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Date Archives: December 2022

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December
30

5 Things To Stash Before Your First Open House

Once you've listed your home for sale and are getting ready for your first open house, there are five things you need to stash away for safety.

Your home is going to be more open than ever as agents begin showing it to anyone with an interest in buying, so keeping valuables protected is essential. Follow these tips before that first open house.

  1. Put Away All Personal Information
    Before your real estate agent schedules the first open house, take a walk around your home and look for any documents or papers that contain personal information. Make sure you do not have any credit card statements out, phone numbers, and even your college diploma should be taken down. These documents and papers should not be visible to the strangers that will be entering your home. The best solution is to keep these personal items in a locked drawer or cabinet with a key you take with you.

  2. Remove All Spare Keys
    Many of us have those handy key holders by the door, so we can easily find a key when needed. When selling your home, these become possible threats to your security as someone can easily take them during an open house and return later to enter your home illegally. All spare keys should either be with you or locked in a secure box or cabinet to remain out of sight.

  3. Daily Life Items
    Some of the items we use in our daily life may give prospective buyers the wrong idea about your home. If they see earplugs lying by the bedside, they may believe the neighborhood is noisy and hard to sleep in. When potential buyers see fans scattered throughout the house, they will think it becomes too warm, or space heaters will indicate it is hard to heat. These types of items allow prospective buyers to use their imagination as to why you have them, and the ideas they generate are usually not favorable to your house. Before that first open house, you need to tuck these items out of sight.

  4. Remove Any Political Endorsements
    Remove all political endorsements when you are selling your home, even those tucked away on a bookshelf. Buyers have been known to turn away from a potential purchase just because of a simple campaign sign they saw in a yard.

  5. Medications
    During an open house or when you have a scheduled showing, you should never leave any type of medication in plain sight. Even though your medicine cabinet has a door, this does not make your medication safe. The nightstand next to a bed is also a place looked for by anyone wanting to gain access to your prescriptions. All medications should be locked up in a storage container and concealed from sight.

When you are selling your home, there is no way to avoid opening it up to strangers. It is an essential piece of the selling process you cannot remove. When you are ready to open your home to prospective buyers, make sure you have stashed valuable and important items and have found a way to secure them.

December
29

5 Tips for a Healthy Work-From-Home Routine

Higher productivity, less stress, more free time – working from home offers plenty of benefits. It also comes with the challenge of rethinking your daily habits while prioritizing your mental and physical health. If you're looking for ways to improve your 9-to-5 routine, try these five simple ideas.

  1. Bring the Outdoors in

We all have an innate need to connect with nature, and organic materials, shapes and colors have been proven to positively affect our mood. If possible, set up your office near a window and incorporate biophilic design elements into the space. A rug made of natural fibers would be perfect to put your desk and chair on. You could hang up artwork or a wall calendar that features outdoor scenes. Plants also help create a calming vibe with the added benefit of improving air quality.

  1. Get Comfortable

Sitting for long periods of time can lead to serious aches and pains, so you want to carefully consider your office setup. Invest in a comfortable chair that offers lower back and arm support and pair it with a desk that can be adjusted for standing or sitting. You also want to maintain good posture, so position your keyboard at or just below elbow height and parallel with your forearms. Using a mouse pad with wrist support is another easy way to lessen muscle strain.

  1. Keep Moving

Although your job may require you to be in front of a computer for most of the day, you don't have to remain totally sedentary. Try swapping your chair for a yoga ball. A balance board allows you to strengthen your core muscles while standing, and an under-the-desk elliptical machine is a great option for light cardio. You could also walk around while you're on the phone and do some simple stretches during breaks to help shake off stiffness.

  1. Stay Hydrated

To keep your energy up through the afternoon, you should avoid high-caffeine beverages that temporarily perk you up but make you crash later. Opt instead for mineral water, which comes in a variety of flavors, herbal tea or organic energy drinks. You could also invest in a smoothie blender and create your own delicious combination of fruits, grains and yogurt to enjoy as a late-day treat.

  1. Relax When the Day is Done

Allowing yourself time to wind down from a busy schedule is very important. When you've logged off for the day, go for a bike ride, head to the gym or take your dog to the park. Half an hour of low-impact yoga in a designated "relaxation zone" is another healthy way to destress and mentally prepare yourself for tomorrow's challenges.

As you continue to improve your work regimen, always keep your mental and physical wellbeing in mind. Establishing good habits ensures a happy and sustainable professional life.

December
28

"WAIT-AND-SEE" MARKET

By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

The pandemic impacted our lives in so many ways. We learned and we adapted. And – in the world of real estate – we got used to all-time low mortgage rates which, along with the newfound ability to work-from-anywhere, fueled a housing boom. Sales went to near record levels, and because the supply of available homes dropped to record lows, prices rose to all-time highs.

We entered 2022 still in that frenzy. It stayed that way for several months as we had so many buyers looking at too few available homes. Multiple bids were the norm, thus the rise in prices. But that changed as mortgage rates rose reaching a crescendo in September when they were near 7%. That was a long way from the 3%-3.5% range we got used to for the last few years.

As we enter into another new year, we are doing so in what I'm calling a "wait-and-see" housing market.

Many buyers have retreated and homeowners are reluctant to sell. At the same time, prices continue to rise, but not at the same levels they once were. As I look at the state of the market, it's apparent that the normal buyer vs. seller behavior isn't happening. Remember, in usual market shifts, buyers retreat, and more homes come on, and stay on the market as price gains slow. This isn't occurring. Instead, we've essentially stalled.

Our "wait-and-see" market has some buyers moving to the sidelines hoping that mortgage rates and home prices will drop. At the same time, homeowners may not have an urgency to list. This result: less buyers, a minimal increase in inventory and continued rising prices.

Let me break this down:

Buyers

Because home prices rose and now, we have higher mortgage rates (they've come down to near 6%), many potential buyers have been priced out of the market.

The National Association of Realtors in its most recent Existing Homes Sales report shared that U.S. November home sales were off 35.4% from a last November. In fact, the annualized sales figure of 4.09 million is the slowest pace of sales since Great Recession-impacted November 2010 (outside of the pandemic-caused economic shutdown that gripped the nation for a few months in 2020).

Locally, we are seeing similar activity. While November begins the traditional holiday-season slowdown, this November was especially slow in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes. There were only 317 sales, down from 401 in October and 29% off last November's 446. We are also behind the five-year November average of 381 sales.

Also, while homes are staying on the market longer today, we are still at a dramatically fast pace compared to historical levels. Our median time on market for November sales was 23 days, up from 11 a year ago. This is still really quick.

Digging a little deeper into buyer behavior, it is not surprising to see the greatest slowdown is in the lower-priced home sector. This potential group of buyers is most impacted financially by higher monthly mortgage payments. Sales of homes priced at $100,000-or-below are down 13% while those between $100,000-$200,000 are down 25% year to date. Even those between $200,000-$300,000 are down 11% over last year.

But so far, we haven't seen the impact at the higher end as the affluent and those who have built up equity, are still buying. In fact, there were 37 homes sold at $400,000-plus levels in November which was ahead of last month's 31 and about even with September's 39.

This chart shows what has been occurring so far this year in our three parishes. Notice the negative numbers are not as high in the luxury sector and the positive sales gains are only at those higher levels:

Price Range

YoY Number of Home Sales NW LOUISIANA
(% change over November 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Bossier Parish (% change over November 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Caddo Parish (% change over November 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Desoto Parish (% change over November 2021

Total

4,793 (-14%)

1,951 (-12%)

2,670 (-15%)

172 (-2%)

$100,000 & less

715 (-13%)

    176 (-10%)

511 (-14%)

28 (-3%)

$100,000-$200,000

1,509 (-25%)

463 (-28%)

997 (-23%)

    49 (-22%)

$200,000-$300,000

1,450 (-22%)

720 (-10%)

697 (-12%)

    33 (+0%)

$300,000-$400,000

613 (-2%)

369 (+0%)

213 (-6%)

31 (+11%)

$400,000-$500,000

273 (-4%)

142 (+3%)

113 (-12%)

18 (+13%)

$500,000-
$600,000

   1 10 (+21%)

    47 (+15%)

53 (+8%)

10 (+900%)

$600,000+

123 (13%)

34 (+6%)

86 (+19%)

3 (-400%)

 

Sellers

This is the group driving the "wait-and-see" market. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors explained the reason they are not selling is that they don't need to. While many may have recently purchased a home during the low mortgage rate period, others may have historically low mortgage rates and may be reluctant to give up extremely low monthly payments. Therefore, they are remaining on the sidelines.

We see this play out in the number of homes on the market. While we have jumped up from an all-time low of 667 in April, we currently still have only 1,030 listings. Thankfully we've been over 1,000 for the last three months, but our normal monthly rate is between 1,800-2,200 available homes. This means buyers have dramatically less choice. Less choice equates to a sellers' market and continued higher prices.

You will notice that our monthly supply of homes has risen to 2.4 months from 1.8 a year ago. It was 4.9 months in November 2019 before the pandemic. This rise, while helped by the increase in listings to the 1,000-range, is largely because of buyer pullback as we have few sales.

It is also important to understand that Northwest Louisiana remains tighter than the rest of the nation where there is a 3.3-month supply.  

We are returning to more normal times when people buy and sell for lifestyle reasons including engagements, weddings, growing families, new jobs and promotions, becoming empty nesters, retirement and illnesses. Here's an interesting nugget. The National Association of Realtors recently shared that 8% of all sellers last year indicated they moved for retirement, up from 5% a year ago.

It is important for potential sellers to understand that while the top of the market is in the rearview mirror, home prices are still ahead of last year. We still have buyers buying and homeowners have likely seen their equity rise as prices locally exploded with double-digit percentage gains over the last few years. This was far beyond our traditional "Steady Eddie" pace of 2-3% annual increases. We still need many more homes to come on the market for the "sellers' market" to end.

The below chart looks at our current inventory levels and show how far off they are from a "balanced"" market of 5-6 months where neither buyer or seller has a negotiating advantage:

Price Range

November 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

November 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

1,032/2.4

2,130/5.4

$100,000 & less

271/3.4

453/4.8

$100,000-$200,000

235/1.7

697/4.4

$200,000-$300,000

285/2.2

496/5.2

$300,000-$400,000

116/2.1

221/7.0

$400,000-$500,000

66/2.6

109/11.3

$500,000+

113/5.4

164/25.9

 

Prices

The national median price for November (the middle of all homes sold) was $370,000, up 3.5%. Locally, our November median price was $215,000, a year-over-year increase of 11%.

Buyers and sellers both must understand home prices. First of all, we are likely not going to see a collapse in home prices. Instead, the price gains will slow.
Realtor.com projects that 2023 will bring an increase of 5.4%. This means today's $215,000 home would be $226,610 next year.

The reason for the continued increase is supply vs. demand. As I shared earlier, we still need more homes to come on the market. Until they do, buyers have fewer choices and sellers retain the negotiation advantage. They may give some concessions, but still are in the lead.

Also, one of the reasons prices dropped so dramatically during the Great Recession was the foreclosure crisis. The market was flooded with homes for sale and prices plummeted. In fact, before the Great Recession, there had never been a year when home prices dropped from the previous year.

But we are not in this type of market as only 2% of all sales in the U.S. were foreclosures or short sales.

Therefore, most experts agree that prices will likely continue to rise, even if they move up even slightly. Many buyers recognize this and are taking advantage of less competition to purchase a home while working with a lender to ensure the lowest possible monthly mortgage rates.

As we enter the last few days of 2022 (I will report on December sales next month), I wanted to show you a look at how ONLY November and ALL of 2022 compares to the to the previous year.

Through the first 11 months of the year, there were more than 4,700 homes sold in Northwest Louisiana. We will likely finish with the third strongest year in history. Our prices are showing positive gains of 7% (about double what our traditional appreciation is) and homes continue to sell quickly.

The snapshot of November ONLY shows a similar story. Our price increase over last November was almost three times that of the U.S. while our sales, while off dramatically from a year ago, were not as low as the nation's. And in what we hope is a good sign, our inventory did increase more than the country as our sales pace is almost the same.

 

Northwest LA

(2022 vs. 2021 YTD)

Median Price

$212,000 /+7%

Number of Sales

4,793/-14%

Median Days on Market

12/16

 

 

U.S.

(change over November '21)

Northwest LA

(change over November '21)

Median Price

$370,700/+3.5%

$215,000 /+11%

Number of Sales

4.09 million/-35.4%
(annualized)

317/-29%

Inventory

1.14 million/+2.7%

1,030/+15%

Month Supply

3.3/2.1

2.4/1.8

Median Days on Market

24/18

23/11

 

All of us at Coldwell Banker Gosslee hope you have an enjoyable last few days of 2022.

We can't thank you enough for allowing us to help with your housing needs and for once again making us the top real estate company in Northwest Louisiana!

Happy New Year!

If you want to get even more insight, you can click here to get our Coldwell Banker Gosslee November 2022 Monthly Market Report.

Please reach out to one of our agents or feel free to reach out to me at bgosslee@cbgosslee.com.

December
27

5 New Year's Resolutions for the Home

Instead of repeating New Year's resolutions that you'll never keep, this year try setting a few home improvement goals. You're certainly aware of the typical "paint your front door" advice for a quick home improvement, but you can save the prettying-up for spring and address the basics now. These resolutions will have an immediate impact on your daily quality of life and help you go into the new year worry-free.

Kitchen

If you consider your kitchen the beating heart of your house, cook up some ways to perform preventative maintenance on your appliances. Machines that receive the brunt of day-to-day use (the refrigerator, dishwasher and stove) deserve a deep cleaning and a checkup. Make sure to thoroughly clean behind and underneath them and address any operational issues so you can plan for necessary repairs or replacements.

Improvement Idea: Give your kitchen a little TLC by having the countertops resealed and installing a backsplash.

Living Spaces

There's nothing quite like settling into a room that's refreshed from top-to-bottom with spotless windows and floors. Consider renting a floor cleaning machine or scheduling professional services. Furniture with upholstery should get a good steam treatment, and walls could likely use a wipe down to erase months (or years) of smudges and stains. Once you're finished, your home will look, and more importantly, feel as good as new.

Improvement Idea: To keep floors clean and cut down on the amount of dust particles, irritants and floaters in open areas, consider using air purifiers, entryway shoe racks and robot vacuums/mops.

Garage

Whether it's your hobby space, tinkering spot or storage for miscellaneous items, the garage is often looked over when it comes to home upkeep – so bring this "out of sight, out of mind" space into the spotlight. Take inventory of everything inside your garage. If you have any unwanted items, set them aside for donation or get rid of them. For everything else, reorganize and declutter by prioritizing items you use often and storing away items that are used sparingly.

Improvement Idea: If you have a bare garage floor, consider having a professional coat it with paint, concrete sealant or epoxy.

Exterior
Think about a big project that you haven't had time to get to or have been putting off. Are there leaves or debris still sitting in the gutter? Should a pressure washing be scheduled in the upcoming months? Could the landscaping use a touch-up? Once you have a game plan, you can buckle down and tackle these projects one by one.

Improvement Idea: If now isn't the best time to deal with outdoor projects, calling around to gather info/quotes and set dates is a simple first step to getting these chores taken care of.

To-do lists for home are never exciting, but by setting aside a time allotment for each area, grabbing some help (with the promise of a reward) and setting up your favorite music playlist, you can lighten the load. You'll finish up with the pride of knowing your home has been renewed and well-kept for the months to come and be proud that you actually kept your New Year's resolutions this year!

December
23

How Much to Budget for Home Repairs

Whether you're a first-time buyer or experienced homeowner at some point you'll need to make home repairs. And those repairs will cost money. It's something first-time buyers often don't think about ahead of time and experienced owners may have learned the hard way. So budgeting at least some money in advance for these expenses is a must. Here's how to figure it all out.

Common Budgeting Approaches 

The first step is deciding how much to save for home repairs. Here are a few different ways you can approach budgeting.

  • Save 1 to 3 percent of the price of your home per year. That means if your home was $200,000 you should devote $2,000 to $6,000 per year to your home repair budget. This rule is based on a per year average over a longer period of time. Some years you'll spend less and some years more. Depending on other factors, you may want to be on the lower or higher end of that range.
  • Save $1 per square foot per year. This makes sense because larger square footage means there is more house to keep repaired. For a 2500 square foot house that comes out to $2,500 per year.
  • A basic budget plus a project specific budget. If you know a major repair is a few years out, use the average costs in your area or actual estimates for those repairs and break it down into payments. You'll still need money to cover the little repairs too, but knowing you need to save at least $300 per month to make that new roof a reality in a few years can be a starting point. Your budget can change a little based on the projects.

Adjusting the Basic Budget for Your Home

Once you have a starting point you'll need to adjust your budget to account for the specifics of your home.

  • Age of your home. Older homes often (but not always!) require more upkeep costs.
  • Current condition of your home
  • Climate. Climate variances can make your home more likely to need certain repairs. Knowing what you're likely to see down the road can help you adjust your budget and take the necessary preventative measures.
  • Exposure to extreme weather and the possibility of storm damage.
  • Single-family vs. condo or townhouse. Condos and townhouses have a lower repair budget because some of the costs are covered by your homeowner's association fees or project specific fees.

Add 10 percent of your basic budget per year for each factor that increases the likelihood of repairs. For example, a basic budget of $2,000 per year for an older home in an area where bad weather is common, would increase that budget to $2,400 per year.

Money Saving Tips

  • Use a separate savings account and automatic deposits. Designating a separate account specifically for repairs and setting up automatic deposits or transfers makes saving easy. Don't tie up this money in long-term investments, you'll want to be able to access it immediately if you need it.
  • Use a budgeting app. It can help you cut costs on everyday expenses so you can divert that money to your home repair budget.
  • Consider DIY projects. Many smaller home repairs require only basic skills that are easy to learn. Just be realistic, and do your research ahead of time. Save calling the professionals for the big jobs.

While no one can guess exactly what your home repair costs will be, being prepared and budgeting in advance will save you lots of headaches later and allow you to enjoy the benefits of homeownership for years to come.

December
22

First-time Buyers - Should You Buy a Home or Renew Your Lease


It is time to renew your lease or buy your first home? It's a question every renter faces at some point, and the right answer for you depends on a number of important factors.


Choosing the right time to buy your first home makes a world of difference because preparation is crucial. If your finances are in order and you're ready for homeownership, deciding to buy your first house can be an exciting, rewarding decision. Let's take a look at factors that will help you decide whether to renew your lease or become a homeowner.

How Do You Decide?

  • Are you prepared financially to buy a house?
    This is the big question because even if everything else is in order you will still need solid finances in order to buy your first home. There are programs available to help first-time buyers qualify for loans. FHA loans may allow you to secure a loan with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent. Consider whether you have the savings to make a down payment, the steady income to pay your mortgage, and cash for the other costs like moving, furniture, and property taxes.

  • How's your credit score looking?
    Your credit score is a big factor in your ability to qualify for a mortgage with favorable terms.  You don't need perfect credit to buy a house, but you'll want to make sure that any outstanding debts or other credit issues are addressed before applying for a mortgage.

  • Have you chosen a location that fits your needs long-term?
    Shopping for the right neighborhood is often just as important as shopping for the right house.  It helps to have a solid idea of where you'd like to live as you enter the housing market. Consider your employment needs, preferred entertainment options, family needs, school district, and anything else that is important to you in the community where you want to live.

  • Are you ready on a personal level to own a home?
    For many renters, the decision to go from leasing to owning coincides with personal milestones like starting a family or finding a career with long-term financial security. Unfortunately, there is no equation to help you decide if you're ready to buy; however, if you feel like now is the time and your finances are ready, you'll be prepared to approach purchasing your first home with confidence.

  • Are you willing to compromise to get what you need?
    No matter how many homes you buy, there are always compromises involved. Are you willing to live on a budget to have the cash you need for mortgage payments and home expenses? Have you prioritized wants/needs when it comes to your desired home and neighborhood? Answering these questions will help you decide if now is the time.

There are financial and personal benchmarks that can help you decide whether the time is right to buy a home. Owning a home is rewarding in so many ways, from being able to customize your home to your heart's content, to the equity you can build by owning a home of your own.

December
21

Selling a Home in the Winter

Traditionally, spring is the most popular time to sell your home. In the winter, temperatures start to drop, people begin hunkering down, and home sellers see fewer buyers and lower offers. 

However, like most things last year, the real estate market continues to be different in 2021. In fact, cold temperatures are unlikely to put a damper on this hot seller's market! Low inventory, low-interest rates, and a rash of serious buyers who want to upgrade their homes as soon as possible have created the perfect situation for would-be sellers. 

While the odds are certainly in your favor right now, there are a few things you can do to help you get the most out of your winter home sale. Start with these six tips. 

  1. Get Your Pricing Right
    You might think the current economy would require you to price your home on the lower end, but that's not the case at all! In fact, listing prices have skyrocketed. Pent-up demand and a low inventory of homes for sale have combined to push home prices up. This means you're more likely to get offers at or above your asking price. It's always a good idea to work with a qualified real estate agent who can help you choose the perfect price point for your home before you list it. 
  1. Make Sure Your Home is Ready
    Most of today's buyers are looking for a move-in ready home. Few people are going to be excited about having to start a renovation or remodel in the middle of winter, so if you're looking to sell now, make sure your home is turn-key. If you can make some small repairs and upgrades before you list, it will improve your home value and justify a higher price. 
  1. Highlight In-Demand Features
    Buyers' needs have changed since life has shifted towards spending more time at home. Now, more than ever, people are looking for homes that have plenty of space, privacy, and flexibility. If your home has a great backyard or a room that can convert to a home office or classroom, make sure your real estate agent highlights these features both in the listing and during showings. 
  1. Provide Virtual Tours
    Many potential buyers are hesitant to visit a home in person unless they're already sure they love it. This means the virtual tour is now one of the most important tools for marketing your home. Finding an agent who is an expert at creating an online presence will help you attract more potential buyers and get better offers.
  1. Take Your Time
    The current market conditions make it likely that you'll receive multiple offers on your home, possibly even at the same time. For this reason, it's smart to take your time before accepting an offer. Usually, you'll have 24 to 48 hours before you have to reply. Jumping the gun too soon could result in you leaving a nice chunk of change on the table. 
  1. Plan on a Remote Closing
    It's in your best interest to keep everything as remote as possible, including the closing. Not only does a remote closing help you reduce contact, but it's also far faster and more convenient. Remote closings and the use of electronic signatures have become an accepted practice in almost every state now, so plan on taking advantage of this if you can. 

If you've been thinking about listing your home, now is the perfect time to do it. Follow these tips, and there's a good chance you'll have your home sold for a price you love before the spring flowers start to bloom

December
20

7 Tips for Attracting Millennial Buyers

Millennials — usually defined as being in their early 20s and approaching 40 — now represent more than a quarter of the U.S. population, and many of them are buying homes. In fact, they make up the largest share of home buyers at 38%.

If you're selling your home, you'll want to appeal to this large segment of home buyers. And it pays to keep in mind they can have different priorities compared to other homebuyer age groups.

Follow these 7 tips to help attract millennial homebuyers:

  1. Create a dedicated home office space.
    Since the pandemic began, working at home has dramatically increased, particularly for millennials. In fact, nearly half of this age group works from home. If you have a bonus room, appeal to millennials by staging a home office. Add some shelving, a desk, and ample lighting, and you'll have a workspace that will attract buyers in this demographic.
  2. Upgrade your yard and deck.
    Millennials want to personalize their homes with items like fire pits and decks that extend their living space. Spruce up your yard and build or expand a deck if needed, adding planters, seating, and other appealing amenities. Just make sure everything is low maintenance since millennial buyers don't want to spend a lot of time and effort where they could be spending that time enjoying the space instead.
  3. Appeal to their tech-heavy lifestyles.
    Technically is a major part of all our lives, and millennials especially want their home to reflect and enable that. Start by integrating practical technology like a smart doorbell and a programmable thermostat that can be linked to a smartphone. You'll also want to swap out some standard outlets in bedrooms, living rooms, and the kitchen with USBs for charging.
  4. Have your home in excellent condition.
    By the time they start looking for a home to buy, millennials have seen years of picture-perfect homes online and on TV. Although some buyers are willing to accept a less-than-shipshape home in exchange for a reduction in price, this is less true of millennials than it is of older buyers. It's unlikely that many millennials have the time to take on a fixer-upper, so the more move-in ready your home is, the better.
  5. Use neutral colors.
    Millennials tend to favor soft, light, neutral colors, so if you're painting your home, resist the temptation to go bold and choose these shades instead. Grays in particular have become popular, in addition to whitewashed variations of gray and creams.
  6. Aim for an open floor concept.
    Today's buyers are usually looking for an open floor plan in which the kitchen, dining, and living areas all flow together. If you're planning to renovate your home, consider hiring a contractor to break down walls and make other changes to make this happen. If this is beyond the scope of your time and budget, use the same type and color of flooring throughout these areas to create a cohesive look and make one room look as though it flows into the next.
  7. Use minimalist furnishings and decor.
    A highly personalized home stuffed with furniture and other belongings won't wow millennials. Instead, declutter and depersonalize your space and use minimalist furnishings. If you make any decor updates, look for clean lines and simple geometric designs for a modern look.

Millennials make up a large percentage of home buyers, so attracting them can help your home sell more quickly and for the best possible price. The key is knowing what they're looking for and making sure your home meets their needs and preferences.

December
19

Why Buying a House During the Holidays is A Great Idea

Buying a house? Worried about the real estate market slowing down during the holiday season?

Getting a transaction done in December can be challenging … for the sellers, that is. They need to work extra hard to advertise a home and make sure it's in great condition for showing. Sometimes that means adjusting their holiday plans or scaling back their usual decorations so the home's great features will shine through.

But buying a house is very different, and the holidays are no reason to put off your plans.

In fact, staying in the market throughout winter can actually make buying a house easier.

Let's look at some of the biggest reasons why:

  1. Sales Prices Are Lower
    Just because the seasons change, it doesn't mean sellers are less motivated. In fact, research by ATTOM Data Solutions shows that December 26 is the best day of the year to buy a home at a deep discount compared to similar homes that sold at other times of the year. The data indicates all the top six days best days to buy were in December. The price difference is more noticeable in colder climates where snow can slow market activity.
  2. Fewer Sellers, Less Time
    Many sellers do step out of the market in the last quarter, concerned that hanging in there could leave them waiting 90 days or more for the right buyer. Sellers who remain tend to be those who have pressing personal reasons to get the transaction finished. 
  3. A Final Tax Boost for the Year
    A huge number of tax benefits can potentially accrue after buying a house. Buyers may enjoy incentives on expenses like property taxes, mortgage interest, and points paid when closing the property. Buying as an investment vehicle can unlock even more tax savings when an appropriate business entity is set up in advance. No matter what approach you take, you could find yourself with a substantial tax refund in the new year.
  4. The Potential for Lower Interest Rates
    Interest rates can fluctuate at any time of year, and the historic lows reached multiple times over the course of 2020 might reverberate through the market for years to come. As a general rule, though, interest rates are low in the winter and get higher and more volatile during the busy seasons of spring and summer. Still, you should work with your real estate agent to make your move at the right time and lock in the best rates you can get.
  5. A Faster Closing Process
    Closing day is the ultimate goal when buying a house, but it can also be very complicated. The traditional closing means meeting up for several hours to sign off on reams of paperwork. It ends with ownership (and the keys!) given over fully to the successful buyer. Many people are involved in this process, and lenders, brokers, inspectors, and even real estate lawyers are usually motivated to get deals done before the end of the year.

Buying a house can be a great adventure and an important life milestone. If you end up exploring the real estate market near the holidays, don't fret. Connect with a trusted local real estate agent who can help you navigate the twists and turns. As a buyer, you have nothing to lose by seeing what's out there. And before you know it, you might just discover that buying at this time of year was one of your best decisions.

December
16

Budgeting For Renovations

Turning a house into a home can be an expensive process.

When contractors are remodeling your bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom, renovation costs sometimes exceed your expectations. That happens more often than you might imagine.

Contractors can find mold inside the bathroom walls while installing new fixtures. Your aging living room carpet may be hiding dry-rotted hardwood. You might not anticipate these conditions, but you'll still have to pay the cost, and this can be frustrating. Before you begin your next home improvement project, consider these options to help you budget for unseen costs.

Understand the costs

Calculating the dollars and cents might burst your remodeling bubble, but it can force you to focus on what's most important. Before you make any decisions, discuss pricing with your contractor. Get a written estimate as well, but understand the estimate will include standard home improvement tasks and visible extras. Some cost additions might be out of your contractor's control.

  • Materials and fixture prices may increase between the time your contractor orders them and the day they're delivered.
  • Unavailable materials may be replaced with more expensive options.
  • The job may require more time to complete, which translates into higher labor costs.
  • The estimates may not include the cost of insurance, permits, and state-required certificates.

Be realistic

Do you insist on a kitchen remodel that includes granite countertops, marble tile, a custom farmhouse sink, and an expensive new stainless refrigerator? If you live in an upscale community, your taste for the finer things in life might increase your home's value. If not, your costly renovations may feel like a waste of money when it's time to sell your home. Be realistic when you plan your home remodel. Make decisions based on the home and neighborhood where you live not the one you dream about.

DIY to reduce costs

The concept of sweat equity places a value on the work you're willing to perform to improve your property. Even if you have limited experience working with tools, you can paint, spackle, lay tile, and complete other tasks to reduce your remodeling costs.

Put a cap on your spending

Once you get a handle on the estimated costs for what you want, create a budget you can stick to. An experienced contractor should have a good idea of the potential for remodeling "surprises." Discuss the possibility ahead of time and factor them into your calculations.

Arrange project financing

Even when you have enough cash to pay for your renovations, financing your home improvement might be a better option. A major project can deplete the savings it took you years to accumulate. Instead of using your hard-earned cash, consider one of the following:

  • Home Equity Loan: a single lump-sum loan using home equity as collateral
  • Home Equity Line of Credit: a revolving line of credit with a variable interest rate
  • Cash-out refinance: refinance your home for more than you owe and receive cash back

Remodeling surprises happen

Whether big or small, your remodeling job will require that your contractor juggle a hundred little details. Surprises happen, but you can handle the potential for unforeseen renovations when you plan ahead.

December
15

(December 15, 2022) Amy Chapman has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 Real Estate Firm in NW Louisiana. 

After a very successful, 17-year career in medical sales and many awards for her outstanding work, Amy is ready to help local families find HOME.

"I just want to help people. Always." - Amy

With her love of helping others, combined with her geniune, fun-loving personality - we know that Amy has found her calling! She is so caring and is ready to not only help her clients with all of their real estate needs, but she is looking forward to building relationships with them that last a lifetime. 

When Amy isn't helping others achieve their real estate goals, she enjoys volunteering her time at church and with animals.

Amy was born in Texas, graduated from Stephen F. Austin and made Shreveport home 20 years ago. She has two children - Jackson, 22, and Adelyn, 20 - that both attend LA Tech. In her spare time you can find her doing any outdoor activities, playing with animals, and helping anyone that is in need of help. 

You can contact Amy at 318.553.7998 or you can email her at amchap11@gmail.com

To find out how Coldwell Banker Gosslee has remained #1 for the 29th straight year, go to cbgosslee.com 

December
14

5 Home Staging Mistakes You Don't Even Know You're Making

When a potential buyer visits your home, you want them to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb.

Staging your home for open houses is an important step in the selling process because you want buyers to imagine what their life would be like if they lived there. Working with an experienced real estate agent is a great way to learn what it takes to successfully stage a home. Today, we're going to take a look at five things you definitely don't want to do when staging your home.

  1. Expecting Hidden Messes to Remain Hidden
    If you're like most homeowners, you may have some hidden dirt or grime in corners of your home that don't get much traffic. It's important to make sure that every corner of your house is squeaky clean, even if it means moving large furniture or clearing out everything in a closet to reach the floor. Potential buyers will look at every corner of your home to gauge how well you've taken care of places people don't normally see.

  2. What's That Smell?
    Cleaning up the spaces that people can see is a great start when selling a house, but you'll also want to make sure that they don't smell anything unpleasant when they walk through the door. If you've got pet odors or any other smell that might be unpleasant for buyers, now is the time to track down the source and take care of the problem.

  3. Personal Items in Plain View
    Throughout the list, you'll notice a consistent theme of allowing buyers to imagine their lives in your home, and that's no accident. In fact, it's one of the key steps in attracting a buyer when you're selling your home. Leaving personal items around the house (like photos and personal mementos) may make it more difficult for those buyers to imagine what their life would be like in the home. Be sure to pack up personal items before visitors arrive, and remember that you'll be able to display them again in your new home.

  4. Clutter, Clutter Everywhere
    Removing personal items is a way to provide a blank slate for anyone who visits your open house, but personal items aren't the only thing you'll need to take care of before your guests arrive. A disorganized, cluttered home is definitely not what buyers want to see, so it's crucial to clear out any clutter before your open house. Just as with removing personal items, you can treat clearing clutter as an opportunity to start packing and getting a head start on moving into your new home.

  5. Forgetting the Front Yard
    Or the backyard, for that matter! Curb appeal is selling a house, so make sure that your yard is clean, your landscaping is well taken care of, and the entrance to your home is looking its absolute best. If you have outdoor space in your backyard, make sure that's looking great too.

By avoiding the most common mistakes for staging an open house, you'll be ready to present your home to potential buyers in its best possible light. The big key is keeping your home clean and clutter-free so that every buyer who visits can imagine their own life there.

December
13

Your Two-Month Moving Checklist

The pandemic stay-at-home protocols forced us to reevaluate our homes and where we live. Questions about our home size, needing a home office long term and thoughts of relocation to more affordable cities or closer to family were on the minds of many during the last year. Whether due to a life change or a change brought about by the pandemic, millions of people are moving and creating the "Great Reshuffling." 

This record rise in Americans moving, coupled with the typical busy moving season in the summer and a shortage of workers, has created the perfect storm. Moving companies are incredibly busy and are working hard to hire the qualified help they need. Moving is challenging enough without scrambling to find a reputable moving company.   

So what does this mean for those planning to move this summer? Plan ahead! Make your moving reservations as early as possible to beat the surge and put your organizational skills in overdrive. 

If possible, give yourself eight weeks to handle the moving to-dos in an orderly, low-stress manner. Use the steps below in this two-month moving calendar to keep you calm and prepared. Simply follow these steps and check them off one-by-one:  

 EIGHT WEEKS TO GO: 

  • Check a mover's record with the Better Business Bureau in your state and social review sites. A great reputation is the best way to choose a mover 
  • Book your mover 
  • Start to inventory and divide up your belongings: Decide who gets what, which items to donate, recycle, to take and which items (if any) need to go into short-term or long-term storage 

FOUR WEEKS TO GO:  

  • Mail change of address cards or change your information online at the following:  
    • Post office 
    • Local Department of Motor Vehicles for License & Registration  
    • Social security  
    • Insurance companies 
    • Credit card companies 
    • Credit bureau and/or other creditors 
    • Employer (to forward W2s) 
    • Broker 
    • Mail order accounts 
    • Magazines 
    • Friends and relatives 
  • Gather personal records (medical, dental, etc.) 
  • Arrange to transfer children's school records 
  • Gather all pet's vet records and make sure all pets are microchipped and chip corresponds to a cell number that goes with you on your move. Order new tags and licenses with new address and your cell phone number 
  • Check homeowner's insurance policies to see if moving is covered. Be sure your new home is protected by transferring fire, theft and other personal-property insurance 
  • START TO PACK 

THREE WEEKS TO GO: 

  • Make arrangements to discontinue current utilities and schedule the start-up of new utilities: 
    • Landline telephone service 
    • Cable TV  
    • Internet  
    • Electricity (check for refund) 
    • Gas (check for refund) 
    • Fuel oil 
    • House cleaners 
    • Babysitters 
    • Dog walkers 
    • Gardeners 
    • Pool Service 
    • Diaper service 
    • Water 
    • Water softener 
    • Parking 
    • Other: ________________________ 
    • Have appliances serviced for shipment 

 TWO WEEKS TO GO: 

  • Arrange to transfer local bank accounts 
  • Ask doctors, dentists and veterinarians for medical records  
  • Cancel newspaper delivery 
  • Refill all prescriptions. Get prescriptions transferred to a new pharmacy closer to the new home 
  • Make arrangements to move children and pets. Do you need a babysitter for a day or two? A pet sitter?  
  • Confirm that the mover will move houseplants; if not, make arrangements. Houseplants, usually, cannot be moved by a mover, especially on long distance or out of state moves 
  • Start to disassemble any shelving, closet systems, etc. that you plan to take or arrange with the mover that they will be doing this on the day of the move 
  • If you need one, hire a cleaning crew to come clean your empty place to get your deposit back. Will your new place need a cleaning crew before you move in too?  

 ONE WEEK TO GO: 

  • Pack in separate boxes the items necessary for first days in the new home: Label "LOAD LAST." And label where to put each of those boxes in your new home: 
    • Medicine (always keep prescriptions on you) 
    • Comfortable clothes 
    • Linens and towels 
    • Toothbrushes and toiletries 
    • Paper goods 
    • Disposable plates and silverware 
    • Foil and wax paper 
    • Plastic containers 
    • Microwave 
    • Vacuum cleaner 
    • Garbage bags 
    • Tool kit 
    • Step ladder 
    • Extension cords 
    • Light bulbs 
    • Cleaning items (mop and pail, broom and dust pan, etc.) 
    • Each member of the family should also pack a suitcase with what they need for a few days while you're getting settled into your new place. Don't forget cell phone chargers, medications and favorite teddy bears 
  • If the movers are packing all or part of your belongings, call to schedule and confirm the details. Make sure your mover knows how much packing you expect to do yourself and how much you expect them to do 
  • Plan to use up most food items before the move. If you have any leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger 
  • Register to vote 

 TWO DAYS TO GO: 

  • Defrost and dry refrigerators/freezers to be moved 
  • Gather valuables and important documents from jewelry cases, safe deposit box, etc. to take with you in the car. Do not pack these items with your other belongings 

 MOVING DAY! YOU MADE IT! 

 Congratulations, you conquered "The Great Reshuffling!" Not only did you move during a very unique time, you stayed organized and, hopefully, the entire process was much more stress-free. As the winner of this moving marathon, you now get to slowly unpack and peacefully settle into your new and improved lifestyle. 

December
9

Fireplace Safety and Efficiency Tips

Whether it's for the cozy ambiance fireplaces create or simply for the practical use of reducing heating costs, many buyers have a fireplace on their list of wants when buying a home.

Here are three "hot" tips for keeping your home fireplace burning safely and efficiently.

1. Fireplace Preventive Maintenance

Excessive heat and chimney fires are produced by the buildup of creosote—a highly-combustible byproduct (mostly tar) of burning wood. Whether using your fireplace year-round, seasonally or just when the mood strikes you, chimney preventive maintenance is an essential home improvement project for keeping your home safe.

  • Chimney inspection: Hire a chimney service technician to inspect your chimney at least once a year. Loose bricks, cracks, missing mortar and damaged dampers and lining may need to make your home improvement list.
  • Chimney cap: Chimney caps with spark arrestors (metal screens) prevent snow, rain, animals, and debris from entering the chimney. Moreover, spark arrestors prevent floating embers from escaping the chimney and possibly setting your roof ablaze. Your technician ensures the chimney cap and spark arrestor are functioning properly.
  • Chimney sweep: A 2016 report by the National Fire Protection Association states that the leading factor for home heating fires was a failure to clean the chimney.

2. Building a Fire

Learning how to build a home fireplace fire safely and efficiently are excellent skills to master. There's more to it than tossing some wood in the firebox, dousing it with lighter fluid and—uh-oh—don't do that! Be patient, and take fire building seriously.

  • Choosing wood: Only burn dry, cured wood. High moisture levels in wood create more smoke, doesn't burn as efficiently and tends to produce more creosote. Cover your woodpile, but leave the sides exposed to airflow. Hickory, white oak, beech, and other hardwoods burn longer than spruce and white pine. However, sufficiently dry firewood is more important than the species and density.
  • Building a fire: Open the damper first. Next, place larger logs in the back of the firebox. Put smaller logs on top of the larger ones. On top, place your wood kindling and tinder, such as bunched-up newspaper balls. This "upside down" fire will burn cleaner and hotter than placing kindling and tinder on the bottom. Remember, start slowly, be patient and build up.
  • Only burn firewood: Your fireplace isn't an incinerator. Disposing of crates, construction scraps and painted or stained wood, for example, may seem harmless enough, but treated woods release harmful chemicals into your home.

3. Fireplace Safety and Efficiency

Be mindful of the fireplace surroundings and the fire. Keep tinder, such as newspaper and other combustibles, at a safe distance. Use these tips to keep the warm glow inside the firebox.

  • Spark guard: When you cozy up with your significant other in front of your fireplace, sure, you want sparks to fly—but not sparks from the fireplace fire! Close the mesh spark guard when the glass doors are open.
  • Dampers: You don't want your energy dollars going up the chimney. Close the damper and glass doors when you are not using the fireplace.
  • Alarms: Test your smoke alarms and CO detectors at least twice a year. Alarms/detectors should be installed outside each sleeping area, on each level of your home and about 8 to 10 feet from your fireplace and any doors to attached garages.
December
7

5 Budget Kitchen Updates To Help You Sell Your Home

When it comes to selling your home for the best possible price, how you present the space matters.

To make the best impression you can on potential buyers, you may need to invest a little time and cash into updating a few key areas with big selling power, such as your kitchen.

To help you do this effectively without eating into your profit margins, we're serving up a platter of budget-friendly kitchen updates – helping you to maximize your kitchen's aesthetic appeal without having to spend a small fortune.

Banish unwanted clutter

The first step on your budget kitchen update journey is to banish any unwanted clutter from countertops and open shelving.

In order to boost your kitchen's appeal among potential buyers, you'll want it to have that clean, blank canvas look so prospective buyers can easily visualise themselves using the space.

This means tidying away any items that don't need to be on show. We're talking bulky appliances, overflowing utensil pots, groceries, glassware and more. You don't have to throw them out, but rather simply put them away in a cupboard so they're out of sight when viewings and open houses are taking place.

Install new splashbacks

Splashbacks are an integral feature of modern kitchen design, protecting kitchen walls from everyday spills and splashes while also delivering a stylish design feature.

For homeowners on a tight budget, installing a new splashback could be a quick, affordable way to give this culinary space a fresh, modern update – assuming the rest of the kitchen is in good condition, that is.

From a material point of view, you have plenty of options – patterned tiles, plain tiles, tempered glass, stainless steel and more. Just make sure you choose a finish that complements your existing scheme and has mass appeal.

Update the cabinets

brand-new kitchen can set you back at least $8,000 – making this an unrealistic option for many sellers, as there's no guarantee you'll get a worthwhile return on your investment. So, what are your other options?

Well, one handy trick is to update your kitchen cabinets with a stylish vinyl film wrap cover. Made from robust, durable vinyl, it's a quick, non-disruptive and cost-effective way to give your kitchen a complete reskin in a choice of various finishes and designs.

From solid colors to wood-effect and marble options, whichever design you choose, the end result will be a chic, contemporary kitchen at a fraction of the cost of a full-scale kitchen refit.

Apply a fresh coat of paint

Repainting your kitchen may feel like a hassle at the time, but it's important never to underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint.

Not only will paint cover up those dirty prints and marks, but it can also brighten up a room – making a space instantly feel fresher and more inviting.

To maximize the power of paint in your kitchen, we'd suggest opting for a pale, neutral shade such as white, cream or pale beige. These shades have an evergreen, universal appeal – plus, they can be paired with a huge choice of other complementary accent colors to bring some welcome character to the space.

If you can't resist a little color in your cooking space, or you want to add a little personality with a colored feature wall, try to stick to a tone that works with the rest of your decor and doesn't overwhelm the space.

Replace kitchen hardware and accessories

When it comes to kitchen updates, they don't always need to take the form of large-scale refurbishments. Sometimes, the smaller details can be equally as impactful.

This is definitely the case when it comes to your kitchen hardware and accessories. Making a few low-cost yet considered replacements and upgrades can go a long way towards giving your kitchen a high-end, contemporary feel.

Start with your cabinetry and replace old door handles with new designs – this can even extend to other fixtures like light fittings and faucets if you have the budget.

For accessories, swap out mismatched old food containers, utensils and dish cloths with new alternatives that don't cost the earth. For a chic, cohesive look buyers will love, we'd suggest picking an accent color and design theme – making sure all of your accessories are coordinated, of course.

Getting your home sale-ready does require some effort on your part, but it doesn't have to mean spending a huge amount of money or time.

With these simple, pocket-friendly kitchen updates, you can spruce up the heart of your home at minimal cost and create an attractive kitchen space that buyers won't be able to resist.

 

December
6

Prep Your Home For Guests With These Tips

The holidays are a special time of year when joy and laughter fill the air. We decorate the house with festive ornaments, string lights along the rooftop, shop for holiday gifts, and celebrate the season with family and friends who come to visit.

Whether your holiday guests are visiting overnight or staying for a few days, they need a cozy place to relax and sleep. Hosting guests requires some preparation, but you don't need to stress. With a little effort, you can make your guests feel comfortable and welcome for the holidays.

Create a Warm Welcome

Welcome your guests to your home with a festive entry that showcases the holiday season. Starting outdoors, adorn the trees and shrubs with holiday twinkle lights, line the front walkway with poinsettias, hang a seasonal wreath on the front door, and greet your guests with a cup of hot chocolate. As guests step into your home, welcome them with scented holiday candles, a roaring fire in the fireplace, freshly-baked muffins, and a beautiful holiday tree filled with ornaments, tinsel, and wrapped gifts.

Stock the Kitchen

When you're hosting overnight guests, make sure you stock the kitchen with extra food and beverages. A self-service style layout will keep you from playing short-order cook, especially when guests are staying for several days. Set up an area in the kitchen for a coffee bar with mugs, spoons, and sweeteners. Provide a convenient countertop area for making toast, sandwiches, salads, and plate lunches. For late-night snacks, fill a big basket with fresh fruits, snacks, and sweets so guests can munch at their leisure.

Prepare the Guest Bedroom

A beautiful, inviting guest room is a sure way to make your holiday guests feel welcome. First, create a comfortable, cozy bed with fresh linens, puffy pillows, and warm blankets or quilts. As a welcoming gesture, leave some mints or chocolates on the pillows and a good book on the nightstand. Next, make room for your guests' personal belongings:

  • Find space for suitcases
  • Clear a shelf or drawer
  • Clear out space in the closet
  • Make room for a laptop
  • Buy an extra shoe rack

If your guests are staying for a while, make sure they have easy access to wall plugs and consider sharing your wi-fi password. To create more restful sleep, put a sound machine, a small fan, or a humidifier in the room. If there's no TV in the guest room, leave some magazines, a pack of playing cards, or a puzzle on the dresser. In case of an emergency, make sure there's a flashlight near the bed.

Prepare the Guest Bathroom

Whether your guest bathroom is directly off the bedroom or down the hall, make sure your guests have everything they need. Before you start gathering essentials, clean the bathroom spic and span, clear out non-essentials, fill the room with fresh scents, and put down non-slip rugs. Once the bathroom is sparkling, you can put out guest essentials:

  • Fresh towels and washcloths
  • Rolls of extra toilet paper
  • Toiletries (toothbrushes and toothpaste)
  • Liquid or bar soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Air freshener
  • A first-aid kit

Some people travel with their own beauty essentials, so put a decorative basket on the sink or vanity where they can conveniently store them during their visit. For fresh scents and a relaxing atmosphere, place a few holiday candles on the tub or the vanity.

Above all, remember it's the personal attention you show to your guests that really matters, so welcome them to a comfortable holiday home filled with warmth, laughter, and lasting memories.

December
5

5 Things to Do Before Your First Showing

You work hard to get potential buyers into your home. Whether you've scheduled a last-minute viewing or a daylong open house, your home should be ready when they arrive.

Every room should be neat, clean, aired out, comfortable, and bright. Your entire home should be a silent invitation to buy. It's important to hide the stuff that sends a different message.

  • Your Identity
    When a potential buyer looks at your home, they want to consider what it would be like if they lived there. Your presence during a viewing would make it difficult, which is why you're not invited. Things in your home that present the same dilemma should be hidden.

    - Family photos may tell potential buyers, "this is their"
    - Cultural or ethnic mementos can send a divisive message.
    - Guns and political mementos are controversial and may inspire anger.
    - An odd smell can be the only thing a potential buyer remembers about your home.

  • Pets and Pet Evidence
    Potential home buyers see dogs and cats as smelly little creatures that leave behind a permanent odor. You're not likely to get rid of your beloved pet just to sell your home. However, you should eliminate tell-tale pet evidence before each showing.

    - Make pet odor and hair removal an ongoing project.
    - Take litter boxes, animal habitats, and food and water dishes with you.
    - Get a pet carrier for quick getaways.
    - Light a mildly scented candle to cover left-behind odors.

  • Clutter
    Your clutter might be irreplaceable knick-knacks, beautiful collectibles, or a must-have shoe collection. Still, these things make your home look less roomy, less neat, and less desirable than its decluttered version.

    Remember:
    - Clear your stuff from every surface unless it serves a specific purpose.
    - Clean out and organize your closets.
    - Remove belongings stored under a bed. It gives the impression of too little storage space.
    - Clear kitchen counters except for high-end appliances.
    - Remove throw rugs. They're clutter-ish and also a trip and fall hazard.
    - Store removed items away from your residence.

  • Valuables
    You have no idea who is in your home during an open house. It's impossible for your real estate agent to watch everyone every moment, so it's best to be cautious. Take your jewelry and other valuables with you, or consider storing them in a safe deposit box.

  • Toys
    Toys are often hard to manage because they're everywhere, and children aren't big fans of decluttering. If you're tidying up your home to put it on the market, now is a good time to establish a donate-toys-to-charity habit with your kids.

    Your children's generosity will make it easier to keep your rooms neat during the marketing process.

Keep these tips in mind when prepping for your first showing, and you're sure to attract the attention of promising buyers.

December
2

5 Holiday Decorating Tips for Small Spaces

Are you in the process of getting your decorations up and realizing you're running out of room? Maybe you are starting to outgrow your current home? Today, we are sharing 5 decorating tips for small spaces.

Keep It Simple

A Christmas tree is a must but opt for something smaller that won't take up a ton of space. When it comes to your Christmas decor theme, use lots of neutrals. Winter White looks so pretty againt a tree and won't overwhelm small spaces. 

Create Ambiance

Candles are your best friend when it comes to making smaller spaces festive and cozy. You might not have tons of extra space for strands of garlands and lights without feeling overwhelming, but candles can be added to decorative trays, countertops and your mantle, if you have one. 

Chunky Linens

Swap out linens and blankers with cozy, chunky textures. Think chuny knut blankets, sheepskin rugs and comfy pillows. If you don't want to totally replace what you have then bring on the layers! Festive flannel sheets are a fun way to add decor to your bedroom without taking up any additional space.

Festive Framed Artwork

One of the easiest ways to add holiday cheer to your home is to swap out current framed photos or art with fun Christmas prints. You can even print your own Christmas quotes in pretty font and frame them for the season.

Bring The Outdoors In

Evergreen clippings, berries and birch logs for the win! You can add berries to a pretty vase, and use evergreen clippings to accent the fireplace, kitchen table, a mirror - really anywhere! Lean birch logs against a corner wall or throw into a woven basket for some easy decor.

What do you think of these simple holiday decor ideas? What is your favorite way to make your home festive for the holidays?

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