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Posts Tagged ‘selling a house’

Holiday Home Décor Ideas for Buyers

holiday home decor ideas for buyersThere are still home seekers that will look for that perfect new home over the holidays, with the intent of moving into their new space in the New Year. Even though it’s not the most popular time to buy or sell real estate because of everyone’s hectic schedules and cold temperatures, house hunting will still be happening. An HGTV article cites that staging your home for the holidays should be stylish and neutral, giving a vibe of the season without going overboard.

So, what do you do so your home is styled in a festive manner without making it look like a scene from “Christmas Vacation”? The following real estate tips will help, offering ideas for decorating your home and keeping your buyers in the right spirit!

Start with a clean slate. Staging your home, no matter the season, should not be overdone. And before you even unpack that first holiday decoration, make sure to clear out and clean the clutter! Take a look at your house “pre-décor”, and make sure it’s already staged, which means the extra tchotchkes and collections have been put away. If you add your ceramic Christmas tree collection to the mix without cleaning, it will surely look cluttered.

People tend to use all additional spaces in the home when they decorate for holidays, and when staging your home, this isn’t a great idea. You still want the rooms in your home to look as spacious as possible, which means limiting the holiday décor. If you think you may miss your 20 Santa figurines, keep in mind that with a little staging strategy, you’ll be celebrating your nextholiday in a new home…and you can decorate in any way you like!

Holiday flair should be cozy and coordinating. Items like a crystal bowl with pinecones or an evergreen wreath can really spruce up your house. It’s best to also match your existing décor with your holiday style. If you have a dining room painted in a soothing sky blue, stay in harmony with it by opting for white snowflakes or silver-toned ornaments and table coverings. Adding red and green to the mix would clash and not complement. The traditional red and green color scheme works well as accent tones if your room has more earthy colors like forest greens, oranges and golds.

Also, tone down gaudy light displays while your home is on the market. It’s best to use simple string lighting to play up your home’s structure or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.

Highlight the positive. As stated earlier, too many holiday items scattered throughout the home will distract, but if you add the right accessories in the right spots, it will accent your home’s best features. Think about placement of mistletoe in the arched doorway or displaying your menorah on the ledge of your living room’s bay window. When decorating, just make sure to not block a beautiful view or place cheap-looking window decals that may distract the home buyer from your lovely backyard’s vista. Own a custom fireplace? It may be best to not place 6 personalized stockings over it, taking away from its architectural details.

Neutrality is key. When trying to sell your house, it’s best to leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year as well as multiple blow-ups in the front yard like snow globes with a Santa. Because you want to attract any type of home buyer, it’s best to keep low key décor that isn’t overly religious. You also want to make sure the front yard is safe and not scattered with extension cords to activate the Christmas inflatables. An example of neutral décor may include nutcrackers, reindeer and snowmen.

Trim the tree. If a Christmas tree is in your holiday décor plans, make sure the tree fits your space nicely and not overwhelm it. Have a small living room? Use a skinny tree to save space. When your house is on the market, it also may be best to use cohesive ornaments instead of the mismatched, homemade ones your children made in school. Although those ornaments are sentimental, homebuyers will not understand their significance. Instead, set the stage for a perfect holiday in your home with a tree that looks tailored and tasteful.

Have questions about purchasing a new home in the Metro-east or selling your existing one during the holiday season? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Why You Want To Work With A Realtor®

work with a realtorAnyone that has worked with me knows that I have a genuine passion to find the perfect home for my clients. I love real estate and truly believe that investing in your home is one of the most important investments you can make. A home is where memories are made, love is shared, and your true personal taste and style can be expressed.

When finding someone the perfect home, it’s important to really be able to relate to the client. A Realtor® definitely needs to be a “people-person” to be successful! Listening is one of the best traits of a good Realtor® because finding the perfect home goes beyond the zip code and the price per square foot – matching the needs of the new homeowner is paramount! Tailoring the home search to the client saves time and ultimately is a more enjoyable experience. Open house visits are fun, but when it’s time to get serious in your home search, it’s always best to hire a Realtor®.

One of my favorite mottos is “extraordinary efforts produce extraordinary results.” I offer more of a personal concierge service to ensure that my clients receive the most information about neighborhoods, techniques and recommendations regarding the home buying or home building process, with on-going communication throughout the process. If you’re looking to relocate or change homes in the Metro-east area, I can help make the transition a smooth one!

There are many fantastic neighborhoods in the Metro-east. Here are just a few of my favorites along with some features to fall in love with, time and time again.

Ebbet’s Field
Niche.com ranked Edwardsville and Glen Carbon two of the BEST places to live in Madison County. Statistics were based on low crime rates, cost of living, job opportunities, and amenities. The Niche website gave both communities an A+! The Ebbet’s Field subdivision is a good representation of why these communities impress. This neighborhood is mere minutes from shopping as well as the excellent schools in District 7. The newer, full-service and local YMCA is also just down the street. Prices range from $400,000 and up.

Savannah Crossing
Another family-oriented development, this subdivision is located in Glen Carbon. Prices range from $300,000 and up and this development boasts a collection of craftsman and traditional style homes. Community-minded and located conveniently by the many Madison County Bike Trails, Savannah Crossing is also close to shopping and is a part of the Edwardsville School District.  Another good reason to think about living in one of the “Top 100 Places to Live”, as ranked in CNN Money.

Brookshire Hamlet
Another beautiful development in the heart of Edwardsville is Brookshire Hamlet. Easy access to everything we love about Edwardsville, it’s also easy access to all major Interstates and only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis. This is a simplified living community, which means it’s maintenance free living with lawn and landscaping care included along with snow shoveling and exterior maintenance responsibilities. Looking for a home site to build your next home? This might be it!

@Cloverdale
A perfect place for friends to gather, share day’s events or simply relax.. @Cloverdale the neighborhood has tremendous walkability factor for a relaxing evening walk with the family, friends, the dog or on your own for a bit of solitude. Hit the trails for a morning workout & easily traverse the 100 plus mile system full of the best that nature can offer. Another bonus: @Cloverdale is only a 20-25 minute walk to downtown Edwardsville for a beautiful morning at the farmer’s market or a delicious trip to one of the local coffee shops

Other neighborhoods that many of my clients now call “home” include Timberwolfe Estates, Arbor Lake, Somerset, Governor’s Way and Stonecliff Manor. Nearby Troy, Illinois is another emerging community that offers a great school district, restaurants, parks and shopping. Hampton Glen and Shadow Creek are two neighborhoods in Troy that are highly suitable when a new home is in your future.

I’ve only named a few of the neighborhoods and communities in the Metro-east area that offer wonderful homes with great features and amenities. My knowledge of the area goes beyond the neighborhoods I’ve listed here, and once I know your budget, ideal location and “wish list” items, I’ll be able to help determine which neighborhoods will best suit you. You can also find  additional communities highlighted on my website at https://SandieLaMantia.com/.

It’s my ultimate goal as a Realtor® to find you the perfect home. I can also assist you when selling your existing home because I have a comprehensive knowledge of the local market and what works! I can help you determine which home features will lead you to a higher sale price, negotiating with the right buyer so you can sell your home efficiently and stress-free. Want to learn more? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

How to Properly Winterize Your Home

winterize your homeThere are a number of different things you can do as a homeowner to winterize your home. Where we live, we can experience the mildest of winters one year and a bitterly cold mix of winter storms and below zero temperatures the next. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so here are some simple ways you can winterize your home in the next month to make sure your home is safe and sound.

Have a winter storm kit prepared. A home safety kit is a good idea, no matter the weather. The experts recommend having a container filled with food, bottled water, and other supplies that will last up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Some companies even offer pre-made kits! If a big ice storm hits and the roads become too treacherous to travel on, you’ll be glad you took some time to make a storm kit. It’s also beneficial to have one on hand just in case you lose power because of storms taking out power lines.

Trim trees in your landscaping. If you live in a wooded area and there are tree branches next to your home’s roof, windows, or electrical lines, it’s a good idea to trim them now. Keep in mind that ice and snow will weigh branches down even more, so there is definitely potential for damage to your home or landscaping.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector check. Unfortunately, the winter months have an increase in home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces more often. Keep your loved ones safe and make sure your detectors have new batteries and if one isn’t working properly, change it out.

Fireplace chimney inspections. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or inspected? Visit www.csia.org for information on chimney safety and to find a certified chimney sweep. Cleaning your chimney each season is just one more safeguard against house-fires.

Install proper doors and windows. The better your windows and doors, the better your energy efficiency will be. Storm doors and windows also can be beneficial, and some tax credits are even available. If you can’t afford new windows, doublecheck your insulation around doors and windows and use blinds and shades to help keep the cool weather out.

Check your heating and cooling system. There are many qualified HVAC businesses in our area, and it’s important to have your furnace inspected annually by a dependable technician. It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ducts cleaned and inspected for any leaks and to regularly change your furnace’s filter throughout the winter months. A professional HVAC technician will be able to assess your existing system and help you determine what may need to be done before the cold weather hits.

Reverse ceiling fans for better circulation. Using your ceiling fans in the winter helps to keep your house warm. On typical ceiling fans, there are switches to reverse the flow. This pushes warm air downward and helps it to recirculate throughout the rooms in your home. When warmer weather is upon us, don’t forget to switch the direction again.

Keep your house colder. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler and you’ll be pleased at the lower energy bill. Wearing a sweater or layers while at home is one of the easiest ways to save money during the winter months on your utility bill.

Other things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for the cooler weather is to bring outdoor patio furniture and accessories inside for storing, also bringing any plants and flowering trees inside before the first frost. Another good idea is to clean and winterize any outdoor equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers, inspecting any of the winter tools you have during the process.

Even though there are still plenty of nice days ahead, winter will be here before we know it. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the colder weather and you’ll be more comfortable, too. Have questions about living in the Metro-east or need some tips about home ownership? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Tips to Help Sell Your Home this Fall Season

sell your home this fall seasonIf you are considering putting your home on the market, your friends and family may want to offer tips and guidance about staging your home, what to list it for, and the best time to sell. Keep in mind there are a lot of factors to consider if you wan to sell your home this Fall season, and they can vary from zip code to zip code, street to cul-de-sac. There can be benefits and drawbacks with listing your home, no matter the season. Hopefully these tips will help during the home selling process if you are considering an autumn sale.

You may have once thought you’d live in your existing home forever! Things change, and a relocation may be necessary due to a new job or unexpected life event. I typically like recommending to my clients that first and foremost, consider what’s best for your family. Sometimes timing a move with a new school year makes sense so your kids are getting started with new classes and new teachers at the same time as the other children in the school district. Fall is typically the second-best time to sell your home, coming in second after spring.

As the cooler, fall weather approaches, there are still people looking for that new home. Fall can be an ideal time to shop, buy, and get moved in before all of the upcoming holidays that the season brings. It’s important to clean up that yard and enhance your home’s curb appeal during the fall months. Trim bushes and cut back vines, move the summer toys and gadgets out of the yard, and begin to give your home that cozy, autumn aesthetic.

What homebuyers see first is important. Mums are lovely additions to the front porch. Or, choose marigolds in your landscape planters. Place the flowered pots by the entrance and along the walkway, accenting your home’s backdrop with pumpkins and squash. Hang a fall wreath on the front door and tidy up your home’s exterior with window washing and a new welcome mat!

There are other benefits to selling your home in the fall months. During the spring, the market is saturated with homes for sale in a variety of neighborhoods. If your home doesn’t have any distinguishing features that sets you ahead of the pack, competition can be fierce. On the other hand, what if your house does have unique features and you decide to sell during a time of year that’s slightly less busy? There’s a very good chance your house will be noticed, possibly even commanding a higher price in the fall.

Other tips include cleaning that wood-burning fireplace from any debris. Why not even place a fall arrangement within it? Autumn is a perfect time to stage your home with scents of homemade cookies baking, pumpkin, and hot apple cider. Many recommend simmering cinnamon sticks on the stove-top so the smell sifts through the air. There are many ways, from candles to essential oils, to create a memorable experience for the potential homebuyer.

Lack of competition is a benefit that should be seriously considered if you are in the market to sell your home. With fewer homes for sale, there’s opportunity to sell your home more quickly, especially if a buyer needs to move immediately. Also, families without school-aged children have more flexibility when considering a move date. In our school district, we have the advantage of being a desirable place to live for homebuyers, no matter what time of year it may be.

As a Realtor®, I can assist you when selling your home because I know the local market inside and out. I can help decide which home features will lead you to a higher sale price, negotiating with the right buyer so you can sell your home in the least amount of time. Fall is a great time to sell! 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.

Real Estate Expectations for 2018

Real Estate Expectations for 2018The rest of 2017 and early 2018 is expected to be interesting for real estate. The economy is solid, trade looks fine, and we’ve seen an active new construction environment. It’s possible with labor shortages and higher lumber costs there could be higher home prices with fewer houses for resale. In the ever interesting and ever-changing real estate market, here are some other influences that may affect housing in the coming year (and possibly beyond) as well as tried and true tips for homeowners.

Is 2018 the time to buy or sell your home?

Prices are still sizzling for buying a new home…there’s simply not enough homes for sale to go around. Lack of homes available isn’t just a local problem either – it’s a national one. In some markets, homebuyers will need to get creative (and pay more) when seeking homes with multiple offers, especially in the bigger cities.

Some experts think that with the lack of homes available, it means home prices will continue to be high. There’s really no guarantee that will be the case. Many home builders are feeling optimistic, and that’s always good to hear. Typically, an economy that looks good with lower unemployment rates, you may see more people investing in rental income property or real estate investing opportunities. Millennials are seeking housing as well, and this will all influence the housing market.

What’s economists are saying.

According to many top economists, mortgage rates may rise in the next few years, past 4% and even past 5%. If house prices experience stabilization, increased rates will be manageable. One online article cites the importance of wage growth happening. Chief economist for Mortgage Bankers Association, Michael Fratantoni, stated that “it is getting more difficult for companies to fill their positions.” Fratantoni hopes that companies begin to raise wages to seek more qualified candidates. If this happens, the increase of interest rates won’t be as problematic for borrowers.

Buying and Selling Tips that work in any economy.

We live in a global economy, and even though economists and experts can see trends happening in the real estate market, there’s no real way to know exactly what may happen. Natural disasters, political uncertainty, and more can affect our local market. Here are some tips, no matter the economy, that you can rely on if you want to buy or sell a home in 2018.

    1. Fix issues in your home before its sale. Want to get top dollar for your home? Fix the issues that may lower your homes’ asking price. Realtor.com recommends updating appliances, refinishing floors, and cleaning or replacing windows. Because I know the local market and neighborhoods, I can help you decide what improvement will be the best in your particular situation.
    2. Make sure your home isn’t priced too high. About 70% of all local homes go into escrow within 30 days of being listed. Homes still on the market for 60 days or more typically means the home is overpriced, especially in today’s market. With my help, I can make sure your home is priced right and ready for sale.
    3. Set a realistic timeline. The real estate market can and will change, so have a firm understanding of your priorities and what your motivation is for selling and/or buying that next home. Are you wanting to sell your home because of a job relocation or simply because you’re wanting a change? Know what is motivating you to move and be ready to be flexible if that dream house on the corner you’ve had your eye on sells or if your existing home doesn’t sell as quickly as you thought it would. Be realistic with expectations and listen to your Realtor® for advice and ideas if adversity strikes.

Buying and selling a home is always an exciting undertaking! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help individuals and families during the entire real estate process, sharing my understanding of the market conditions as well as recommended strategies to use in any economy. 2018 will be here before we know it, and that means a fresh start and maybe even a new home! 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

The Top 5 Smart Home Features

smart home featuresProbably 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.

Stage Presence! The Importance of Staging To Get Your House Sold FAST

Staging To Get Your House Sold FASTSelling 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.