21 April, 2021
By Adm_Mls

5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodeling Trends for 2021

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home over the past year. And for many of us, our homes have become our office, our classroom, our gym—and most importantly, our safe haven during times of uncertainty. So in 2021, it’s no surprise to see that designers are emphasizing soothing color palettes, cozy character, and quiet retreats.

To help inspire your design projects this year, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest home trends. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property in the next few months, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.


Colors are gravitating toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and wellbeing. This year’s palettes draw from earthy hues, warm neutrals, and soothing blues and greens.

While white and gray are still safe options, expect to see alternative neutrals become increasingly popular choices for walls, cabinets, and furnishings in 2021. For a fresh and sophisticated look, try one of these 2021 paint colors of the year:

  • Aegean Teal (coastal blue) by Benjamin Moore
  • Urbane Bronze (brownish-gray) by Sherwin-Williams
  • Soft Candlelight (muted yellow) by Valspar


After a decade of minimalism, there’s been a shift towards highly-decorative and personalized interiors that incorporate more color, texture, and character. Clearly-defined styles are being replaced by a curated look, with furnishings, fixtures, and accessories that appear to have been collected over time.

This trend has extended to the kitchen, where the all-white fad is fading in popularity. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, consider mixing in other neutrals—like gray, black, and light wood—for a more custom, pieced-together feel.


The pandemic forced many of us to rethink our home design. From multipurpose rooms to converted office/closets, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage virtual meetings and school. And designers expect these changes to impact the way we live and work for years to come.

Some home builders are predicting the end of open-concept floor plans as we know them. Instead, buyers want cozier spaces with more separation and privacy. Cue the addition of alcoves, pocket doors, and sliding partitions that enable homeowners to section off rooms as needed.


With travel options limited right now, more homeowners are turning their vacation budgets into staycation budgets. Essentially, recreate the resort experience at home—and enjoy it 365 days a year.

To give your bedroom that “boutique hotel” look, start with a large, upholstered headboard in a rich color or pattern. Layer on organic linen bedding and a chunky wool throw, then add a pair of matching bedside wall lights. In your bathroom, try a curbless step-in shower and freestanding tub for a modern and spacious feel.


From exercise to gardening to safer options for entertaining, the pandemic has led homeowners to utilize their outdoor spaces more than ever. In fact, backyard swimming pool sales skyrocketed in 2020.But a new pool isn’t the only way to elevate your outdoor area this year.

Pergolas are a relatively quick and affordable option to add shade and ambiance to your backyard. Another hot trend? Landscapers are reporting an increase in front yard enhancements, including porch additions and expanded seating options. These “social front yards” enable neighbors to stay connected while observing social-distancing guidelines.


Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

20 April, 2021
By Adm_Mls

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighborhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.


Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself and save money on the listing agent’s commission. However, you’ll need to weigh your potential savings against the significant effort and risk involved.

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into is pricing the home appropriately. Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than those sold by an agent.This suggests that, while you may think you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may lose far more than you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

Homeowners who choose to sell to an iBuyer may walk away with less money, too. Also known as Direct Buyers, these companies use computer algorithms to provide sellers with a quick cash offer to buy their home.

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide—as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a real estate agent’s commission. According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a conventional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.


You may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job and if you are familiar with the neighborhood where you are searching. However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging, especially in a multiple-offer situation. And a trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection.

As a buyer, your real estate agent’s commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable.


Understand your options when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating for high stakes, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that a do-it-yourself sale or purchase works. However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance, experience, and professionalism, you will probably enjoy far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker.

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit both buyers and sellers financially. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route. And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.


The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

21 January, 2021
By Adm_Mls

New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.

Read on to discover key action steps to take to achieve your homeownership goals this year, whether you’re a home buyer, home seller, or a homeowner not yet planning on moving..


Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

Your credit report highlights your current debt and bill-paying history and is used to calculate your credit (or FICO) score, affecting whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage. Generally, a credit score of 740 or higher is very good to excellent. If your score is below 740, work at boosting it before house-hunting.

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt.

Debt hurts your buying power (the amount of home you can afford) and your credit score. The less debt you have, the higher your FICO score and the better mortgage you can obtain. Try to reduce (or eliminate) the balances on each account.

Resolution #3: Save up to create a financial safety net.

A down payment is typically 7% of a home’s purchase price, and closing costs currently average $3,700. You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up, and having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.


Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell.

There is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit (listing prices historically peak by May), personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market.

Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

You can maximize your home sale price with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors’ for sale down the street. For example, finishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale.

Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space.

Thanks to COVID-19’s impact on their lifestyles, buyers are currently looking for homes with home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances. If you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, or schoolroom to attract better offers on your home.


Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on commuting and dining out, but it could also mean increased expenses, such as faster Wi-Fi and higher energy bills. Update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits.

Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with home maintenance.

With a regular home maintenance plan, you’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” can lower your energy costs, and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021. A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer.


Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent. As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.

1 December, 2020
By Adm_Mls

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Community This Holiday Season

This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbors, and community. And with the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home.

Let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town.


1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination. Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, and butterflies.

2. Clean up our community. To help beautify the area, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community. Clean your home’s driveway and sidewalks, where water runoff can carry debris into the local sewer system.

3. Organize or join a neighborhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighborhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime. Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood, so consider joining or launching a neighborhood watch program in your area.


4. Boost your civic engagement. Get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community. Sign a petition to make needed community changes. Attend community meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.

5. Support local businesses. Because the pandemic has negatively impacted many businesses, help keep money in our community’s economy by shopping local. Look for unique gifts from the small businesses that dot our community. Purchase tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows.

6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission. Then think beyond just donating dollars. Donate new or used books to our community library. Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families.

Care for your neighbors

7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. Round up a few friends or coworkers to collect groceries to donate. Partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit, or community organization that feeds people in need.

8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a financial struggle for some families. Make a difference by “adopting” a family (or even just one child) to help make their holiday special. You can help them buy decorations, presents for their children, or food for a holiday meal.

9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. Tap into a skill you already have (like creating videos) or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

10. Perform random acts of kindness. You can make a big difference one small act at a time. Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.


As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!

20 October, 2020
By Adm_Mls

5 Secrets Buyers and Sellers Must Know About Virtual Home Tours

For years now, virtual home tours have helped real estate buyers far and wide find the perfect home. But because of the pandemic, they have recently experienced a huge spike in popularity. One survey found that nearly 33% of recent home tour requests were for virtual tours, as compared to just 2% pre-pandemic. And it’s easy to see why.

Buyers want to quickly find their next safe haven, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their home, yet still have the ability to reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property.

Virtual home tours are the popular thing right now, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the only option for your homebuying or selling experience. Read on to learn five important secrets of virtual home tours and how they impact today’s home buyers and sellers.

SECRET #1: Virtual Tours Have Evolved

The phrase “virtual tours” has evolved this year as real estate agents have been forced to quickly create innovative ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially-distanced. Here are some terms you should know:

  • Virtual Tours: Traditionally, virtual tours are comprised of 360=C2=B0 Photos that allow viewers to see all angles of the interior and exterior of a home. These can also be stitched together to create a 3D Tour, which is a digital model that looks like a dollhouse.
  • Virtual Staging: Sometimes agents will also decorate rooms in virtual tours with digital furniture and accents like wallpaper or paint.
  • Online Walkthroughs: These are videos of the listing created by the agent or seller holding their camera or smartphone and moving through the home.
  • Virtual Showing: A type of live online walkthrough that mimics an in-person tour of the home. These are often one-on-one events using apps like FaceTime or Skype.
  • Online Open House: A more freeform style of live online walkthrough, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on platforms such as Facebook or Zoom.

SECRET #2: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

For a purchase as intimate as your next home, details easily seen on virtual tours like a new refrigerator or the size of the master closet aren’t the only deciding factors. Luckily, virtual tours are also exceptional tools for personal connection.

Virtual tours allow buyers to easily picture themselves in the space and to get their questions answered by an insider. And sellers can be sure that interested buyers are still getting that up-close and personal look at their home that will inspire their strongest offers.

SECRET #3: Virtual Is Just The First Step To Safe Home Sales

Virtual tours are still the recommended way to safely buy and sell real estate. Buyers don’t have to worry about exposure to anyone who previously visited the property, and sellers cut down on the foot traffic in their home.

But some buyers will still need to visit a home themselves in order to feel confident enough to submit an offer. In this situation, listing agents and sellers will work together to come up with a procedure that ensures everyone feels safe and comfortable. They might require interested buyers to present a pre-qualification letter before scheduling an appointment for a tour, for example. And the day of the tour, agents may take safety precautions such as asking buyers to wear protective gear and refrain from touching any surfaces in the home.

SECRET #4: The Speed of Closing Depends on Your Goals

In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over a period of 10 weeks before submitting an offer. But thanks to virtual tours, they’re able to peek inside that number of homes in a much shorter period. This increased buyer activity is leading to more offers per listing that features a virtual tour.

Buyers wanting to compete for listings may need to cut their search time down to quickly submit an offer. And sellers need to carefully weigh the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep their home on the market up to six percent longer. Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.

SECRET #5: Virtual May Not Always Be the Right Choice

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy on behalf of both the seller and agent.

This means that a full virtual tour package might not always be a good return on investment for sellers. And buyers may notice that some listings within their search parameters don’t offer virtual tours, so it’s important not to close the door on your dream home just because it doesn’t have virtual events and features.


If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we’d be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to us today for help finding local homes for sale that have virtual tours, or to chat about if adding a virtual tour to your upcoming listing is the right fit.

20 September, 2020
By Adm_Mls

Move-Up vs. Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?

The pandemic has changed the way many of us live, work, and attend school—and those changes have impacted our priorities when it comes to choosing a home.

In a recent survey, 66% of respondents said they would consider moving if they no longer had to commute as often. Some of the top reasons were to gain a dedicated office (31%), a larger home (30%), and more rooms overall (29%). And now that virtual school has become a reality for many families, that need for additional space has only intensified.

If you’re feeling cramped in your current home, you’ve probably considered a move. But what type of property would suit you best? Would you benefit more from a larger, move-up home with adequate space—or a second home that offers a convenient escape? Let’s explore each option to help you determine which is right for you.


If you’re struggling with a lack of functional space in your current home, a larger move-up home is a great choice that can improve your everyday life. And with mortgage rates at their lowest level in history, you may be surprised how much home you can afford to buy without increasing your monthly payment.

One major benefit of choosing a move-up home is that you can typically afford a nicer place if you spend your entire budget on one property. However, if you’re longing for that vacation vibe, a second home may be a better choice for you.


Home sales are surging in many resort and bedroom communities as city dwellers search for a place to escape the crowds and quarantine in comfort. And with air travel on hold for many families, some are channeling their vacation budgets into vacation homes that can be utilized throughout the year.

One advantage of choosing a second home is that you can offset a portion of the costs—and in some cases turn a profit—by renting it out on a platform like Airbnb or Vrbo. However, be sure to consult with a real estate or rental management professional to get a realistic sense of the property’s true income potential.


You may read this and think: I’d like both a move-up home AND a second home! But if you’re dealing with a limited budget (aren’t we all?), you’ll probably need to make a choice. These three tactics can help you decide which option is right for you.

  • 1. Determine Your Time and Financial Budget

You may meet the bank’s qualifications to purchase a property, but do you have the time and money to maintain it? This is an important question, no matter what type of home you choose—but especially if you’re considering a second residence.

  • 2. Rank Your Priorities

Make a wish list of the characteristics you’d like in your new home. Then rank each item from most to least important. This exercise can help you determine your “must-have” features—and which ones you may need to sacrifice or delay.

  • 3. Explore Your Options

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss your options and help you assess the pros and cons of each, given your unique circumstances. We can also send you property listings for both types of homes so you can envision each scenario.


Whether you’re ready to make a move or need help weighing your options, we’d love to help. We can determine your current home’s value and show you local properties that fit within your budget. Or, if your heart is set on a second home in another market, we can refer you to an expert agent in your dream locale. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

5 August, 2020
By Adm_Mls

Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers

In July, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell below 3% for the first time in history. And while many Americans have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today’s rates truly a bargain?

While average mortgage rates have drifted between 4% and 5% in recent years, they haven’t always been so low. When Freddie Mac began tracking 30-year mortgage rates in 1971, the national average was 7.31%. As the inflation rate started to rise in the mid-1970s, mortgage rates surged and eventually peaked at 18.63% in 1981. By comparison, today’s rates offer borrowers a phenomenal deal!


Homeowners can capitalize on today’s rock-bottom rates by refinancing their mortgages. For example, if you decrease your mortgage rate by just one percentage point (from 4% to 3%) on a loan of $300,000, then you could save $60,277 over 30 years! When it comes to refinancing, the bigger the spread, the greater the savings.

Be sure to factor in any prepayment penalties and closing costs for your new mortgage, which can average 2% to 5% of your loan amount. We’d be happy to connect you with a mortgage professional in our network who can help you decide if refinancing is a good option for you.


We’ve already shown how low rates can save you money, but they can also increase your purchasing power. For example, imagine you have a budget of $1,500 to put toward your monthly mortgage payment. If you take out a 30-year mortgage at 5.0%, you can afford a loan of $279,000.

Now let’s assume the interest rate falls to 3.0%. At that rate, you can afford to borrow $355,000 while still keeping the same $1,500 monthly payment. That’s a budget increase of $76,000! If you’ve been priced out of the market before, today’s low rates may put you in a better position to afford your dream home.


No one can say with certainty how low mortgage rates will fall or when they will rise again. But forecasters at Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Associationpredict 30-year mortgage rates will average 3.2% and 3.5% respectively in 2021. Economists at Fannie Mae expect them to dip even lower to an average of 2.8% next year.7

While the forecasts may differ slightly, many experts agree: Those who wait to take advantage of these unprecedented rates could miss out on the deal of a lifetime.


Don’t miss out on your chance to lock in a great rate on a new home or refinance your existing mortgage. We’d be happy to connect you with the most trusted mortgage professionals in our network. And if you’re ready to start shopping for a new home, we’d love to assist you with your search—all at no cost to you! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

3 July, 2020
By Adm_Mls

Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements

Whether you’re prepping your house to go on the market or looking for ways to maximize its long-term appreciation, these nine home improvement projects are great ways to add function, beauty, and real value to your home.

The best part is, once you’ve secured the materials, most of these renovations can be completed over the course of a weekend. And they don’t require a lot of specialized skills or experience. So grab your toolbox, then get ready to boost your home’s appeal AND investment potential!

1. Spruce Up Your Landscaping

Landscaping improvements can increase a home’s value by 10-12%, and many buyers put a lush lawn at the top of their wish list. Fill in bare spots with grass seed or new sod for an average return of 417% and 143% respectively.

2. Clean The Exterior

Use a pressure washer to remove built-up dirt and grime from your home’s exterior, walkway, and driveway. This simple project can add as much as $15,000 to a home’s sales price.

3. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint

New paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to update a home. Maximum your return at resale by sticking with a neutral color palette that will appeal to a broad range of buyers.

4. Install Smart Home Technology

Buyers are often willing to pay a premium for homes with smart technology features. Fortunately, many smart devices are simple to install and pay for themselves over time by making your home more energy efficient.

5. Modernize Your Window Treatments

Upgrading your window coverings has gotten easier and less expensive in recent years. A number of retailers specialize in affordable shades and blinds that are simple to hang yourself.

6. Replace Outdated Fixtures

Give your home a facelift by swapping dated light fixtures, faucets, and cabinet hardware for modern alternatives. For maximum impact, prioritize replacing those that are in highly-visible areas, like your entryway and kitchen.

7. Upgrade Your Bathroom Mirror

Much like a work of art, your vanity mirror serves as a focal point for your bathroom. Replace a basic mirror, or try adding a frame. Several retailers offer DIY kits that can be made to your specifications.

8. Shampoo Your Carpet

According to Consumer Reports, you can rent a machine and purchase cleaning fluid and supplies for around $90. With an average return on your investment of 169%, it’s well worth the effort and expense.

9. Customize Your Closet

A closet remodel can add $2500 to a home’s selling price. And while a professional renovation can cost upwards of $6000, there are many less expensive but high-quality DIY closet systems you can customize and install yourself.


We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual impact of a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. Before you get started, contact us to schedule a free virtual consultation. We can help you determine which upgrades will offer the greatest return on your effort and investment.

20 May, 2020
By Adm_Mls

20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget

These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.

Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.

1. Refinance Your Mortgage -Call your lender to find out how much you could save at today’s rock-bottom rates.

2. Evaluate Your Insurance Policies – Compare quotes from at least three insurers, and try raising your deductible to lower your premium.

3. Bundle Cable, Phone, and Internet – Shop around to see who is willing to give you the best deal.

4. Better Yet, Cut the Cord on Cable – Use an HD antenna or streaming service subscription to access your favorite shows.

5. Revisit Your Wireless Plan – Lower your data limit, or switch from a big brand to an independent carrier.

6. Adjust Your Thermostat – Crank it up or down a few degrees to cut heating and cooling costs.

7. Use Less Hot Water – Run your dishwasher when full, and wash clothes in cold water when possible.

8. Lower Overall Water Consumption – Take shorter showers, and install low-flow fixtures.

9. Conserve Electricity – Power down your computer at night, use LED light bulbs, and unplug idle appliances.

10. Purchase a Home Warranty – Protect yourself from unexpected repair costs for major systems and appliances.

11. Outsource Less – Cancel or cut back on the frequency of paying for services you can do yourself.

12. Prepare Your Own Meals – Save money and eat healthier by cooking at home.

13. Plan Your Menu in Advance – Plan ahead to lower your overall food bill, eliminate waste, and minimize impulse purchase.

14. Plant a Garden – Save around $600 per year by growing your own produce.4

15. Review Memberships and Subscriptions – Stop paying for services and subscriptions you no longer want or need.

16. Give Homemade Gifts – Show your recipient how much you care with a homemade gift from the heart.

17. Minimize Your Debt Payments – Pay down the balance, or try to negotiate a better interest rate.

18. Get a Cash-back Credit Card – Earn a little money back each month—but only if you can pay off the balance in full.

19. Ask for Deals and Discounts – Inquire about promotions and price-matching policies.

20. Track Your Household Budget – Find out where your money is going, and identify areas to cut back.

Want more help getting a handle on your finances? Ask me for my budget worksheet to track income and expenses—and start working toward your financial goals today!


We would love to help you meet your financial goals. Whether you want to refinance your mortgage, save up for a down payment, or simply find lower-cost alternatives for home repairs, maintenance, or utilities, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. And if you have plans to buy or sell a home this year, we can discuss the steps you should be taking to prepare financially. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

7 April, 2020
By Adm_Mls

How to Create Functional Spaces in Your Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways you can modify your home and your lifestyle to make the best of this difficult situation.

Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. We also share some of our favorite ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.

Begin with the Basics

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity.

Ready to start building an emergency kit for your home? Reply to this email for a free copy of our Home Emergency Preparation Checklist!

Working From Home

Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. The simple act of separating your home and work spaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.

Of course, if you have children who are home with you all day (given many schools and daycares are now closed), separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work.

Homeschooling Your Children

Many parents with school-aged children will be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school.

In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones. And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.

Staying Fit

With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.

Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person.

If you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.

Socializing From a Distance

Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and may be feeling particularly isolated right now.

And while parties and playdates may be prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoomto facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends.

There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork.


Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. We’re not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. We want to be a resource to our clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let us know how we can help.