and trails to enjoy if you are worried there isn’t enough backyard space for your child or a pet. Make sure you prioritize how you want to spend those weekends, and mowing a 2-acre lot may not be on the top of your “fun things to-do” list.
The purest definition for “simplified living” means to make things better, not worse. Is your home offering you the simplified, happy living space you deserve? Your house should be your joyful haven, and as a licensed Realtor I have helped families find the best home for their unique lifestyle. Whether you are selling your existing home or looking for a more suitable home to simplify your life, I can help. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.