Let’s Talk Closets: How to Organize Your Closet Spaces Without Breaking the Bank

There is a particular pleasure in a well-organized closet – not to mention the space and energy-saver that it becomes! And the best part is that you don’t need to spend tons of money to get a dapper closet space. A lot of the work is just thinking outside the (clothing) box.

Plan The Closet First

Before anything else, sit down and plan out your closet. Measure it so you know the exact dimensions (if you need to grab a rod or drawers, you’ll know what size fits). Clean out your closet (to get a better idea of its contents and space), then plan out what you want it to store. Having a clear idea of how you want to organize the space will prevent impulse purchases and conflicting organizational strategies.

Optimize The Contents

Your closet is essentially a functional space, so treat it that way. Think about what you want to have easy access to, and what can be rotated into storage. (Bulky winter coats, for example, can be stored elsewhere until winter rolls around). Once your closet is pared down, look for items that you can donate – think anything you haven’t worn in a year or more.

Optimize The Space

Even if you have a small closet, it can be a mighty space. Optimize what you have by using the walls and the door for hanging storage, and by stacking items. Wire shelving is cheap and easy to install, and is great for seeing at a glance what’s there. A movable closet rod (for hangers) can be pushed up for more storage, and pulled down for easy access. And what about the double-hanger trick – hooking one item’s hanger off another’s? This way you can pair items that go together to save time and save space. Or use shower rings on hangers to store scarves – multiple scarves looped on one hanger – and hang baskets under shelves to maximize space.

Organize The Space

Experts say that organizing items by color is not the most efficient method – instead, group items by activity or function. Pants are with pants, dresses with dresses. Use labels to make access and maintenance easy. Put the most frequently used items in the center and at eye-level, and make sure drawers are slightly below eye-level for the easiest perusal. Finally, think creatively: use hanging shoe bags for other items, hang jewelry off spruced-up paint stir sticks, store entire sheet sets in their pillowcases.

If you have questions or need input, contact your local real estate agent. After all, they have closets of their own. Who knows what organizing expertise they can share?

 

 

 

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How To Make The Fourth Of July Fun For Kids

Every year, the Fourth of July holiday honors the birth of our nation.  Independence Day, as it’s also known, is a special day for every American and time for celebration.  Both children and adults enjoy a variety of traditions that have grown to become popular pastimes for all.  If you want to see a big smile on the face of your little ones this July 4, consider the following ways to make it a kid-friendly kind of fun.

Host A Cookout

One of the most popular traditions to enjoy over the Fourth of July holiday is a cookout with family and friends.  Get out the grill, grab some hotdogs and hamburgers and get cooking.  Children love cookouts and they also love playing outdoors.  If you can find a way to combine both by hosting a cookout and inviting some of the other children in the neighborhood, along with family and friends, you will have a happy Fourth of July and so will your kids.

Take A Trip

Speaking of traditions, the July 4 holiday is one of the most popular times of the year for travel.  If you really want to make this holiday fun for your kids, take them on a vacation.  Whether it’s an amusement park, a weekend of camping, or a few days at the beach, make sure that you choose something that’s fun for everyone.

Take In A Fireworks Display

If your neighborhood or city is hosting a display of fireworks, take your child to see the show.  Make sure that you watch the kids closely, especially in large crowds, and take the camera to capture some of the colorful displays that only a Fourth of July fireworks show can create.

Plan A Pool Party

If you have a pool in your backyard, the Fourth of July holiday is the perfect time to spend some time splashing around.  With temperatures heating up, the cool water is sure to cool you down.  Children love to spend an afternoon playing in the pool, but make sure that you get permission from all parents

Foundation Problems? Here’s What to Do If You’re Worried About Your Home’s Foundation

Like in a relationship, the foundation of a house is integral, and must be strong. There are many reasons why a house’s foundation might crack or shift – including temperature variances in the soil surrounding it, since earth expands in heat and contracts in cold. But whatever the reason, there are certain steps to follow when addressing concerns about your house’s foundation.

Prevent The Problem, If Possible

First, whenever possible act to prevent problems before they arise. Make it a habit to check for foundational stress by taking a walk through your basement and around the outside of your home. Signs of a problem include cracks in the foundation itself (particularly horizontal ones larger than a hairline), uneven or sloping floors, doors or windows that won’t open or close properly anymore, and water damage (puddles or moisture in the wood) that signals improper drainage.

Confirm The Problem, If There’s Time

If you find a crack that has you worried, but isn’t an insurmountable gap, take the time to coat it with concrete waterproofing paint. Then keep an eye on it. If the crack reappears after the paint has dried, it means the gap that produced the crack is growing and should be addressed. If you suspect water drainage problems, try shutting down all water-using appliances in your home. Then watch the water meter for 6 to 12 hours. If the levels change in that time, your water is finding another way out of the house. Finally, if you suspect a sloping floor, rest a tennis ball on it and look for rolling.

Fix The Problem, If It’s Small

Sometimes DIY methods can be used to address small issues, like little cracks (ones not in the foundation itself, but in walls or floors). Fill them with a vinyl concrete patch, or a similar product. Be sure the material you use is flexible and can move a little, because the concrete will – it slightly expands and contracts to keep stable.

Call For Reinforcements!

That said, the absolute best method of dealing with foundation problems is to call in reinforcements, because even successful DIY fixes are temporary. And because, even though it will cost a little more, the money is worth it to prevent your house from collapsing! Reach out to a foundational specialist or a structural engineer if there are any signs that have you worried about a shifting or crumbling foundation.

If you have more in-depth questions, or want advice on a foundational specialist, talk to your trusted local real estate agent.

Selling Your Home? Here’s Why You’ll Want to Keep Your Emotions out of It

Selling your home can be an extremely emotional process, but it’s important that you don’t let your emotions get the best of you.  Learn which common mistakes emotional sellers make when selling their home so that you can identify them during your own sale and overcome them before it’s too late.

Price Paralysis

You love your home, you know the value it provides to its owner, and you think it’s special compared to other houses on the market… and that it should be priced as such!

Be wary of this thought pattern though, as sellers who are emotionally attached to their home tend to overprice their listing, ignore market data, and be stubborn in negotiations.

It is perfectly normal for your emotions to cloud your judgement when first listing, but it is important that you listen to your real estate agent’s advice and stick to reason, or you may find your home failing to close.

Pricing Based On Need

Your home has a market value, and you can’t ignore that.  It’s fact.

When moving to a new property, it is essential that you understand that you cannot price your current home based on the amount of money you need to purchase your desired next home.  This mindset is unrealistic, and can drag out your home sale.

If the purchase of a new home is contingent upon how much you make from selling your current home, be sure that you do not celebrate too early.  Wait until you have closed the deal before gauging what you can afford to buy next, or stick to a property that is definitely within your budget.

Maintain An Open Mind

While you may love the way your personal items and interior design pieces make your home feel, it is best to stage your home very impersonally for showings.  This may require re-painting rooms to more neutral tones, taking down your favorite family photos, and using professional staging furniture rather than your own.  Doing so isn’t admitting that you have bad taste, but rather accepting that buyers have a wide variety of taste themselves, and you want to appeal to them all.

You should also keep an open mind when it comes to who you sell your home to.  You may have an idea of what you consider to be the perfect buyer, but ultimately the goal is to sell your home.  What the buyer does with it after the fact is up to them.

To avoid these emotional home-seller mistakes, work with a trusted real estate professional who can guide you through the process and keep you on the right track.

Pocket the Profits: The Secrets to Selling Your Home above the Asking Price

We all want to sell our homes at above asking price, but what is it that makes a seller succeed at this? Here’s our expert advice on how you can sell your home above the asking price.

Ask For Less

You may be surprised, but pricing your home lower than market value can have an extremely positive effect on the offers you receive.  This is because a low-priced listing will stand out and will draw more attention, which boosts your chance of a bidding war.

By attracting more buyers to come and look at your home, you will find more buyers who are willing to make an offer on your property.  When they view your home they will see its true market value, and are then more likely to make a higher offer in hopes of outbidding others.  It’s all about creating hype, and a low asking price will do just that.

Wait It Out

While it may be tempting to accept the first offer that comes along, it is usually better to wait and see what other offers come in.  If you accept the first offer on your property you have closed the door to competition, and competing offers are what spark bidding wars which, ultimately, are what will lead you to receive more than asking.

Consider Who You’re Selling To

Is your home better suited towards traditional buyers, or is it a valuable property for investors?  If your home could easily be renovated and flipped, has high potential as an income property, or is in an up-and-coming neighborhood, it may be better marketed as an incredible investment property.

Investors expect a return on the money that they spend so are often more willing to make a higher offer – they know those funds will come right back to them.

Rock Your Renos

There are several simple renovations that can add a huge amount of value to your home.  The return on investment for a few small upgrades is often very worthwhile when your goal is to receive more than asking price.

Make sure the flooring, kitchen, and bathrooms in your home are updated and appealing, and if not, consider upgrading these areas first.  If you’re targeting investors, adding an income suite to your property may be the best investment you can make.  Consider which kind of buyer you’re targeting and what areas of your home need the most TLC, and choose accordingly.

Speak with a trusted real estate agent today to learn more techniques to successfully sell your home for above the asking price.

Buying Your First Home? Learn These 5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills as Soon as Possible

New homes can be scary. But when you take the time to think about it, and plan ahead, maintaining a home is easier than you think – a manageable mix of experience and common sense. Here are five skills that will help maintain your new home for years to come.

Fixing A Toilet

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Just remember that toilets work with gravity – the water wants to flow freely. Don’t be afraid to open that tank up and adjust the floater and valves as needed. Occasionally run the water (flush the toilet, turn on the sink) in unused rooms, like the guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear and functioning.

Dealing With Animals

Sometimes your animal neighbors invite themselves in. While it’s always better to use professionals if you have a large-scale or persistent pest problem, there are steps you can take to minimize animal visitors before it comes to that. Check for termites by looking for raised, hollow tubes along the wood (tubes filled with bugs). If you have mice, and know how they’re getting in, block their holes with steel wool and set friendly traps – ones that capture instead of kill. But make sure to release the captives far from your home.

Electricity and Water Awareness

Know how to shut off your electricity and water, just in case. Find the shut-offs when you first move in. And take the time then to test the breakers and label them, clearly, directly, with permanent marker. That way there is no confusion if one gets tripped.

A Regular Deep Clean

On a regular basis, give your house a deep clean. Scrub the bathrooms, clean the kitchen appliances and floors/walls. Doing this will not only prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime, which could lead to bigger problems later on, but will also give you a chance to do a run-down of your house and see what needs fixing/updating/replacing.

Be Prepared

Gather your home maintenance kit (Home Maintenance for Dummies has examples) before you need it, and keep it up – if you use all the nails, replace them. It’s also a good idea to make a maintenance calendar with notes on what needs to be done when – this makes it easy for the homeowner, and anyone they need to step in. Finally, in being prepared, don’t forget to maintain your fire and carbon monoxide detectors with regular checks and battery changes (suggested every six months, regardless of battery life).

Your first step in preparation is to contact your local real estate agent, who can help you get started on your road to home maintenance.

Planning The Perfect Memorial Day Barbeque

While the focus is often on the Fourth of July when it comes to backyard celebrations, Memorial Day is often a popular choice as well.  In many parts of the country, the weather is finally becoming warm enough to truly enjoy the outdoors as the summer season kicks off.  Memorial Day is the perfect time to gather friends and family together for the perfect backyard barbeque.

What’s On The Menu?

With all the other activities that are planned for the Fourth of July, the menu is often simple.  Since Memorial Day is usually more low-key, consider going the extra mile when it comes to the food you choose to serve.  Barbecued ribs are a finger licking good favorite that everyone will appreciate.  They can be a little expensive, though, so they might only be a good choice for a small gathering.  Another fun choice is to slow-smoke a pork shoulder or other piece of meat.  It takes a long time, but that true smoky barbeque flavor simply can’t be beat!

A homemade coleslaw or pasta salad is always a classic choice for a side dish, but you can also consider taking it up a notch with some homemade baked beans.  Made in the slow cooker, they are an easy choice to prepare ahead of time.

Fun And Games

Set up some fun games for people of all ages to add to the fun.  Classics like a three-legged race, a water balloon toss, or a cake walk are always popular choices.  You can also consider getting a piñata filled with small toys and candies for the young children.

A treasure hunt around the neighborhood is another great way for everyone to have a good time, and works especially well if your neighbors are joining your barbeque.  Create a list of things to find and send out teams on the hunt!  When everyone comes back, have prizes for the teams who have been successful!

Memorial Day is a great way to start off the barbeque season and have friends and family over for a great time.  Take advantage of your long weekend and plan a great barbeque everyone will be talking about.

Food And Drink!

When planning any menu it is always important to balance taste and nutrition.  It is also important to a have a theme and, since this is a Memorial Day picnic, choosing menu items that are simple to prepare and eat outdoors, as well as All–American, is your best bet.  Things like burgers and hotdogs are great for backyard picnics.  Fried chicken is another great main course idea, but if you want something more portable a hero sandwich is an easy choice.

To complete your meal, items like potato salad, garden salads, and coleslaw are inexpensive and easy to prepare sides, but if you are looking to get more creative then consider a nice pasta salad or a seven-layer dip.  Lastly, don’t forget dessert!  Staples like apple pie, brownies, or cookies are all great and easy choices.

For drinks you’ll want to provide several choices and some non-alcoholic beverages to make all your guests happy.  Lemonade and other fruit-based drinks will make the kids happy and are also great mixers.

Decoration Ideas

The easiest way to decorate for your Memorial Day picnic is to use red, white, and blue.  Set your picnic table with a blue tablecloth or blanket and add red and white napkins, plates, and cutlery.  You can also continue this theme by adding an arrangement of red, white, and blue carnations or other flowers, and add a few small flags to give it that finished look.

Memorial Day is a great time of year to host a party for family and friends, and these ideas can help you get your summer season started with a fun and inexpensive picnic.