Public vs. Private Schools

Public vs. Private Schools

Homebuyers know that the quality of the local schools is a critical component of their home search. Nothing is more important to parents than making sure their children receive quality education. Competition for college admission has increased to a fevered pitch over the past few decades, and parents want to set their children up early with the best opportunity for their future success. More and more, homebuyers are not simply looking at the public school system when choosing a new home, but the private school options as well.

Making the important decision about where to send your children to school requires some thought; here are a few of the benefits of each that can help you the right choice.

Benefits of Public Schools

  • Higher Qualified Teachers – On average, public school teachers have higher educational qualifications than those of private schools, many having Master’s degrees.
  • Strong Focus on Core Subjects – Public schools focus on the basics with an emphasis on mastery.
  • Wider Extracurricular Activities – Public schools tend to have a larger population and can offer a vast array of sports teams, theater, arts, and music programs.
  • Diversity – Public schools have students from all economic and ethnic backgrounds. Benefits of Private Schools
  • Smaller Classrooms – On average, private schools have a smaller student-to-teacher ratio than public schools.
  • Strong Parent Involvement – Private schools not only encourage but rely on parent involvement.
  • Less Red Tape – Private schools are not required to follow the strict state guidelines, which allows them to make quick decisions and adjustments based on each child’s needs.

Both public and private schools can offer students a solid education and school experience. Every community is different, and understanding the pros and cons of the local choices is becoming more and more important to parents.

Tips to Quickly Make Your Home Show-Ready

Tips to Quickly Make Your Home Show-Ready

Everyone dreams of living in a model home – a beautiful modern room with the perfect vase of flowers sitting decoratively on a glass side table. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work this way. Our homes tend to look more “lived in” with a pile of shoes by the front door, school books on the kitchen table, and cat hair on the sofa.

If you have your home listed for sale, then you also know the stress of looking around your home after a phone call requesting a showing with a few minutes’ notice. You want your home to show well so the buyers can see the beauty of the home you love, but with such short notice, how can you convert the lived-in look to a show-ready property?

Fortunately, there are a few tricks for helping you keep your home show-ready at any time.

  • Plan in Advance – Before you even list your house, consider the adjustment you’ll need to make in your lifestyle. Move non-essential items to a storage unit, to not only create visual appeal but make it easier to clean quickly.
  • Containers – A simple way to quickly eliminate toys, clothes, shoes, sports equipment, and other items is storage bins. Keep some handy to throw excess items into before a buyer shows up, and move them to the garage or basement, or even the back of a vehicle.
  • Establish a Routine – Get everyone in the family involved in establishing a daily routine. The less clutter that accumulates, the easier it is to move out of sight quickly. All family members should have morning and evening duties to keep the home tidy. If things are kept up on a daily basis, it will make the clutter and mess less overwhelming.

Unfortunately, your life doesn’t stop just because you’ve listed your home for sale. Keep it show-ready by preparing in advance, so those last-minute buyers can see your home’s charm and not the day’s clutter.

Consider Upgrading before You List

Consider Upgrading before You List

Most people have wandered through new home developments and wished their own home looked as modern and chic. Model homes showcase the latest upgrades and decorating trends; for home sellers these homes are their competition, and it can feel daunting to offer an older floorplan and design.

While it might seem like a smart idea to simply offer a buyer credit and list, there are downsides to this plan, and taking the time to update a bit on your own first could mean thousands of dollars in your pocket.

Here are a few reasons why offering a credit might not be the best strategy:

  • Buyer Impression – A dated home looks old and not all buyers can see the potential.
  • Lower Offers – Offering a credit could be viewed as high seller motivation, resulting in lower offers.
  • Value Differences – You and your buyer might disagree on the value of needed upgrades. For example, you might feel $7,500 is a fair cost for a new countertop whereas your buyers might expect considerably more; this can lead to more negotiations and lower sales price.
  • Home Condition – A property that shows its age can prompt the buyer to worry about the overall condition.
  • Loan Approval – Lenders are wary of buyer credits; in fact, upgrade credits are no longer possible. You might have a buyer unable to take advantage of the credit at all and you could lose the buyer.

Home design trends change quickly. If you’re ready to sell, it could be tempting just to list your home in its current condition. Before you just add a credit to the listing, consider some simple updating so your buyers can see the value of your home.

Buying an Eco-Friendly Home

Buying an Eco-Friendly Home

More and more homebuyers are searching for homes that offer better energy efficiency and use sustainable materials. Eco-friendly homes not only help the environment but can mean significant savings in energy and maintenance costs. As more home builders consider the environmental impact of their housing developments, finding an eco-friendly home is easier than ever before. Here are a few things to look for when searching for a greener home.

  • Nature Use – When searching for an eco-friendly home, notice the use of trees and other landscaping to save energy by blocking sun and wind—lowering air conditioning and heating costs by adding a natural barrier.
  • Window Quality – Homebuyers should notice not only the quality of the windows but the placement as well. Are they placed to take advantage of the sun during the winter yet glazed to prevent summer heat?
  • Building Materials – Natural materials are not only beautiful but also offer sustainability and lower maintenance costs. For example, cedar-plank siding is resistant to both water and pests, which makes it stronger and longer-lasting than other options; natural stone for counters and floors adds a modern touch, is easy to clean and lasts for years.
  • Floorplan – Recent changes in home design trends are turning floorplans upside down— literally. Look for homes with living spaces on the top floor, which can take better advantage of natural light while keeping the lower-level bedrooms cooler and more peaceful.

Sustainable building designs and materials are becoming more common. Homebuyers can find newer homes, as well as remodels, taking advantage of these trends. Buying an energyefficient, eco-friendly home can provide a beautiful lifestyle and save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of ownership.

How to Set Up Your First Home Office

How to Set Up Your First Home Office

Working from home is not a new concept, but recent events have created a mass shift in the American workforce and more people than ever before are working from home. While simply placing a laptop on the kitchen table is one way to work from home, having a designated home office offers a better environment for productivity and is easier to set up than you might think.

  • The first step is to find the right location for your home office. Although it’s great if you have a spare room to use, not everyone has this luxury. A corner of a master bedroom or living room, a loft area, or even a section of a well-insulated garage can work just as well.
  • Once you find the right space, create a list of the materials you’ll need to be productive. A formal desk is best, but if you don’t own one, then any table will work. Use bookshelves or storage cubes to keep paper, pens, and other useful items within easy reach.
  • Pay attention to the lighting – both natural light and lighting fixtures. Cool light, such as sunlight, is best for productivity. Make sure you have a desk lamp or floor lamp if the room doesn’t have proper natural lighting.
  • Once you have the essentials set up, it’s time to add some personal touches. Add a plant or decorate a wall with pictures you enjoy, to bring the space to life. Consider the storage elements as well, such as pen holders or file folders.

A home office doesn’t need to be fancy to be an effective and enjoyable space. The most important consideration is to ensure you can work in peace; it should also offer a pleasant place to be productive that is separate from your living space so you can unplug at the end of the workday.

Outdated Staging Tricks You Need to Stop Using Immediately

Outdated Staging Tricks You Need to Stop Using Immediately

If you are selling your home, no doubt you’re getting lots of advice about how to stage your home to appeal to potential buyers. Maybe you’ve spent time online reading about curb appeal, maybe your friends have given you advice about how to make your home brighter, or maybe the advice has even come from your listing agent; regardless of the source, here are a few outdated staging tricks you should NOT be using.

  • Baking – While it’s a nice idea to have treats available, buyers know that the smell of freshly baked bread is a trick, and they may be suspicious of any odors you’re trying to mask.
  • Fresh Scents – Of course, it’s important that the home smells fresh; however, using overpowering candles or room fresheners can be overwhelming. It’s better to open windows to allow a crisp breeze to enter the space, or perhaps place freshly cut flowers.
  • Elevator Music – It might seem like a home filled with smooth jazz would lend a relaxing feel, but it could have the opposite effect. Not only is it difficult to gauge the right volume, but it’s outdated and corny.
  • Matchy-Matchy – Matched sets and uniform color palettes will make a home feel dated. Mix up the colors and patterns of pillows, bedspreads, and window treatments.
  • Holiday Decorations – If your home is listed during a holiday, keep decorations to a minimum. Less is more for decorations of any kind; keep the home clean and as much of a blank slate as possible.

Staging a home is an art. The best-outdated staging trick is to consult with an expert. Your agent can offer some suggestions for a professional stager who will make sure your home presents itself in the best possible light.

5 Reasons Selling Without an Agent is a Bad Idea

5 Reasons Selling Without an Agent is a Bad Idea

Do-it-yourself projects are in vogue these days. You can find advice online for everything from investing in crypto-currency to tearing down the living room wall. When considering the cost of moving, it’s natural to wonder if real estate commissions are one way to save money, but it would be a mistake. A good real estate agent might make it seem easy, but the fact is that selling your own home could actually cost you thousands of dollars.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Sell Your Home without an Agent

  1. The Safety of Your Home and Family is a Priority – Real Estate agents control access to your home.
  2. Most Serious Buyers Start their Search Online – A professional listing area will market your home aggressively online, which is where the buyers are searching.
  3. The Buyer Might not be Qualified – A real estate agent knows how to qualify a buyer and what to look for with lender letters. Selling your home on your own risks wasted time with an unqualified buyer.
  4. You Don’t Know How to Negotiate Properly – Every aspect of a real estate transaction is negotiable; you don’t have the experience to know what to negotiate to get the best deal.
  5. You Could Expose Yourself to Liability – Required disclosures and paperwork for a home sale is extensive; unless you plan to use an attorney, you could miss critical disclosures and expose yourself to financial harm.

Finally, more often than not, sellers net more when they use an agent than when they try to do it themselves. In addition to selling faster, a professional agent knows how to properly price and promote your home, ensuring you get the best possible sales price and terms.

Things to Consider before Buying a Rustic Hot Tub

Things to Consider before Buying a Rustic Hot Tub

The popularity of rustic décor has shifted the way we view home improvement and enhancements. The charm of reclaimed wood and cool natural stone adds a modern flair to the home without compromising warmth.

Over the past few years, wooden hot tubs have reemerged as a cost-effective, sustainable option for backyard soaking that adds that rustic feel to the outdoor space. Before taking the plunge, here are a few things to consider when buying a wooden hot tub.

  • Size and Location – The size of the tub depends on one’s preference, of course. Smaller tubs are more intimate and easier to place than larger ones. Choose a location with a firm foundation, as a fully-filled tub will be heavy. Remember to consider the view and any privacy needs when picking the location.
  • Wood Type – Wood options include Spruce, Oak, Larch, and Red Cedar, each with advantages regarding durability, color, and lifespan.
  • Heating System – The heating stove can be exterior, interior, or integrated. Interior stoves take space within the tub while exterior or integrated heaters are placed outside. An interior stove needs more protection and maintenance but tends to be the least expensive.
  • Maintenance – Unlike its in-ground counterparts, wooden hot tubs require careful maintenance. The wood needs proper care, and the stove and water area should be covered and insulated when not in use.

Wooden hot tubs have made a comeback as more and more homeowners search for design elements that add a classic look to their homes. Combining modern efficiency and rustic design, choosing the right tub will bring enjoyment to your outdoor space.

Real Estate Home Inspections and Appraisals in the New Normal

Real Estate Home Inspections and Appraisals in the New Normal

Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, real estate transactions go on. Buyers and sellers still need to move, and the industry is looking for new ways to accommodate both the needs of the transaction and, of course, the safety of everyone.

Many traditional real estate activities can be performed virtually. While no one is suggesting that a buyer will be comfortable buying a home they have only seen during a Zoom visit, they can minimize the number of homes they physically visit by pre-screening these homes ahead of time through virtual tours.

There are a few vital pieces of the transaction that require in-person visits, however. Among these are home inspections and appraisals. Both of these professionals need access to the property to properly perform their duties, and it leaves some potential home sellers and buyers wondering if it’s even possible to conclude a real estate transaction right now.

While everyone should cautiously move forward according to their personal sense of comfort, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and the professionals while they are in your home. Before setting the appointments, think through the parts of your home the inspector or appraiser will need to access and think through the process.

Contact the home inspector and appraiser and work out a plan together to keep everyone safe:

  • Communicate with them about off-limit areas, and what parts of the home they can access.
  • Have a notepad in which they can communicate what parts of the home they came in contact with, and offer hand sanitizer and wipes for them to use before and after touching parts of the home.
  • Finally, leave the home during the appointments, and clean properly once you return home.

Life does move on – if you are trying to buy or sell a home during this challenging time, it might take extra effort. However, working with your real estate team, you can conclude a successful real estate transaction amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

5 Pool Design Trends in 2020

5 Pool Design Trends in 2020

Now that warmer weather is upon us, the focus turns to the outdoor space of our home. As Americans spend more and more of their time at home, this might be the perfect time to invest in a new pool or pool remodel. Here are 5 trends in pool design for 2020

  1. Natural Pools – As more of us consider the effect of chemicals on our health, more pool owners are installing natural pools. These pools are built to resemble a natural pond with boulders, waterfalls, and plants which filter the water naturally. The pool is filled with filtered water and maintained in an organic filtration process using gravel and plants.
  2. Saltwater Pools – Another way to avoid chlorine is by installing a saltwater pool. These pools use a salt-chlorine generator to provide residue-free water and this process has been growing in popularity for over a decade.
  3. Tanning Ledges – Also known as a Baja shelf, or sun shelf, a tanning ledge is a shallow shelf that allows you to stay cool while still enjoying the sun.
  4. Rimless Infinity Pools – Infinity pools have been enjoyed at expensive resorts and spas for years, and more homeowners are now opting to include these beauties in their own yards.
  5. Custom Fit Pools – As yards get smaller, the pre-formed pools are no longer practical. Almost any yard can fit a pool by having a custom pool designed to fit the space. Summertime is pool time. As 2020 requires more of us to stay home, a new or remodeled swimming pool is a great way to enjoy our own backyards.