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Regional powerhouse forges a new alliance to provide enhanced services and further expand its footprint.


Winchester, VA, (Feb. 8, 2022) – Coldwell Banker SKS Realty, a well-established real estate brokerage in Bedford County (Pa.) has joined forces with Coldwell Banker Premier to enhance its operations, marketing, and support for its 21 agents. Coldwell Banker Premier is one of the most successful companies in the 116-year-old Coldwell Banker brand with 12 offices serving Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.


The announcement comes two weeks after Coldwell Banker Premier merged with Coldwell Banker Resort Realty Rehoboth Beach, DE, Led by Founder and CEO Steve DuBrueler, Coldwell Banker Premier has earned a 2022 spot on the prestigious Coldwell Banker Chairman’s Circle list as one of the top Coldwell Banker affiliates in the world. With approximately 150 agents, Coldwell Banker Premier was responsible for 1,700 transactions and $500 million in sales volume in 2021.


Coldwell Banker SKS Realty has dominated the West Central Pennsylvania market for 25 years. The company, which was founded in 1994, has offices in Bedford, McConnellsburg, and Everett, PA. It generated nearly 350 transaction sides equating to over $50 Million in sales volume last year.


Melinda Feaster and Cheryl McInroy, broker/owners of Coldwell Banker SKS Realty who will continue in their leadership roles, decided to partner with Coldwell Banker Premier to take advantage of the greater synergies a larger brokerage could offer as well as the greater levels of agent support. They will work closely with Coldwell Banker Premier Chief Operating Officer Stephen Meadows on integrating with the company’s marketing and operations teams. 


As part of the Coldwell Banker Premier family, Coldwell Banker SKS Realty agents will benefit from a health and wealth solution, which provides subsidized health, dental and vision insurance as well as a 401k plan and deferred compensation plan. In addition, automation of back-office functions will increase efficiencies for agents, while also benefiting from operational synergies in property management, relocation, training, coaching, and professional marketing support. 



  • Coldwell Banker Premier was established by Steve DuBrueler in 1994 and affiliated with the brand in 1995. DuBrueler’s business model is designed to ensure the success of the company’s agents. This service mentality is reflected in DuBrueler’s recent recognition as the Chandler Barton Spirit Award winner, the highest individual honor bestowed by the Coldwell Banker brand.

  • Melinda Feaster became an owner of Coldwell Banker SKS Realty in 1998; McInroy joined the company in 2011 as an agent and became a partner in 2017. The firm’s tenure with the brand dates back to its founding.

  • Coldwell Banker SKS Realty was named to RIS Media’s Power Broker Report for the first time in 2018. Since then, the firm has grown from one office to three, reflecting Feaster and McInroy’s focus on the market expansion.



“This partnership brings together two long-time market-leading companies who are standard-bearers in the industry and passionate promoters of the Coldwell Banker brand. Melinda and Cheryl have worked tirelessly to bring opportunities to their agents and this partnership represents a new level of commitment of growth for their team as they gain access to world-class tools, service, and support and realize greater back-office efficiencies and expanded marketing programs to allow agents to build their business.”

- Steve DuBrueler, Founder and CEO, Coldwell Banker Premier


“Over the last five years, we have had made a concerted effort to maximize growth opportunities that position us for relevance and continued success in an increasingly crowded space. Our partnership with Coldwell Banker Premier gives us a competitive edge that will put us in a position to become an even more dominant firm in our market.”
Melinda Feaster, Broker/Owner, Coldwell Banker SKS Realty


“As active sales professionals who derive much joy from our relationships with our clients, Melinda and I deeply appreciate Steve’s philosophy of agent support. His 

commitment to professional development and success for agents will be a tremendous benefit to our entire team.”

Cheryl McInroy, Broker/Owner, Coldwell Banker SKS Realty


 imgAbout Coldwell Banker Premier

Coldwell Banker Premier was established in 1994 by Steve DuBrueler, who affiliated with Coldwell Banker in 1995. With 12 offices and 150 agents, the market-leading Coldwell Banker firm in two states is licensed in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Delaware and handles residential, relocation, commercial, property management, auction, luxury, REO, mortgage, and title. The company supported over 100 charities in 2021. Learn more:

Photo Caption (left to right): Stephen Meadows, Cheryl McInroy, Melinda Feaster, Steve DuBrueler.


View Comments | Add Comment Wednesday, February 9, 2022  11:44:43 AM
NEW OFFICE LOCATION opening Feb. 1st, 2021 in Fulton County. 0 Comments Posted

3 locations and 24 agents to better serve you! Call us today for any of your real estate needs.  new

View Comments | Add Comment Wednesday, January 27, 2021  1:33:30 PM
How to Engage in Virtual Open Houses 0 Comments Posted

Virtual tours and virtual open houses on social media are quickly becoming a popular option for buyers in place of the traditional open house – and offer an incredible opportunity that benefits the consumer.

The real estate industry is always transforming with the development of new technology, and real estate agents have adopted an array of tools that help them provide increasingly sophisticated services to their customers. Virtual tours and virtual open houses on social media are quickly becoming a popular option for buyers in place of the traditional open house – and offer an incredible opportunity that benefits the consumer.

Expand your Opportunity to View More Homes

Virtual open houses let buyers reach more properties, in more places, by way of various platforms that show tours live via websites, YouTube, FaceTime – and Facebook and Instagram Live. It also allows agents to reach potential buyers while saving consumers the time they would normally spend repeating in-person tours.

Helpful Tips on Exploring the Virtual Real Estate World

  • Get Familiarized with Different Platforms

With the rapidly changing pace of technology, it may seem daunting for a buyer to know which platform may suit them best in their home-buying journey, whether it’s Facebook Live, YouTube, Skype, or other platforms. Many of these platforms have How-To guides on their websites to help a consumer navigate their way around an agent’s version of a virtual tour.

  • Ask a Coldwell Banker Agent for a Virtual Property Tour

Life situations can hamper the time needed to travel to a traditional, in-person open house. Many agents utilize some form of a virtual open house to meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers, so ask your local Coldwell Banker agent for a virtual tour.

Aside from convenience, virtual property tours including drone footage or still shots in a YouTube video can also assist with viewing properties with pools, ponds, and lakes, as well as grand acreage. 

  • Be Ready!

 Consumers should be ready at their computer at a specific time if they have questions for their agent while the virtual tour is going on. 

And…Virtual Open Houses Benefit Sellers Too!

If you’re selling your home, it offers a more comfortable way to display, market, and sell your home without having to vacate for potential buyers every time there’s a viewing appointment. In turn, it provides you with a sense of privacy and safety.

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, May 11, 2020  1:32:39 PM
We are Hiring - Front Desk Receptionist/Personal Assistant 0 Comments Posted

Front Desk Receptionist/Personal Assistant

The main role of a Receptionist at a real estate office is to coordinate communication between clients and employees and be responsible for handling front desk reception and administration duties. The Receptionist is responsible for welcoming clients and agents to our office, overseeing phone calls, providing office, and administrative support. Excellent organizational and administrative skills, accuracy, and attention to detail, as well as the ability to communicate, possess exceptional customer service skills while maintaining a positive attitude, and willing to assist where needed. To apply please send a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to Please add the job title in the subject line.


  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and multi-line phone skills.
  • Highly skilled in customer service and office administration.
  • Observant, accurate, detail-oriented.
  • Highly organized, attentive, flexible, and able to deal with frequent interruptions and changing priorities.
  • Proficiency in using Microsoft (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
  • Knowledge of navigating basic office equipment and protocols.
  • An intuitive and proactive approach to serving others, upbeat, and eager to learn.
  • Positive, outgoing, cheerful, and professional demeanor.
  • Real Estate experience is a plus

Job Type: Full-time

Preferred Experience:

  • front desk: 1 year
  • customer service: 1 year
  • receptionist: 1 year


  • High school or equivalent (Required)

Work Location:

  • One location

This Job Is Ideal for Someone Who Is:

  • Dependable -- more reliable than spontaneous
  • People-oriented -- enjoys interacting with people and working on group projects
  • Adaptable/flexible -- enjoy doing work that requires frequent shifts in direction
  • Detail-oriented -- would rather focus on the details of work than the bigger picture
  • Achievement-oriented -- enjoys taking on challenges, even if they might fail
  • Autonomous/Independent -- enjoys working with little direction

This Company Describes Its Culture as:

  • Detail-oriented -- quality and precision-focused
  • Aggressive -- competitive and growth-oriented
  • Stable -- traditional, stable, strong processes
  • People-oriented -- supportive and fairness-focused
  • Team-oriented -- cooperative and collaborative

Company's website:


Company's Facebook page:


View Comments | Add Comment Monday, May 11, 2020  10:24:09 AM
You Can Still List Your Home! 0 Comments Posted

View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, April 7, 2020  11:46:46 AM
Coldwell Banker Recognized by The Women's Choice Award 0 Comments Posted

View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, January 9, 2020  4:34:23 PM
Selling Your Home: 5 Bathroom Renovations That Will Pay Off 0 Comments Posted

On the journey to selling your home, it can be all too easy to focus solely on finding your new dream property and forget to ensure the home you leave behind is a dream property for its next inhabitants. The good news is giving your home some targeted TLC before selling can increase its value at a time when that matters most.

On the journey to selling your home, it can be all too easy to focus solely on finding your new dream property and forget to ensure the home you leave behind is a dream property for its next inhabitants. Creating a beautiful living space that you’ll soon be leaving may seem counterproductive, but the good news is giving your home some targeted TLC before selling can increase its value at a time when that matters most.

To help you make your property that little bit more irresistible, our friends at Jaquar are honing in on the bathroom – a space full of renovation potential. From full-scale makeover ideas to the finer details, you’ll find ideas galore for redecorating your way to a hefty new home fund.

A blank canvas color palette

Pale, muted and earthy shades are widely acknowledged as appealing to potential buyers due to being stripped-back and, as a result, boundless in potential. Without a bold, imposing color scheme limiting their imagination, prospective buyers will be able to effortlessly picture themselves living in the space.

A neutral color palette is particularly at home in the bathroom, which should be designated as a space for peaceful, uninterrupted relaxation. Calming shades such as white, cream and beige are ideal for creating that all-important atmosphere of zen – and with any luck, potential buyers will feel their worries melt away the moment they first set foot in your blank canvas bathroom.

Vertical storage space maximized

In smaller homes, storage space is at a premium – and even if your property is a reasonable size, there’s no denying the appeal of extra storage options that don’t impose on the living space itself.

In the bathroom, your best bet is to unlock the potential of your available vertical space – introducing new hanging storage baskets, wall-mounted hooks and rails, and floating shelves, all of which are as affordable as they are effective. With these simple storage additions, you can create an utterly clutter-free space where everything has its right place – guaranteed to go down a storm with prospective buyers.

A striking statement bathtub

Introducing a distinctive statement feature to your home is interior design 101 – and the bathroom is a particularly effective space for putting this idea into action. To promptly dial up your bathroom’s aesthetic from perfectly adequate to unmistakably premium, invest in a sumptuous statement bath that immediately catches the eye.

Free-standing bathtubs, in particular, add instant opulence to any bathroom, conjuring images of tranquil living in the lap of luxury. If your property can make a promise as powerful as that, finding a buyer shouldn’t be a problem.

Radiant lighting fixtures

The right lighting is the key to the right ambiance, and ambiance isn’t something that can be neglected in a relaxation station like the bathroom. In keeping with your understated yet elegant aesthetic, you can increase your bathroom’s appeal further still by illuminating the space with gently glowing sconces, under-cabinet or over-shelf lighting, an industrial-look pendant lamp or a combination of the lot if you’re open to something a little more eclectic.

Of course, the ultimate bathroom lighting solution is to introduce a skylight, bathing the entire space in rejuvenating natural light. This will mean a far greater financial investment on your part but is likely to pay dividends when the time comes to sell your home.

Premium extras aplenty

With your neutral color palette, vertical storage options, statement bathtub and luxurious light fixtures firmly in place, all that’s left is to ice the cake – by which we mean put the finishing touches on your irresistible bathroom.

From elegant wall mirrors and dainty cabinets to a fashionable and functional splashback behind the basin or in the shower, the options are practically endless when it comes to accessorizing your way to a bathroom any prospective buyer will be happy to pay more for the luxury of living in.

View Comments | Add Comment Monday, November 25, 2019  9:50:41 AM
A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Homeowners Insurance 0 Comments Posted

Buying homeowners insurance for the first time can be intimidating. Gaining a better understanding of what it covers, what it doesn’t, and how much coverage you need can help calm your nerves and build your confidence.

While buying your first home is exciting, buying your first homeowner's insurance policy isn’t nearly as much fun. New homeowners have all kinds of questions about what homeowners insurance covers and what it doesn’t, and understandably so. When shopping around for a policy to protect the biggest financial investment of your life, you want to feel confident that you’ll walk away with enough coverage.

Fortunately, with just a bit of a debriefing on homeowner's insurance, those shopping for their first policy can feel empowered and knowledgeable even before meeting with an insurance agent. Here’s a quick breakdown of the finer nuances of homeowner's insurance coverage, including how much you need to protect your home and belongings.

What Homeowners Insurance Covers

When buying an insurance policy, it’s important to know what it’s going to do for you as far as offering protection for your home and belongings. Since a home is made up of much more than just four walls and a roof, homeowners insurance includes coverage for all related aspects — not just the building itself. Coverage also aims to protect a home’s contents, including the family and their guests, against potential disasters within or surrounding the house.

Standard homeowners insurance policies have four main coverage categories:

  • Damage to the home’s structure: The first category of property damage concerns the actual dwelling or the structure of the house itself. Your homeowner's policy protects the home’s structure from damage or destruction due to covered perils, which we’ll explore further in the next section. Detached structures, such as sheds, are often covered as well.
  • Damage to your personal property: This second aspect of property damage covers your personal belongings (e.g., furniture, electronics, clothing, artwork, decorations, etc.) stored within the home or in places such as storage units, to an extent. Damage, destruction, or loss of your personal property due to a covered peril is all protected under your insurance policy.
  • Liability: Homeowner's policies include liability coverage for both bodily injury and property damage to a third party. Coverage extends to all members of your family living in the home, including pets. Liability coverage protects you against legal claims by reimbursing you for an attorney and court fees, including any settlements you’re ordered to pay if the case rules against you. Your homeowner's policy even protects against incidents in which you are sued away from home.
  • Additional living expenses: If your home gets badly damaged or destroyed and you’re forced to live elsewhere while repairs are done, your insurance will reimburse you for the additional expenses such as hotel rooms, eating out, extra gas mileage, etc., within reason.

From structural damage to the accidental injury of a guest, you’re likely to be covered by a homeowner's insurance policy. For a claim to be successful, the cause of the issue needs to be due to a covered peril.

Covered Perils Under Homeowners Insurance

While it would be nice if homeowners insurance covered your home and belongings from absolutely all potential hazards, in reality, there isn’t any insurance policy that comes without a set of defined covered perils and a list of specific exclusions. First, we’ll start with the positives.

Commonly covered perils under standard homeowners policies include the following:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Explosion
  • Fire and smoke
  • Water damage
  • Aircraft or vehicle damage
  • Riots
  • Falling objects (and trees)
  • Roof collapse (due to weight of ice/snow)
  • Certain natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)

Notice that only some, not all, natural disasters are covered by homeowner's insurance. That being said, it’s time for the flipside of the coin.

What Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Perhaps even more important than knowing what your homeowner's policy covers is understanding what it doesn’t. This can save you the hassle of filing a claim that’s bound to get denied or counting on a reimbursement that’s not going to happen.

Standard homeowners policies typically do NOT cover the following perils:

  • Certain natural disasters (i.e., floods, earthquakes, and mudslides)
  • Maintenance-related losses
  • Wear and tear damage (i.e., failure of the homeowner to maintain upkeep of the home)
  • Insect damage or infestations
  • Damage from war or nuclear fallout
  • Business-related liability

If you run a business out of your home, homeowner's insurance typically won’t cover liability for related mishaps. Homeowner's policies also tend to limit liability coverage for certain types of vehicles, including aircraft, ATVs, and boats and have very specific exceptions for certain powered vehicles, such as ride-on lawnmowers. You’ll need to check the policy to be sure of coverage for special vehicles.

Knowing How Much Coverage You Need to Purchase for Your Home

Once you understand what homeowners insurance does and doesn’t cover, you’ll need to figure out how much coverage you need. When insuring the home itself, consider how much it would cost to rebuild if a disaster caused destruction. Several things influence rebuilding costs for a home, including location, the type and age of construction, surface area, amenities, built-in plumbing and heating systems, and various features. Additionally, any measures taken to make a home nicer may increase its value and make it more expensive to rebuild.

Depending on the specific home’s value, rebuilding costs may run somewhere between $80-$150 per square foot. Plenty of online tools are available to help calculate the estimated cost to rebuild your home. Insurance agents are also equipped with professional tools for accurate estimates to help get you set up with the right amount of coverage for your home. It’s better to err on the side of purchasing too much coverage for your home’s structure, should you ever need to rebuild following a disaster.

Knowing How Much Coverage You Need to Purchase for Your Belongings

When it comes to insuring your personal belongings, homeowner's policies typically limit replacement coverage for your personal property to 60% of your home’s total insured value. For example, if you purchase $200,000 worth of insurance on your home, $120,000 of coverage would apply to your belongings. Of course, you can always add more coverage. Should disaster strike, it’s a good idea to have a record of your belongings in a photo or video format to help receive the reimbursement you’re entitled to.

If you have expensive or valuable items like furnishings, artwork, jewelry, or electronics, you might want to purchase extra coverage for your property. Special endorsements or riders are available for specific types of property that may be on the pricier side, such as jewelry and electronics. Purchasing endorsements or riders can help ensure your items are covered for their replacement costs and won’t exceed your policy’s coverage limit if they are lost, damaged, or destroyed.

Now that you have a deeper understanding of homeowner's insurance coverage and how much is needed, you can begin your hunt for the right policy with a sense of empowerment and confidence. Don’t hesitate to ask your independent insurance agent for further clarification on any gray areas. Good luck.


View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, October 15, 2019  9:26:24 AM
Congratulations to our 2018 Top Agents! 0 Comments Posted

We are thrilled to have 8 of our agents awarded for 2018! 

View Comments | Add Comment Tuesday, March 5, 2019  12:44:10 PM
Social Media for Real Estate 0 Comments Posted



Social media for real estate is key to a consumer/agent relationship, as it allows for a window into the agent’s personality. Social media for real estate also gives the opportunity for further exposure on listings and the ability to connect with buyers.

Social media is everywhere. For some it is a source of entertainment, a way to stay connected, an opportunity to sell a product, or just an annoyance. Social media for real estate, however, is an opportunity that can be used to the advantage of both consumers and agents. With FacebookInstagramSnapchatLinkedIn, and others, consumers can benefit from working with agents who utilize social media in real estate to maximize exposure for listings, connect with potential buyers, educate consumers, and provide community information for consumers.

More Exposure for Listings

Social media allows for more exposure for listings when effectively utilized by agents. Through Facebook and Snapchat, agents can give on-demand home tours that allow for further insight and interaction from potential buyers who want to see the house from a different perspective aside from the typical photos on listing sites. The videos can then be saved and be seen by the agent’s fans or followers. Facebook and Instagram allow for highly targeted ads that can reach consumers who are the right fit for the seller’s property. This can help to bring the right buyers to the seller’s property. Agents can also grow a connection and following within their operating area that allows for listing photos, videos, and information to be shared by community members. If properly setup, an agent can provide many avenues for listings to be seen by potential buyers than just listing sites, newspaper ads, and open houses.

Educating Consumers

The buying and selling experience should always be an educational process for the consumer with the agent being the teacher. Social media allows for consumers to learn more about the home buying and selling process by finding different perspectives and information that agents can post through blogs or videos. With so many resources on the Internet, it is possible for an agent to be able to prepare the consumer for the transaction before it even begins — something that will help strengthen the consumer/agent relationship.

Providing Community Information

When a consumer is looking for a property, they expect the agent to help them as much as possible. Agents have large networks in order to grow their business, but they can also utilize these networks to help consumers understand what a community is like or certain things that are happening in it. Through social media, agents can share insights on community events, other community businesses, restaurants, and many other things. It is very important for a consumer to feel that the agent they choose can provide the information they are looking for or point them in the proper direction to find it.

Getting a Sense for the Agent’s Personality

When people receive a phone call or email from someone they have not met in person, the first thing that they typically do is Google that person or look them up on Facebook. This is no different if a consumer were to see some marketing from an agent or get contacted by an agent trying to get the consumer’s business. With social media for real estate, the consumer can see all the above items about the agent and get a feel for the agent’s personality and what it would be like to work with them. This is something that can help avoid headaches down the road or possible personality clashes. This element of the process can provide more transparency to the consumer/agent relationship.

The consumer/agent relationship is key in having both a successful transaction and a satisfying experience for both parties. With social media, that relationship can grow even further and allow for multiple benefits on both sides of this relationship.

View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, January 24, 2019  3:24:23 PM
How to Partially Finish Your Basement on a Budget 0 Comments Posted

We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement, but fully developing this square footage can be expensive. Add up the costs of framing, flooring, drywall, electrical and finishes,and your project may run into the thousands of dollars. Introduce new decor, and you’ve got an even pricier endeavor.

But there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space while avoiding the hefty price tag of a full remodel. Partially finishing your basement can offer warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here is how to get the most out of an unfinished basement without breaking the bank.

Create an Industrial-Style Living Room

1. Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color, such as black, creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.

2. Ditch the drywall. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.

Another tip is to drywall only some areas of the room. A limited use of drywall can demarcate spaces, add interest and keep costs down.

Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board. OSB, which is typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction — making it an unconventional choice for walls — is acreative, less expensive way to cover your concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

3. Capture the power of white. This basement obviously gets a lot of natural light, thanks to the fact that it is a walk-out basement-style space. But a great way to provide the illusion of light and to add ceiling height is to paint everything white. In this room, with the exposed ceilings and walls painted a crisp white, it’s hard to tell where the walls end and the ceilings begin.

4. Establish a focal point. Go ahead and furnish your unfinished below-grade space as cozily as you would your upstairs, finished rooms. A great way to do this is to furnish around a focal point. Here, the designer created a focal point for the room by adding a bar and a shelving area with space for a TV, books and games. Graphic rugs and large, soft furniture and lighting bring warmth and life to the space.

Note that this basement is, like the other examples, mostly unfinished. The ceilings are open, the concrete block wall is painted, and it appears the concrete floor is as well. Finally, the owner chose white wall paint. This room shows how this simple formula for a basement can form the backdrop for a cozy living space. The finished decorative and soft furnishing elements add the comforts that make the space feel homey.

Outfit a Laundry Room

For many of us, basement laundry means a dark and dank place to toss the clothes in, pull them out and quickly run back upstairs. But this doesn’t have to be the way we choose to live. A little effort can convert an ugly space to one where you’ll want to spend time.

1. Get creative with paint and decor. This basement laundry is left nearly entirely unfinished, but with some creativity it’s become a clean and bright corner nonetheless. The exposed ceiling joists are painted a deep charcoal, the concrete floor is a fun red, and wood shelving and furniture add interest and utility. A throw rug warms up the floor, and what appears to be reclaimed wood boards frame off a private bath.

2. Install cabinetry. The money saved on finishing flooring, walls and ceiling can often be better spent on cabinets in your basement laundry area. Additional cabinetry can be used for a variety of things, like storing dry goods, linens or out-of-season clothing.

Build a Bathroom

Adding a bathroom to your basement can be a worthwhile venture. In addition to being functional, it adds a lot of value to your home. But basement bathroom additions are costly, especially if you don’t already have the plumbing and drains roughed in. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, finishing it on a budget will be rewarding.

1. Just do the basics. This bathroom, which abuts one of the laundry rooms I’ve featured, is mostly unfinished. Creatively sectioned off with wood planks and paint, it proves that a bathroom need not have marble and high-end finishing to be warm, cute and functional.

2. Dress up with shine. Another otherwise unfinished space with exposed ceiling joists and concrete walls and floor, this bathroom has all the components to be completely functional, yet also sharp. Stock cabinetry is added for necessary storage, and the mirror, lighting and accessories provide some glitz. Mirrors and other shiny accessories can be found at a variety of price points, helping you to stick with your budget.

3. Leave it open. Another way to save some money in your basement bathroom is to skip the walls altogether. Here, a section of the basement is used for the bathroom, which is open concept. The shower is made from a tiled curb with a curtain bar, giving it a modern look when privacy is not a concern. The toilet, not seen in this photo, is in a separate, walled-off enclosure behind the wall with the towel bar.


Workspaces are often hard to come by, and if you can designate a corner for one in your basement, you’ll be glad for it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to create a bright and functional zone out of, well, nothing.

1. Furnish and decorate. This basement office room works so well because it really has everything you need. Again, this is essentially a raw basement that has been cleaned up with paint. Two collapsible tables are tucked into a corner to create ample desk space. An antique-style armoire and side table add hefty traditional elements that dress up the zone and offer storage. An area rug warms the painted concrete floor, and the bright task track lighting is layered with the warm glow of a table lamp. The pretty butterfly mobile finishes this space.

2. Make a rug statement. Carpet tiles are a cost-effective option for basement flooring as they can be purchased by the box and laid out to separate a zone or add warmth to a bare concrete floor.

3. Make a spot for the kids. Kids come with a lot of stuff, from toys to books and crafts, and a neat little work area in your basement is the perfect spot to organize it all.

View Comments | Add Comment Wednesday, November 14, 2018  3:33:20 PM
Should Sellers Hire an Appraiser? 0 Comments Posted

Pricing a listing is one of the hardest— and perhaps most important — tasks in residential real estate. Did you know that Coldwell Banker SKS Realty provides FREE Competitive Market Analysis (CMA), which will provide you with the estimated value of your home?

Sellers can get it wrong in either direction: If the asking price is too low, the sellers might end up leaving money on the table; if it’s too high, they won’t tap into the right target group, will lose a lot of time and may end up selling for even less.

Sometimes, the seller and the agent might not agree on a price. And even if they do, the sellers might look for some “objective” method to corroborate their number. That’s why our listing clients frequently ask us if it’s a good idea to get an appraisal before they put the house on the market. But should you?

Well, it depends on your reasons.

Independent appraisers are often hired by potential sellers. Usually, the owners call an appraiser because they have talked to several different agents and get very different suggestions for a price.

Also, in limited-service or for-sale-by-owner situations, a full professional appraisal might be an important reality check. The same might be true for buyers who are not represented by an agent and need to make sure they won’t overpay.

In most other scenarios, however, you don’t need a pre-listing appraisal. In fact, for the seller, it might just be a waste of money. Here’s why:

●There’s no such thing as an objective valuation. The textbook definition of an appraisal: It’s an “opinion of value.” That pretty much says it. There are a lot of ways, techniques and choices appraisers have available to support that “opinion” with facts, but it’s an art rather than a science. Even the most experienced appraiser will admit that there’s often an element of gut feeling that can’t be quantified. Hire three appraisers, and you’ll get three different values. It’s not the appraiser that determines what the house will sell for, “it’s the market.”

In areas with large, newer subdivisions (and dozens of similar houses) it’s easier to be objective, especially when there have been similar sales in recent months. In a rural location like Bedford, though, the housing stock is older, and no two houses, blocks or neighborhoods are alike — nor can they easily be compared.

●Your Coldwell Banker SKS agent might do just as well, or sometimes even better. Typically, they have access to the same information (comparable sales, MLS data, tax records) the appraiser uses. But they also know their market niche better and have been inside the “comps.” Their CMA might not be as structured and uniform, but it will cast a wider net and put more emphasis on the surrounding market conditions.

●Your buyers will not care. They will want their agent to analyze the comparable sales as well as the specific qualities and features of the house and neighborhood. An appraisal procured by the seller is often seen as meaningless and biased, no matter how solid and well-founded.

●The buyers’ lender will not be interested in your appraisal, either. They will always order their own, either because they need to protect themselves and will only trust a handful of proven appraisers, or because it’s required to make the mortgage saleable to investors (or the government) afterwards. It’s a common misconception that an appraisal ordered by the seller will “save” the buyer that step.

●We are in the middle of a fast-changing market. If you get an appraisal now, it might be completely obsolete by the time your house sells. The upheaval of the past couple of years has shown that new comps, new government policies or increased interest rates all can change the picture very quickly.

The bottom line is, if you believe your agent is totally wrong about what he or she thinks your house should sell for or if you’re selling without a broker altogether, then, get an appraisal.

Otherwise, hold onto your checkbook and leave it to the buyers to get their appraisal.

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, August 17, 2018  10:11:40 AM
What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent? 0 Comments Posted

A real estate agent, realtor, and broker are three separate individuals with differing levels of education, experience, and affiliation. In terms of their qualifications and the services they offer, you might be best suited with a realtor VS a real estate agent, or vice versa.

Are you working with a Realtor or a real estate agent? Often, people use the words interchangeably to refer to any individual who handles real estate transactions, but that’s not correct.

A real estate professional can be classified as a real estate agent, realtor, and/or broker.  The difference between these titles are the levels of education, experience, and affiliation. So, who are these individuals and what do they offer? Are all real estate agents realtors or is there more required to be one or the other? We’ve got the inside scoop.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. The steps to becoming licensed vary by state but typically include a minimum number of instructional hours and the passing of a real estate licensing exam. Additionally, many real estate agents have also passed a state background check and have business insurance.

Agents are the most common real estate professionals that you’ll run across. All real estate brokers and realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are brokers or realtors.

Real Estate Broker

The differences between a real estate agent and broker have to do with education. A real estate broker has pursued a higher level of licensing after working in the industry for a set amount of time. In addition, to become a broker you should be verified by a principal broker and pass a broker exam specific to your state.

In the end, the most telling differences between a real estate agent and broker are their level of experience. A broker has at least worked in the industry buying and selling homes for a few years.


The final title is that of a realtor. A real estate agent and a real estate broker can both be realtors. The key to being a realtor vs. a real estate agent is belonging to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members of this association can be identified as a realtor.

What makes a realtor unique? members of the NAR have all taken a pledge to follow a set of ethics and guidelines that ensure their integrity. These codes of ethics carry weight for a realtor in their day-to-day business practices and cover a wide range of pledges:

  1. Shall put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own.
  2. Shall cooperate with other brokers and agents if it’s in the best interest of the client.
  3. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without consent.
  4. Shall not discriminate in any fashion.
  5. Shall always present the truth in advertising.

All in all, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics offers a very specific outline for how an agent or broker should think, act, and perform their duties. This is not to say that the main broker and realtor difference is the type of individual—an ethical or non-ethical person. A broker can follow these same ethics guidelines without being a member of the National Association of Realtors. However, being a member of the NAR does offer a course of action if you have a complaint; you can contact your local board of realtors.

Choosing Your Real Estate Professional

So, how do you choose the right real estate professional for you? The right individual will be different for every transaction, homebuyer, and seller. You need to decide if having a few extra years of experience and education or adherence to a specific code of ethics makes you feel more comfortable hiring one person over another.

No matter whom you decide, we recommend carefully vetting all your candidates and reviewing their qualifications before making your choice. A realtor isn’t necessarily better than a broker, and an agent isn’t necessarily less experienced than a broker. It all depends on their qualifications. Vet wisely.  Call Coldwell Banker SKS Realty today to talk to one of our experienced real estate professionals. 

View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, June 21, 2018  10:01:01 AM
What is a Property Survey and Why You Should Get One Before Buying a House 0 Comments Posted


There are several benefits to getting a property survey before buying your first home. Find out all the information you need to know, and how you can get a property survey done today!

When buying a home, the last thing you want is a surprise. Most people worry about leaky roofs or rusty boilers. But there may be property issues that can come to light and cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.

One way to avoid getting in over your head is to get a property survey before you buy. Also known as a house or land survey, it’s the perfect way to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with the land, so there are no surprises.

How exactly do you go about getting a property survey?

Property Survey Basics

A property survey begins with defining the boundaries of a plot of land. This clarifies the size of the property, and where the land begins and ends.

An updated house survey is also important for legal reasons. This is because municipal laws are not fixed—they change from time to time. For example, the property might have a shed or a fence that was well within the boundaries years ago but after undated municipal border it now encroaches onto a neighbor’s property or too close to the public street. A new survey will give you the confidence that the property complies with current local regulations.

It can also highlight any potential discrepancies or boundary infringements. This can help you avoid any misunderstandings in the future with neighbors or the city.

What do Surveyors Look for in a House Survey?

You might have seen surveyors poking around your neighborhood taking measurements. Most of the time, they have been hired by home buyers or sellers to take surveys, or they could be performing a survey for a property dispute (something a survey can help you avoid!)

When you hire a surveyor here’s what they typically look for:

  • The legal boundaries of the land
  • The locations of any buildings (sheds, storage) on the land
  • Any easements and entrances to the property
  • The topography of the plot, including both natural features such as trees or a river and manmade features including swimming pools or fences

An updated survey will be compared to any previous survey from the last time the house was sold. This way any discrepancies that might appear are known to all parties before the closing.

How Much Does a House Survey Cost?

When getting a property surveyed it’s important to hire a professional. This is one instance where DIY surveys or estimates won’t help. In fact, it can actually hurt you as they are not accepted as legal documentation.

So hiring a surveyor may be worth it to ensure you have records that hold up in court, if it ever comes to that. House survey costs can vary from state to state, but they typically run anywhere from $250 to $1,000.

Check your local state laws regarding costs. In some states, the seller is responsible for the survey or the fees can be negotiated between both parties.

Should I Have a Home Buyers Survey?

The last thing any homeowner wants is to plan a new project only to find out all that land they thought they had wasn’t theirs after all. You can imagine the headaches that scenario can cause!

Nevertheless, this sort of thing can sometimes happen. One way to avoid these issues is to set up a survey. A buyer’s survey can save you from a lot of potential hassles (and even more costs) down the road.

Visit and browse through available homes for sales.

View Comments | Add Comment Friday, May 4, 2018  12:18:06 PM
Size Matters: Finding the Perfect Size Home for You 0 Comments Posted




If you’re house shopping, there’s probably one question that’s been on your mind often: “What size home should I buy?” At a glance, the answer seems obvious: as big as you can afford! But that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Home size matters on many levels from personal preference to resale value, future plans, your budget, and more.

How do you find the ideal home size for you and your family? Here are three things you need to consider:

The Truth About Square Footage

A foot is a foot, right? When it comes to the square footage of your future home that may not be the case. Measuring the size of a house isn’t incredibly precise. More often than not, the size will change depending on which appraiser is measuring and what mechanism they’re using to determine the square footage: measuring tape, laser measure, or eyeball. The reality is that there are no universal standards when it comes to measuring your home size.

What does this mean for you? You need to choose your home size not by the numbers but by the feel. Don’t put too much stock in the listing size on paper, but instead find out in person if each room, bathroom, and living area is large enough for your needs. It’s not about how other individuals answer the question, “What is a good sized house?” It’s about you, your family, and how big a place feels in person.

Your Budget

While your budget isn’t the only thing you should consider, it needs to be one of the critical factors in determining your ideal home size. And that may be little more complicated than you think. What matters when it comes to your budget?

  • Loan Size: The larger the house, the more expensive—most of the time. Make sure the average house size of your real estate listings fits with your pre-approved loan budget.
  • Monthly Budget: Large houses are expensive to keep up. As you increase your square footage expect to pay more in electricity, water, gas, cleaning, and more. If you have a tight allocation for monthly expenses, don’t go overboard on a large house without factoring in these other costs.
  • Your Future: Are you planning to have more kids? Do you need a new car? Are you counting on getting a raise at work? If you’re expecting your financial situation to change, make sure your home budget fits the modifications.

Your Preferences and Needs

Your particular wants and needs should have the most significant impact on the home you choose. Make sure you’re truthful and honest with yourself about your expectations and needs. For example, if you eat out regularly and hate cooking, there’s no need to spend on a gourmet kitchen! You’d be better served looking for a home with a smaller kitchen and a bigger living room.

To help you determine your preferences, here are ten questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you like small and cozy or do you need room to spread out?
  2. How many people are in your family and how much space does each person need?
  3. Do you have any hobbies or jobs that require extra space? (If you work from home, you’ll need an office. If cars are a passion, you’ll want a more substantial garage)
  4. How often do you have visitors over? (If you have parties every few weeks and relatives visit a few times a year, you might want more space for guests)
  5. Are you planning to have more kids or have an elderly relative move in with you?
  6. What size of house have you been excited about in the past?
  7. How much storage do you need? (Closet space and built-ins can be a big space saver)
  8. How large is your furniture, and how much do you have? (If you have a king-sized bed, you want a big master bedroom)
  9. What’s your five-year plan? (Upgrading your home to a larger size can be difficult; make sure the home you choose can last for years)
  10. How much outdoor space do I want?

For additional help, check out, “What size home should I buy?

The key to purchasing the right-sized home for you is being realistic. Make sure you really sit down with your family to discuss what you need, want, and can afford. Then, ask your local Coldwell Banker SKS Realty real estate agent to help you search for the perfect sized house for you.


View Comments | Add Comment Friday, May 4, 2018  12:09:38 PM
Effective Improvements for a Faster Sale 0 Comments Posted

You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP!  You need to move or want those proceeds immediately, but how? Let’s go through the best ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

First, curbside appeal.  This is the first thing every potential buyer sees so make it stand out!  Some suggestions:

  • Hire a gardener to clean and spruce up the entrance
  • Remove superfluous items from the front of your home, i.e. garbage cans, strollers, etc.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior

Second, this is the time to clean and eliminate all clutter inside your home.  Here’s how:

  • Give away extra toys, clothes, and anything else that makes it look crowded or disorganized
  • Organize the kitchen countertops and closets
  • Place bulky items in storageYou have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP! Here are the ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

Third, landscaping matters.  A large yard cannot shine if the plants, grass and trees are in bad shape.  Try the following ideas:

  • Artificial grass-this always looks amazing and eliminates the need for maintenance
  • Tie orchids around the trees, plant fresh flowers and maintain the grass and trees

Fourth, look under the hood.  Make the inside of your home look as good as possible.

  •  This is the time to do some of the minor repairs you have been putting off.  This will make your home look better and may eliminate certain issues during the Inspection Period.
  •  Yes, it seems expensive or time-consuming.  However, if you hire a professional company, this can truly make the difference and get you more money in less time.

Finally, hire a professional, licensed realtor.  A realtor with experience and expertise can help sell your home quickly for the best price.   

Best of luck!


View Comments | Add Comment Thursday, February 22, 2018  3:31:58 PM

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

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 1, 2015  10:16:14 PM

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

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 8, 2015  9:10:11 AM

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 3, 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

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

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

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

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 6, 2015  1:53:45 PM

 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 1, 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

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: 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

“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

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 8, 2015  12:28:33 PM

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 5, 2015  3:17:51 PM

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 5, 2015  8:32:21 AM

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Stacey Clingerman
Stacey Clingerman was born and raised in Bedford County. She resides in Everett with her high school...