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Season's Greetings

by Judy Reed

5 Home Repairs to Make Before You Host a Holiday Gathering

by Judy Reed

 

This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough just preparing for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters, or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit

If you have a large front yard, try to focus on just the front entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights, or replace the bulbs on existing lighting. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest possible way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, you will certainly want to make sure that all floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair to make sure they have dried fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Pro tip: Instantly de-clog a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a full family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you will ensure that their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, consider adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable, and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons, and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t already have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable, or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

Hopefully these ideas will take some of the worry out of holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy each other’s company this season.

10 Benefits of Selling Your Home During The Holidays!

by Judy Reed

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to sell a house? There’s always that question whether or not you should keep your house on the market for the holidays. You figure that potential home buyers will be preoccupied with buying gifts, planning parties, cooking meals, and visiting relatives; the last thing on their mind is searching for and purchasing a new home, right? For this reason, many home sellers choose to temporarily remove their home from listing, then wait until the new year to relist.

Before you hold off on listing your home until the new year, consider the benefits of listing your home for sale during the holidays, such as:

  • Many home sellers either hold off from selling or take a break from selling during the holidays. Inevitably, the amount of listings on the market drop down, which means less competition for your home. With less competition, you could potentially sell your home faster, for more money. Once the market comes back up in the spring time, a lot of sellers will list their homes all at once for lower prices, which may drive the whole market down.
     
  • Home buyers are generally the most motivated during the holiday season, greatly aiding sellers. Although there will be less buyers looking at homes this time of year, the buyers who do look are more serious about closing. “While the traffic is down, the buyers who are out there — when it’s soggy and dark at 4:45 p.m. — they’re not just poking around for the fun of it,” said Billy Grippo, a broker for Windermere Cronin and Caplan Realty Group. “They’re wanting to buy a house.”
     
  • Looking back on statistics, interest rates tend to drop the most at the end of the year. “If we look historically at interest rates, cyclically we’ve seen drops every December through January,” says Rich Hayden, senior loan officer for Home First Mortgage Corp. “While rates are now at all-time lows, we could dip even lower,” he says. Tyler agrees, “Interest rates have to come up sometime but it won’t be during the holidays.”
     
  • Many people purposely choose to purchase a home before the new year to receive a tax write off. Home buyers who close before the end of the year could be eligible for tax credits, such as deductions for home mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and PMI premiums.
     
  • Large companies normally transfer employees in January. Those relocating usually need to buy a house right away and simply cannot wait.
     
  • In the winter months, homes typically show better. The decorations, smell of cookies baking, and a roaring fireplace all give your home a “warm and cozy” feeling. Just make sure you don’t cover up your homes best features with too much holiday decor. Stick to tasteful and simple decorations and learn proper staging techniques for the holidays.
     
  • A lot of companies give their employees time off work for the holiday season, which means potential buyers have more time for showings.
     
  • While all the malls and retail stores may be packed, Lenders and title companies aren’t as busy and can process loans faster. “November and December are historically slower months in the mortgage business, so things get done faster,” says Brad Walbrun, a mortgage consultant for A and N Mortgage Services.
     
  • Most become so consumed in buying gifts for their friends and family, that they completely overlook all the holiday sales and specials on home appliances and hardware. Remodeling, decorating, appliance installation and other home services become more available and at less of a premium.
     
  • Late spring and summer are usually thought of as the best times to put a home on the market because buyer demand builds steadily through spring. If you sell your home in the winter,  you’ll have your pick of tons of houses for sale in the spring time.
     

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the whole housing market comes to a freeze during the holidays! Buyers.. start a new year in a new home!

There's No Place Like Home For The Holiday Season!

by Judy Reed

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