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IS YOUR HOUSE READY FOR YOUR HOLIDAY GUESTS? 0 Comments Posted

Happy holidays to you and you … and you and … hey, just how many people are expecting to stay at your home this winter, anyway?

All kidding aside, hosting guests can be one of the highlights of the holiday season. But it can also be a monumental hassle. Like, where do you put them all?

Don’t let the lack of an official guest room turn you into a Grinch. All you need is a bit of creativity and some planning to keep the (freeloading) hordes happy and well-rested and to keep you reasonably sane during the process. Let us help!

Pick your ‘guest room’ carefully

Owners of small homes may not have much choice about where their guests sleep (living room or bust!). But if you’ve got a few options, think strategically about which rooms or areas provide privacy without sacrificing comfort.

Try and choose the ones that are the least public If you can choose a study over a living room, do that.

It’s easy to figure out the rooms that are no-go zones—no human guest wants to sleep in the kitchen or laundry room—but a home office or dining room might suffice quite nicely as a temporary guest bedroom.

Want to be a good host? Consider proximity to the bathroom, any possible street noise, and whether your guests can close a door between them and the overcrowded holiday household.

Consider a Murphy bed

If your Magic 8 Ball indicates year after year of holiday visitors in your future—and you don’t have a bedroom to spare—you might consider installing a permanent solution.  A Murphy bed, which comes in vertical and horizontal arrangements that can be situated to fit nearly any room.

Going this route can free up space in rooms you might not normally consider worthy as a bedroom. You can even go full Victorian.

I see people doing interesting things with beds built behind bookcases and cabinets, where they slide open and the bed comes down.

Buy multipurpose furniture

The trusty sofa bed is the Grand Imperial Poobah of guest furniture: Just unfold it and sleep. It rules! Too bad some of these pieces can be bulky or unattractive, especially if you’re a fan of the sleek, minimalist look.

You’ve got options, which you can mix and match depending on the room: A daybed works great in a small den (or a sun room, if you’re in a warm climate).

Create privacy

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have space to put your guests in a separate room. But that doesn’t mean you should force your visitors to spend their vacation in the spotlight, either. Instead, find a privacy screen to give them some security.

You can use a folding screen to divide the room in half, or you can scan Pinterest for some interesting things you can do with drapery or curtains.

Add hotel-like touches

If they wanted a hotel room, well, sure, they would have rented a hotel room. But through the goodness of your big heart, there’s no reason you can’t make them feel like they’re getting a deluxe concierge experience.

Make it personal

Hospitality isn’t just about the basics—it’s about the little things that make your visitors smile. What do they love and appreciate? Personalize the room to their tastes.

Flowers or coffee table books on their favorite topics—or even just a new toothbrush.

Do anything you can to make it personal it says, ‘I’m really glad you’re here. I went out of my way to make you feel welcome.

 
View Comments | Add Comment Sunday, November 22, 2015  8:03:37 PM
7 Quick Ways to Winterize your Home for Cheap (or FREE) 0 Comments Posted

Clean the Gutters

You've heard it before, but it’s always super important. Making sure that water can flow freely through your gutters now will help prevent icicles and ice dams from forming later. Cost: Other than your sweat (depending on where you live) and time, free.

Flush the Water Heater

Particles and sediment can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit's efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater functioning at its best. Cost: 100% free!

Switch Ceiling Fans to Clockwise

Ceiling fans are everyone's favorite summer budget-saver. But they can help out in the winter as well! Have your ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction so they push hot air along the ceiling towards the floor. If they're going counterclockwise, they won't be as effective. Try to associate setting your clocks back with setting your fans clockwise, that way you’ll always be in good shape when winter comes out of nowhere. Cost: free if you have a fan.

Replace H/VAC Filters

Regularly changing the filters in your central air and heating system can significantly improve its efficiency and longevity, while easing the pressure on your wallet. Cost: a new filter runs about $10.

Install Window Insulation Film

It may not be the most fashionable tip, but window insulation film can keep up to 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows. Remember, if you are concerned about the appearance you can always just do the side and rear windows, that way the people you don’t know who drive by your house won’t judge you (about your windows at least.) Cost: $20 to $35 per kit.

Use Draft Guards

Draft guards can help save heat from escaping under the door. Cost: $10 to $15. (If you don't want to shell out for a draft guard, a rolled towel placed at the bottom of an exterior door will also do the trick.) Don’t be afraid to get crafty and creative, like your grandmother used to - stuff some nylons or bug tube socks with beads or beans or whatever and seal off areas of the house that are not used as often.

Caulk It - Caulk It All

Any remaining gaps in siding, windows, or doors can be filled with caulk. For extra drafty windows and doors, caulk the inside too, pulling off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. Cost: $20 for a basic caulk gun and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk. It’s OK to be trigger happy with the caulk gun - not only will you save money on your energy bill, fresh beads of caulk really clean up the look of a window or door.

So in the next weekend or two you could be pretty well prepared for the harsh, lonely, gray, cold, dreary, never-ending days of winter. You won’t have to give up your coffee or hot chocolate, either - cause you’re going to need that. 

View Comments | Add Comment Saturday, October 31, 2015  8:49:06 PM
3 Easy Tips to Help Sell Your House in the Fall 0 Comments Posted

Although the real estate business tends to slow down in the fall, the season still can be an attractive time to put a home on the market. If you want to sell your house in the next few months, it can be done.

Potential buyers—such as empty nesters or millennials who aren’t worried about moving after the school year has started—will compete for fewer homes on the market and will likely want to seal a deal before the holiday season kicks into high gear.

Here are three tips to help make your home more attractive in autumn, so you can sell your house before winter comes.

1. Clean Up

As many regions slowly shift from a sellers’ market to a moderate or buyers’ market, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your house look it’s best.

Pay particular attention to eliminating clutter and safety hazards that can crop up with cooler weather:

  • Make sure your yard, walkways and gutters are free of leaves and debris.

  • Mow your lawn so it looks neat.

  • Trim trees so unexpected winds don’t knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt anybody.

  • If it is rainy, be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.

  • If you already have snow, be sure stairs and walkways leading to your front door are not icy.

  • Wash decks and wipe down windows so they sparkle instead of appear streaked by rain.

  • Vacuum and wash down the fireplace, especially if it hasn’t been used in months.

  • If you live in a region where it’s still warm enough to use the patio, make sure the area is inviting and arranged with the views from indoors in mind.

  • Above all, make sure your doorway and the rest of the house is clear from knick knacks, bicycles and toys that make your home appear cluttered.

2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal

If your house’s exterior looks drab, you may want to consider painting it a warm color, planting seasonal flowers, or placing pumpkins strategically along your walkway to accent your home’s appeal with instant color.

Potential buyers will make an instant judgment when they see your home, and you want to be sure it’s positive.

While you don’t want to go overboard with fall decorations that detract from the home itself, a few displays like a festive front-door wreath—and lighting so people can clearly see the path to your front door—can make your home feel fresh, even in the fall.

And don’t forget to rake up that yard. Of course, having some beautifully colored, freshly fallen leaves lightly strewn about can create a lovely fall vibe - but you don’t want to be reminding any potential buyers of all the manual labor they will need to put in this season.

3. Keep the House Cozy

Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. So warm up your home with a fresh coat of paint and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.

Another way to warm up a home is with light, especially as days get shorter leading into winter. Be sure to open blinds and curtains so plenty of light illuminates the home’s interior.

A few embellishments like red, orange or golden yellow pillows can breathe new life into a dull sofa—or a fall centerpiece can highlight a certain area of the home.

While you don’t want your home to look like the latest department store display, well-chosen embellishments that give potential buyers the impression you’ve paid attention to the details and taken care of any problems with the home will help you put your best face forward.

And remember, there’s nothing wrong with trying to sweeten the deal with the comforting aroma of a freshly-baked, cinnamon-laced apple pie or pumpkin cupcake to leave a lasting impression of your home as the potential buyer takes a bite.

View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, October 15, 2015  10:56:13 PM
6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Appear More Expensive 0 Comments Posted

1. Declutter

Nothing says “this home ain’t worth much” like tons of disjointed knickknacks, piles of books, and other miscellaneous items that should be tossed or stored.

Going through your rooms and getting rid of anything that doesn’t mesh with your personal style is a great first step toward transforming your home from average to exceptional.

Walk through each room of your home and edit items. Make some tough decisions. Sure, you love your grandma’s vintage Chinese vase, but does it really jibe with your West Elm look? It might be time to store it or let it live in another room with similar family heirlooms.

Next step: Tackle any stuff that piles up—toys (if you have kids), shoes by the door, mail on the dining table. At the very least, find places for your stuff to live in a more organized way; an upgraded closet with beautifully sorted nooks and crannies looks luxurious.

2. Eliminate grunge

You may not have time for intensive cleaning on a weekly basis, but a once- or twice-yearly deep clean is an easy way to make your home look far more luxurious. After all, you rarely see a mansion with dirty baseboards.

Go through your home and search for overlooked areas that have become dirty and downright gross. You’ll want to pay special attention to the grouting. Having old tile cleaned and regrouted makes a huge difference in having your bathroom look sparkly and fresh. Best of all: The process is simple and inexpensive.

Get sparkly new floors–minus the refinishing. Steam clean wood floors for an immediate lift to the finish.

3. Add—or rearrange—lighting

Designers use lighting to define spaces and separate rooms, making a small space grand.

Think of your living room—where you might have a reading nook, sofas and chairs for company, and a television. Visually differentiate among the areas by using different kinds of lighting: Add a table lamp beside your cozy reading chair and sconces behind your couch for conversation. Consider a dimmer for

 

overhead lights. Architects and lighting designers swear by them.

 

4. Upgrade your hardware

Don’t have a kitchen renovation in the budget? You can get a similar effect for much less by swapping out old, dated hardware for new.

Tired of your brushed-steel drawer pulls? Try gold, bronze, or even crystal—or make an adventure of it and scour your local thrift store for vintage hardware that screams your style.

It’s not hard to find attractive options in any decor style for next to nothing (a drawer pull, for instance, might start at just $3 or less).

Changing the countertop and faucets is another change that can make your home look much pricier. If you have the budget, exchange your dated sink accessories for something fresh that matches your brand-new hardware.

5. Repaint

There’s no simpler way to make an old home feel new than painting. This is the most important part. Repaint and choose beautiful colors for an instant makeover.

You can’t go wrong with classy neutrals. Minimalists might love a bright white combined with a bold accent wall; DIY decorators might enjoy a tasteful, sandy tan tone, which pairs well with any number of woods.

Paint isn’t just for your walls: Add some color to your front door, window trims, or even the floor, if you’re brave (hardwood can look amazing when painted white).

6. Focus on the devil in the (decor) details

Does your home feel a little meh—and you’re not sure how to change it? Try vignettes—combine decor items (e.g., vases, frames, and other objects) that add visual interest to an otherwise bland area—perhaps a shelf or console table. Organize it around a theme so that the decor items are unified and tell a visual story. Go around your house and cull items you love that need a new home (see tip No. 1 on decluttering).

For example, take that silver tray you’ve been wanting a use for, add a glass tumbler with a fresh flower, that postcard your parents sent from Thailand, and a white bowl filled with colorful candy. Voilà: You now have a magazine-worthy vignette!

 

Another way to go: Grouping together multiples of the same object (e.g., glass vases in the same color) is an instant update. Decorators often use odd numbers because they are said to be more appealing.

Before you know it, you’ll be posting pics of your gorgeous home.

 

 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, September 28, 2015  10:50:12 PM
SOME OUTSIDE THE BOX IDEAS FOR KITCHEN CABINETS 0 Comments Posted

Not many people would argue how important a kitchen is to a home. Sure, some places don’t even have kitchens – tons of people in larger cities dine out or order food for literally every meal of the day, which isn’t much of a surprise when the apartment’s kitchen is made up of a two burner stove, an oven the size of a shoebox and a mini dorm room style fridge. But, thankfully you don’t live like that. In most homes the kitchen is a primary focal point – in design, value, and activity. We can spend, on average, over three entire years throughout the course of our lives preparing food and cleaning up the aftermath in that single room. That adds yet another element of the kitchen’s true importance. It’s no wonder so many people invest so seriously in kitchen remodels – and the cabinets deserve all the attention they can get. Here are some helpful and perhaps surprising tips for the cabinet materials for your kitchen remodel.

WOOD – The obvious choice. Everyone’s cabinets are made of wood, right? No (you’ll see). But if you do choose wood there are actually several factors to take into consideration. Most of these factors will be determined by the species you choose. Different species have different grain patterns and noticeability, different colors (lightness and darkness), different levels of durability, and of course different prices. The most common species found in cabinetry are oak, maple, mahogany, birch, cherry, and pine. Oak, maple and pine are usually lighter in hue and therefore easier to stain. Cherry and mahogany typically have the richest colors. When it comes to durability pine scratches and dents very easily and may not hold up all that well to all those hours in kitchen. Oak and maple are very strong and generally hold up well, while mahogany tops out the list for durability. If you, your spouse, and your four far-from-gentle children are constantly in and out of the cabinets, then mahogany is your best bet. The price scale seems to follow the durability scale quite closely. Pine is the cheapest, oak and maple are both considered mid-range, and mahogany is going to cost you the most. That said, mahogany will likely look the best and definitely last the longest.

STAINLESS STEEL – As expected, stainless steel is the lowest maintenance material you’ll find. A quick wipe and it’s clean. It also impedes the growth of bacteria and germs. So, if you happen to be a total clean freak consider stainless steel for the entire kitchen – so what if it looks like a spaceship. It will provide clean, sharp looking lines as well – really modernize the general aesthetic. With all these benefits you’d think the price would be considerably significant. You would be absolutely correct.

THERMOFOIL/LAMINATE – These are synthetic materials, surface finishes or veneers typically laid over something like particleboard. Some may say fake. Some may say faux. Tomatoes. Good news is, they are easy to clean, can mimic the look of a more expensive wood, and are quite cheap. Durable? Indeed. But when it comes to wood, most designers will tell you, there’s nothing like the real thing.

BAMBOO – If you are remodeling your kitchen but care about something other than your kitchen, bamboo is for you. It’s a renewable resource, growing so fast that in many areas it’s considered (by

mean people) a nuisance plant. For the environmentally conscious home owner there are other benefits to bamboo as well. It is extremely durable, cleans easily and can provide a clean, modern feel to the room. It has a light, natural finish that typically softens the utilitarian nature of a kitchen and is available in other colors as well. When it comes to cost, unfortunately, it can be up there – it’s not the most expensive material out there but it’s not a cost cutter either. Hey, if saving the world were cheap everyone would do it.

NO CABINETS – Do you think your flatware, stemware, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses (you get the idea) are so beautiful it’s a shame to keep them hidden away? Maybe you have collected a wonderfully eclectic stash of handmade pottery dishes and hand-blown glasses. Set them free! There is no rule that says no one can see all your plates and dishes unless they are eating off of them. Install some good looking shelves, floating ones perhaps, and display your collection like you’re the head curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Whether you choose a more traditional route of remodeling or something (or nothing) on the cutting edge of design, the materials you choose will be the defining factor in the finished product. They will set the mood, declare a theme and provide an aesthetic. They will also, most likely, contribute largely to your budget. Choose wisely.

 
View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, September 01, 2015  10:16:14 PM
YOU’LL LOVE WHAT THESE COUNTER TOP MATERIALS WILL DO FOR YOUR KITCHEN AND YOUR HOME VALUE 0 Comments Posted

When it comes to upgrading and renovating your home it can be difficult to decide which project to tackle, especially when you have a limited budget and will be focusing on one at a time. By far, one of the more popular project areas is the kitchen, and for good reason. A recent survey of 1,000 homemakers, conducted by B&Q, revealed that the primary meal preparer will spend nearly 18 entire days per year in the kitchen – this roughly equates to 1,117 complete days over the course of 63 years. So is it really worth it to throw down a few paychecks on hooking up your food space? Absolutely.

Perhaps the most noticeable element of the kitchen is the counter top material – if not to guests in the home, certainly to the person standing there staring down at them for multiple hours a day. Here’s a list of different counter top materials that will sharpen up any kitchen’s aesthetic, add an additional element of functionality, and increase the overall value of any home.

QUARTZ Available in an extremely wide variety of colors and patterns, engineered quartz is a great choice because it is essentially maintenance free. They are stain, acid, scratch, heat, and impact resistant – and due to their non-porous surface they don’t need to be sealed like the ever-popular natural stone counter tops.

GRANITE (POLISHED AND HONED) Chances are you know a lot of people with polished granite counter tops, they are widely popular. Slightly less popular are the honed variety – the major difference being the matte finish. Granite is virtually indestructible from a durability standpoint, although it is certainly susceptible to stains and damage caused by acid, oils, and even wine. It also requires annual sealing maintenance in order to keep its original quality and it certainly will not set your kitchen apart from the crowd.

WOOD/BUTCHER BLOCK – A thick, wooden counter top is sure add a warm, soft feeling to any kitchen – and it’s just as functional as it appears. It is very durable, heat resistant and less prone to scratches and knife marks than you might think. Obviously, the harder type of wood the better in this case. When sealed properly a wood counter top becomes the perfect surface for food prep – yes, even meats. With the right wood, the right sealing, and proper maintenance these counter tops are likely to outlast anything else in your home.

MARBLE – This timeless classic immediately brings a high end look to any kitchen and, sometimes, a high end price to match. With options other than the well-known Carrara becoming more available there is still hope for those of us with budget limitations. Marble is a porous stone, so regular maintenance, sealing and special care with acids particularly, is an absolute requirement in order to keep it looking its best.

STAINLESS STEEL – There is a reason most commercial kitchens have large areas of stainless steel for food preparation. It is, without question, the most hygienic surface available due to its tendency to

inhibit any form of bacterial buildup and growth. It doesn’t stain (possibly that’s how it got its telling name). Ever. Just a little water and soap and virtually any mess is history. Aesthetically, it has an equally clean look – sharp lines and a smooth surface make it easy to integrate into any design concept.

CONCRETE – The most customizable of any material, a concrete counter top can take any shape and be any color you choose – you can even have your sink molded right into the counter for the ultimate clean appearance. You can even choose a customized texture, although smooth seems to be the surface of choice among avid kitchen goers. It’s relatively maintenance free too. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of a concrete counter top is its energy efficiency. When your home heats up the concrete will capture it and when the room begins to cool that heat will be released. This does not mean you’ll no longer need your heating unit and AC, just that all the heat you generate while preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a dozen family members will go to good use later.

We have just begun to scratch the surface (pun intended) of counter top materials here, but any on this list would certainly wake up a tired kitchen. And now that we know how much actual time we spend standing in front of the stove or over the counter, it’s easy to justify an investment in kitchen beautification.

View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, August 25, 2015  11:40:09 PM
ARE YOU READY TO GET FLOCKED? 0 Comments Posted

Flock your own front yard or a friends for a donation of $30 (or more if you’re feeling generous) to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Bedford County. Upon flock request the birds (a flock of 30 or more plastic pink flamingos) will be secretly delivered and placed in the desired victim’s front yard and will remain for no more than 48 hours. A removal notice and forwarding option will be delivered with the flock.

Donations raised to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Bedford County will be matched by Coldwell Banker SKS Realty. Sorry our flock cannot migrate outside of Bedford County.

If interested in a flock orders please contact Melinda Feaster at (814)-285-6320.

Checks can be made payable to Habitat for Humanity of Bedford County and can be either dropped off or mailed to 129 S. Juliana St, Bedford, Pa 15522.

View Comments | Add Comment Saturday, August 08, 2015  9:10:11 AM
5 MUST HAVES FOR A YOUNG FAMILY IN A NEW HOME 0 Comments Posted

Buying a house can be a nerve wracking process no matter what your life circumstances are.  Like everything else though, when young children are involved the decision feels a little heavier.  When you’re single and kid-less or married and child-free, if you’re home buying decisions turn out to be less than excellent the collateral damage is usually pretty minimal – meaning; the obstacles and challenges you may face as a result of your less-than-excellent decision will likely be relatively easy to navigate by an adult with the wherewithal to purchase a home, especially since you are presumably getting several hours of child-free sleep each and every night.  Now, bring in some new-to-the-world, tiny people who look to you in order to have every single one of their needs met on a minute to minute basis and things get a little more complicated, a little more frightening.  Will we have enough space for all the baby’s stuff?  What if we need a new roof?  What if the roof leaks in the baby’s room?  (Correct, that IS what home inspections are for).  Bottom line is; no new family with a young child wants to finally get into a new home, likely their first home, and end up struggling with more chaos, fighting even harder against the clock every day, and generally have a more difficult time with the day-to-days than they were prior to the momentous occasion of owning a home.  In an effort to help lessen any unneeded pain, here’s a quick checklist of must haves for the young, kid-enriched family in a new house – in completely random order, of course.

Bathtub – Sure, bathing a newborn in the kitchen sink is cute and fun, but what happens when they outgrow it?  Or, more likely, what happens when there are a bunch of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and you can’t wash them before bath time because you’ve gotten a total of five hours of real sleep in the past ten days?  Trying to give your kid a shower before they can stand securely on their own is not cute, or fun – at all.  There’s got to be a bathtub.  That way at least you can kneel down on the floor on those evenings when your legs feel like all the sudden you’ve joined a professional soccer team and you play the position that constantly runs up and down the field – carrying the big guy on your shoulders.  Let’s face it; in the first couple (18 I hear) years, if there aren’t at least a couple days (more likely several) that conclude with you, literally not being able to stand for one more minute – go buy a lottery ticket because you’re super lucky.

At least two bathrooms – Imagine this: your two year-old daughter or son waddles their little kid waddle into the bathroom, pushes their little step stool up to the sink, carefully climbs up and begins brushing their teeth.  (Remember, this is imaginary so there is no red-faced screaming, no alligator death rolls, no hyperventilating – the kid is just willingly brushing their teeth).  This directly follows your 25 minute stint on the throne after your two heavily caffeinated morning beverages.  Not cool, not cool at all.  You need two bathrooms – well, one and a half at the absolute least.

 Storage - It is a commonly known fact that people between the ages of zero and five collectively possess ninety percent of the worlds’ total stuff.  Contrary to laws of physics and all logical thought, as human beings get larger they require and have less stuff.  We are all baffled at just how many objects, toys, clothes, shoes, toiletries, towels, washcloths, plates, bottles, sippy cups, diapers, and immeasurable other pieces of stuff take up space in a residence that is occupied by a small child.  And it all seems to have a significant purpose.  Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a little extra room somewhere – an accessible attic, dry and un-haunted basement, and rodent-free shed or other outbuilding, even a spare closet.  It is joyous when “put away” is no longer synonymous with “pile in the corner.”

Lockless interior doors (or multiple keys in multiple locations) – It is a very distinct and unpleasant sense of panic that attacks you the first time your toddler clumsily slams their bedroom door shut and you hear the faint click of the lock turning.  You must, absolutely must, resist the instinct to immediately bust the door down to rescue your kid.  Instead, simply change the doorknobs to ones without locks or make sure you keep a key close to each door (top of the door frame would be an effective location).  There could be a situation when you actually need to make a timely entrance to ensure your child’s well-being – like if they lock themselves in one of your two bathrooms.  This is all much less time consuming than developing the intricate skill of picking locks.

Washer/Dryer – There are, without question, parents who function perfectly fine without a washer and dryer at home.  I would expect, quite seriously, that there are awards or some other acknowledgment of achievement reserved for them.  Similar to the illogical relationship between size and amount of stuff, the smaller the person the more clothes they will go through in a day and the dirtier those clothes will get.  The amount of disgusting-ness that finds its way onto the clothes of parents and their children is staggering – then, of course, you have the bedding, towels, pillow cases, bathmats, washcloths, stuffed animals, pets (just making sure you’re paying attention) and anything else that can fit into a washing machine.  There will be times when something has to be immediately prewashed outside with the hose and put directly into the washer with a ridiculous amount of color safe bleach or it just has to be thrown in the trash.  You’ll end up saving way more than money with a washing machine at home.

There is no way your first home as a family with a young child is going to be a sanctuary of constant tranquility and peaceful rest – you live with a kid after all!  Making sure your home is equipped with these amenities will, however, keep you chasing them around and cleaning up after them with a smile on your face more often than not.  It may even save you from tearing out what is left of your hair.

 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, August 03, 2015  10:33:52 AM
Home Finding Worksheet 0 Comments Posted

Once you have your financial work (pre-approval, calculated your budget, etc.) completed, it is time to begin the process of looking for your new home. Before you start I would hope you have some sort of general idea as to what you are looking for. You obviously can’t get exactly what you want but the more know what you are looking for, the quicker you’ll find what you want. There are many factors involved in your decision, such as lot size, architectural style of the home, number of bedrooms, proximity to your place of employment, quality of schools, and the list goes on.

Many people like to see things in black and white when they are faced with making a decision.  If you are one of those people, Coldwell Banker provides a Home Finding Needs Worksheet to help you prioritize your wants and needs.  This certainly won’t eliminate the stress and second guessing involved in the home buying process, but it will definitely make the process easier. Please contact the office if you would like us to provide you with the worksheet. 

View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, July 23, 2015  2:36:17 PM
MOVE OVER MAN CAVE THERE IS A NEW SHE SHED IN TOWN! 0 Comments Posted

Oh the Man Cave –a place to relax and escape from the stresses and pressures of everyday life.  The modern man cave has transformed into a place where husbands, fathers, boyfriends and even bachelors seek alone-time and comradery.  Just about the only requirements to have a man cave are that you live with someone else and that you are, quite obviously, male – because, let’s face it, if you’re a guy who lives by himself you already have one.  That’s why your place is where all your attached buddies want to hang out.  The problem is that men can smell man caves from a mile away – that garage door that never opens, those basement windows that have the glow of neon bar lights behind them at two o’clock in the morning – every guy knows what they mean and most guys want to be there.  While this certainly provides escape, it doesn’t necessarily provide stress-free relaxation.  Sure, throwing back some lagers and going completely nuts over the game without the interruption of significant others and children are fine ways to let off some steam, but that certainly doesn’t calm us down and get us centered for the challenges that life so generously provides.  So, what are we supposed to do?  I hate to say it guys, but once again women have the answer.

Enter the She Shed – the wife, girlfriend, mother version of the man cave.  She sheds have a lot of things going for them that their male counterparts lack.  Primarily, they are small (surprise, shed-sized) out buildings, set back from the main domicile, resulting in an increased level of privacy.  True, some are actual sheds, but many are custom built to serve the specific purpose of providing the upmost sense of retreat.  They only having enough space for one or two adults and some comfortable amenities.  It’s also pretty safe to wager that not many she sheds have TVs or game consoles – a couple pairs of extra shoes, probably.  She sheds can be set in a garden environment or tucked back among the trees to take full advantage of a serene view or other relaxing feature.  Where the man cave is usually decorated with objects to excite us – sports memorabilia, alcohol advertisements, scantily clad images of women who were super-hot when we were in high school – the she shed creates an ambiance of soothing energy - ambient lighting, soft textures, light fabrics, natural light and a general sense of calm.  The she shed truly is a place to escape, unwind, reflect and center oneself for whatever is next.

The reality is this:  whether you want to let loose or let go, cheer or meditate, socialize or internalize – there is a place for you.  There is no rule or law (other than zoning maybe) that says you have to create a certain type of space for yourself. 

Check out some of our listings that have amazing potential for Man Caves and She Sheds.

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, July 20, 2015  11:54:12 AM
DITCH DOWNTOWN FOR A SMALL TOWN 0 Comments Posted

Reasons you should consider moving to a small town

There are so many reasons to live in a small town like Bedford, Pennsylvania and more and more people are moving out of the city to the countryside. There are some incredible benefits to living in a city but here are a few reasons to live in a small town.

A slower pace allows you to live in the moment “be in the now” as they say and gives you an opportunity to appreciate the people around you.  A small town vibe can bring your family closer together simply by giving you more time to spend with them.  While living in the city you may very well know your neighbors, the people in your building, and the shop keepers on your block but in a small town the sense of community can stretch for miles.   You will find that everyone remembers your name or at least your face and they are always happy to see you. 

What is your daily commute? If you spend most of your life in the car a small town will be like a rebirth-hypothetically speaking you will be reborn by getting back hours of your life. You can be at work in 5 minutes and home in time to have dinner with your family!  Nothing spoils a date night like waiting an hour to be seated at your favorite restaurant.  In a small town like Bedford, PA you can get seated quickly and waited on patiently which gives you time to focus on your date instead of your hunger!

Eliminate pollution in your life.  Less light pollution equals more stars.  In Bedford County when you step outside at night and look up you’ll feel like you’re a galaxy away from your old, starless life in the city. 

Noise pollution can quickly become unnoticeable in the city; as the constant intrusion of machinery, sirens, and traffic blends into the background of everyday life.  Imagine replacing those noises with the music of birds singing and wind whispering through the leaves.  Take a breath of fresh air.  Leave the smell of exhaust and trash behind. Step outside and enjoy the scent of fragrant lilacs and wild flowers, a summer rain shower or fresh-cut grass.  When you breathe deep in a small town you get the good stuff.

Get more for your money.  Ever dream of a private back yard, a huge vegetable garden, or even a farmette complete with horses, goats and white picket fences?  Small town real estate provides the opportunity to own more property and get closer to your version of the American Dream.  Even if you’re just hunting for a weekend retreat, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you can afford in Bedford County.

Check out our listings that epitomize the benefits of small town living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, July 17, 2015  5:44:22 PM
FALL IN LOVE WITH BEDFORD COUNTY 0 Comments Posted

Our primary job as a real estate agency is to sell homes, but another just as important purpose is to sell you on Bedford County. What an easy job that is! I can’t count the number of times I have given people from out of town a brief tour of Bedford County and have watched them fall in love with our beautiful home. Nestled in the hills of south central PA, Bedford County is the ideal blend of the peace and tranquility of rural living and the proximity to major urban areas. From its importance to the early history of the U.S. to its scenic beauty and its countless “things to do” Bedford County has something to offer everyone. It is the perfect place for a getaway weekend from hectic life in the city or for an extended stay to enjoy our wide varieties of activities and the breathtaking scenery. If you haven’t been here before you owe it to yourself to stop by for a visit. Who knows? You may decide to stay.

Following is a very abbreviated list of activities in the upcoming months:

Free walking tours of historic downtown Bedford every Friday from 3:30-5:00

Live performances by the Bedford County Players at the Gardner Memorial Theatre.

Gospel sings at Friendship Village on Thursdays from 7:00-8:30 PM

The “Great Bedford County Fair” – July 26 – August 1. Rides, food, exhibits, livestock, entertainment and much more.

30 minute drive to the Flight 93 Memorial – a must see!

Museums including the National Museum of the American Coverlet, the Everett Railroad Company, Fort Bedford Museum and more.

A wide variety of events at Old Bedford Village including: Vietnam Educational Program – August 8 and 9, French and Indian Living History – August 15 and 16, “Meet the Union Generals” – August 29 and 30, Napolean Grand Tactique – September 5 and 6, “Murder Mystery Evening – October 3 and 10 plus other events.

Shopping in Downtown Bedford; named one of the Top 10 Main Streets in the Nation.

Bedford’s Fall Foliage Festival. October 3-4 and 10-11. Over 400 craftsmen, Live entertainment, food galore, Antique Car Parade. Very well known event that features craftsmen and visitors from across the nation.

In case you haven’t noticed, even though Bedford County is a rural area, there is something for everyone here, and I barely scratched the surface of events and attractions. Give Bedford County a try, odds are you’ll love it.

View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, July 14, 2015  11:28:06 AM
FURNISHING YOUR HOME FOR THE 1ST TIME HOMEBUYER 0 Comments Posted

Whether the economy is up, down or somewhere in between, first time home buyers generally do not have much extra money with which to buy furnishings. This doesn’t mean you have to sleep on an air mattress, use a cardboard box for your table or sit on the floor. There are many options available for you to find inexpensive furniture and other items to make your home a showcase.

First and foremost, have an idea (whether it is a written list or just a mental picture) of what it is you want and or need to purchase. You don’t have to strictly adhere to this list but at least it gives you a starting point. Also, determine how much you can afford to spend and attempt to stay relatively close to this figure. Finally, remember that you don’t have to completely furnish your house the first weekend you are there. Take some time and look for the best bargains for the items you want. Along the same lines are estate sales. You may need to be prepared to spend an entire day until the item(s) you want are offered but the rewards can be substantial and again they can make for an enjoyable day.

Some great places to find furniture and other accessories are the old standbys: yard sales and flea markets. Not only can they be a treasure chest of bargains, it can also be a fun experience. One thing to remember is to get there early before all the “good things” are picked over.

Repurposing stores are also becoming more and more popular. Sometimes items purchase there may require a bit of TLC on your part, but the savings can be worth it.

Especially with younger shoppers, websites such as Craigslist and ebay can be invaluable tools for shoppers. There is obviously the disadvantage of not actually seeing the product, but the savings can be well worth the risk.

Finally, remember that there is more than just furniture involved in decorating a home. While you are shopping keep your eyes open for lighting, area rugs, paintings or other wall hangings and the myriad of other accessories that can bring a dull room to life. Best of luck and most importantly have a great time decorating your new home. 

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, July 10, 2015  12:07:39 AM
SUMMER PROJECTS 0 Comments Posted

Unless you live in a warm weather climate, right now is the time to check some of those outside projects off of your to do list. Many of these do not really require a trained expert nor are they expensive. Everyone wants their home to look its best and you can have a big impact on it. Most of us certainly don’t want to spend our entire summer (especially since they seem to get much shorter as we age) working on our homes, but a few weekend projects can make a major difference. These projects can also have financial benefits if you are even thinking about selling your home now or in the future.

If for some reason you have ever tried to do landscaping work in January, you know that now is the time to work on your gardens. The middle of the summer is not the best time to plant some species because of the heat, but you can certainly clean your gardens, freshen up the mulch, and make plans for fall planting. It’s also a great time to repair any damaged fencing, trim bushes and trees, etc.

Perhaps you have been thinking about possibly changing the color of your home or at least brightening up the current color. If so, generally now is the perfect time from a weather standpoint, although this summer thus far has seemed like a nonstop monsoon. Gather a few friends, supply them with food and beverages (of course I’m speaking of water) and you can make your home look like new in a matter of days. I think I mentioned this in an earlier installment, but it bears repeating:  when you are repainting pay special attention to your color selection for the front door.

Now is also the time to power wash and/or stain the deck, repaint a garden shed or any other outbuildings you may have. If you have them, I strongly suggest you recruit your kids for these outside painting jobs.

I suppose I could go on and on with summertime projects, but guys if you complete just a few of those I mentioned, your wife will think you’re the greatest thing that ever lived. Of course even better yet, if spouses work together on these jobs it is a great opportunity for some summer bonding. Whichever route you decide to go, “Best of luck” and one thing is for sure, your home will look like a million bucks when you are done. 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, July 06, 2015  1:53:45 PM
BIG QUESTION FOR "BABY BOOMERS" 0 Comments Posted

 As “Baby Boomers” are nearing or have already reached the retirement age, one big question arises. That question is: “What do I do with my home?” The answer to that question obviously has an impact on the retiree but it also has ramifications to the real estate industry.

Various factors must be considered before making that decision and among them are:

“Can I afford to maintain my current home?” If you are on a fixed income as most retirees are, that question merits much thought on your part. Somewhere down the road the roof will need replaced, appliances will wear out, as will carpeting and other household items. Taxes and the cost of utilities will certainly not decrease. If any of those situations give you pause, you may want to consider downsizing.

“Will my health allow me to continue with the general upkeep of the house?” No matter your age, the lawn will still need to be mowed, weeds will need pulled, snow needs shoveled, windows will need to be washed, and the list goes on. Many people are able to continue those tasks well into their 70’s and even 80’s. If you are fortunate to retain good health and can complete these tasks then perhaps you can delay your decision, if not, you may want to consider downsizing.

 “Do you plan to spend winters in a warmer climate or do you just enjoy traveling in general?” If you plan to live in Florida for 6 months of the year or perhaps take a trip every month or so, do you really need your current home sitting empty for long periods of time?

“What do your kids think about your situation?” Many people hang on to their home hoping or thinking that one of their children may someday want the house. Find out. Ask them. It might not be wise to save your home for the kids if none of them really has a desire or intention to ever live there.  Also, if your kids live nearby perhaps they will help with household chores.

The bottom line is you have to weigh your emotional needs as well as your financial and physical abilities as you make your decision. Whether you decide to stay in your current home or decide to call a licensed REALTOR such as those at Coldwell Banker SKS Realty, there is one thing that is most important. You must do what is best for you.

As we enter our “golden years” it is important that we maintain as much enjoyment and comfort as we can. And remember, age is only a number. Baseball legend Satchel Paige once said, “If I didn’t know when I was born, how old would I be?” That my friends, is a great outlook.

View Comments | Add Comment Wednesday, July 01, 2015  12:02:14 PM
TAKE A MOMENT TO LAUGH 0 Comments Posted

Here at Coldwell Banker SKS Realty in Bedford we take what we do very seriously as we do our best to meet your real estate needs. However, like almost everyone in every business, we sometimes tend to take ourselves too seriously. With that in mind we all need to take a break occasionally and sit back and laugh at our professions. In this installment of our blog I will take a look at some humorous real estate ads from over the years.  Some of these were misprints and other were intentionally written in the manner presented.

Seen on “For Sale by Owners” signs:

“Owner ready to croak – must sell.”

“Husband left us for a 22 year old… House for sale by scorned, bitter, newly single owner.”

“Price Reduced… but we’re not stupid or desperate.”

“Fieldstone fireplace, wraparound porch, wine cell, spectacular room to grow marijuana.”

Ads seen in print media:

“Home feces south”

“Come check out our new orifice”

“Large panty in kitchen”

“New inferior décor”

“Whole house infection”

“Ice warm fireplace”

Odds and ends:

“This house is only 5 minutes from town… if you have an airplane.”

Real estate ad: “If we don’t sell your house in 2 weeks we will gladly refund every cent you have not paid us yet.”

“Home sickness is what you feel every month when you pay the mortgage.”

“My realtor sold me a 2 story house – one before the sale and one after.”

As the great Jim Valvano said in a speech shortly before his untimely death: “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think – spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

We can’t make you think or cry but hopefully we have at the least brought a smile to your face. 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, June 22, 2015  4:21:17 PM
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR EMERGENCY WEATHER SITUATIONS? 0 Comments Posted

As the thunder storms here in Bedford County kept me awake last night, I began wondering if I was truly prepared in the event of an emergency. Of course the answer was, not really. I am probably not going out on a limb if I suggest that the same might be true for many of you.

I was able to come across information from the federal government’s emergency preparedness website: Ready.gov. It was filled with many great ideas including suggesting that every family should have an emergency supplies kit in a readily accessible location. Following is a partial list of the items recommended for that kit:

Water. One gallon per person, per day is suggested.

Food. Enough non-perishable food to feed your family for 3 days.

A first aid kit.

Prescription drugs and medications.

Flashlights and extra batteries.

Bleach. In case you need to disinfect water.

Blankets. Enough for each member of your family.

I have been fortunate enough that I have never had to go through a true emergency situation, really nothing more than a few hours without electricity or maybe being snowed in for a day. If you live in an area that is prone to violent weather: whether it be tornadoes, hurricanes, frequent summer storms or blizzard like conditions, it might be wise to do some more research and make sure you and your family are prepared for any emergency.  A bit of planning and preparedness can save you and your family from a catastrophic situation. 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, June 15, 2015  12:34:01 PM
DO WE NEED AN AGENT TO HELP US LIST OUR HOME? 0 Comments Posted

“I can sell my house myself, I don’t need to waste money on a real estate agent.” That is a comment that is frequently heard by members of the real estate business. Just as frequent is the individual who tried to sell by him/herself calling an agent in a few months after realizing that it is not quite as easy as they thought. Despite the onslaught of For Sale by Owner websites and other outlets, there must be a reason that well over 80% of home sellers use an agent.

Look over the following before deciding that you don’t need the services of the professional before selling your home.

REALTORS are trained, educated professionals. You may have noticed the capital letters.  A REALTOR is a member of the National Association of REALTORS and has strict guidelines he/she must adhere to. There are agents out there who are real estate agents but not REALTORS. By the way, all of our agents at Coldwell Banker SKS Realty are REALTORS.

REALTORS know the market. Good REALTORS pride themselves in knowing what is for sale and what buyers are looking for. You probably don’t have the time or the means to study the market as a qualified REALTOR does.

Strength in numbers. When you hire a REALTOR to sell your home you are actually engaging the services of a large number of people who want to help sell your home. For example, if you have real estate in Bedford County to sell, Coldwell Banker SKS Realty has 19 active agents all of whom want to help sell your home. When we list your home we actually take our staff to your home for a “Home Tour” the purpose of which is to make our agents familiar with your home. Most other local agencies don’t do this, but we feel it is an important service we offer to our all customers.  If the agency belongs to a Multiple Listing Service, as we do, there are actually hundreds of agents who have access to the fact that your home is on the market.  Pretty tough to get those kind of numbers on your own!

Sale Price. Many people think that by selling their own homes and foregoing sales commissions they will make more profit from their home. In most cases, the opposite is actually true. Many studies have shown that people who use a REALTOR get a higher sale price and despite the sales commission end up putting more money in their pockets.   

Paperwork. The amount of paperwork involved in selling a home can be mountainous. REALTORS are trained in completing, compiling and explaining to you what all this means. It can be a daunting task trying to handle all this by yourself.

Questions. If you are trying to sell your own home and you have questions, who do you ask? A REALTOR is only a phone call, email or text away. If it is a complicated question and they don’t know the answer, they will find it for you. Do you have time to do all this?

Showings. Are you available to answer inquiries from potential buyers at any time of day and then show the house at the drop of a hat?  REALTORS are, because that is our job.  

Are you starting to detect a trend here? Selling a home is very demanding activity. It requires someone with experience, training, resources to advertise, and most importantly someone who is there to help you along the way.

At Coldwell Banker SKS Realty our vision is “Excellence and Integrity, Every client. Every time”. We are very sincere in that belief and we believe that is what makes us the top selling agency in Bedford County, year after year. Before you try to sell your home by yourself, give us a call and one of our agents will sit down with you for a free consultation. What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Only a successful and smooth sale of your home.

 

View Comments | Add Comment Wednesday, June 10, 2015  10:52:06 AM
SOMETIMES WE DO JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER 0 Comments Posted

Although we are taught to never judge a book by its cover, this often doesn’t apply to the home buying process. Studies have shown that many potential buyers form their first impression of a home within a matter of seconds. Those first few seconds are obviously spent looking at the exterior of a home. Many TV shows, magazine and internet articles and other sources stress the importance of staging the interior of a home. While interior staging is vital, just as much emphasis should be place upon the exterior. If you want to sell your home it must come across as warm and inviting. Smart buyers also realize that if you neglect the outside of your home there is a strong possibility that the inside is also often neglected (except perhaps when it is staged for selling). Following are some generally inexpensive, or even free, ideas of some things you can do to increase that ever important “curb appeal”.

Nothing catches a buyer’s eye like an attractive front door. If yours is weathered spend a few dollars and repaint it making sure to select an appealing color.  While you’re at the front door, don’t hesitate to place a new “Welcome” mat.  Also related to the front entry, if your house numbers are dirty, clean them, if they are weathered beyond salvation think about replacing them with new, eye catching numbers.

Many times a power washing of the exterior can make a house look almost new. If you have peeling or cracked paint strongly consider repainting the exterior. Even though it will cost some money it is important to do all you can to separate your house from others the buyer is looking at.

Another easily addressed item are the rain gutters.  Many times you will see a house with leaves or actual growing plants hanging from the gutters. Cleaning them make a big difference to the home’s appearance and also allow the gutters to perform the function they were intended to.

Yet another simple matter to take care of is the mailbox. A battered, beaten mailbox can be very unattractive and is a very inexpensive fix.

One more task is one that no one likes but it is free and makes a big impression: wash the windows. Clean, sparkling windows make a house seem bright and clean.

Perhaps the most important improvement you can make to your home does not involve the house itself. Landscaping is an extremely vital aspect of forming that strong first impression. I won’t go in-depth here, but keep the lawn mowed and trimmed.  To sell a house in the summer months, as we are now approaching, plant flowers, edge around flower beds and if needed apply a new layer of mulch. If you have dead or dying trees or shrubs on your property remove or at the very least, trim them. If your shrubs are old, consider replacing at least a few of them. 

Although some of the tips above may seem like they require a lot of time and effort, if you want your house to sell, it must “pop” (boy, is that an overused real estate cliché). Anything you can do to make your home more appealing than others on the market can result in shorted selling time and more dollars in your pocket. The decision is yours.

 

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, June 08, 2015  12:28:33 PM
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING FIRST TIME BUYERS 0 Comments Posted

There are many challenges involved in purchasing your first home, all of which can be overcome with patience and leadership. Among the most daunting challenges are the following:

(1.) The financial challenge.  Are you financially prepared to buy a home? Without consulting a lender you are probably uncertain (unless you have rich parents who can afford to buy you a home as a present). One big financial obstacle for many people is their credit scores. Various types of loans require differing minimum credit scores, however if your scores are too low, don't give up hope. A qualified lender can make suggestions and help you work to improve your scores. Low scores can delay the purchase of your home but they don't mean you can never buy.

Coming up with a down payment once you have chosen a home can also be a stumbling block. Once again, different types of loans have different minimum requirements. Just remember that the more money you can put down up front, the less you have to borrow. Over the course of a typical 30 year loan that can result in tens of thousands of dollars worth of savings.

Again, the key is finding a lender who is qualified and one that you can trust and then put your faith in them to help you make the right decisions.

(2.) Selecting the right agent. There are many top notch qualified real estate agents, but make sure you select the one that is right for you. At Coldwell Banker SKS Realty, our agents are very qualified and eager to help the first time buyer. Don't be afraid to interview agents to see which one you feel most comfortable with. Some clients prefer to work with female agents, others males. Some feel more comfortable with an older agent others like younger ones. I hate to be  redundant but it is important that you opt for the agent that works best for you. 

(3.) Selecting the right home. I intentionally saved this one for last because without the previous 2, this may not be that important. Once you have determined, with the help of a lender, how much house you can afford it is time to get down to details. What type of house do you prefer, ranch, 2-story? How many bedroom and bathrooms would you like? Do you want to live in-town or is a rural setting more to your liking? This is where your friendly Coldwell Banker SKS Realty agent comes into play. When it comes to Bedford County real estate, no one will be more knowledgeable or eager to help you than an SKS agent. You tell us what is important to you in a home and if that home is for sale in Bedford County, we will help you find it.

In a future installment we will look in more depth about how to select the right home, how to make an offer, how to handle the home inspection process and much, much more.

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, June 05, 2015  3:17:51 PM
READY FOR THAT FIRST HOME? 0 Comments Posted

One of the most exciting, important and excruciating events of your life can be buying your first home. This purchase means that you are ready to leap into the world of responsibility. No longer can you expect parents or landlords to take care of things for you, you are officially on your own! Although it sounds like a frightening experience, buying your first home can be a time of learning, enrichment and great satisfaction if it is properly handled.

Try to remember as you start this process that unless you are a very unusual person, you don't know what you are doing. YOU WILL NEED HELP! It's generally not the quick easy process that certain TV networks make it appear.

Once you have decided you are ready to buy, seek professional help (real estate, not psychological). You will need someone to guide you in the areas of finance, selecting the right home for you, home inspections, in general, someone who can hold your hand and walk you through the process to make it an enjoyable experience, not a nightmare. It just so happens that here at Coldwell Banker SKS Realty we have a staff of eager, qualified agents who have years on experience helping the first time buyer of any age.

We have just scratched the surface of first time buying in this installment but you can be assured we will have much more coming down the road.

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, June 05, 2015  8:32:21 AM