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Make Your House a Home Pt IIIa: Your House Smells…

July 18, 2019

None of us wants that sentence to end there, do we? But we also don’t want it to end with “stale” or “weird.” Keeping your home smelling wonderful all the time is impossible but smell is a very powerful sense that’s quite emotional really. If your goal is to make your home inviting and welcoming, smell has to be part of that consideration.  In Part IIIa we have several tips for you as far as natural ways to make your home smell amazing. These are things that you can make, they don’t have chemicals and additives that you find in store-bought items and you can tailor the smells to the ones you love. In Part IIIb we’ll talk about when you just need to make your place smell better-to-great stat!

The best place to start is with a list of smell culprits:

  • Stinky pet beds/homes
  • Gunky garbage disposal
  • Unclean upholstery
  • Damp laundry
  • Ancient leftovers in the fridge
  • Ruined produce
  • Mildewed bathroom corners or windowsills
  • Neglected oven or microwave
  • Kitchen and bathroom sink drains
  • Untended trash cans/diaper pails
  • Dirty throw rugs
  • Musty pillows
  • Really dusty places

Keeping those in mind, here are some natural ways for you to snuff out the stink!

Have a Ball with Oranges & Cloves

Oranges are great for many things including Vitamin C, of course. But they also have an amazing, strong smell to them. Then there are cloves — remember that amazing smell of the ham baking with the cloves inside. Well, can you imagine if you put oranges and cloves together? It’s super easy, just grab some small to medium oranges and stick the cloves through the peel. Set them in a bowl and you have a fantastic room refresher.

Make Your Own Oil Diffuser

The oil diffusers you buy at home decor stores or Target work well but they also have a lot of additives in them. Some even need heat or electricity to work which drains energy. You can make your own and it’s very easy. Purchase some bamboo skewers, your favorite essential oil and a carrier oil such as sweet almond or safflower oil. Take a glass vase and fill it with 60 drops or so of the essential oil. Then add the carrier oil and bamboo skewers. The oil sent will come right through the skewers.

Trash Your Coffee

Waking up to a freshly brewed pot of coffee is way better than waking up to the decaying trash, am I right? Well, coffee has such a powerful smell to it that it can kill other odors. So if you want to keep your trash can smelling fresh, dump  some ground coffee in the bottom of it!


Make Your House a Home Part II: Get to Know Your Home Again

July 11, 2019

The 2nd part in our series, “Making a House a Home,” doesn’t have a single thing to do with your decor or the design of your space and nothing costs a dime – it’s all totally, 100% free! This post is about how to make your home feel like a refuge for you and your family.

Stay Home:  Saying no to things in the outside world can be hard. It’s almost a badge of honor these days to rattle off your itinerary for the day which leaves little or no time spent at home other than the 6 hours of sleep you try to force in. You can’t have the feelings of a safe harbor within your walls if you’re never there. If it’s merely a place to lay your head and hang your coat then it can feel more like a hotel room than your home. Dust off the games you love, pop some popcorn and make family game night a new/rebooted tradition.

Interact with Your Home:  When we’re on auto-pilot it can be really hard to break the home-dinner-TV-bed routine. But when you do, it can awaken your senses and renew hobbies, motivate you to create new looks and uses for areas of your home and more. So, use your table, sprawl out on the floor, cook, bake, clean, paint a picture… do something that forces you to interact with the things in your home. You’ll be reminded of treasures that are personal and right under your nose.

Mood Music: It’s easy to think about music while we’re doing certain things: on the treadmill or on the commute. But we should also be turning up the jams at home, too! Some of the strongest memories you can make often involve music. Open the windows, add a breeze and choose your tunes to match or change your mood.

No Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Parties: The times we’re most aware of all the things that need fixing or some attention in our home is when we have guests over. It’s easy to spend our time apologizing or talking about the things that aren’t quite right that we still plan to fix. Spend the time enjoying each other and getting caught up on each other’s lives. With social media and the craziness in the world, human face-to-face time is becoming less of a commodity. But it’s priceless. So don’t worry about the dust they might see or the things that didn’t get done. Commit to attacking that list as soon as you can so you don’t have to worry about it and your house feels more complete. Then create some wonderful memories with the people you love.

Make Your Walls Say Kind Things: You know the saying, “If these walls could speak”? Well, wouldn’t you want them to say nice things? There’s something to be said for creating an atmosphere of love and kindness where wonderful memories are made. Do your best to make them kind, wonderful thoughts because tone, attitude, and spirit go a long way to making your environment one that is comforting and a refuge away from everything else.



Make Your House a Home Pt 1of4: How to Make it Cozy Regardless of the Weather

June 28, 2019

Welcome to the first part of our “Making Your House a Home” Series. Today, we’re going to talk about ways to make your home warm, cozy and inviting. Other parts of the series include “Feeling at Home in Your Home,” and more.

Part I:

Regardless of the season or the temp outside, making your home feel warm and inviting is always a good approach.  There are ways to add small decorating touches to make your home cozier and more welcoming regardless of what type of style you prefer. Here are a few ideas:

Make “Conversation” Areas

When arranging furniture pieces, look for ways to create cozy conversation areas. Pair chairs together, or combine a sofa or a loveseat with a chair. Avoid simply lining up your furniture against the walls. Instead, make small islands of furniture throughout the room. By doing so, you’ll make the entire room look warmer and more inviting.

Earth Tones Keep You Grounded

It’s certainly possible to create a warm and inviting look using cool colors, but warmer shades usually work best. Look for appealing color combinations that focus on the warmer end of the color spectrum. Warm shades of taupe and beige can be used to create an appealing backdrop. Then use vibrant warm shades such as pumpkin, espresso, goldenrod, deep red and brown as accent colors. If you need some inspiration when choosing a color palette for a room, check out paint strips and brochures at your local hardware or paint store.

Choose Warm & “Fuzzy” Fabrics

Fabric and textures are very important when creating a warm and inviting look in a room. Upholstery, pillows, throws and other fabric accents shouldn’t look too fussy, high-maintenance or prim. Instead, they should inspire you to sit down, get comfortable and relax without worrying about messing things up. Easy-care fabrics that look great and don’t wrinkle easily are the best choices. Look for fabrics that feature beautiful warm shades, interesting prints and patterns, and intriguing textures. Fabrics and textiles can also be used to accentuate the overall theme of your room.

In addition to looking great, fabrics should also feel great. If you’re trying to achieve a warm and inviting look in a room, choose fabrics that aren’t stiff, scratchy or uncomfortable to sit or lie on. After all, if your chairs and sofa aren’t comfortable to use, how comfortable are you going to feel in any house?

Make an Entrance & Light the Way

Lastly, earth tones in the entry way, dramatic lighting and a sign that sells “Welcome” is the perfect way to make people feel, well, welcome the moment they step inside your home. Use soft white candles instead of overhead lights to illuminate key social areas for intimate conversations with family and friends.



7 Online Resources to Help Estimate the Value of Your Home

June 22, 2019

When it comes time to sell your home, you have one burning question: What is my home worth?

In recent years, a proliferation of online resources has emerged to provide you with an answer — an estimated answer —  before you ever actually consult a human. But while homeowners have access to more information than they could have dreamed of a decade ago, that doesn’t mean you can expect a computer or smartphone to deliver the final word on your home’s value.

Whether you are punching your address into an online estimate tool or getting a detailed report from an appraiser or realtor, the results can be different every time.

As Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer for Zillow, which pioneered the practice of estimating and publishing home values in 2006, says, “If you sold your home 100 different times with different buyers and sellers, it would close at a different price.”

Computers and humans may disagree, for example, about which recently sold homes are truly comparable and how significantly recent updates add value to a property. Plus, when it comes time to do the deal, the negotiation skills of agents may come into play.

That means if you are looking at estimates for your home’s value, you have to consider what kind of data went into that estimate. If your home is unique compared with others in the neighborhood, for example, the choice of “comps,” or comparable homes, would be a challenge to find. Your estimate may also be less accurate than if you lived in a neighborhood where all the homes are similar. If there have been lots of recent home sales in your area, there is going to be more data to work with and therefore you’ll get a more accurate estimate.

The representatives of all seven online resources below stress that their numbers are merely estimates, based on the available data plus a number of assumptions about comparable sales. While all the services throw out a number for the home’s estimated value, most provide a range of values, which sometimes gets overlooked by consumers who focus on the number in big type.

Here are seven online tools you can use to help estimate the current estimated value of your home:

ZillowThis is the pioneer of the home value estimating tool, and the company continues to refine how it arrives at its Zestimates.

Redfin: This tool shows you photos and listing information for the exact comps used to arrive at the value of your home. This site uses data from public records and lists homes sold recently nearby.

Bank of America: This tool shows comparable neighboring sales on a map. It provides only a range of values, not a single number.

Chase: This tool allows you to change the information about the house to arrive at a more precise estimate, plus provides information on recently sold homes and neighborhood trends. You can also use it to estimate the value of improvements you’re considering. The My Home tool allows you to track a variety of information about your property, including the home value, displayed to you as a graph to see its progress over time.

ForSaleByOwner.comThis site’s Pricing Scout tool gives you the average of a regression analysis and a comparative market analysis to estimate the worth of your home. It also shows recent sales of comparable properties on a map. You have to register to use it.

You will see that the information you get can be so shockingly different that you will need to get help from a realtor or a full appraisal on your home to get a more realistic idea of its value.  For example, here is research we did for a three-bedroom, three-bath house on double lot in Kansas City, MO (where the houses vary dramatically in size and condition so many, many variables):

Redfin: Not available
Zillow: $164,238 $78,643
Bank of America: $111,921 to $142,282
Chase: $161,000 $160,600 $69,720

This is a great place to start and we are the perfect second step. Give us a call and we’ll help you though every phase of selling your home.


Interior Design and Home Decor Initial Trends for 2019

December 10, 2018

Trends in interior design and home decor usually come straight from the fashion runways. So, we’re taking a look at some of the trends that will be hot in 2019, from a room-to-room trend overview to some of the more surprising trends.

Back to (Matte) Black
Let’s start with color. You’ll never guess, but the hot color for 2019 is going to be matte black. Yep, we’re going to be seeing bold designs utilizing matte black in kitchen appliances and home decor items everywhere. As far as other colors go, 2019 is going to be earthy — dark greens, watermelon red, rust, sienna, terracotta, bronze are going to be the it colors. All of these colors are a far cry from the ubiquitous “millennial pink!”

The progression of smart homes is still at a rapid pace, technology is going to be incorporated into more and more home decor items, namely mirrors!  That’s right.  Be ready to have your mirror tell you about your health, home security and more as “multi-tasking mirrors” are going to be the fairest (and smartest) of them all in 2019.
Modern design comfortable bathroom
All-black kitchens are going to be the bold statement of 2019. Also, more subtle marble such as brown and green versus more overstated, in-your-face marble. It’s going to be harder to find the major appliances in kitchens, however, as there is a growing trend of “hiding” those appliances in plain sight.
Bathroom Trends
Color. Color tiles. Color sinks. Color bathtubs. Soft plum, dark greens, browns, coal will be hot in the water closet. We’re going to see a lot of terracotta tiles and cork being utilized throughout bathrooms, as well.
Room Decor Trends
Think total, oversized comfort with sofas, chairs and ottomans, and then the shapes are going to be both geometric and organic. Within the geometric designs are the stripes, for example, and inside the organic forms, many curved armchairs and wallpapers painted by hand with watercolor. Other trends in room decor include upholstered headboards, industrial style metals,and private environments instead of the living room-kitchen-dining room-one-big-space trend of the past couple decades.
Sustainable Fabrics
Across homes and fashion, sustainable fabrics will be another key trend with a steep increase in products made from sustainable alternatives such as animal-free leather from genetically modified yeast or worm-free silk.

Vintage Style Decorations
Although it is a style that has been used for many years, it will continue to be valid this year. Art Deco or classic style furniture, updated with contemporary materials and textures, will be very present in the interior design.

Artistic Wallpaper|
Looks like works of art, such as watercolor brushstrokes or large painted flowers, as well as creating a striking appearance in the rooms, will also be one of the trends. It is about reproducing a work of art on a large scale.

We’ll keep you posted about other trends as we get into 2019.


U.S. Housing Market Could be Headed for Broadest Slowdown in Years

December 10, 2018

Ask any Millennial who’s been looking to purchase a house about how frustrating home bidding wars are getting, especially in cutthroat areas of the country such as Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Austin, TX.  I heard of one couple in Seattle who were only in their late 20s but had already lost two bidding battles and were ready to renew their current apartment lease. Then, in May, their agent called. Something had changed in the air. Sellers started to get jumpy, even in the hottest markets. Homes that used to vanish in days were sitting unsold for weeks. So this Seattle couple ended up getting a three-bedroom, 2 bath fixer-upper just north of the city at list price of $550,000 (down from $600,000 original listing). They closed on the house by the end of June.

All the signs are showing the U.S. housing market could be headed for the broadest slowdown in years. Home prices are climbing about twice as fast as income is and buyers are getting squeezed by rising mortgage rates.

 “This could be the very beginning of a turning point,” said Robert Shiller to Bloomberg News. Shiller is a Nobel Prize-winning economist who is famed for warning of the dot-com and housing bubbles, in an interview. He stressed that he isn’t ready to make that call yet.

A slew of figures released recently give ample evidence of at least a cooling.


America’s Most Expensive Home is on the Market: Got $500 Million?

December 3, 2018

I mean, how have you lived without seven pools, 20 bedrooms and your own VIP lounge for this long?

A massive mansion, known simply as “The One” and located in a very exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood, has just listed with real estate firm Hilton & Hyland for a jaw-dropping $500 million, according to the New York Times.

This is insane on all accounts, especially knowing that the most expensive property ever sold in the U.S. was a mansion in the Hamptons that sold for $137 million. The most expensive property ever sold in the WORLD, went for $300 million – a French chateau in 2015. Yes, this place is unreal!

After five years under construction, the 100,000-square-foot estate will feature 20 bedrooms (including a 5,500-square-foot master suite), five elevators and seven pools, all perched on a hilltop with expansive views across the city.

The house is one of the largest private homes ever built in the U.S. (and the world, for that matter)!

It has seemingly endless over-the-top features: a private nightclub with a pool and VIP room, an in-house, full-scale beauty salon, and a lounge which has jellyfish aquariums for its walls, to name a few.

The home’s architect, Paul McClean, also designed Jay-Z and Beyonce’s new L.A. mansion, which they purchased for $88 million in August after years of house-hunting.

When the Times asked developer Nile Niami why anyone would shell out $500 million for this property, his answer was very clear: “Because it’s cool.”

The Times points out that the house will likely sell for much less than its attention-grabbing asking price, citing that the Playboy mansion sold in 2016 for $100 million, after being listed for $200 million.

The former “most expensive house in America”? Still on the market…

We’re here to show you properties that are not only cool, but fit within your budget!



November 26, 2018

I’m just going to give it to you straight, owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, et al. It’s gonna ruffle some feathers, make some hair stand up on backs, make others howl in protest and disbelief, while giving others proper paws for thought. You, dear pet-loving friends of mine, better sit down for this. Before I say anything, I want you to know I am a fan of our furry friends and always have been.

Here are the cold, hard facts:

  • There are many people out there who have never had pets, don’t understand why people have pets and only associate having pets with pet hair, pet stains and pet damage.
  • Pet(s) can prevent sellers from getting top dollar or even a buyer. That’s how polarizing pets can be.

The goal when selling a home usually is to get the most money in the shortest amount of time. So, if that is your goal as well, pet lover, then I have some tips for you to consider.

  • BEST THING: to do while you’re house is on the market is to drop the furry family member off at a relative’s home for an extended vacay. I know that seems harsh, but when the pet isn’t around, it’s easier to keep the house clean, to keep it smelling fresh and it keeps the fact that there has been a pet living in the potential buyer’s next home out of site and therefore out of  mind.
  • If you shrug off all professional advice and refuse to move your pets out of the house, then at least minimize the objections and nuisance factors, real or otherwise:
    • Cat Litter Boxes & Dog Potty Pads: Keep them out of sight and impeccably clean. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a full or stinky cat box. Do not put a litter box in your bedroom closet.
    • Carpet & Floor Pet StainsHire professionals to remove the stains. Buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the house. If the stains can’t be removed, then remove the floor covering and replace it.
    • Pet Odors and Smells:
      • Cat urine is the worst. Without question. The. Worst. Bring in a neighbor to do a whiff test. Dog odor gets into carpeting and pet beds, too.
      • Do not use air fresheners. People with allergies will react.
      • Try enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle or call a professional ozone company
  • Remove Visible Signs of a Pet
    • You may be required by state law to disclose that pets have lived in your home, but you don’t need to advertise that pets live at your house. Removing signs that you have a pet is simply a smart practice. Why turn off a buyer at the get-go? It’s those first impressions that are so all-fired important.
    • Do not put photos online showing your cat asleep on the bed
    • Seal up doggie doors
    • Put away food and water bowls when not in use
    • Vacuum religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day
    • Pick up pet toys and put them away
    • Pack up cat trees and other signs of cat paraphernalia
    • Remove photos of pets from refrigerator, walls and table tops
    • Pack up all cages, carriers and other tell-tale signs

If you have any questions at all about the things you can do to make both your pet and the potential buyer feels awesome, give us a shout!


5 Reasons Fall is the Selling Season

November 19, 2018

The fall real estate market is almost always a hot season. Home selling in autumn is the second-best time of the year to sell a home because families have returned from summer vacation, kids are back in school and holiday madness hasn’t hit yet. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of relative normalcy. So here are the top reasons for selling your house this fall!


Spring always brings out home buyers in droves. With more homes to choose from, buyers can afford to be picky, and that could extend their search by months. Come September, though, serious buyers will be feeling the pressure to make their move before the holiday season or bad weather hits. That’s where you come in.


Post-summer home buyers not only have the stress of the holiday season looming overhead, but their options are shrinking. Many sellers rush to close by September, so fortunately you’ll be competing in a much smaller market. That can be a powerful bargaining chip to help you close before the end of the year.


While families are more likely to make their move in the spring, millennials and empty-nesters usually swoop in a bit later in the year. They’re not the only ones, either: to avoid higher “on season” real estate rates, employers who need to relocate their workers often wait for the fall, when the market tends to cool down. These out-of-towners will probably need to get through the process quickly, too, which could mean a relatively speedy closing.


Depending on where you live, spring and summer can be a much-needed break from a harsh winter, and your house could probably use a little TLC. So give yourself those warmer months for some home improvements.


There’s no more colorful or beautiful time of the year to showcase the landscape that has been thriving all summer and is about to turn into a cornucopia of colors!

Next time we’ll give you our top 5 tips for improving the curb appeal for your house to get it sold this season!




Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal This Autumn So Buyers Fall for It!

November 14, 2018

Living in an area that has four seasons, we know fall is here when we see leaves exploding in vibrant colors as “For Sale” signs start popping up all over. People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It’s a great time to sell your home, especially when you consider it’s probably one of the best curb-appeal seasons in the year. Here are some great tips for attracting the autumn home buyer:

Clean Up the Yard

Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don’t let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal

The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.

Dress the Windows

Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by autumn. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. To sell a home, your windows need to sparkle. Even though I am not selling my home, my cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while walking along window ledges, so I need to wash my windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.

Check the HVAC

You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters. Have the HVAC system checked before you need to turn on the heat. Besides, the buyer will ask a home inspector to look at your HVAC. If you discover problems with your furnace, it’s better to fix them before your home goes on the market.

Clean Out the Fireplace

Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, in some parts of the country, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed. In Sacramento, we have certain days when we are not allowed to burn wood in the fireplace. If you have a gas fireplace, light it when buyers come through. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn’t been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. Some ​home stagers arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.

Prepare Autumn Edibles

Speaking of autumn scents, you might set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.


Utilize Autumn Accent Colors

You don’t need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. After you’ve cleared away the clutter and depersonalized each room, bring a little bit of autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings such as 3’s and 5’s. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.

Turn on the Lights Everywhere

Above all, bring in the light. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sakes, turn off the TV.