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Katherine Farber

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  1. It’s Valentine’s Day, and it isn’t just for lovebirds. At realtor.com, we believe there’s no place like home and that when you find the one, that’s worth celebrating. But how do you know when you’ve found the one? Maybe it’s an open-concept floor plan that conjures up images of gatherings with loved ones. Or, perhaps it’s a walk-in closet and extensive storage space that you know will be by your side for the long haul. We set out to find the regional must-have features that make home shoppers’ hearts skip a beat. Topping the list of most-loved features are the makings for man-caves, she-sheds, workshops, and granny pods. Also high on the list are features such as acreage and fenced yards, indicating that people in many states love their privacy. And as it turns out, America has fallen out of love with having to climb stairs. Buyers in several states don’t want anything to do with multi-level homes, instead opting for a single-level home, rambler, or first-floor master. When we shared these insights with our employees, exchanges about what made them fall in love with their own homes began. Unsurprisingly, what many of our employees love about their own dwellings is not too different than other Americans. Isabel Samano, for instance, our Workplace Services Supervisor, shared that it’s all about location. She grew up with seven brothers and sisters and as she raises her own family, it’s critical to be in close proximity to extended family. Her mom and a younger sister live just down the street from Samano, enabling their tight-knit unit to get together at a moment’s notice. For Tracey Lewis, Sr. Director of Corporate Communications, it was all about matters of the heart. She explained that when she and her husband walked into a listing 15 years ago, her husband immediately said, “Uh oh!” Lewis, unsure what he was referencing, asked, “What?” Her husband went on to say, “I grew up in this house.” As luck would have it, the listing was designed and built by the same person as her husband’s parents’ home. When they stood that day in what would become their oldest daughter’s room, her husband said, “I threw spitballs at my brother from my bunk bed over here!” At that moment, they decided they’d found the one and bought the house. It already felt like home. And for Rebecca Faries, Sr. Customer Care Representative, the view is what drew her in. Similar to must-have features in Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia, sweeping views and a heavenly location were just the right X-factor to make the home hers. She says, “I didn’t even see anything that might need to be fixed on my house because I instantly fell in love with the view!” I must say, I know that feeling well. When my husband and I bought our first home, we fell in real estate love at first sight. Before we even entered the home, we noticed a super unique fixture on the front porch. Our agent let us know that the house was built in the 1890s, and what we were looking at was an original gas light — one of the few still remaining in the neighborhood. We were so excited to be buying a little piece of history! We all have our own story, and like the old adage: when you know — you know. It’s kismet. Happy Valentine’s Day from our home to yours! View the original article
  2. Katherine Farber

    Stage a Space as a Calming Retreat

    Stage a Space as a Calming Retreat Create a Zen environment that channels nature and follows the "mindful living" trend. February 17, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey View the original article
  3. Katherine Farber

    Add Some Bling to Your Decor

    Add Some Bling to Your Decor Rich metal accents are helping home design shine February 10, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey Design Trends, Kitchen & Bath View the original article
  4. Katherine Farber

    6 Home Design Fads That Are Fading

    6 Home Design Fads That Are Fading These trends were all the rage in the 2010s, but now designers say they want to leave them in the past. February 3, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey View the original article
  5. 'Japandi Minimalist Style' and Other Global... Could these international home trends be the next big thing in the U.S.? January 27, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey Design Trends View the original article
  6. Katherine Farber

    10 Trending Design Fads for 2020

    10 Trending Design Fads for 2020 Dining rooms with personality? Tiled bathtub aprons? Houzz offers its picks for the hottest trends to watch throughout the year. January 16, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey View the original article
  7. 2020's Hottest Paint Colors: Which Is Your... The perfect hue for your listing could be hiding among paint companies' top 11 picks. January 13, 2020 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey View the original article
  8. Turn Any Bedroom Into a Dreamy Sanctuary Expect home buyers to scrutinize the master bedroom. Here’s how to set the perfect scene that’ll make them fall in love. January 6, 2020 By: Karen Post View the original article
  9. Katherine Farber

    5 Design Trends to Watch in 2020

    5 Design Trends to Watch in 2020 From balanced earth tones to unique lighting, find out which designs you can expect to gain popularity in the new year. December 30, 2019 View the original article
  10. When you’re shopping for a new home, it’s not uncommon to face a little bit of sticker shock when it comes to price. This often leads to buyers trying to find a good balance between what they want and what they can afford. However, if you’re smart (and maybe a little lucky), you may be able to find some really great deals if you know what to look for. One of the keys to finding a good deal is to look for properties that have qualities that might seem unappealing at first but that can be corrected fairly easily. Some of these things can drive prices down significantly but won’t require a major renovation to fix. If you’re hoping to find a bargain, here are a few things to look out for. Ugly Paint Even though there’s a lot of damage that can make your paint look ugly, sometimes the paint is just ugly because someone chose to bring together colors that should never coexist. It could be awful colors, it could be cheap paint that’s faded over time or it could even be an amateur paint job that never got touched up. Regardless of the reason for the ugly paint job, it can drive the price of the property down by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. It doesn’t even have to be the entire house; one ugly room can give you an opportunity to find a good deal on an otherwise nice property. Landscaping Issues A property’s yard is one of the first things that potential buyers see. If it’s obviously been neglected or has bald patches and overgrown flower beds, this can make a negative first impression because it suggests that the house itself might not have been taken care of either. That isn’t always the case, though. Even if the house is in good condition, a yard that needs some TLC can usually shave some money off the asking price and help you to net a great deal. Fixtures and Accents There are a lot of cosmetic elements in houses that can start looking rough over time. Handles and knobs can come loose or become tarnished, shutters can get loose, bathroom tiles can become cracked… the list goes on. While updating these issues won’t break the bank, many sellers will drop their asking price quite a bit due to how these little things make the house look. Bathroom Concerns A lot of buyers shy away from houses that have obvious bathroom problems, causing those sellers to bring the price down significantly in many cases. Depending on the extent of the issues in the bathroom, though, there could be a real opportunity here. If the problem with the bathroom is mostly cosmetic, then you may be able to fix it on the relatively cheap side and save a lot of money in the process. Just be sure to keep an eye out for signs of water damage or mold, since that could indicate problems that would be much more expensive to fix. Previous Foreclosure One other strategy for finding a deal is to look for bank-owned properties that were previous foreclosures. These properties are often sold at a discount because the bank isn’t necessarily trying to sell the house at market value, it’s simply trying to recoup the money it lost when it had to foreclose. The amount you can save will depend on both the bank and the amount of equity that was in the home when it was foreclosed, but you may luck into a great deal on a nice house this way. Just be aware that while there are legitimate programs that can help you find a foreclosed property, there are also some scammy ones out there as well. Call in the Experts Having your Realtor, like me, help you with your search is another way to find hidden gems and get a bargain on your next home. I can find you properties that need some of these little fixes and give you an idea of what sort of updates the property could need.
  11. Home solar may be the energy solution of the future, offering clean, reliable energy without having to depend on power companies and their high energy rates. With new financing options in the works from some companies, getting into solar could soon be easier than ever before. If you like the thought of energy-independence, then picturing your home with its own solar panels might make you giddy. Before you get too excited, though, there are a few things that it’s important you know about solar energy first. Solar Is Expensive If you want a full solar array capable of powering your home, there could be a significant expense involved. Depending on the size of your home and the extent of your energy needs, your solar setup could easily cost you $30,000 to $45,000 or more. You may be able to finance the panels and installation, but it’s still a major expense. Tax credits or other incentive programs may help to offset the cost, but the availability of these programs and what’s required to qualify can vary from year to year or by locale. Recouping Your Investment The money you save on your electric bill should eventually be more than what you pay to have solar panels installed, but it may take a while for you to save more than you spent. Depending on the size of your solar panels, where your property is located and how much of an effect the panels have on your electric bill, it could take 10 years or longer for you to recoup your initial solar investment. Solar Mounting Concerns Not all homes are ideal for solar. If your property has a lot of tall trees surrounding it or you otherwise experience a lot of shade on your house, this can have a negative effect on how well your solar panels function. Also, if you’ve had issues with your roof in the past you may have a hard time installing a roof-mounted solar array given the weight of the equipment. If you opt for an off-the-roof array to take advantage of the best lighting on your property, there will be added expense involved since you’ll have to put in a concrete slab and use different mounting equipment as well. Do You Have a Battery? Many people think of solar as being a way to keep power no matter what’s going on with the grid, but that isn’t always the case. Many solar arrays are designed to back-feed power into the grid itself, essentially selling the power that you generate to the electric company and reducing your bill that way. If there’s a blackout or other problems with the grid, though, you’ll still be affected because that power isn’t being stored locally. If you want local power storage, you’ll need batteries… and that can be even more expensive, depending on your home energy usage and whether you want the batteries to supply some or all of your power needs. Cleaning and Maintenance One thing that’s left out of a lot of solar conversations is the ongoing cleaning and maintenance requirements that solar panels have. The effectiveness of solar panels can be affected by dust and dirt buildup, so your panels will have to be cleaned as part of your normal spring or fall cleaning routines. Damage to panels and dead cells can also affect them and will require an installer to come out and fix. If you have batteries as part of your unit, these may have to be replaced after several years as well as they can start holding less of a charge over time. Home Valuation Effects Having a functional solar installation can have a nice positive effect on your home’s value, especially as energy costs continue to rise. It may reduce the number of interested parties a bit while solar is still relatively uncommon for homes, however. While some buyers will be excited about the idea of buying a home with solar, others may wonder how trustworthy it is or worry about future maintenance costs. While you’ll be able to get more for your property if you decide to sell, it could take you longer to find a buyer.
  12. While the roof is one of the most important parts of your home, it’s also one of the most neglected. The average homeowner gives little thought to the condition or maintenance needs of their roof until it starts to leak, at which point it’s usually too late. With a little bit of care and planning, you can add years to the life of your roof. Even better, you can also improve both the look and overall condition of the rest of your home in the process. Roof Safety First Before you start any plans to take care of your roof, be sure that you know how to safely access the roof and work on it. Ensure that you have a ladder in good condition that you can secure in place, with a spotter there to keep an eye on you and hold the ladder stable. If possible, connect a rope or safety harness to a solid surface on the roof in case of accidental slips or falls. Wear slip-resistant shoes or work boots and walk carefully with each step to test for weak spots before putting your whole weight down. A fall from a roof can be very dangerous, so don’t skimp on the safety procedures when you’re leaving the ground. Check It Out Annually Don’t wait for there to be problems with your roof before you decide to do anything about it. At a bare minimum, you should inspect your roof once a year, ideally in the fall, before freezing temperatures set in. This lets you take care of any problems before ice, snow and other winter issues can make them worse. While this works as a minimum amount of attention, your roof will maintain its good condition longer if you also check it in the spring or early summer as well. Clean the Debris There is more on your roof than just a frisbee. The limbs, dirt and other debris can take a toll on your roof material over time. Wash the debris off your roof or climb up and remove it with a broom, being sure to follow good safety habits if you decide to go up yourself. If you’re unable to remove some of the debris safely, leave it and call a professional. Look for Overhanging Branches Trees near your home can provide good shade during the summer, but as winter sets in they can become a hazard. Limbs and branches that hang over your roof can not only drop seeds, leaves and pollen that can make a mess, but as temperatures drop and everything starts icing over those same limbs can gain a lot of weight. Trimming back the limbs or other hazards can go a long way toward preventing damage to your roof over the course of the winter. Keep Your Gutters Clean Most people clean their gutters to keep the water from falling over the side, but there are other reasons to keep them clean. If your gutters are clogged, all of that organic material holds moisture and keeps it right next to the edge of your roof. Over time, this can cause the wood in the roof edge to soften and rot. This can, in turn, lead to your gutters pulling free and possibly even part of your roof collapsing. Look for Signs of Damage Even quick visual inspections throughout the year can make a big difference in keeping your roof healthy. Areas that seem damp even when everything else looks dry, shingles or flashing that is visibly damaged or pulled up, mold growth on certain spots, damp spots in the attic and other signs of distress are all good ways of telling that there’s some problem with your roof that needs to be handled. Calling in a Roofer Even if you’re diligent when it comes to keeping your roof clean and looking for signs of damage, you may reach a point where you’ll need to bring in a roofer for repairs or a full roof replacement. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry I am here to help! I have partnered with the top professionals that provide exceptional customer service and work.
  13. Figuring out what to buy for friends and loved ones during the holidays isn’t always easy. While some people are easy to shop for, there are always a few people on your list who seem to already have everything they might want. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can get for around the home that they might never buy for themselves. Here are a few suggestions for things that they’ll not only appreciate, but actually USE. Digital Assistants Both Google Home and Amazon’s Echo smart speaker with Alexa are pretty common these days, and both platforms are adding new features frequently. Not only can you use one of these digital assistants to play music or find out the weather forecast, but you can also have them tell you jokes, cast video to smart TVs, look up recipes and even set timers or access your calendar. Companion apps for smartphones will even let your recipient take their assistant with them when they’re away from the house as well. Smart Thermostats Heating and cooling costs are a major expense. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of options out there for smart thermostats that adjust temperatures automatically to help keep costs low. These thermostats can not only make changes based on their programming, but some can even make adjustments on their own when they sense that no one is in the house. Connecting them to smartphone apps would even allow your recipient to control the temperature while away from home so that everything’s just perfect when they get back. Home Automation Accessories Digital assistants and smart thermostats aren’t the only home automation options out there. Smart lighting, smart locks, window sensors, leak sensors and even smart smoke detectors are all available to give your friends or loved-ones new ways to interact with their home. Best of all, most of these devices can be configured to work together to achieve effects like automatically turning on lights when the door is unlocked. Alternative Appliances The modern homeowner deserves so much more than an oven and a microwave can give them. Fortunately, there are a number of options out there that offer up new culinary options while also being extremely giftable. Instant Pot cookers, sous vide cookers and even air fryers offer new options for fixing meals that your gift recipient might never have considered. Many of them are programmable as well and can even be monitored or controlled remotely via dedicated apps. High-Quality Streaming More people are “cutting the cord” and moving away from traditional cable television than ever before. In addition to Netflix, consumers looking for quality digital content have options with Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, CBS All Access and more, and the forthcoming HBO Max streaming service will be here next year. This could be a great time to get your recipient ready for all of this content with a Roku or other streaming device capable of handling HD or 4K streams without buffering or losing picture quality in the process. Pair it with a sound bar or other sound solution to really take their entertainment experience up a notch. Clearing the Air There are a number of common pollutants that can foul the air we breathe. Help your recipient to breathe a sigh of relief by giving them an ionizing air filter or other air purifier to cut out a lot of these unwanted smells and irritants. This will help to keep the air breathable and odor free, and the units themselves are easy to clean so it won’t add a significant new chore to their routine.
  14. You’ve likely heard the phrase “if you’re cold, they’re cold” in relation to pets. Unfortunately, the same reasoning can also apply to pests that might see your home as a source of warmth and food during the winter months. Squirrels, mice, bugs and a number of other pests can find their way indoors if you aren’t careful. In some cases, it can get so bad that you need to call in an exterminator to take care of the problem. It doesn’t necessarily have to get to that point, however. There are a few different ways that you can stop pest problems before they start as you get your home ready for winter. Cover Your Trash One easy way to cut back on pest issues is to make sure that trash cans and other receptacles are in good condition and covered. Old food and other garbage can be a big attractor for pests, and once they’ve accessed your trash can it usually isn’t a very big leap to your house. Empty Your Feeders Some people like to keep their bird feeders stocked over the winter to make sure that birds don’t starve during the cold winter months. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this idea, but it’s important to remember that birds aren’t the only creatures that are attracted to filled bird feeders. If the feeders are out in your yard and far away from your house then it might not cause an issue, but if you have feeders mounted near the house so you can see the birds then you may be inviting trouble. The same goes for hummingbird feeders or any other sources of food too near your home: Empty it out and clean it up if you don’t want it to attract pests. Watch Your Scraps Just like you need to watch food sources outside of the house, make sure you’re not leaving inviting sources of food out inside the house either. Whether it’s in a bin for compost or just scraps left on plates that haven’t been scraped off yet, if there’s food in the house then it could attract a number of uninvited guests. Fill in the Gaps Before the weather gets too bad, take the time to go around your house and try to identify any cracks, holes or other bits of damage that could let in unwanted pests. Make sure that your inspection covers the foundation, areas around windows, the garage, the gutters and the roof, as well as other features of your home that don’t typically get much attention through the year. Fill in holes with steel wool and make repairs as needed to close off those potential access points into your home. Use Plastic Storage Containers If you keep bags of cereal, dry pet food or similar dry goods out in the open in cardboard boxes or bags with clips, it might be time to upgrade to a tougher storage solution. Even though these items are technically put up, thin plastic bags and cardboard boxes don’t offer much of a defense against pests. Put these items in hard plastic storage containers instead. This can even go for boxed dry goods in your cabinets if you don’t access them often; get sealable plastic containers that will fit on the shelves and put dry goods in them – box and all. Be Careful with Wood Piles Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are popular during the winter, but if you aren’t careful, they can make your pest problems worse. Insects and other critters can burrow into wood piles, hitching a ride indoors when you bring in a few extra pieces for the fire. While some may get caught in the wood when you burn it, other pests can escape into the home before that log hits the flame. Be sure to rotate your wood piles frequently and inspect wood before bringing it into the house.
  15. Houzz's Most-Viewed Kitchen Photos of 2019 These pictures capture the hottest kitchen design trends over the past year. December 23, 2019 By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey Design Trends, Kitchen & Bath View the original article
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