The Right Christmas Wreath For Your Front Door

Choosing the perfect tree is part of any holiday decorating tradition, but finding the right wreath for your front door can really finish off your holiday look and can be a beautiful and elegant addition to your exterior décor.  Choosing the right wreath, however, can be complicated, so here are a few tips to consider for finding a holiday wreath that not only works for your door, but also coordinates with your other holiday decorations and the exterior of your home.

Size

The size of your wreath is an important consideration in making it look its best on your front door.  If you have a large, prominent front door then you’ll want to choose a wreath that matches it well.  A small wreath will get lost on the door and won’t look proportional.

Color

While you may select a wreath based on its appearance and whether it matches your other holiday décor, you will also want to choose a wreath that has colors that complement the color of your door.  If you have mostly red and green holiday decorations, but have a blue door, you may want to consider a blue and silver themed wreath, perhaps hung with white lights, to better complement your front door.

Materials

This is the area where you can really get creative.  From natural to synthetic, from pine to grapevine, there are a number of options from which you can choose.  Again, when selecting a wreath for your front door you’ll want to consider whether it matches not only the other decorations, but the door itself and the style of your home.  For example, if you live in a traditional or historic style home, using natural materials such as greenery and berries may look better than a more modern arrangement.

Decorating for the holidays should always be fun and reflect your personal style. But when selecting particular items for the exterior of your home, it is always a good idea to be sure they accent rather than detract.

 

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Preparing Your Home For Holiday Guests

It’s wonderful having friends and family at your home to share the holidays, but it can also be a lot of work.  Hosting for the holidays comes with some challenges that are best met with preparation and an extra dose of patience.  Here are a few quick tips to get your home ready for your holiday visitors.

Overnight Company

Whether you are expecting guests to spend the night or a surprise visit leaves you scrambling to find bedding for everyone, the simplest way to deal with it is to keep an air bed on hand.  Today’s air beds are a lot more comfortable than they were in the past, and you can buy a quality raised air bed for less than a hundred dollars.  A raised air bed will keep guests off the floor and will feel more like a real bed.

A deflated air bed can be stored easily and blown up in a matter of minutes, so you can save space and still have a comfortable guest bed when you need it.  Having an extra in the house comes in handy for all sorts of holiday guests.

Anticipate Their Needs

Be prepared with things holiday guests may use up or simply forget to bring.  Stock up on things like toilet tissue.  Pick up a few extra toothbrushes and toothpaste. Add a few extra towels as well, to avoid having to do constant laundry.

Buying in bulk can save a lot of money on the household items you go through quickly when extra people are in the house—make a trip to your local warehouse store before your guests arrive.

Clear The Clutter

Nothing makes clutter more obvious, or more of a problem, than having extra people in the house.  When you are expecting guests, grab a few storage bins and put away some of the things that tend to clutter up counter tops.  Make a sweep through the house and grab anything that won’t be needed for a while.  The less general clutter you have, the more room you’ll have for guests and their luggage.

Getting through the holidays smoothly and with as few frustrations as possible can be done—even with holiday guests in your home.  Just be ready for their arrival and anticipate what will be needed ahead of time, so you aren’t running around in search of an extra towel.

 

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

Thanksgiving is an annual national holiday commemorating a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621.  This day, which is used to express gratitude, is observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.  One of the greatest traditions of Thanksgiving is that of a family dinner, which means menu planning is a must.  Here are some Thanksgiving menu ideas that will fill your table and the appetite of your guests:

Main Course

The traditional main entré for Thanksgiving is, of course, turkey.  If this isn’t quite your taste, you may want to consider serving ham instead.   This is a popular alternative and is a pleasing main course for your dinner guests.

Side Dishes

When it comes to serving a meal, the side dishes are almost as important as the entree.  Popular Thanksgiving side dishes include mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls and cranberries served with cranberry sauce.  If you have a large family, it may be a good idea to prepare several side dishes so that everyone will be able to find something that they like.

Dessert

What meal would be complete without the perfect dessert?  Whether it’s a pumpkin pie, chocolate pie or other favorite flavor, this traditional treat is common at the conclusion of a Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are planning for a large gathering, consider serving several different pies in an effort to accommodate a variety of taste buds.

The Benefits Of A Homemade Meal

Believe it or not, some may choose to dine at a restaurant on Thanksgiving instead of preparing a homemade meal.  Although dining out may be easier, it cannot replace the taste and camaraderie of a family dinner at home.  Many may shy away from preparing a large Thanksgiving meal because it seems intimidating to cook for so many people.  However, with the right recipe, cookware and a little know how, your next holiday meal can be a breeze.

Rounding Up The Perfect Recipes

If you know what to cook, but still need a little help with the details, consider looking for the perfect recipes to turn your meal into a masterpiece.  While many recipes are available online, many turn to cookbooks and/or women’s specialty magazines for popular recipe and preparation ideas.  As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, there is no shortage of publications containing ideas for creating the perfect meal.  Now that you have the perfect menu idea, it’s time to start putting your plan into motion.  By planning ahead, your Thanksgiving meal can be stress free and enjoyable for you as well as for everyone who joins you.  And don’t lose sight of the reason for your efforts – a time for family and friends to celebrate and give thanks.

 

Let’s Take it Outside: Landscaping Differences in Existing and New Homes

Let’s start with existing homes. First, the pros. Places that were built many years ago have seen many growing seasons come and go. So the bushes are bigger, the lawns are more established and the trees are often taller and fuller. It’s just not your house, the whole neighborhood could have a lush full look from big mature Azaleas to the canopy of green leaves over head. There’s only one way to get that look and feel and that is the passage of time. It can be breathtakingly beautiful and it can make a neighborhood absolutely shine.

Now when you buy a house in that kind of neighborhood your landscaping will be pretty much all set. It’s great for people who want a turn key house because all the landscaping is already done.  It’s already paid for too. All you have to do is move in, maintain it and enjoy it. Unless you don’t like it.  Then you have to make some changes, and that’s a lot of work. That’s the downside with landscaping at an existing home. You just have fewer choices when you buy the place. The good news is that’s really the only downside.

Now let’s compare that to a new home. The upside here is you have many more choices.  You can bring in a landscape designer to help plan the look and the feel. A play area, a raised garden, a rambling rose bush along the white picket fence. You name it, you got it. Of course you’ll have to invest in all that.  The designer, the plants, the installation.  It can be expensive. So if you want to create your own landscape from scratch you better sock away a few thousand beyond the price of the house.

Of course most new homes have at least something in the yard. The bushes are often young and little.  The lawn is often brand new turf.  The trees, some developers just clear the whole lot.  That makes the building process go a lot faster. So the trees they end up planting later are young saplings. Now some developers try to save trees as they build. So you could have some mature trees on the lot. But if it’s a development, chances are the developer will have taken down lots of trees. So your house and the entire neighborhood will have that brand new look with a big view of the sky since the trees will not develop that lush, green canopy for many years to come.

Overall, you’ll have far more choices when landscaping a brand new home. Just like the textures, colors, and fixtures inside, every choice will be yours and that’s nice. As for me, I’ve done both. I’ve bought older homes with huge bushes and hundred-year-old trees and flower gardens dating back many decades. I’ve also bought brand new places where the entire yard was red clay with a few trees that were lucky enough to be spared. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed both, old and new. Because whether I was tilling that vintage flower garden or watching that brand new lawn pop up through that red clay, I was working on my own house.

So what about you? What’s sounds best, restoring a vintage garden or creating your own masterpiece from scratch? That’s the best thing about owning your own home. It’s your choice. Whether you’re working on an older yard or a brand new one, you’re working the very land that you own. It’s yours, and what can be better than that.

Your Smart Home

Do you really need your home to be a smart home or is your home just fine the way it is. Let’s take a look at that and look at some smart home devices and whether you really need them.

Let’s start at your front door. Chances are right now you have a regular deadbolt. And I would guess its works just fine. Get your key, unlock it and go right inside. And I bet your doorbell works fine too.  Someone pushes it, you hear the chime and you go to the front door to see who is there.

Let’s move inside now. If you want to turn the AC down or the heat up, the thermostat on your wall probably does the job just fine. You just walk up to it and spin that dial and your system does exactly what you tell it to. How about over in the room where you watch TV, you just pick up the remote and turn it on.  If you listen to the sound there through speakers throughout the room, you might turn on that system too. It’s all pretty easy.

Now when you’re at work or on vacation most of the time, you just leave your house, lock it up and everything is fine when you get back home.  So I think it’s reasonable to say that if your home is not a smart home it’s still just fine. But hey, why stop there? While we’re at it, why not use that old rotary telephone. You might have one in storage, and they still work, right?  Come to think of it, lots of really old things in every house still work fine.  That 30 year old counter top microwave works great.  The really old timer that you plug your lights into when you go on vacation works great. The old transistor radio your parents gave you when you where a kid, it just works great. Oh, and one more thing. Remember those old light bulbs, the types you can’t buy in stores anymore?  They work great too.

All of that old technology has been around for generations. If everything is working great, why change it?  Because as we all know just because if something works it doesn’t mean you have to use it forever. Things get better, and when they do, they can make your life better too. That’s the whole idea behind smart home technology – making your life better.

Sometimes that means just being able to lock or unlock your front door with your smart phone.  So that if you drive away and suddenly wonder did you remember to lock the door? You can do it with a tap on your screen instead of going all the way back home.  Sometimes making life better is being able to raise and lower the temperature inside of  your house without being there.  Again, your old thermostat works fine, if you’re home.  But a smart thermostat will do the job wherever you are.  That can save you money by lowering your utility bills.

Speaking of saving money. Those old light bulbs, they use a lot more electricity than the new CFL bulbs.  One home owner I know that the month after he swapped out every old light bulb in his house and put in the new CFL bulbs, his electric bill went down $50.

Sometimes making life better means making your home safer.  So sure, you’re old door bell works fine.  Some people like the idea of being able to see who is at the door before they open it.  Even if they’re not home. That can be some great piece of mind.

And sometimes making life better means having a little fun.  For many people that means walking into the TV room and saying “Alexa, turn on the evening news”.  And yes, you may not need a voice activated entertainment system, but it sure is fun.

Finally, think of the one thing that controls those devices – your smart phone.  Like I said, your old rotary telephone works just fine but your new smart phone just doesn’t sit at home.  It goes with you and it brings with it the power of the internet.  It connects you to your family, to your friends, and now to your home.

So while all the old stuff still works fine.  It probably won’t save you any money.  It probably won’t keep your house safer or more secure.  And it probably won’t make your life more fun.  That’s what the new home tech is all about, safety, security, saving money, and having some fun.  And that’s pretty smart.

The Year Ahead. What 2017 might mean to you, your home and your other real estate investments.

What are the experts saying about the new year and what you can take away from it.

First of all, let’s take a look at the value of your home. Now there, I have some good news for you. Prices in most parts of Texas and America are expected to keep rising in 2017. The reason is that there aren’t enough homes for sale. But there are still plenty of buyers out there. So the laws of supply and demand are in your favor if you own a home or plan on selling one. Now, it won’t be a huge increase. The National Association of REALTORS believes that by this time next year the median price of a home in the United States will go from its current point of $232,200 to $241,250. That’s an increase of 3.9%. Now it’s not a spike, but after all, up is up. That’s good news for owners who have even greater equity in their homes and investments. Also for sellers, who will see those profits at the closing table.

Now, that low inventory and rising prices are expected to create challenges for home buyers. Especially first time buyers. But, those buyers do have factors in their favor. For one thing, most mortgage lenders are allowing lower credit scores and lower down payments. Up to now, home buyers have enjoyed record low interest rates. Well that’s about to change. Interest rates have started to rise. Not by that much, but they are on the way up. They’ve gone up about half a point since the summer. By the end of 2017 they’re expected to be a half point higher than that. The days of record lows may be behind us, but even so, the rates will continue to be incredibly low and not a barrier to home ownership.

Experts believe there could be some really good news for buyers coming down the line in 2017. And that is more homes are expected to come on the market. That means more choices, less competition, and all that added inventory should help curb those rising prices. You see, the nations home builders are predicting that in 2017 they’ll finally be on tract to build more than a million new homes. That’s up there from after the slump they had after the downturn. Not up there all the way since the home builders ordinary would put up a million and a half homes. But again, up is up and new home construction is headed in the right direction.

So buyers who hang in there might do okay. Especially if they end up getting a home of their own. That would make 2017 a great year. And even better if they are moving from renting to buying because rents are expected to continue to rise throughout 2017.

So, what’s the bottom line? Well in prices, interest rates, mortgage rates, mortgage availability, and inventory we’re seeing positive changes on the horizon. Not massive, epic changes, but slow, steady movement back to be what could be considered a normal market. A balanced market in which buyers and sellers are on more equal footing without either being at a big disadvantage. You could call that a healthy real estate market. And that’s a pretty great outlook as we approach 2017, the year ahead.

Tips to stay cool without touching the Air Conditioner

Hello Everyone,

We are now in the dog days of summer and staying cool can sometimes be tough without a huge electric bill. I came across a few tips that might help stay cool with this summer heat that is not expected to let up any time soon.

1. Keep your blinds closed. As simple as it may seem, the Family Handyman notes that up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows, and utilizing shades, curtains and the like can save you up to 7 percent on your bills and lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees. In other words, it essentially prevents your home from becoming a miniature greenhouse, which is especially the case for south- and west-facing windows

2. And be smart about your doors. Closing off unused rooms will prevent the cool air from permeating these areas during the hottest part of the day. You’ll want to capitalize on the cooler night hours, however (see tip #7), and let air flow naturally through your home.

3. Swap your sheets. Not only does switching up your bedding seasonally freshen up a room, it’s a great way to keep your bedroom cool. While textiles like flannel sheets and fleece blankets are fantastic for insulation, cotton is a smarter move this time of year as it breathes easier and stays cooler. And as an added bonus, buy yourself a buckwheat pillow or two. Because buckwheat hulls have a naturally occurring air space between them, they won’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows, even when packed together inside a pillow case.

4. Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise. Whether you know it or not, your ceiling fan needs to be adjusted seasonally. By setting them counter-clockwise in the summer at a higher speed, the airflow produced will create a wind-chill breeze effect that will make you and your guests “feel” cooler.

5. Worry about the person, not the house. If your ancestors survived without air conditioning, so can you. From sipping tasty iced drinks to applying a cold cloth to strong-pulsed areas like your neck and wrists, doing the cooling from the inside out is not a bad idea. Other tricks include being smart about your clothing choices and telling your partner you won’t be cuddling until the leaves start changing color.

6. Turn on your bathroom fans, or your exhaust fan in the kitchen for that matter. Both of these pull the hot air that rises after you cook or take a steamy shower out of your apartment. That being said, you don’t want to let the cooler air escape, so be sure windows, doors and cracks are caulked before things start really heating up.

7. Let the night air in. During the summer months, temperatures tend to drop during the night. If this is the case where you live, make the most of these refreshing hours by cracking the windows before you go to bed. You can even create a wind tunnel by strategically setting up your fans to force the perfect cross breeze. Just be sure to close the windows (and the blinds) before things get too hot in the morning.

8. Ditch the incandescent lights. If you ever needed motivation to make the switch to CFLs, this is it. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy in the heat they emit, so throwing them to the curb will make a small difference in cooling your home while lowering your electric bill.

9. Start grilling. It’s obvious, but we’re going to say it anyway: Using your oven or stove in the summer will make your house hotter. If it already feels like 100+ degrees in your home, the last thing you want to do is turn on a 400 degree oven. Besides, who doesn’t want to get more mileage out of their outdoor furniture and seasonal accessories?

10. Make a few long-term improvements. If you’re really, really committed to the whole no-AC thing, you can make a couple changes to your home that will keep it cooler for seasons to come. Insulated window films, for example, are a smart purchase as they work similarly to blinds. And additions like awnings and planted trees or vines on or in front of light-facing windows will shield your home from the sun’s rays, reduce the amount of heat your home absorbs and make your investment nothing but worthwhile.

Please stay safe this summer and remember to stay Hydrated!

Happy house hunting & Please call one of our agents today to get your buying process started!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors  (210) 479-1222

(210) 479-1222c21