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Posts Tagged ‘selling a house’

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.

Outdoor Living at its Best

outdoor livingDepending 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!

Summer Planning for Kids Made Easy

summer planning for kidsSpring 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.

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!

Home Upgrades & More! What To Keep In Mind When Finding Your Next Home

home upgrades

When families decide to relocate into a different home, it can be for many reasons. People get new jobs in new zip codes, start a family, or bring an aging parent home. Sometimes additional space is needed, other times adult children move away to begin their own life chapter, making it time to downsize. Regardless, homes of all sizes offer lovely house upgrades that are not only desirable, but are affordable. In today’s competitive home-buying market, there are certain qualities in an upgraded home that transcend many geographical locations as well as the current trends.

Buyers walking through spec homes today will notice that many builders are adding features that were once considered upgrades. When buyers started to routinely ask for certain features in a new home, builders noticed. It started to make sense to include those features as standard instead of upgrades or optional ones. In a competitive market with skilled builders vying for business, it just made sense to streamline the building process for consumers.

You may have features in mind that are more important than others when thinking about your new home’s style. The following list of upgrades focus on the general upgrade options, often offering flexibility depending on the homeowner’s unique decorating taste or style preference.

Bath Upgrades that Impress

For many years, the master bathroom has been revered as the perfect oasis for couples to enjoy in their home. This remains true still today for homeowners! The tub and the shower are usually separate, with tiled showers versus standardized stalls. Luxury showers can provide you with a spa-like experience in the comfort of your own home, with dual showerheads and even steam. Bathtubs can also offer hot tub options with heaters, pulsating pumping action and oversized options. No matter what you prefer, many baths are being outfitted with beautiful, natural stones and finishes, making homeowners feel like they just stepped into a tranquil world away from any of the day’s stressors.

The Kitchen: Still the Heart of the Home

We all would love to have our very own island, and upgraded kitchens today boast an “island paradise” for anyone that loves to entertain and cook! Kitchen islands continue to be the centerpiece of the kitchen and are often being requested by homeowners looking to upgrade. When it comes to kitchen islands, many agree that bigger is better. Think about the last time you visited a friend’s home for a party and it’s quite likely you spent much of the time chatting over the island, snacking on food and drinks!

Not surprisingly, even homeowners that don’t cook a lot prefer upgraded kitchens. Stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, under cabinet lighting (and even cabinets lit from within), are increasingly popular. While granite is still popular, solid-surface countertops offer more of a modern look than the exotic patterns found in granite. Another recent trend includes countertops in lighter colors, like white. Marble offers that clean, modern look many homeowners seek. However, it really depends on personal preferences. No matter what countertop material is preferred, kitchens remain a key investment in the home. If you are unsure where to make upgrades, look to the kitchen and bathrooms first!

So Many Upgrades, So Little Time

There are other places in the home that benefit from upgrades. Ask anyone that has upgraded their old linoleum with tile or hardwood floors and they will tell you how the new flooring has changed the entire look of their outdated home. Whether you live on the West Coast or in the Midwest, hardwood flooring is an upgrade that many new homeowners desire. If you have some extra money to spend on upgrading your home, it makes sense to spend it on hardwood flooring.

There are other ways upgrades can transform a home. Looking for some flair in your upgrades? Lighting fixtures can transform your spaces from ordinary to extraordinary! Fixtures come in a variety of different styles and materials, offering a wide selection of price points. Adding stone to your home’s exterior is also a popular upgrade option that homebuilders are adding to more upscale brick homes. Another upgrade that homeowners often ask for involves the laundry room and the addition of a mudroom. Separate cubbies for book bags and sports equipment, enclosed cabinets and a sleeker overall “look” are especially important when your laundry room is right off of the garage for guests to see.

Not sure which upgrades make the most sense for your lifestyle? As a licensed Realtor, I know the local market and have first hand experience about which features are popular in our area. 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 from start to finish. Contact me for your real estate needs. I’d love to help you create the upgraded home of your dreams!