December 10, 2018
Holiday Hosting Tips

Do you have out of town guests coming to stay with you this holiday? Hosting extended family for a large meal? Feeling a little unprepared or overwhelmed? We’ve got the best tips from our REALTORS® for hosting this holiday season!

Make a List & Check it Twice

Making a list is going to set you off on the right foot as you prepare for your holiday hosting. You can organize everything that needs to be done inside and outside of your home, food you want to serve, activities you want to plan, put it all in a list!

Tidy Up

When you have guests over, whether that be for one evening or a week-long stay, you want things to be organized and clean, so you don’t have to stress during their stay.  Start by putting clutter away, especially in high traffic areas like the kitchen and living room. Then focus on cleaning floors, surfaces and windows. REALTOR® tip: imagine you are trying to sell your home for top dollar – less is more!

Stock Extras

Nothing ruins a party quite like running out of toilet paper!  Make sure you add household needs like paper towel, napkins, disposable tableware if you need it, and yes, toilet paper, to your grocery list. You’ll also want to stock extra snacks if your guests are staying overnight – crackers or cookies that you can grab quickly and easily will just add that extra touch for your guests.  REALTOR® tip: make a small welcome kit for visitors – with small travel size shampoos or toothpaste – you’ll be the hero of their stay with little pieces like this!

Decorations

Every REALTOR® knows that curb appeal and staging are key to selling a home – but it is no different for hosting around the holidays! Spruce up your entrance both inside and out – it’s the first thing your guests will see.  Keep your decorations easy and stress free by re-using pieces in your home year-round or adding small touches of holiday greenery to existing décor.  Dn’t forget to set the mood for your gathering using sounds and scents. Also, check out our blog last week for REALTOR® tips for decorating: https://www.bhhsmichiganrealestate.com/blog/5-holiday-decorating-tips/

Food & Drinks

When it comes to preparing your menu, go with items that will earn you big points while taking minimal work.  Include dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or eaten at room temperature, so you don’t have to cook all day to get a meal out. Absolutely let the store help you out here – pre-made cheese trays or side dishes are definitely your friend! You could also opt for buffet style instead of plated meals – people can serve themselves and it is less fuss for you. For drinks, keep your guests in mind – have a few alcoholic and a few non-alcoholic options available, plus don’t forget options for kiddos if they are joining.

Ready for the Party to End?

We’ve all been there. You’re exhausted and ready for bed, but your guests are still having a great time! Start wrapping the party up by lowering the music, turning on some lights, and blowing out any candles. Dole out leftovers in some fun to-go boxes, and if all else fails, start cleaning. Trust us, they’ll get the message!

Not hosting this year?

Don’t forget some small host/hostess gifts! REALTOR® tip: stock up on small gifts all year long, and you won’t be caught off guard this time of year looking for the perfect thing to bring to the party. Here’s a few options to get you started:

 

Above everything else, make sure you have fun this holiday season, whether you are hosting 2 or 20 people. Enjoy time with your guests, and try not to stress over the rest!

December 3, 2018
5 Holiday Decorating Tips

What does your home feel like around the holidays? Cozy and warm, colorful and bright, organized chaos (or just plain chaos)? Today, our REALTORS® are sharing their tips and tricks for decorating inside and outside this holiday season.  Did we miss any? Share your favorite decorating tips below!

Color is your friend!
  • Feel free to experiment with some out of the box colors like gold, silver and pinks! Not everything needs to be red, green and white.
  • Garlands everywhere! I love introducing greenery throughout the house. Pinecones add a great touch too.
  • Develop a theme by collecting items that work well together. For example, several pillows on a similar color scheme can tie together any living room decor!
  • Try white as a base color – all of your favorite holiday colors pop against a crisp white background.
Using Scent to Decorate
  • Scent is one of the strongest senses tied to memory, so to create those happy holiday memories, use essential oils or other products to add those classic holiday scents! We love cinnamon, clove, spruce and orange together for a great aroma.
  • Have an artificial Christmas tree, but missing that pine scent? Use real wreaths or sprigs of real pine throughout your home to get the same impact.
Collections are Key
  • Don’t shy away from multiples! A collection of nutcrackers, dreidels, portraits and others can look amazing featured on a mantel or hearth.
  • Classic design tip – decorate in threes! Small vignettes in groups of 3 really catch the eye.
  • Use what you’ve got – don’t feel like you need to completely re-work your existing decorations. Re-purpose collections and containers that are useful all year round by switching out fresh items like greenery or wintery flowers.
  • Extra ornaments? Put them in a large glass jar or bowl and decorate a countertop or bookshelf too!
Cherish the Memories
  • Don’t knock craft projects or your kiddos’ homemade decorations. Chances are, you’ll treasure these more than the store-bought stuff.
  • Remember to take photographs! Whether you use the same decorations year after year, or try something different each holiday season, record those memories in photos. Then use the photos in next year’s decor.
Storage Tips

November 21, 2018
Shop Like a Pro This Black Friday

‘Tis the season for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday deals! But how do you get the best bang for your buck when shopping for your home? If you are in the market for new appliances, furniture, home décor, or more, we gathered some helpful tips below so you can shop like a pro!

Tip #1

Check big box stores for early Black Friday or even early Cyber Monday deals. Many will offer deep discounts and extra perks like free delivery or installation. If you do want to venture out for Black Friday sales, make sure you plan your trip ahead of time. Will the stores I want to check be open early? Are there anticipated lines to wait in? All good things to think about and plan for before you hit the road.

REALTOR® tip: Check reviews to make sure you’ll be happy with your purchase and think about talking with your favorite BHHS agent as well – we love offering tips on what type of features homebuyers are looking for and what can give you the best return on your investment!

Tip #2

Consider shopping local on Small Business Saturday. Money you spend with a small, local business often results in money that directly benefits your local community. Plus, a local business can likely provide ongoing support for your purchase if needed – which sure can come in handy if the new fridge goes on the fritz.

Read about Small Business Saturday here.
Follow the adventure on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shopsmall/

REALTOR® tip: Talk with your favorite BHHS agent when shopping local – we often have some extra savings and connections with area businesses! And be sure to share your Small Business Saturday shopping with us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bhhsmichiganrealestate/

Tip #3

Do your research. Some ‘Black Friday deals’ are actually anything but. Reviewing things like model numbers, price histories and reviews to make sure the item you are buying is actually the one you want. Many companies provide those Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts by creating a similar product that may have fewer features or enhancements.

Tips from the Today Show

Advice from Consumer Reports

REALTOR® tip: Take a look at what you want to purchase ahead of your Black Friday trip. Write down model numbers and prices so you can compare on the day. Just like shopping for a dream home, you have to know what you’re looking for, so you can strike when the time comes!

November 9, 2018
Tips for Homeowners in Winter

Winter is here!

As REALTORS®, we know that winter can be a lot of fun (snow forts and hot cocoa, anyone?), but it can also cause a lot of headaches for homeowners.  When the ground begins to freeze, and snow starts to stick, there are a few things homeowners can do to prepare! Have you checked these off your list yet?

Outside:
  • Clean your gutters and drainage pipes – clogged pipes could prevent water and snow from draining off your roof
  • Insure your roof is in good shape to avoid leaks or ice dams throughout the winter
  • Be sure to rake your leaves and mow that lawn one last time before the snow hits
  • If you celebrate the season with outdoor décor, get those lights or characters up before it becomes too cold
  • Disconnect and store any garden hoses or patio furniture
  • Cover or protect any plants for the season
Inside:
  • Have your heating system inspected or maintained and replace filters if needed
  • Insure furniture or other items are away from heating vents
  • Clean and test any fireplaces or chimneys
  • Check windows and doors for any air leaks – sealing, repairing or replacing these can save you lots of $$ in energy costs
  • Stock up on blankets, hot cocoa, and your favorite winter snacks
  • Get the jackets, gloves, snow pants and boots out of storage – when the snow hits, you don’t want to delay making that snow man!

 

What else do you do to prepare for winter? Share your tips in the comments below!

 

October 31, 2018
We’re Answering your Questions About Real Estate Agents! (Part Two)

Buyer’s Agents

You’re getting ready to buy your first home and you’ve been doing tons of research online. Maybe you’ve attended a couple of open houses and you’ve been dreaming about your own future new house. The possibilities are endless and this is an exciting time in your life, but then reality kicks in and the process can be overwhelming! Where should you start? Let us help break it down for you with some of the most commonly asked questions and answers!

Should I hire a real estate agent to help guide me through the process? What about those high fees?

Yes! You should absolutely hire a buyer’s agent when purchasing a home.  What most people don’t know is that using a buyer’s agent won’t cost you anything! Agent commissions are paid by the seller at the time of the closing.

What are some other benefits of having a buyer’s agent?

REALTORS® are experts in the industry and are familiar with market trends and local neighborhood data, zoning ordinances etc.  Their experience and knowledge is valuable and they handle the logistics to make the process as smooth as possible and less stressful for you!  Some other benefits include:

  • Explanation/navigation through the home buying process
  • Referrals to recommended lenders, inspectors, title officers, etc.
  • Finding listings and touring homes with you
  • Access to local comparable homes and sold data
  • Writing purchase agreements and negotiating offers
  • Coordinating inspections
  • Ensuring terms of deal are met/maintaining schedule to close
Great! That makes sense. So should I just call the agent advertised on the listing to hire them?

You can certainly do that, but it is recommended that you interview and hire your own agent.  A buyer’s agent works solely for you and has only your best interest in mind.  If you work with the seller’s agent, it’s important to know that this agent was hired by the seller and their first goal is to have the seller’s best interest in mind. It is best to have your own representation.

What are some things I should consider when interviewing potential agents?

Do your homework and interview a few different real estate agents with various brokerages.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be up front about the fact that you’re interviewing other agents before making any decisions.  Select the agent that you’re most comfortable working with and has the best knowledge of current market trends in your desired neighborhoods. Once you’ve hired your agent you can start seeing homes and taking steps toward your future!

Where can I find real estate agents to interview?
  • Your local Association of REALTORS®
  • Referrals from family and friends
  • Online search engines
  • Social Media – ie. Looking for Recommendations on Facebook

Please be sure to follow our blog for more home buying tips and tricks.

October 24, 2018
We’re Answering your Questions About Real Estate Agents! (Part One)

What is a real estate agent?

Real estate agents assist clients in buying and selling real estate property. They’re licensed professionals with extensive knowledge of current market and industry trends.  They’re experts in negotiation and professionally trained to understand all paperwork and handle any issues that may arise during the sale.  Simply stated, they take the stress out of buying or selling your home!

Are there different kinds of real estate agents?

Although all licensed REALTORS® can assist you with both buying and selling, there is a difference in the duties performed depending on if they are working for a buyer (Buyer’s Agent) or seller (Seller’s Agent).  It’s highly recommended that you hire a real estate agent that is working exclusively for you and has your best interest in mind.

 In some cases an agent may represent both the buyer and seller in a single transaction.  In this event, all parties must sign a disclosure which acknowledges the agent is working for both parties.

What is the difference between a Buyer’s Agent and Seller’s Agent?
  • Buyer’s Agents work exclusively for the buyer with their best interest in mind. They can assist with searching for desired properties, setting up and attending showings with the client, performing market research to ensure that list price is fair and writing up and negotiating offers on behalf of the client.
  • Seller’s Agents work exclusively for the seller with their best interest in mind. They will do market research to fairly select the list price of the home, recommend improvements that may need to be made in order for the home to sell quickly or at a higher price, market the property to prospective buyers, hold open houses and review offers with the seller.
Why do I want/need a real estate agent to help me?

Purchasing real estate is a big decision and commitment.  You definitely want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible and paperwork is filed and recorded properly to avoid potential legal issues or hassles later.  

What are the fees associate with real estate agents and who pays them?

 Most real estate agents are paid on a commission basis.  Fees are calculated based on a percentage of the home sale and paid to the agents at the time of closing on the property.  The seller pays the commission on the sale and that fee is typically split between the buying and selling agent.  

A few real estate brokerages will offer the option of flat fee or “limited services” agreements where the seller can pay a one-time fee for the agent to facilitate specific duties such as reviewing transaction paperwork or listing the property for sale on the local MLS.