How to Decorate for the Holidays, Hollywood Style

By Susanne Dwyer

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Now that December is fast approaching, the pressure over who’s going to have the best holiday decorations is on. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: everyone else knows about the existence of Pinterest. So if you really want to win this contest, take a look at the often overlooked (possibly because of its impracticality) Hollywood-style Christmas.

Here’s how some of your favorite films decorated their homes…I mean, sets.

Just Friends

While you were distracted by Ryan Reynold’s fat suit, and later by Ryan Reynolds himself, Mr. Palomino was busy setting up those Christmas lights just right. While they definitely went down with a bang, his Hollywood-style home was definitely the best dressed in all of New Jersey.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

In Whoville, Christmas decorating is an Olympic sport. They are so good at setting up shop that even after the Grinch went ahead and stole all their decorations, they were able to get it all back up and running the day of. It does help that they had that Christmas light power machine or whatever. Definitely worth it.

Elf

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Everyone thinks Buddy is crazy, but boy is that elf efficient. Look at how magical Gimbels looks. That’s just printer paper! His home decorations were top-notch, too. I guess they do teach a thing or two in the North Pole. Granted, dressing up as an elf might really help validate this whole setup.

Home Alone

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The view at the McCallister residence is beautiful both inside and out. It balances perfectly between quaint and ready-to-invest-some-money. Of course, a house so elegant does land it on the burglary radar. That being said, as long as you don’t leave your kid home alone, it should all be fine.

Harry Potter

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Now, if what you want is a magical Christmas, then Hogwarts should be your model. You won’t have spells to hold everything together, so some extra hands will be needed, but the outcome will be truly mesmerizing. Whether you just want to decorate your dining hall or host a ball for your guests, Hogwarts has just the thing for you.

Love Actually

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All jokes aside, the best holiday decoration is the sight of your loved ones gathered around a Christmas tree. If you ignore how heartbreaking this scene actually is, and the fact that Alan Rickman…oh, man. I really set myself up for disaster here. Anyways, the point is: be inspired, but don’t sweat the holidays.

I’m going to go sob now.

Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at gvanwelie@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

The post How to Decorate for the Holidays, Hollywood Style appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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Structural Standpoint: What Makes a Home Foundation Sound?

By Susanne Dwyer

Now that the American real estate market is enjoying a solid rebound, residential construction and custom-homebuilding are on the upswing. Prospective homeowners are once again interested in specialized homes, which entails making certain decisions about how the property should be built.

When it comes to choosing home foundations, future homeowners should think of the following:

Concrete Blocks vs. Poured Concrete
Although masonry is an honored craft that has served humanity well for many centuries, stone and block foundations have been largely replaced by poured concrete. In some cases, a combination of concrete block and poured concrete can be used to support different parts of the house, but many builders these days mostly prefer poured foundations because they are known to reduce the potential for cracks and leaks.

Soil Analysis
This step takes place before forming, and is one of the most important. The soil analysis takes into account water tables, ground conditions, potential impact of flood plains, and porosity. Choosing the right mix of backfill according to the soil analysis is crucial, particularly in areas where the ground is known to be very fertile, which means that it is rich in organic matter and bound to expand during the rainy season.

Types of Home Foundations
Builders settle on the types of foundations they will use according to local building codes and the practicality of construction. In warm climates, a raised slab of poured concrete can be formed into a single unit that combines the footing with the actual foundation elements. A more unusual type of foundation involves building the home entirely on concrete piers; however, building codes now call for footing and pier foundations.

Materials Testing
Laying out foundations primarily made of poured concrete is a laborious process. For this reason, it is not uncommon to run into situations whereby laborers may not lay a perfect foundation on the first attempt. Material testing is essential in residential construction, particularly in areas that are rich in aquifers or of high seismicity. Builders use concrete monitoring equipment, like the products found at Certified Material Testing Products, after the concrete mix has been poured and set to measure possible displacement and cracks caused by shifting of the foundation, backfill or soil. It is not unusual to repair foundations after pouring. Not all cracks or imperfections are caused by improper forming, and thus builders wait a few days to monitor how the concrete cures and sets.

In the future, precast foundations and concrete forming made of advanced polyethylene material will make home foundations sturdier than they are today, and they will also make the construction process easier.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

How to Best Organize Your Home for the Holidays

By Susanne Dwyer

Many homeowners find the holidays to be difficult time of year. To ensure that your holidays are as enjoyable as possible, be sure to get your home ready to face this festive season. Here are a few tips to prepare your home for the holiday hustle:

Create a Master To-Do List
Set aside an evening before the start of the holiday season to create a master to-do list. Next, set deadlines for each task to ensure everything is finished before guests arrive.

De-Clutter and Clean
Remove as much clutter as you can before you pull out your holiday décor. After your clutter is safely stowed, create your holiday cleaning regimen. Bring your draperies to the cleaners and have a cleaning pro help with window washing. You can also have your carpets professionally cleaned to enhance your home’s ambiance. A thorough cleaning of your house is a wonderful way to begin the winter season.

Easy Fix-It Projects
From fixing running toilets to tightening loose handrails, addressing small household projects can enhance your holiday season. Hiring a handyman is the easiest way to handle multiple small household repairs at once, and give you time to tackle other home organizing projects.

Holiday Kitchen
An organized kitchen is key to successfully hosting holiday celebrations. Part of an organized kitchen means having all of your holiday cooking items at the ready. Check to ensure that items like pans, meat thermometers, baking trays and carving knives are easy to access.

Line Up a Catering Service
Have your holiday parties and gatherings catered if you’re not a fan of cooking. From deli trays to full-blown holiday feasts, you can relax while someone else does the cooking for you. Additionally, having more free time will allow you to focus on special touches or the things you love to spend time on, like trimming your holiday tree.

Wrap Station
When the majority of your gifts are wrapped ahead of time, you can reduce some of that holiday stress that sneaks up when you have last-minute things to do. To make the process more efficient, you can create a wrap station that includes all of your rolls of wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, tape, scissors and gift tags. When these items are all in one place, you will have an easier time wrapping presents.

Hire a Decorating Stylist
If you’re too busy to decorate this holiday season or simply want a fresh eye to approach your décor, consider hiring a holiday decorator to tackle your indoor décor and a contractor to manage outdoor décor concerns like light hanging and wreath-hanging. A professional designer and contractor may become booked up quickly, so be sure to reserve their time as soon as possible.

When your home is organized and you have a detailed holiday plan, you are poised to enjoy a less-stressed holiday season. These tips may require some advance work, but they’re designed to make your holidays flow smoothly so that you and your family can enjoy them to the fullest.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

The post How to Best Organize Your Home for the Holidays appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: What Are the Best Ways to Prepare for a Home Inspection?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What are the best ways to prepare a client for a home inspection?

A: Today, home inspections are almost universally recommended by every real estate professional. When it comes to their clients—especially first-time buyers—many are not familiar with the home inspection process, and what they can expect. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your client for a home inspection.

Choosing a Home Inspector
All home inspection companies are not created equal. Outline criteria that distinguish a reputable home inspection company, like finding out if a company is licensed and certified (in states where applicable). Encourage clients to look at how professional a company is. Do they have a professional website? Do they arrive in uniform with marked vehicles making them easily identifiable? Do they deliver an electronic report with photos? Verify that they have both errors and omissions and general liability insurance, which covers the agent and the inspector. Consider how convenient it is to work with them. Do they make the experience easier with online scheduling? Do they text or email reminders about the inspection? Do they schedule any additional inspections that would be requested by the client, like pest and radon inspections? Each of these criteria will help enhance the client’s overall home-buying experience.

Homebuyer Preparation
Prepare buyers for the inspection by helping them understand the inspection process and how to maintain perspective. Home inspectors are generalists who have a wide range of knowledge that allows them to evaluate the readily accessible systems and components of a home, and having a home inspection enables clients to make informed decisions with confidence. Some buyers are more comfortable when their agent attends an inspection with them. This also allows you to assist with any seller issues and to see how an inspector will deal with call-backs if you or the buyer have any questions about the inspection.

Home Seller Preparation
Listing agents can help their clients prepare for the best inspection possible by reminding them that a clean and orderly home gives the impression of a well-maintained home. Encourage them to have the HVAC serviced and cleaned prior to the inspection. Check plumbing for leaks and examine ceilings for water stains or signs of other water damage. Let the client know that having a pre-sale inspection can lead to a smoother transaction and will likely identify issues the buyer’s inspector would uncover. If the house is vacant, make sure all the utilities are on and be sure the inspector has clear access to the attic, crawlspaces, heating system and garage.

After the Inspection
Agents and clients should read the home inspection report in its entirety. Follow up with the client to see if they have any questions after reviewing the report.

Knowledge Is Power
Preparing clients for a home inspection and giving them a better understanding of the home inspection process will ensure a more positive experience.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Just for Fun: Houses Covered in Snow

By Susanne Dwyer

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Ah, winter! The time of cozy fires, big ol’ mugs of hot cocoa, and—for those of us living in frosty climates—hours upon hours of shoveling snow.

Whether it’s laziness or forgetfulness, not clearing your home of snow in a timely fashion can create a bevy of problems, from a cracked foundation to a flooded basement or a slippery driveway that leads to a lawsuit from your irritable postal service employee.

Just for a fun little winter pregame, here is a selection of homes absolutely smothered in snow. Sit back and prepare to pity these homeowners.

Are you excited for snow season yet?

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your story ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends.

The post Just for Fun: Houses Covered in Snow appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Home?

By Susanne Dwyer

If you are like so many homeowners today, you are not living in your “forever home” right at the moment. Rather, the home you currently reside in is a stepping stone to get you that much closer to your dream house.

It is likely you are always keeping one eye on your home and the other eye on the housing market, trying to figure out when the time is ripe to sell and move to the next home. Here’s how to know for sure when it is a good time to sell your home.

When your current home is no longer a good fit for your needs – Stepping stone homes are bought for a specific reason at a specific time in life. Maybe you moved because you are expecting a baby and needed more room. Conversely, maybe your “baby” just went off to college and suddenly your formerly cozy home feels like an echoing cavern. Perhaps you just got a job on the other side of town and the commute is killing you, or now you work from home and you discover you hate your neighborhood. Regardless of why, when your home no longer works for your situation in life, this is a clear sign it is a good time to think about selling.

When the market favors the seller – If there is one thing you can count on the real estate market to reliably deliver, it is shifting trends. Some years, it will be a buyer’s market and in other years, it will be a seller’s market. If you’ve been feeling like a move might be welcome and the real estate market just happens to be favoring sellers at the moment, you might as well throw your house in the ring and see what you reel in!

Your mortgage is paid – Once your mortgage is paid off in full, every dollar you earn over what you paid for it is pure profit. Very few people in this country today get to enjoy the great feeling of being debt free, but if you sell your home after it is paid off and pocket the profits, you can be one of them.

Your current interest rate is high – Right now, interest rates on mortgage loans are at historic lows. If you are currently carrying a mortgage on a home that has a high interest rate attached (and especially if a refinance won’t fix this adequately), then now is a good time to sell.

At this point in time, real estate is scarce and homes are in demand. Interest rates are low and the market is strong overall. Whether you choose to sell and just rent for a while or you decide to turn around and buy another home at a low interest rate, it is a win-win to sell and get out of that higher rate.

Every single day, homeowners become former homeowners for all kinds of different reasons. There are no invalid reasons to sell your home; there are only the reasons why now is the right time for you.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends.

The post When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Home? appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

‘Flintstone House’ Fails to Sell, Takes Up Residence on Airbnb

By Susanne Dwyer

Selling a home as iconic as the ‘Flintstone House’ is not for the faint of heart (or for those looking for a quick sale in order to untether themselves from the real estate game so they can spend their retirement traveling).

As the current owner of the Hillsborough, Calif., home can attest, it’s time to move on and share the quirky space that’s been on the market for over a year with others who will undoubtedly enjoy the home’s unique façade—and interior elements.

From its sunken conversation pit with fireplace, 30-foot ceilings, glass countertops in the kitchen and nautilus shape, the house inspires creativity, even if prospective buyers aren’t knocking down the door.

And thanks to Airbnb, those looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience have one more property to add to their list.

So get in touch with your inner Wilma and Fred Flintstone and grab five of your closest friends (the space accommodates six, so choose wisely…) and plan your getaway today.

Looking for more Flintstone fun? Be sure to check out our original post to take a peek inside.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Home Decorating Tips for Bookworms

By Susanne Dwyer

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Even non-bibliophiles quaver under the splendor of Belle’s library or shed a small tear when thinking about the library of Alexandria turning into smithereens. Because books elevate any room’s IQ, they have often been used for interior design. But if like me, you find yourself on the hoarding end of the spectrum, your book decorating skills could probably use a hand.

A good starting point is getting a headcount of your collection. Is the number so alarming you need to take drastic measures? Do not let the heart palpitations get to you. There is never such a thing as too many books. If you’re willing to make some compromises, that is.

If you own:

1,000 Books or More

I suggest you sell your furniture. Install wall shelving across your whole home and accept that you will now live in a library. Upsides to this include: 1) You can reenact your favorite “Beauty and the Beast” scenes and 2) people will assume you’re a very well-off tycoon.

500 Books

It might look bad now, but your problem is manageable. I did mention comprises would be needed, so pick a room you’re willing to forgo. Are your kids already sharing a bedroom? They can sleep on the porch. This vacant room can now be allocated for your own home library. As you can appreciate in this image, there is no need for your library to look “old” (although taste is always of the utmost importance for a dignified bibliophile). You can color-code your YA and make the room look “hip,” as the kids say.

300 Books

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Three-hundred is the sweet spot for book owners who don’t want to invest too much when it comes to accommodating their beloved literature. It works out even better if your collection is mostly made up of handsome hardcovers as opposed to tacky paperbacks. What you will need is a proper bookshelf unit to serve as the focal point of your living room. You can mix and match with trinkets and other artifacts.

200 Books

200_books_4Good news. There are also such things as TV shelving units which would allow you to tastefully intermix books, CDs, DVDs and electronic devices such as the aforementioned television. This is a good alternative for those who are still growing their collection and need to fill some space. It’s not ideal, since nobody can really watch “Friends” and read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in the same room, but it’ll do.

100 Books

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At this stage, you are close to becoming a bookaholic, but you haven’t passed the bar yet. This could be because you’re a child, an amateur, or a person who lost all their books in a fire and is now restoring their collection. In any case, your current compendium is better off finding shelter in your home office. Because it’s a smaller space, the more limited shelving units will pass as a decorative decision and not a cry for help. This way, you can gradually acquire more books until they’re ready to upgrade to the living room.

50 Books

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I suppose books are heavy to transport when you’re moving to a new home. I’m empathetic to the thought of you, carefully selecting 50 books to take with you, sobbing on your childhood bedroom floor. To show my support, I’ve found a solution to your temporary stack. A minimalist style will help account for the empty space of your missing books. For a better look, select accents that don’t clash with the book spines, and play around with the setup until it looks natural.

10 Books

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If the ballpark figure is 10, you’re better off using your books as accents. You can use them around the house to enhance some shelves, night stands or coffee tables. To create more cohesive-looking sets, match the book binding to the style of the room.

3 Books

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First, I want to direct you to a library. Second, although your books certainly feel lonely and need to socialize with other books, you can still make the most of what you’ve got. After all, there’s no better centerpiece than a good ol’ pile of books. If you consider three a pile, that is.

1 Book

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Even if you only own one book, it still works. But then again, maybe just read it?

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893