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3 Benefits of a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)

3 Benefits of a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)What is an SRES?Created by the National Association of Realtors, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (or SRES) is specifically trained for the challenges and situations that clients age fifty and over face, including cultivating a network of related senior specialists in fields such as estate planning and tax counseling so that the SRES can provide a truly outstanding client experience.Agents who gain the SRES designation have to complete a set of training courses on senior real estate challenges and needs. SRES agents are trained in no-pressure approaches to senior real estate needs, including suggesting housing alternatives to buying a new home or ways that a senior may be able to age in place instead of downsizing or making other moves. SRES professionals are also trained to identify senior resources in communities to help people find the best community fit, should they decide that moving is the right option for them.How can SRES Help You Plan for Your Future Housing Needs?Most of us put time and effort into planning for retirement. That is, we plan for money related issues such as retirement funds. Secondly, people plan for long-term care and life insurance. Deciding on where you’ll live as you age often takes a backseat during retirement planning.Whether you are considering aging in place, downsizing, purchasing a rental property, or even upsizing to a new location, dealing with real estate transactions and choices can be a confusing maze to negotiate, even for experienced home buyers. Beyond the complexity of real estate transactions, those over fifty are often more sophisticated shoppers and can benefit from a knowledgeable SRES representative.Benefits of using an SRES agent include:Customized approach to your living situation that fits in with your overall life plan.Awareness of options like senior-based communities and aging in place needs.Multiple choices that help reduce out-of-pocket expenses, acquire cash and create or delay income streams or get financial aid for when you need it at a later date. This can help you remain independent longer.As someone deciding on where they’ll live as they grow older, there are unique challenges to financing and home accessibility that come with real estate and future housing needs. When planning real estate changes over age fifty, an SRES can be the professional who actually works for the client and has the experience and training to understand the unique challenges facing seniors when it comes to housing.How can an SRES help you plan your housing needs?Because an SRES focuses on retirees and seniors, they should understand the need to plan ahead and the challenges that face seniors as they age with regards to balancing finances, mobility, health, and personal needs. They have also been trained to understand that the right housing for today may not meet your needs a few years down the road. There are three main ways in which an SRES can guide you in planning your future housing needs.An SRES understands senior housing optionsSource: Getty.SRES designees are trained in all of the options for senior housing available. Much more than simply aging in place in your current home or moving to an assisted living facility or retirement home, there are vibrant options for today’s seniors. Additional options include things like planned senior communities with new homes designed for the needs of seniors.These communities also have access to extra services seniors may need such as senior-friendly exercise opportunities and transportation. SRES agents are also trained in understanding the requirements of the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) that sets forth guidelines and exemptions on housing developments and communities targeted towards seniors.Part of understanding senior-specific housing is knowing the type of features that seniors will eventually need in a home. An SRES knows which housing communities have homes built under Universal Design tenants–homes designed with the changing needs of seniors in mind.Universal Design includes things such as no step entries, one story floor plans, wider doorways, open floor plans with extra floor space, senior-friendly bathrooms, and more features designed to help seniors live comfortably without feeling like they have turned their home into a hospital ward.An SRES can assist in dealing with financial options for real estateAn SRES will work with you to prepare for financial challenges that can arise out of a real estate transaction. This is not only for buying and selling a home, but also if you choose to age in place and remodel your home. It is also for those interested in purchasing rental property as a potential revenue source during retirement. An SRES is trained in capital gains and other tax issues relating to owning real estate to better help seniors decide if a rental property is really the best option.As part of this training, they learn about how using pensions, IRAs, 401ks, and other retirement accounts in real estate transactions work. They also understand reverse mortgages, both the positive sides and the potential downsides of that type of mortgage for seniors. Further, SRES agents are trained to spot mortgage and other loan schemes that are designed to trick and scam seniors out of their finances or even their homes.Another vital part of SRES training is in estate planning and how Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security can affect your property and finances as you age. There are unknown pitfalls of Medicaid, such as their right to recover costs spent on your care even after you die in some situations. An SRES can walk you through scenarios that include your rights and what can happen should you have liens or unpaid medical expenses, most notably through Medicaid Estate Recovery.About 55 percent of people in the U.S. die without a will or estate plan and this can put heirs through unnecessary expense and frustration in trying to finalize arrangements of your estate. An SRES can help you draw up a will and plan for your family’s future.Source: GettyAn SRES will refer you to the specialist you needAs part of the commitment to meeting a senior’s needs as a housing counselor and following no pressure sales tactics, an SRES will refer you to a specialist outside of real estate when needed in order to ensure you get the help you need when planning for the future.One of the specialists an SRES may be able to refer you to is an aging in place specialist. If you and your SRES determine that aging in place is your best option, the aging in place specialist can help you make a plan for modifications to your existing home in order to make your home safe and comfortable as you age. Likewise, when dealing with financial options, an SRES can refer you to financial specialists to handle financial solutions discussed for your particular needs.Find an SRESFinding an SRES is simple. The SRES website lets you fill out a quick form that includes your country, city, state/province and zip code. If you know the last name of an SRES, you can enter it in as well.Article provided by:Retirement Living Information CenterClick here for more info

7 Smart Home Features to Help You Age in Place

If you’re preparing a home for someone planning to age in place or your doing it yourself, here’s a look at some smart home technology that can take accessibility to whole new levels. These devices will require wi-fi to use, but they’re all fairly easy to install and set up.Amazon Echo and Google HomeAmazon Echo Dot Mini, Source: Amazon.The Amazon Echo and Google Home are small voice-controlled devices that serve as “digital assistants.” Just by voice control, they can set reminders, make phone calls, give the time and day, play music, tell stories and jokes, play audio books, give weather forecasts and more.When paired with other smart home devices these devices can turn on and off things like light switches, ceiling fans, and televisions. They can control your thermostat by your voice and even preheat your oven. Both Amazon and Google sell mini versions of these devices that have the same functionality but only cost about $30.Ring doorbellForty-six percent of seniors over 75 live alone Safety is a huge concern for seniors, and there are few things make you as uneasy as a stranger knocking at your door.Ring Doorbell, Source: Amazon.Smart doorbells like Ring let people see who’s at their door without opening it – even without going near the door. When connected to a smartphone or tablet, Ring will send an alert when someone’s at the door and even allow the homeowner to see and speak to the person.There have been several instances where families credit Ring with saving a loved one’s life – one instance where a dementia patient wandered out of their house to a neighbor’s and was detected by their Ring device. Ring can be bought for about $130 and comes in several colors and finishes.Maya with Lifeline from MedMinderSeniors take a lot of medication – more than 10 prescriptions a year on average. MedMinder has taken the pillbox and made it high tech.Maya, Source: MedMinder.If you’re taking any medicine, it can be tough to remember on a given day if you’ve already had your pill. But if you or a loved one are taking a lot of pills (perhaps with lessened mental capacity), it can be a recipe for disaster.That’s where Maya MedMinder can help. It’s a smart pillbox that locks down medications until it’s time to take them. The pillbox is filled out for a month, a schedule is set, and the box chimes and lights up the appropriate box when it’s time to take that medicine. If a medication isn’t taken, alerts can be sent to a cell phone via an app or text message. The price ranges depending on the model, but the best MedMinder costs around $45 a month for the Maya edition. It comes with wearable medical alert system devices that can connect you to a Philips Lifeline employee in case of an emergency.Nest indoor cameraIf you want to keep an eye on a loved one while living far away, a smart home indoor camera is a great option.Nest Indoor Camera, Source: Amazon.Nest, known for its smart thermostats, is probably the most popular brand in the field of indoor cameras and their products come highly regarded.Nest cameras cost about $199, with an extra fee if you want video recording. They allow family members to remotely access the camera (with a secure password) to see what’s going on. Nest even has motion detection to send alerts when movement is tracked in a certain area, night vision, and two-way communication.Smart thermostatWhile programmable thermostats that stick to a certain schedule have been around for a while, smart thermostats bring a new level of control. Smart thermostats from Nest, ecobee, and Honeywell not only let users set a schedule for temperature changes but connect to an app where the temperature can be changed with a smartphone or tablet (and let someone see what the temperature is currently set to).ecobee, Source: Amazon.Some models even adjust a home’s temperature depending on the weather outside. Connect to a device like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, and the temperature can be changed just by speaking – a big plus for an individual who may have mobility issues and isn’t able to get up and change the thermostat.Smart thermostats can connect to almost any HVAC system (except older ones in a few cases) and run around $150 to $200 with no monthly fee.Samsung smart fridgeThis is probably the most expensive item on this list at around $4,000, but it’s worth mentioning just because of how useful it is. Smart home tech can be found everywhere in a home these days, even the refrigerator. Like a lot of smart technology, you don’t realize how useful it is until you actually start using it.Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge, Source: Amazon.A large touchscreen on the front helps keep track of groceries inside while a small camera in the fridge lets you look in the fridge from any smartphone or tablet (say while you’re at the grocery store wondering if you have an item or not). Groceries can actually be purchased straight from the fridge’s screen and shopping lists can be created and then accessed by the app. If an individual has trouble remembering things, a smart fridge could be just what they need to keep their diet on track.For those who love to cook, a smart fridge can suggest recipes based on what’s inside or based on certain dietary restrictions. Traditional “smart technology” features are included as well, like the ability to play music or videos and write notes.iGuardStoveForgetting that the stove is turned on can happen to anyone, but, unfortunately, this happens more than you might think. The vast majority of home fires are caused by forgotten cooking appliances, and that’s why a product like the iGuardStove, which costs about $600, can literally be lifesaving.iGuard, Source: iGuard.This is a device that takes complete control of the stove in a home – shutting it off if no one is in the kitchen (while still allowing for a manual override if a long meal is being cooked), locking the stove from unauthorized use (during certain time periods), and sending text alerts in the even of a potential emergency (or sending an alert if no motion is detected in the day for a certain time period).An app allows caregivers to monitor the stove remotely (and totally disable it if they choose), making sure that one of the home’s most dangerous appliances becomes drastically safer.A smart home for seniorsTechnology can be a scary thing to keep up with, especially for older individuals, but most smart home technology is actually very user-friendly for the most part. These devices open up a whole new world for seniors and allow them to do things they otherwise couldn’t.When planning to age in place, comfort is one of the biggest goals. And if you take advantage of today’s newest technology, you’ll probably find life can be more comfortable for a senior than ever before.Article provided by Retirement Living Information Center www.retirementliving.com

How do Capital Gains Taxes Work for Home Sellers?

A number of issues can come up for people who sell their homes, and one of those issues is the capital gains tax. But what is it, really, and who has to pay it? Is there a way to get around the tax, legally? It's important to know these things before selling a home. While a homeowner may ultimately decide to sell anyway, even if they have to pay the tax, it's also possible they'll wait longer or choose to remain in their home instead. That's all worth considering, and all things that a homeowner will want to look at before they make a definite choice. Fortunately, there are strict rules about who must pay this tax and who doesn't have to, so a homeowner can take a look at their situation and see what category they fall into before they decide to sell. Not Every Homeowner Has to Pay Capital Gains Tax In short, the sale price, minus the purchase price, is the capital gain. There are also some exceptions to that, such as deductions for specific home improvements that were made while the person owned the home. A single homeowner is allowed up to $250,000 in profit on the sale of their home without the need to pay capital gains tax, while a married homeowner is allowed twice that much. So most people who sell their homes don't owe any extra tax at all. In areas where property values have really gone up, though, the tax on capital gains could be significant for a home seller. To avoid the capital gains tax, though, there are still some other requirements a seller will need to meet. For example, a homeowner has to live in the home they're selling for two of the previous five years. The homeowner must also be selling their principal residence, and not a house they bought for investment purposes or for some other reason. Those types of properties don't have the same exemption rules as primary residences, so they have to be handled differently. It may be important for a homeowner who's about to realize a big profit to hold off on selling their property if they haven't lived in it for two years, and to be aware of the capital gains tax they'll need to pay otherwise. What About Investment Properties? When it comes to investment properties, the capital gains tax applies. There's no exemption for having the property for a set period of time, or for using the money received from the home to buy another home, for example. Instead, the homeowner just has to pay capital gains tax on the proceeds, and that can be a lot of money if they sell an investment home for a high price. However, if they hold onto the investment property for more than a year, they can sell it and pay capital gains tax at a 15 percent rate, instead of the standard income tax rate. For some people that standard rate can be up to 35 percent, so the 15 percent option is much preferable. However, too many homes bought and sold too quickly could also trigger the IRS to take a closer look, so that's worth noting. Calculating These Taxes Properly is Very Important It's vital that homeowners calculate their taxes properly. They want to pay what's owed to avoid trouble with the IRS, but they also don't want to pay too much by misunderstanding the tax law. With that in mind, they should consult a tax professional if they aren't sure about whether they owe capital gains tax. That way they can make sure they're filing their taxes the right way. That adds to peace of mind, but it also helps a person feel more secure about whether they're going to be protecting themselves financially. If they aren't protecting themselves, they could end up really struggling to pay off IRS debt in the future. Knowing the rules about capital gains can reduce that risk, and can make it easier for a homeowner to make a decision about whether they want to sell their house at this time or whether it would be better for them to wait.     Article submitted by: Steph Young Interior Design & Construction Manager Denverlifedesign.com

Love versatility in your décor , but no time for a major redo!

Are you in the mood to remodel, but don’t have time nor the budget for a major redo! Well, paint is your Solution. It seems that 2018 is the year to be bold!  According to Benjamin Moore’s color of the year (bit.ly/Paint2018), Red is it!  You might be talking to yourself by now, wondering what your friends would say if one day they showed up unannounced after you’d already painted one of your dining room walls Red; not just any red, but CALIENTE AF-290 Red.   A possible reactionary scenario, one can foresee, would be a sigh of amazement and a topic of conversation for all the while they’re there.  It’s not the end of the world you know; painting is simply another form to express one’s self desire for a seasonal change. So, snap out of it, take charge, be daring, and create a warm and loving atmosphere in your own home; one that you would love to come to after a long day at work.   With that said, a great way to implement ones new style is with nothing other than paint.  In fact, paint is one of the most cost effective ways to change the mood without breaking the bank.  It’s also a project that could be done by oneself, for oneself, and over the weekend.  Of course, keep in mind that timing varies positively with the complexity of the task at hand (the more complex; the more time). Besides choosing an accent wall to express your new you using this trendy color, it’s important to maintain a smooth flow throughout the place.   On one hand, the latter can be easily accomplished by using different shades in different rooms selected from a palette of colors suggested by Benjamin Moore’s designers.  On the other hand, whether you favor art deco, super-modern, classic, or antiques, mix them all together and Voila! You’ve got yourself an eclectic style.   All you have to do is select accessories in red color and its many shades that are reflective of different time periods and place them strategically in different rooms of your house.  It’s that simple to add a touch of sophistication and elegance to your personal space.   Keep in mind that beauty is in simplicity, so splash color with moderation and enjoy the new look! Picture; Benjamin Moore, see link in body  

What Does it Mean for a House to Have “Good Bones?”

Anyone who watches enough home makeover and real estate reality TV shows on HGTV and other networks has heard the term “good bones” applied to a house. It’s a bit of a buzzword, but it gets at something important that all homebuyers should pay attention to.A Subjective SkeletonOne thing that makes it so hard to understand what people mean by “good bones” is the fact that it’s used in so many different ways. One person could say that a home they plan to dramatically renovate has good bones, while another may say the same thing about a house they don’t plan to do much to at all. Ultimately, it’s not a technical term, and the way it’s used is pretty subjective.It’s also important to note that in a lot of cases, people declare that a house has good bones before it’s been inspected, so this isn’t necessarily an endorsement of the quality of the home’s major elements, like the foundation or frame. The declaration is more of a statement that the basic structure of the home, like the layout, size and major design elements, is good even if the total package isn’t perfect.Looking Past the SuperficialBasically, what people mean when they say a house has good bones is that the house has a good floor plan, architectural features and other structural elements that override any potential issues having to do with decor or finishes. From this point of view, the concept of good bones is actually a really good one. People who pay attention to the “bones” are looking at the most important parts of a home, the things you probably aren’t going to change after moving in. That means that they’re looking past other things, like an ugly wall color or even energy-inefficient windows aren’t related to the bones of the house. Those things are much easier to change. It’s not worth knocking a home out of contention if it has some easily-fixed elements that you don’t like—unless, of course, you don’t have the budget to fix those things.Thinking About ChangesBudget is usually a factor when people talk about good bones because most people assessing a home in this way plan to carry out some sort of renovation. It’s often a term used to identify a promising fixer upper. For example, if you found a charming 1920s bungalow with original hardwood floors and a cozy interior layout that needed a lot of TLC, including upgrades in the kitchen and bathroom, you could easily say that you’ve found a house with good bones. It just needs a few adjustments here and there—even potentially expensive adjustments—to become a fantastic place to live. On the other hand, if that bungalow was sinking into the ground on one side and featured cramped rooms and a low ceiling, you wouldn’t really say the house had good bones. Want to make a major fixer-upper find? Assess the “bones” of the available homes in your area by planning an in-person tour with OpenHouseDay.com.

Is It OK to Visit an Open House Without Intent to Buy?

There are lots of reasons to visit an open house, and not all of them have to do with being on an active search for a new home. But is it rude or unacceptable to visit open houses when you know you won’t be buying? There isn’t really a clear yes or no answer—it mostly depends on how you go about your visits.It Depends on Who You Ask...But The Answer is Usually YesOpen houses have a specific purpose, and they’re serious events for both sellers and agents. An open house can be all it takes to get a house sold, so they aren’t just showcases for anyone to stroll through and see how other people live. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be a serious shopper in order to visit an open house. Some homeowners would probably prefer that the only people who visit their home are the people who intend to buy it, especially those who will continue to live in that home after the open house is over. However, it’s not unheard of for a person who has no intention of buying to visit an open house, fall in love and end up buying anyway.Even if there’s no way this will happen for you, most people understand that there’s no real way to police open house visitors. The key is to behave appropriately as a lurker rather than a buyer.Be Polite and HonestRegardless of what’s motivating you to look at open houses, whether you know you’ll be buying someday soon or you simply want to look at homes in your area, there are a few etiquette rules you need to follow to be in the “yes, it is OK to visit without the intent to buy” category. First and foremost, it’s essential to be respectful and polite to both the homeowners (even if they aren’t there) and the real estate agent.Most importantly, you should follow the same rules as a person looking with intent to buy would follow, meaning you should leave personal belongings alone and focus instead on the features of the house itself. Don’t open up drawers and cabinets if they’re on a piece of furniture, for example, but you can open up a kitchen cabinet in order to inspect the cabinet, not as a way of gawking at your neighbor’s dinnerware collection.You should also be up front with the real estate agent. Just be honest—you aren’t looking to buy right now but wanted to check out the house. If the agent asks for your contact information, you can just say no or ask for their card instead. You don’t need to give a fake name or pretend to be a buyer. It’s also important to avoid monopolizing the agent’s time if there are a lot of other people looking at the house. Ultimately, the house is open, and most realtors see looky-loo visitors as potential future clients. As long as you behave appropriately, you won’t be in anyone’s way.Even if you aren’t actively looking to buy, you can use OpenHouseDay.com to schedule some open house visits in your area.

Bring At Least One Of These People With You While You House Hunt

Visiting open houses may seem like a straightforward process, and it can even be fun, but ultimately it’s important to make sure you’re getting useful information while you’re looking at properties for sale. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a parent of teenagers or an out-of-towner on a relocation mission, you shouldn’t go it alone.The People You Live WithIt’s important to make sure the whole family is happy with any house you might buy, so bringing spouses or partners, kids and live-in parents along can be a good move. Having the family all in the house together can make it easier to determine whether the home provides enough space and whether it feels cozy enough. Plus, the other people you live with may point out some things you hadn’t thought of, like stairs that are unsafe for toddlers or a living room arrangement that’s too close to the master bedroom for parental comfort.Kids are a notable exception to this rule. Young children, especially those in the toddler or elementary school age range who can walk around but don’t necessarily understand open house manners quite yet, don’t really need to check out the house. If you think your kids will require too much management for you to really inspect the property, go ahead and leave them at home. However, older kids may want to have a say in where they’re going to live, so offer them the opportunity to tag along.A Local FriendShopping for a home in an area you’re relocating to but haven’t spent a lot of time in can be tough. Online research helps, but it’s a bold move to buy a house sight unseen. Open house tours are extremely useful for helping relocators get a better sense of the community they’re moving into. But that firsthand experience isn’t necessarily enough. Bring a local friend along with you to the open house, someone who’ll be able to clue you into good or bad things about a particular neighborhood or let you know which features you may want in light of the local climate. If you don’t already know people in the area you’re moving to, an experienced realtor can be a great substitute for a knowledgeable friend.An Experienced HomebuyerFirst-time homebuyers have a lot to consider and learn, from budgets and mortgages to inspections and taxes. It can feel overwhelming, and this is a great time in life to have a mentor by your side. When you’re looking at open houses as part of your very first home purchase, bring an experienced homebuyer who knows you well on your house tours. This can be a close friend, a parent, a coworker or someone from your religious community who knows the ropes and can point out red flags you might have missed. No matter who you choose to bring along with you on your home tour adventure, plan your route with Open House Day. We’ll help you make the experience easy and fun for everyone involved, including you!

5 Quick Steps to Take Before an Open House in a Seller’s Market

Need to sell your home as quickly as possible? If you’re in a seller’s market, you’re in luck. You won’t have to do nearly as much to get your home ready to show as you would if you were selling in a cooler market.1. Clean Up the Exterior The goal for any seller, even in a hot market, is to make your property as appealing as possible. Take some time to clean up the exterior a bit. This could mean mowing the lawn, clearing debris out of planting beds, taking down last year’s holiday decorations or pressure washing the sidewalks to wash away stains. Do this in both the front and back yards to enhance curb appeal and show how desirable your home is.2. Have the Floors Professionally CleanedEven though they’re relatively easy issues to fix, scuffed laminate floors and stained carpets have a way of making a home feel a bit dingier and less desirable. If you have room in your budget, you could also go for a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint throughout the interior, but this may not be necessary in your current market. Addressing these cosmetic issues will make your home a lot more appealing for open house visitors.3. Clear Out ClutterToys, books, clothes and other stuff that tends to pile up should get sorted through and thrown out, donated or packed to move before you show your home. In fact, you could even go ahead and pack up entirely and have your stuff on its way to your new home before you open the doors on the old house for prospective buyers. Staging is usually a good idea, but in a hot seller’s market, buyers are more willing to use their imaginations.4. Fix Any Obvious Minor IssuesDon’t leave obvious maintenance issues unaddressed, especially if you can fix them on the cheap. Stuff like broken window panes, scuffed paint, mismatched door knobs and running toilets can add up to sellers making lower offers or making requests at closing. If you want to do a quick sale, take these issues off the table before buyers come take a look. The less minor distractions you have, the more buyers will focus on the good things your house has to offer.5. Find a Good Listing AgentMost real estate agents can handle both buying and selling, but make sure the listing agent you’re going with knows a lot about the local market and can walk you through the typical process for how offers and closings work where you live. They should be able to give you good advice and give clear answers on things like whether you can expect a bidding war and how soon you should expect an offer after your first open house. Do some research to make sure what the agent is saying makes sense based on reports from recent home buyers or sellers in the area so you can be sure you’re making a good choice.

How to Turn House Hunting Into a Fun Family Activity During the Holiday Season

The kids are out of school and you’ve got a long list of holiday priorities to check off, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your house hunt on hold. Make open house visits fun with these simple tricks.Emphasize Holiday MerrimentIt’s always fun to see houses all lit up for the season, so if possible, try to visit open houses close to sundown so you can get the chance to drive back through and see all the houses with their Christmas decor ablaze. If you’re making a quick first run through, you can even go for an evening trip through open houses and go back to the ones you really liked during the day to get a better look at the exterior. The car trip itself can get a dose of festive fun if you crank up the Christmas songs and give everyone a fun hat to wear. Sing carols with your family and take the time to enjoy each other’s company. You’ll be surprised by how fun and easy open house tours can be!Sneak in Some FunWith OpenHouseDay, you can map out a plan to visit different open houses in a specific neighborhood, and with just a bit of smart maneuvering, you can optimize your route for holiday fun. For example, if you’re planning on going to a mall to take pictures with Santa, you can make a quick stop to an open house in the area first, go take your pictures and then visit another open house on the way home. That will give the kids something to look forward to and satisfy their need for holiday fun so you can cross two properties off your to-see list. Anything along these lines will work, whether it’s a reindeer petting zoo, a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm or another seasonal attraction. If you’re planning a longer day, consider bookending the outing with some holiday fun, perhaps with a special dinner at the family’s favorite restaurant at the end of the day.Reward Your EffortsDon’t forget to include some delicious holiday treats to enjoy while you’re driving around between houses. Christmas cookies or hot chocolate are great options, as are healthier treats like seasonal citrus or cinnamon-flavored nut mixes. Red and green veggies, like bell peppers, tomatoes, celery and cucumber can also be a fun addition to your holiday snack mix, especially if you use seasonal cookie cutters to punch them into interesting shapes. You can even give your kids a small piece of seasonal candy as a reward for behaving themselves after each house. These little touches will sweeten the deal and give everyone a little boost throughout the day.To keep things super simple, don’t forget to use OpenHouseDay.com to map out your route and confirm important details relating to time and location. If the adults in the group are relaxed and having a good time, that’ll make it easier for the kids to make the most of the situation as well.

Open House Tips for Listing Agents During the Holiday Season

Most industries experience something of a slowdown during the holiday season, but listing agents are usually expected to do their jobs just as effectively in December as they do in July or October. Keep your clients happy and your business thriving by thinking ahead, planning smart and accounting for the holidays in your approach to selling during the Christmas season.Advocate for the Benefits of Multi-Viewing Days During a Busy SeasonHaving to vacate the house at the drop of a hat is never a fun part of selling one’s house, but it can be especially inconvenient during the holiday season, while kids are out of school and family members are visiting. A pre-scheduled open house makes things much easier for the family—they’ll know when to clear out and can have confidence that multiple buyers will likely stop by.Give Holiday-Specific Advice on Staging and Decor The holidays are all about tradition, and that can be something of an issue for home decor. Listed properties don’t have to be completely holiday-neutral, but it is a good idea for families that ordinarily go all out to tone it down a bit for the sake of the buyers. Indoor and outdoor decor should be tasteful, minimal and designed to show off the house without making it hard for buyers to see the bones of the place. Too much distracting decor can definitely be a turnoff. Consider Your Own ScheduleYou have the right to enjoy the season, and that includes taking time to fulfill family commitments or shop for gifts without feeling distracted. Remember that you will do your job better when you’re fully engaged with the task at hand rather than feeling stressed and scatterbrained because of all the things you have to do. Avoid scheduling open houses on days when you have a lot of personal-life holiday tasks to take care of so you can be at your professional best.Ensure Clear Expectations on Both SidesBoth you and your client should have a general understanding of each other’s holiday schedules, including any times when either party may be out of town or difficult to reach. If you happen to get an offer in on Christmas Eve, you’ll want to know whether your client will be around to discuss it. If you’re going to be completely off duty at any point during the season, let your client know whether any of your colleagues will be covering for you in your absence.Let the Client Decide What They’re Comfortable WithUltimately, it’s important to let your clients have final say in any of these matters, though you can help guide their decision making with well-reasoned arguments that will lead to a sale. If your client is adamant that their massive hallway-blocking Christmas tree stay in place in spite of the open house, you can explain why that decision may be less-than-ideal from a strategic point of view without forcing the issue and making your client feel uncomfortable.

Surprise Holiday Gifts: Does Buying a House Go Too Far?

We’ve all seen the Christmas season television commercials in which one spouse surprises another with the lavish gift of a luxury car. This kind of expensive, big-deal gift can be a gamble, particularly for people who like to have a say in things and don’t like surprises. With that in mind, would you buy a surprise house as a holiday gift for your partner? Why a House Isn’t Like Any Other Holiday GiftSome people are so hard to shop for that every gift is a gamble. If you have someone like this in your life, you’re probably used to checking return policies and holding onto receipts for the gifts you buy just in case they need to be returned or exchanged. Most of the things we’d give as gifts during the holiday season are easy to return. Even a diamond ring worth several thousand dollars can likely to back to the store if you have the proper documentation and the return policy allows it. Not so with a house. Once you’ve closed on a property and the title is in your name, you can’t undo that transaction for the sake of buyer’s remorse. You may be able to walk back your purchase if you can prove you were lied to or misled or some way by the seller, but you’d likely have to hire a lawyer to help you with that. This isn’t a gift you can easily take back, and that’s one major reason to avoid surprising a loved one with a new house.When Giving a House is a Good IdeaThat doesn’t mean you should never give a house as a gift. After all, this would be an incredibly generous gesture. There are some circumstances in which a buyer can be reasonably certain that the person they intend to gift with a house will be happy with the present. For example, if your parents are currently living in a home they love but rent from a third party, you could purchase that home from the landlord. The only thing that would change in that circumstance would be the ownership of the house. Other circumstances of near-certainty, such as a spouse’s childhood home or a vacation property your family has stayed in multiple times, can also come with the confidence that should accompany this kind of purchase. What to Do When You Aren’t Sure but Still Want to Give a HouseWhen you aren’t sure whether the gift recipient would like a house you pick out without their input, choose a middle option that allows you to give the gift you want to give without making a major gamble. In this scenario, you could place a record of mortgage pre-approval in a gift box and create an open house visiting itinerary for the gift recipient. Use OpenHouseDay.com to create your route and schedule so the person you’re buying for doesn’t have to lift a finger. This way, you’ll get to give a lovely and substantial gift without making a major life decision for someone else.

3 Fun Ways to Mix Up Your Holiday Home Decor This Year

The holiday season is a fun time of year, but not everyone likes to stick with a single tradition. If you want to keep December feeling fresh, these ideas will help you transform your decorating approach while still incorporating some of your favorite classic holiday pieces.Kick Red to the CurbThe classic holiday colors of red and green are so ubiquitous that it makes sense to focus on this color palette as the center of change for your new decorative approach. Modern holiday decor leans heavily on a neutral color palette that emphasizes the natural tones of a snowy winter forest. This approach gives class bright red and heavy burgundy tones the heave-ho in favor of softer, gentler colors that feel bright and cheerful while also embracing a sense of modern elegance. Green, white, brown, metallics and blue are all great choices for a refreshed holiday decor color scheme. You can add in some touches of red here and there, of course—think about the look of a snowy holly bush. The majority of the color you’ll see is green and white with a few pops of red berries.Go RetroMercury glass lights or garlands, tinsel, flocked or aluminum trees, plastic blow mold Santas and other classic decorations from days past can all make a fun resurgence in your modern holiday home. The key to making your displays look up-to-date is in the presentation.While you can choose to go with decor from a single era, mixing holiday decorations from different time periods underscores the history of the season and gives guests a chance to reflect on their own childhood experiences at this time of year. To really emphasize the idea of history and nostalgia, consider putting family heirloom ornaments and vintage finds on your Christmas tree in ascending or descending order by decade. Grouping all of the ornaments from a certain era together in this way Rethink Your TreeIn many homes, the Christmas tree is the focus of holiday decor, and changing this one element alone can make a big difference in how you feel about your seasonal aesthetic. There are a few different ways to go about switching things up for your tree. Upside-down trees hung from the ceiling have made a big splash in recent years, but you can also go for something more originally unusual. A 2-D tree mounted on the wall with stacked shelves or branches for hanging ornaments can be a nice touch, especially in a smaller home. If you want to see different types of holiday decor in action, why not tour some open houses? You can use Open House Day to map out an open house tour and maybe even find a new home to bring extra holiday decor inspiration into your life. If you don’t have room to celebrate the way you want right now,  new house could make all the difference this holiday season and beyond.

Is the Holiday Season the Best or Worst Time to Buy a House?

December Homebuying ProsYou may end up paying less: Research suggests that home prices tend to fall in the wintertime, which is good news for buyers looking for a bargain. Homes that are still unsold after the summer rush usually get discounted as owners try to clear them out by year’s end. Plus, the holiday spirit may drive some homeowners to accept a lower offer than they ordinarily would.Time off from work means time for house hunting: Rushing through an open house is a bad idea. In December, you may have more time to move slowly and think carefully.Experienced family members may be on hand to give advice: If you’ve never bought a house before, it can be helpful to have visiting family members tour homes with you to give their input.December Homebuying ConsThere are fewer homes available: Why are houses usually cheaper in wintertime? Because most people tend to list their homes in the summer months, and the desirable ones go quickly. This may vary in each individual market, but most homeowners don’t choose to make new listings in December.Agents and brokers may be distracted: If you live in one of California’s many competitive housing markets, minutes can count when it comes to beating out other prospective buyers. December may not be the best month of the year to get fast action from the professionals you’ll work with to close on your new house.Open house availability may be limited: We tend to open our homes to friends and relatives around the holiday season, and that often means less availability for open houses. Don’t worry about this too much, though—Open House Day’s planning tools make it easy to find and map out a day of visiting open houses at any time of year.Should You Wait or Act Now?As you can see, there are some things that make winter the best time for home buying and others that could make it the worst. It’s all a matter of perspective and priorities. So does it make more sense to wait to shop or act now? That really depends on your individual situation. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to wait and completely avoid your search for a new home until the seasons change. You could end up finding your ideal home for a great price. If you’re on a tight timeline, it’s especially important to act quickly so you can have as much time and flexibility as possible to search for the right place and make a smart purchase decision. If you aren’t on a tight timeline, though, don’t feel pressured to buy something that’s over budget or that doesn’t quite meet your needs at this time of year. Waiting just a few months could result in a better find. Winter can be a good time to find a great value on a good house, but there is evidence to indicate that you’ll have more inventory to consider if you wait. Weigh this information against your housing needs to make a decision that works for your family.

Why You Should Look For Homes in More Than One Neighborhood

Some house hunters have a tendency to pick a neighborhood they want to live in and only shop for houses in that area. This can be an effective strategy in some cases, but for most people, it’s better to expand the search further to gain access to better options.Great Potential for Surprises You can know a neighborhood like the back of your hand and still remain clueless about the various assets and attractions of an area less than a mile away. From incredible parks to great community resources and unexpectedly beautiful views, stepping outside your comfort zone can be a great way of discovering new things that will add to your quality of life. Looking in different sections a city or town lets you learn the lay of the land and discover what hidden gems may be waiting for you out there in the world of real estate.Wider Net, More (and Potentially Better) InventorySearching in a wider area gives you access to a lot more houses in different styles and at different price points. Some neighborhoods tend to be characterized by homes of a certain design, either because that area developed rapidly at a specific point in time or because residents over the years have adopted a similar sense of architectural inspiration. When you look outside of an area like this, you find different home styles that may appeal to you even more. Having access to more options gives you a much better chance of finding a home with the right balance of features and budget friendliness. Limiting your search area may result in you excluding the perfect house from search right off the bat. Of course, if you do search in multiple neighborhoods and find that only one area suits your needs, you can narrow your search a bit. But you’ll never know what’s out there until you start looking.When To Ignore This Advice There are some circumstances in which casting a wider net actually doesn’t make sense. The desire to keep your kids in their current school is one great example. When you’re happy with your current neighborhood, it makes sense to want to stay close to the things and people you’re familiar with. This approach creates minimal disruption, but it may take longer to find exactly what you’re looking for due to your self-imposed geographic limitations.Budget constraints can also be a good justification for focusing on one neighborhood only, but it’s often worth it to avoid making assumptions. There are some affordable enclaves surrounded by expensive areas in California, but you may be surprised to find some more affordable properties within those expensive neighborhoods. Give it a shot at first, and if you really aren’t finding anything, you can zero in on an area you feel comfortable with.OpenHouseDay.com’s interactive map makes it easy to find great houses in multiple different places. Our powerful real estate search tool lets you plan a day of open house tours within a single area or on opposite sides of town.

Should You Bring Your Kids to an Open House?

Your family’s house isn’t quite a home without the kids, but that doesn’t mean that little ones need to attend every open house along with you. If you’re on the fence about whether your children should accompany you, consider these factors.Think About Your Kids’ PreferencesFor some kids, the idea of having to stay quiet and calm while mom and dad walk around a stranger’s house is the opposite of fun. Others might actually enjoy getting to explore a new space and won’t mind having to keep their behavior in check. Age has a lot to do with this. A toddler probably isn’t going to be very thrilled about being bundled into the car and taken from place to place, but a teenager might appreciate being included in the decision making process and getting to explore what may be his or her future home. It’s not just a matter of determining whether your kid will enjoy him or herself at the open house. Think about whether you will actually be able to look at the property and talk to the listing agent without being interrupted by your child. If you do decide to bring your little ones, pack some extra activities for the drive, and don’t forget some healthy snacks and water just in case they start to get a bit cranky.What to Do When You Want to Visit Without the KidsWhen you’ve decided to look at open houses without the youngest family members in tow, you’ll want to line up some sort of childcare so you can look at homes in peace. Remember that open house visits can be pretty short even when you really like the property, so consider a variety of solutions, including:Planning a playdate with a friend or neighborHiring a babysitter or ask a family member to provide childcare while you’re goneHouse hunting while the kids are in school, at soccer practice or otherwise occupiedIf your children are old enough to have an opinion on where they’re going to live, consider taking some pictures of houses you really like and asking for input. Remember to sell the property to them and frame the images you show in an exciting way. Saying something along the lines of, “This room is big enough for a bunk bed!” will help kids feel excited to move into a new place, and they won’t be too surprised by the new house if you end up closing and moving in.OpenHouseDay.com’s planning and mapping features make it easy to design the most efficient route possible for your big day of property visits. Whether your children are attending with you or you’ve left them in someone else’s care, you’ll love how quick and painless it is to plan your visits and finish as quickly as possible. You can even use our map feature to find open houses near music lessons and playdate locations so you can quickly pop over to an open house while the little ones are busy.

Fresh Ideas for Thanksgiving Home Decor

Want to mix things up with your Thanksgiving decor this year? Try these unique twists on classic decor themes and color schemes. Try Out-of-the-Box Fall ColorsThanksgiving decor tends to focus on red, orange, yellow and brown, often in primary-color shades that, while cute, aren’t entirely modern. This year, dial it back a bit and go for minimalist elegance. Don’t limit yourself to the flame-colored warm colors of the leaves outside. Subtler shades on that side of the color spectrum work well too. Think about natural colors like pale straw yellow or light beige-y browns to add a softer dimension of design to your home. You can add in some bold pops of color by incorporating warm metallic shades of copper, gold and brass as accents.To put this idea into practice, consider using natural-colored fabrics like pale linen and darker burlap as the foundation for a Thanksgiving table centerpiece. Add in some metallic candlesticks and natural beeswax taper candles plus some natural decor elements in the form of white mini pumpkins and yellow squash to finish the arrangement with on-trend sophistication.Use Fall Fruits for Arrangements and DisplaysAutumn is a time of abundance. That’s the basis for Thanksgiving as a food-focused holiday, after all. Vegetables such as pumpkins, squash and corn are common staples for Thanksgiving decor, from wreaths to cornucopias and floral arrangements. These are all great options for holiday decorating at this time of year, but you can take it a step further by incorporating fall fruits into the mix in addition to (or instead of) fall veggies. Persimmon, pomegranate, cranberries, apples and pears are all lovely fruits that make great additions to display bowls or floral arrangements. You can use either real or faux fruits depending on your budget and level of DIY motivation. To make real fruit easier to incorporate into floral bouquets or decorative wreaths, choose small fruits and use a combination of floral wire, floral picks and floral tape to make them easier to arrange. Cranberries can actually go directly into the vase. These little red berries float in water, and they make a beautiful accent in a clear glass vase filled with autumnal flowers and fruits.Make GarlandsGarlands are a fun way to spice up your home for any holiday, and they also happen to be a highly customizable craft project that you can make as sophisticated or kid-friendly as you’d like. For an elegant option, consider using small bundles of autumnal herbs such as rosemary and sage tied together with twine. Hang these from a pretty fall-colored ribbon using jute or hemp rope to create a rustic and aromatic decorative accent. If you have kids, you can use the old hand outline Thanksgiving craft to create a colorful parade of turkeys. Make your birds march across the window or above your dining room table by stringing together into a garland or hanging individually from the ceiling or chandelier. 

4 House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid—As Seen on TV!

Real estate reality shows like House Hunters are successful in large part because it’s fun to look at houses. Beyond that, though, it’s amusing to watch real people juggle their priorities as they search for the perfect home. Avoid these four common reality TV mistakes as you tour open houses to set yourself up for long-term happiness.1. Getting Hung Up on the Previous Owner’s Decor The home you’re buying will look different once the previous owner’s sofa and wall art is gone. Look past these details to see the “bones” of the house. The duvet cover in the master bedroom isn’t nearly as important as how large the room is and whether the closet is big enough for you. If the wall color isn’t to your liking, remember that you can change that yourself without a huge investment of money or time.2. Ignoring a Loved One’s NeedsCouples and families often have to compromise on what they want, but some of the people on real estate TV shows seem to forget that while focusing on their own priorities. If your dream home is so far from your spouse’s office that he or she will have to commute four hours every day, is it really worth it? It’s often best to think of the household’s collective needs rather than putting one particular person’s desires on top, even if that means sacrificing something you’d really like but don’t need.3. Having Unrealistic Expectations It’s essential to understand what your budget can actually get you in the areas you want to live. Reality TV real estate shoppers often cause their realtors all kinds of stress when they demand incredible houses at unbelievable prices. Want to find a beautifully maintained four-bedroom, four-bath ocean-view home for $100,000? That would be nice, but it’s not a realistic expectation. Look at home prices in specific areas to get a feel for how much it’ll cost to live there rather than going with an idealized assumption.4. Planning Too Many Renovations Most episodes of House Hunters check back in after the episode’s stars have moved into their new place. In most cases, families, couples and individuals are really happy with their homes and are glad they chose the way they did. Sometimes, though, you can sense a strong feeling of regret or resentment. These episodes usually involve a couple who decided to buy a “fixer upper” house requiring a ton of renovations. It’s easy to say that you’ll knock down walls and replace outdated countertops before you actually move in, but doing the labor is often more difficult and more expensive than you’d think. If you aren’t a renovation pro and don’t have a lot of capital available to fund upgrades, this is a mistake to avoid for sure.OpenHouseDay.com can help you plan your house hunting adventure to ensure you avoid several of the mistakes listed above. You can check prices, look at pictures and read about features in addition to finding out when a specific home is open for you to visit.

How You Can Help Seniors Find A New Home

As a caregiver to a senior friend, you know how much your help is needed. Even if the senior is very independent and aware, everyone needs a little help, seniors included. But what can you do when your senior friend needs a new place to live? From finding a home to getting the move done right, read on for some tips on how you can help seniors with house-hunting. Different Types Of Homes The first step is to decide what kind of home will work. There are several options such as single-family homes, condominiums, house rentals, apartments, and retirement communities. How can you help? Start by talking to the senior and find out what they want — and what they can afford.   Then you can research housing options online. A Place For Mom has a great resource page where you can search for senior living options by type or state. Instead of your senior friend being overwhelmed by the choices, you can narrow those down to ones that will work.   If your senior friend doesn’t own their house, you can help by finding rental properties (home or apartment). And as ForRent.com shows, there are some HUD programs that can provide financial assistance: ●     Landlords can get HUD assistance to offer lower rent if the senior meets income restrictions. ●     Section 8 housing can be just what seniors need to live comfortably. Why Downsizing Might Work A senior typically has much less income than when they were younger. That means finding a new place to live often means one that’s smaller than their current place. This can actually be perfect for the senior, and it’s called downsizing.   There are many benefits to downsizing, and not just in a lower monthly bill. A large home can be annoying or even dangerous for seniors. As their mobility and strength decrease with age, going up and down stairs or maintaining the yard can be tough. Living in a smaller house, especially one without stairs, can be safer and more comfortable for seniors.   Besides looking for a place, you can help by sorting through the senior’s belongings. Moving to a smaller place means less storage. Besides, many people keep too many things and could use some help getting rid of them. Helping With The Move Finding the place is great, but what about moving day? Seniors will have trouble with this, and not just with carrying heavy boxes. Leaving their old home can be very emotional. Your help will be needed this day more than others.   The AARP explains that you can help by creating a plan that focuses on the kitchen and living room first. These rooms often have many mementos and other objects that need careful packing and moving.   As you pack, be careful. Back injuries are some of the most common in a move like this. That’s why hiring professional movers makes sense. They’re trained and experienced in moving safely, so they should do the heavy lifting. If you (or the senior) insists on moving without help, HireAHelper lists ways to protect your back, such as packing a box on a table first (so you don’t have to lift with your back). Your Help Is Needed It’s not like your senior friend cannot do things on their own. However, you can turn finding a new home for them into an easier, more enjoyable experience. Do some research online for housing options, then help them sort through their belongings. Finally, hire movers so everyone’s back stays healthy. Note: Article written by Jim VogelImage Source: Pixabay

Why Living in California is So Amazing

At OpenHouseDay, we know a thing or two about what it’s like to live in California. Our real estate listing platform focuses on California for a reason: life here is good, no matter where you are in the state. Here’s what makes it so special.The Changing Landscape Love the outdoors? We’ve got everything you could possibly need right here. You can ski in the Sierras, surf in the Pacific, hike through the Mojave desert and camp among the redwoods. California occupies more than 800 miles of coastline, and driving from north to south in the state is an incredible experience. You don’t even have to go the whole way to experience just about every kind of landscape possible. Go from mountain snow to coastal sun in just a few hours, then make your way home to rest and do it all again tomorrow.  The FoodCities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Sonoma show that no state does food quite like California. Even our street food is fantastic, with some of the best tacos you can imagine just waiting for you to take a bite. California is also home to some of the best restaurants on the planet, from Berkeley’s stalwart Chez Panisse to LA’s many glitzy celebrity chef restaurants, including Spago, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant arguably responsible for making “celebrity chefs” a thing.But it’s not just good restaurant food that makes life in California so incredible. Most of the nation’s citrus is grown here, and other fresh produce, including delicious strawberries and crisp lettuce, grows here all year round. In most parts of the state, you don’t have to wait for summer to get amazing local fruit on your table every day. Plus, meat, seafood, dairy...there’s just no end to the awesome variety of great food available to Californians. And that’s not even taking all the world-renowned local wine and beer into account. You could serve an entire multi-course meal only with ingredients that come from the Golden State and not miss a thing.The CultureWhile different parts of the state have their own vibe, being a Californian means having a special sort of cool that sets you apart from the crowd. There are plenty of ambitious, hardworking people here—after all, two of the nation’s most successful industries, entertainment and tech, are basically headquartered in California—but there’s also a laid-back feel that you just don’t get in most other places. Maybe it’s because the weather here’s almost always nice, or that we have so many natural wonders to enjoy. Or maybe it’s because there are so many fun things to do and see. Hollywood offers a wealth of film, music and art. San Francisco has its own fun quirky culture. And throughout the state, sports, festivals, attractions and events draw tourists from all over the world. It’s no wonder so many wealthy, famous people choose to make California their home. There’s just no place in the world quite like it.

3 Simple Ways to Refresh an Older Home

Older houses have their charms, but Californians tend to like fresher, modern interiors even if they preserve the original exterior features of the houses they buy. If you’re gearing up to sell a home built before 1990, consider these simple and relatively affordable improvements as a fast way to get your home in shape to attract the ideal buyer. Replace Outdated Kitchen AppliancesKitchen appliances tend to show their wear and age in more ways than one. Aside from the nicks, scratches and stains that naturally arise on equipment that sees heavy use, appliances can also appear outdated in a way that makes the whole kitchen feel older and less appealing. Replacing outdated appliances with newer, shinier models can be a move that makes sense, but it’s important to be smart about how you go about it. First, you’ll want to purchase appliances that make sense for the overall value of the home. Putting a $10,000 stove in a home worth $350,000 doesn’t really make sense, and it’s not going to really add more value than a $500 stove. Additionally, kitchen upgrades aren’t a surefire way to increase the value of the home. They’re really best for cosmetic improvements that affect the way the buyer sees the home. If your appliances are relatively new and work well, they probably don’t need to be replaced. You can ask your real estate agent his or her opinion on this before going through with it.Get Rid of Popcorn Ceiling Textured popcorn ceiling is a holdover from an old-school interior design and building approach, and while some modern homes do have it, it’s usually not a high-end feature buyers prefer. If you have popcorn ceiling that’s looking dusty, dirty, stained and generally less-than-fantastic, you can scrape it off yourself to give your ceilings a new finish. The process does involve some physical labor, but supplies are inexpensive, making the project worthwhile even if you only do it in one or two rooms in the house.Add More LightThe modern trend toward light and bright can pose a challenge for those who own older homes. If possible, you can make your space feel more airy by adding more windows or even adding skylights or solar tubes to let additional natural light into the home. However, this approach isn’t always guaranteed to add value to the house, so if you’re working with a limited budget and your home is otherwise fairly appealing for prospective buyers, you don’t need to worry about such as dramatic approach. Instead, you can add more light fixtures to make the space feel fresher without actually making big changes. This could mean replacing old single-bulb overhead fixtures with updated multi-bulb fixtures or installing some sconces in dark hallways or bathrooms. Even just using brighter bulbs can work. Replacing your incandescent bulbs with high-end CFL or LED bulbs can be a great way of making rooms brighter and more appealing in short order.

5 Things You Must Do Before Your Open House

An open house is like a job interview with buyers. That means it’s important to set your house up for success. These five factors can help you make the best-possible impression without requiring a lot of effort from the people you’re trying to win over. Prepare For Nosier-Than-Usual GuestsYou can expect that the people looking at your home will be poking around and opening closets and cabinets. This means that you should discreetly conceal anything super personal or potentially embarrassing you wouldn’t want most people to see. You might also want to secure any valuables or dangerous items such as firearms prior to the open house. The house is literally open to anyone who wants to visit, and while you or your real estate agent will be there to keep an eye on the crowd, it’s best not to take risks. For example, if you have a jewelry box with expensive heirloom jewelry sitting on your dresser, you might want to put it inside a dresser drawer rather than leaving it out.Clean UpThis is somewhat obvious, but some homeowners don’t understand just how far they need to go. Don’t just vacuum and tidy up. Be super thorough—empty the garbage, dust, scrub the toilets, clean the windows and mirrors, remove scuffs from the floors and generally polish up and perfect the home. Hire a professional cleaner if you don’t have the time or desire to do it yourself—see it as an investment. Take Care of the YardTake the same meticulous approach outdoors as you did indoors. You don’t need to do a complete landscaping overhaul, but the lawn should be mown, dead leaves and branches removed and toys tidied. If you’ve had Christmas lights on your porch for the past 6 months, now’s a good time to take them down. If you have planters that you never managed to establish with robust, living plants, stack them and put them in the garage. Curb appeal is important, and even if your outdoor areas aren’t particularly large or impressive, they can look quite dingy and uninviting if they’re obviously unused and unkempt.Be Careful About ScentsIf you love the powerful smell of synthetic air fresheners, you might want to clear them out the morning of your open house and open the windows to let some fresh air in. Some visitors may not share your scent preferences and might want to leave shortly after arriving regardless of what they think of the rest of the house. Let the Sunshine InAs we mentioned above, curb appeal is important, and the lawn isn’t the only element in ensuring your home makes an amazing first impression. Open curtains and blinds throughout the house so natural light can pour in and the property can appear welcoming and friendly from the moment prospective buyers lay eyes on it. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s one of those things that can actually make a big impact.

Why OpenHouseDay.com is a Great Way for Real Estate Agents and Realtors to Sell Homes Faster

California is home to several hot housing markets that offer major payoff for realtors and agents who can stay on their toes and boost their for-sale properties above the competition. Streamlining your online marketing efforts and bringing more buyers to your open houses is one great way to ensure you stay competitive and ahead of the game. The Importance of Well-Managed Open House TrafficWhether the market is hot or cold, simply hosting an open house isn’t always enough to secure immediate offers and sell a house. Managing the open house is important too. This not only means staging the home correctly but also finding a way to estimate how many people might attend so you can come up with a plan to direct the flow of traffic and ensure you’re prepared to field questions from dozens of visitors. Managing your open house can also mean collecting information from each visitor and providing clear contact information so offers can be submitted as soon as possible. In a hot market, these offers may start pouring in before the open house is even over. It can be a lot to deal with, leaving many agents and realtors feeling flustered and stressed. Luckily, OpenHouseDay.com offers a better way.What OpenHouseDay.com Offers Realtors and Real Estate AgentsOpen House Day streamlines the listing process for realtors from start to finish. Our search and listing platform is specifically designed to highlight open houses, which can make extra marketing efforts unnecessary. With our Premium Plan realtor and real estate agent membership, you’ll get notified every time users find your listed property and add it to their MyPlanner tool, allowing you to stay on top of how many people are planning to attend your open house in real time. After the open house, Open House Day will send your contact information to all the users who attended, providing an extra point of connection for buyers who might want to ask some questions. The Premium Plan also includes valuable data analytics tools to give you the power of accurate insight into how many people are viewing the listing vs. how many are planning to attend the open house. This makes troubleshooting easy when you’re having trouble moving a property. For example, if a lot more people are viewing the house listing than are showing up to your open house, it could be that your photos and description information aren’t quite showcasing the property at its best. If most of the people who view the listing are coming to open houses, but you still aren’t getting offers, you may need to restage or address curb appeal issues before your next try.Leads are also a facet of the OpenHouseDay.com Basic Plus and Premium Plan membership tiers. With Basic Plus, you’ll get FSBO lead information that you can use to convert these independent sellers into clients. With Premium, you’ll get FSBO leads and home buyer lead information as well. We offer a powerful suite of tools and resources that automates a lot of little detail work that can really get in the way of productivity when you’re trying to hit a selling hot streak. Give us a try and see how fast your process can get with some smart streamlining.

Open House Dos and Don’ts for Buyers

Open houses are exciting for buyers, but they can also lead to some mistakes. These simple tips will make it easy for you to navigate open houses like a pro. Do: Be ThoroughIf the current owners still live in the home, it can feel strange to wander around and really get a good look at the place. However, it’s normal for a prospective buyer to open closet doors and kitchen cabinets. Dressers and other furniture that’s not staying in the house is off limits, and you should exercise restraint in bathrooms, where residents may be keeping personal items in cabinets and drawers. But any other built-in elements are fair game. The sellers want you to buy their house, so they won’t be offended if you take a thorough look when you’re really interested in a property.Don’t: Get Too Hung Up on Decor (With Notable Exceptions)For better or for worse, everyone has different tastes. It’s just one of those things that makes us human. Some people may love dark colors and exposed wood while others may prefer sleek, minimalist white. If the current owner’s belongings are still in the home and you don’t like the wall color, the furniture layout of a room or even the way they’ve chosen to organize their pots and pans in the kitchen, don’t let that get in the way of your assessment. Superficial decor can always be changed. Some decorative elements are more substantial and therefore more difficult to fix. If the bathroom tile is a color that turns your stomach, for example, that may be worth factoring into your final decision. Expensive details like these may not be worth the cost if you aren’t wild about the rest of the home or simply don’t have the room in your budget.Do: Look Beyond the House Itself Make sure you aren’t focusing solely on the home’s interior. You don’t need to do an actual structural inspection (unless you happen to have skills in this area and want to take a preliminary look), but you should check out the outdoor area around the house or apartment. Is there enough outdoor space for your needs? Do the neighbors seem polite? Does the property feel private enough? Think about the property as a whole rather than just the rooms inside.Don’t: Arrive Too Late Sure, most realtors and real estate agents will be happy to stick around a little later than scheduled, but some may genuinely need to close up shop and leave at the specified time. Either way, it’s good form both for your own purposes and as a courtesy to the realtor to give yourself plenty of time. Depending on how large the property is and how interested you are, 15 minutes or less may be plenty, but don’t cut it close if you don’t have to.NOTE: Image credit: Pixabay

Post Construction Paradise in Rancho Palos Verdes

It took a year and a half, $500,000 and invaluable patience to get to the finish line for ambitious couple Adriana and Adriano Marcil.  Their Rancho Palos Verdes home boasts a completely remodeled 3,200 square-foot interior on horse property with new landscaping, a pool house, and a gorgeous view.    The Marcils bought this mid-century classic for $1.7 million just two years ago when they were moving to Los Angeles from Europe. OpenHouseDay went behind the scenes during their remodeling process a few months ago. Read about it here. Adriana gave useful tips for those living in their home during a reconstruction process.   She says that although living on location during the remodel was challenging at times, especially with a toddler and another baby on the way, it was worth being able to be an integral part of the whole construction process. What began as a remodel with the couple’s intention to make it their long term family home, midway through their project, the couple decided to move back to Europe.   “It’s what makes this property now so unique”, explains Adriana. “The expenses to this remodeling were not like of a normal flip because we used only the best materials with the intention to stay and live here”.   New windows and barn style doors, recess lighting, an entirely new kitchen, floors, and a complete update of the plumbing and electricity- just to name a few of the remodeling aspects. With all the upgrades, the couple was able to transform the mid-century classic that they bought two years ago into a mid-century modern paradise. They kept much of the mid-century style with both new and older materials. For example, their brand new kitchen looks almost identical to the old one due to the choice of cabinets and colors. Their furniture pieces have a vintage touch, and the decision to keep the classic PV stone fireplace and outdoor fountain maintained the original character.  

Learn Why OpenHouseDay is Ideal for For Sale By Owner Properties

Savvy homeowners in hot real estate markets often feel competent to do their own marketing and promotion, navigating each step of their sale without the assistance of a realtor. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties often do sell, but many homeowners find themselves wishing they’d just gone with a realtor. With OpenHouseDay, you can gain access to many of the same tools realtors use to generate success in any market without actually working with a realtor.Setting Your Home ApartOnline listing tools make it easy for just about anyone to market an available property and reach an audience of thousands. But actually making a property stand out isn’t easy, and it can take lots of practice to refine the right approach and understand what works. FSBO sellers don’t have this luxury; it’s not your job to figure out how best to market properties, after all. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.With OpenHouseDay, you can create a straightforward listing with photos and details, but the feature that really kicks your listing into overdrive is our open house scheduler. You’ll get to set as many open houses as you want on days that work for you, and buyers who are planning to house hunt that day will see your listing at the top of their search results if your property matches their defined criteria. Properties with an open house show up in the search before those that don’t have an open house on that specific date, and that’s a major boost that you don’t have to work for. All you have to do is schedule the event on your OpenHouseDay property listing and the system does the rest. Managing Your Open HouseThe open house event itself can be one of the most important factors in attracting offers from qualified buyers, but managing this kind of event can be nerve wracking for a first-time FSBO seller. OpenHouseDay.com makes that part easy as well. You don’t need to have professional-level organizational skills to prepare for an uncertain outcome. Our program lets you know when prospective buyers add your house to their open house touring plan and gives you an auto-generated email list of all the guests who’ve added you to their lists the day before your open house is scheduled. While others may still arrive, particularly if you’ve advertised elsewhere, this guest list can at least give you a ballpark figure of how many people you can expect. This will make it easier for you to have a sufficient supply of flyers and other information you might want to hand out to prospective buyers as they tour your home. The flyer or property information sheet you provide should include relevant information, including the number of bedrooms, baths, listing price, school info and other important details. While buyers can find this information on your Open House Day listing as well, it’s always nice to provide an extra reminder of how great your place is.Even if you’re a first-time FSBO seller, OpenHouseDay.com will make it easy to schedule and prepare for your big open house. It’s quick and easy, so why wait to get started? Sign up today and sell your house independently. Note:Image credit: Blake Wheeler/Unsplash

Discover How OpenHouseDay.com Can Help Home Buyers Find Your Property

      An Open House is often the key to showing off a home’s unique charm and appeal, but bringing prospective buyers to the property during the scheduled open house hours can be a challenge. With OpenHouseDay, you’ll instantly target buyers who are specifically looking to visit homes with an intent to purchase. Here’s how it works.   The Benefits of an In-Person Visit   You’ve taken professional pictures of the property and carefully written vivid descriptions of each of its rooms and features. The information is available online for everyone to see, but it’s still not getting much interest. Why is that?   A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to buying a house, pictures usually aren’t enough. Most buyers want to get a feel for the place and see if it actually feels like home. That’s something you can’t get from a picture. OpenHouseDay knows how important the open house visit is in the homebuying process, and our listing service gives the all-important in-person experience top billing. This means that you’ll attract more of the right kind of buyers—the ones who really want to find their new home quickly.   What OpenHouseDay’s Targeted Exposure Can Do for You   The truth is that the online real estate listing world is clogged with options. It’s easy for a buyer, or even an agent, to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of properties available in a specific area. Eventually, all the different pictures and descriptions start to run together. Open houses are more important than ever before because they allow buyers to take a deep dive into your specific property rather than measuring it against dozens of others in an online search.   Thanks to our innovative search tool, OpenHouseDay.com lets serious buyers focus in on the houses they can visit in person on a specific day of their choosing. Our property search feature allows users to set the day they’re planning to visit open houses and displays matching open house results first. Users can further narrow down their results using criteria like price, property type, and square footage so they’ll be sure to visit only those houses that fit their particular needs.   By claiming your property on OpenHouseDay when you’ve scheduled an open house on the MLS, (if not an MLS member you can list and schedule your open house directly on our platform), you’ll target buyers who really want to see the property in person and are serious enough to spend time touring the home. The best part is that when buyers or realtors use our service to search for open house results in your area, your property will stand apart from other comparable properties in the same area whenever you host an open house. Other properties that aren’t open on the same day won’t rank as highly in our search, which gives your property immediate exposure and benefit for buyers who want to conduct in-person research.   When it comes to standing apart from the crowd of online real estate listings, sometimes it’s the simple things that count. OpenHouseDay.com gives you an instant boost whenever you have an open house available, and that can be all it takes to quickly find the right buyer for any property.Note: Image credit: Pixabay    

SRES: An Option for Seniors Purchasing a Home

  SRES: An Option for Seniors Purchasing a Home  Regardless of whether this is your first time buying a home or your third, purchasing a home in your later years comes with a whole different set of possibilities and things to consider as you decide on a home you can comfortably age in (read more about the things you should consider here). Each season of life is unique and different, so why not enlist the help of someone who specializes in the season of life you are currently in – a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). What is an SRES?  According to Age In Place, an SRES is a specialty real estate agent whose focus is to address the needs of home buyers 50 years of age and up. In order for a real estate agent to earn the SRES designation, they must successfully complete an education program under the National Association of Realtors. By earning this designation, an SRES has “demonstrated necessary knowledge and expertise to counsel clients age 50+ through major financial and lifestyle transitions involved in relocating, refinancing, or selling the family home.”  An SRES knows the ins and outs of buying a home for aging seniors, including the search itself as well as financial options, important house features, and laws. When you purchase a home, it is important that you consider your current and future needs, and an SRES is trained to do so. An SRES has special knowledge in reverse mortgages, pensions, 401k accounts, and IRAS, and they can help you avoid loan schemes and scams.  What is an SRES Trained in?  Knowing that an SRES has gone through the training necessary to be able to successfully and confidently walk you through the home buying process is well and good, but what it is exactly that they were trained in? According to Senior Real Estate, an SRES is trained in:  ·      Methods for counseling 50+ buyers/sellers ·      Assembling a team of experts to serve you ·      Learning distinguishing characteristics and trends of the 50+ market ·      Identifying key life stages, viewpoints, and transitions involved in housing choices ·      Recognizing how a home can be modified or adapted for aging in place, comfort, and safety ·      Understanding how Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security impact 50+ housing decisions ·      Uses, benefits, issues, and procedures involved in reverse mortgages and other financing options  When thinking of an SRES, consider their designation as their degree or area of concentration. They are just like a regular real estate agent, but they took an extra class to be able to help people in a particular stage of life. An SRES can help make this life transition a little easier by making sure you have all your bases covered when it comes to choosing the right home to meet all of your needs. Real estate agent Lori Younder says, “Selecting an SRES to work with ensures that you are working with a trustworthy professional, who recognizes your interests as you construct your strategy to age in place.” An SRES tailors the entire process to you.  How to Find an SRES?  Finding an SRES is as simple as typing “SRES [your location]” into your favorite search engine or using the SRES locator tool. Consider calling local real estate brokerages in your area and asking if they have any realtors with the SRES designation. If they don’t, they may be able to point you in the right direction of someone who does.  The decision to purchase a home is a big life choice, and having someone by your side that understands that life choice can make the entire process so much easier and fun.  Image: PixabayArticle by Jim Vogel

Three Tips to Keep You Afloat for the Summer Real Estate Market in 2017

Every year as the summer season approaches, realtors jump with joy. The summer signifies much more than just exceptional weather if you’re in the Real Estate business. This particular season has been known to show an influx of activity during the months of April, May or June according to the National Association of Realtors in their report indicating the top 10 dates for home listings in 2016. It is imperative to be prepared with your best skills and strategies for the summer and to be ready, here are three essential tips to keep you in the game.   1. Stay in Touch With Contractors   The property shortages that took place in 2016 created a category of buyers that became hesitant in their search. As a result Realtors had a difficult time following through with potential clients. According to a recent Deloitte report, homebuilders’ confidence continues to rise, and housing starts are predicted to reach 1.5 million in 2017 up from last year’s 1.3 million. However, as inventory is still scarce, developing strong connections with contractors will keep you aware of new listings and help to ensure a steady stream of properties for the season.    2. Don’t Forget About Previous Clients   It is important not to let new clients distract you from previous relationships. It is important to stay in touch with past clients and remain in contact, share information with them that you gain which would be perceived as valuable and make it obvious to them why they enjoyed working together initially. One of the most beneficial ways to draw in new business is through referrals, so the greater of an impact you have on your clients and are able to maintain, the more likely it is that you will see repeat business through them and their networks alike.   3. Make Technology Your Friend   As many realtors try to avoid technology, by doing so they don’t realize truly the hindrance they are placing on their own success. The benefits of technology from field to field are endless, and it is important to be aware of all the different tools that will aid in the buying and selling processes. Different services such as 3- D home tours, paperless systems, and rapid digital transactions like e-signing can help differentiate your self from other realtors and make the process easier for clients. Inspired by Kris Miller - https://www.inman.com/2017/05/17/four-tips-surviving-summer-real-estate-market/        

Finding Assistance During Your Big Move: A Guide For Seniors

The time has come to start planning your big move, but there’s one lingering problem. How are you going to pack your belongings, move, and unpack again? You know you can’t do it alone.   There are several channels through which you can find assistance during your big move. In this article, we’re going to talk about five ways to get the help you need.   1.     Hire Movers   The easiest way to make your move is, of course, to hire movers. Real Simple outlines the process for you on its official website. Movers are convenient because they allow you to be hands-off during the moving process. Rather than worrying about heavy lifting, timing, and discomfort, you can relax and simply direct traffic.   However, there’s a distinct downside to hiring movers. While most service providers will move your belongings, you are still responsible for packing and unpacking an entire home of boxes. You are also responsible for sorting through your current home and throwing away unneeded or unwanted items. This process can take weeks, and movers can’t help you.   2.     Contact Friends and Family   One way to diminish the responsibility of sorting through belongings, packing, and unpacking alone is by asking your friends and family for assistance. While you don’t want to feel like a burden, you should understand that you have provided for your family until now. You aren’t asking for too much. In fact, the request for help is perfectly reasonable. The time to focus on yourself has finally come. Your family and friends will jump at the chance to help you. Enjoy it!   Angie’s List offers some great tips to help you ask your friends and family for assistance during this busy time.   3.     Look For Community Assistance   If you don’t have many friends or family members to ask, consider looking to your community for assistance. You can ask neighbors, volunteers, or other trusted sources to help you sort through your home and begin the moving process. You’ll find this is a good way to make friends, build relationships, and find out who truly cares.   You should, however, be wary of red flags. Groups of teenagers that you’ve never met, strangers with unknown connections, and shady characters may be looking to cause trouble. Don’t put your home or yourself in danger. Make sure each person helping you has at least one connection to someone in your life.   4.     Turn To Social Circles   Maybe you aren’t comfortable asking community members for assistance. If this is the case, consider your social circles. Are you a member of any groups? Do you go to church? The members of these communities not only know you, but care about you. Even if some members of your circle can’t help physically, they may be able to help financially.   5.     Ask Questions   Throughout the moving process, remember to ask questions. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. For example, a local moving service may offer packing and unpacking as part of its general services. Another company may be willing to help in special circumstances. Don’t be afraid to ask. Some of the best opportunities in life come from unexpected answers.   These are just five ways to find assistance during your senior move. While you may have to get rid of some things or move some items to storage if you’re downsizing (luckily there are services that offer free pickup), with the right help and the right investment, you’ll be more comfortable than ever in your new home.   Are you trying to help your parent or senior friend move? Change Is Good offers unique tips to keep in mind along the way.   Are you still looking for a new home for your parent or senior friend? OpenHouseDay is the best resource and easiest way to search for new homes on the market.Article Courtesy of: Jim Vogel 

Under Construction

When Adriana Marcil & her husband Adriano Rachid Marcil decided to buy what would be their first home in Los Angeles together, they were still living in Europe and depended on the internet to help their search. When they found "the one" in Rancho Palos Verdes, it was the location, outdoor space, and natural beauty that had lured them in. But it was the possibilities of what could be that truly won them over. At $1.7 million asking, the price was not the usual range that people look for to remodel an old-fashioned, quirky mid-century home. But Marcil blames her intuition and impulse for taking the leap. Two years later, and she's glad she did. "The house was on the market for about six months when I found it on RedFin," says Marcil. "A lot of people just couldn't imagine what you could do with it."The 6 bedroom, 3 bath home is tucked neatly into an inconspicuous dead-end street in the Miraleste zone of Palos Verdes. With a top of the mountain view and wild peacocks and fruit trees as part of their natural surroundings, the Marcils had much to start working with. They started their remodeling a year and a half ago with wall demolitions, new customs kitchen cabinets, skylights, and landscaping. Instead of renting a space while the remodeling took place, the Marcils decided to stick it out and stay throughout the process. In fact, they are still living amide the construction, which is expected to be finished at the end of June.  "We really took our time and wanted to honor the original style," she says. "One way we did this is by designing our custom kitchen cabinets to look almost exactly like the older, but termite infested originals." Despite the already rewarding end result of this $500,000 remodel, one of the biggest challenges has been to live on the property while remodeling. "The best thing about living on site is that you end up having more control and a chance to influence steps along the way," explains Marcil. "Even when you give instructions at the beginning of the day, what they do with the instructions may be different than what you imagined or wanted."Marcil's biggest tips:Find Your Corner: It’s important to try to isolate yourself away from the construction, whether it’s a room, a guest house, etc.. “Had we not had the pool house, it wouldn’t have been possible,” says Marcil.  “Having to waking up to dust with a baby is not ideal, especially during demolition the first month and a half.” Patience! Patience! Patience! Patience to the maximum! By being available at all times gives the contractor or construction worker the idea that you are actually available all the times. It opens the opportunity for anyone to pop in to ask you anything at any given time of the day. Sometimes it's as simple as whether you want something installed an inch up or down. It's important to work through this process with patience and understand that even though living in your home during construction gives you more control, you will also lose some of your privacy. So take a deep breath and... patience! Set Limits and Be Clear:  Expressing the hours of the day that you’re available is key. For example “I’m available from 12-4 for questions every day unless it's an emergency” is something you can make clear to the workers.  “It took us a few months to figure that out,” says Marcil.  “You have to know how to communicate clearly and effectively and put limits otherwise you become a slave to construction.” She adds that learning this point ultimately led them to making the decision to let go of the contractor after a few months. Had they not set limits, their project would have cost them a lot more time and money.