Warm Weather Homeowner Tips

In Michigan, we are finally having some consistently warm weather, so you know what that means: it’s time to ready your home for those rising temperatures!  Check out our tips below for quick and easy ways to make sure you stay cool and comfortable in the warm temps.

Get an A/C Tune Up

We know all too well that a nice summer day can quickly derail if the A/C unit isn’t working. So, protect yourself from sweltering temps by getting an A/C tune up. Many local companies offer tune up specials this time of year. Especially if your air conditioning unit was fully exposed to the elements, it’s good to have a professional take a look and make sure all fluids are still present, lines are in good condition and fans are functional.

Tune Up or Check Lawn Equipment

Especially if your lawn equipment was stored outdoors or in an outdoor shed all winter, now is the time to get it out and cross your fingers as you tug on that pull cord. Your lawn equipment will thank you (and you will be so much happier) if you check your oil levels, replace with new gasoline (if needed) and clean out any debris that may be left from last season.

Clean your Windows and Screens

This one is less for actual functionality, and more just quality of life! Enjoying those gorgeous summer views from clean windows is sure to improve your mood each day. Plus, cleaning your screens can help with indoor air quality, can help keep mold growth down and can save time and money on repeat window cleaning.

Inspect Outdoor Plumbing

As you clean up your lawn, add the extra step to carefully inspect your outdoor plumbing. It may be rainy enough now that the lawn doesn’t need watering, or your plants are already growing like weeds, but inspecting now can save you valuable time when you do need to water the lawn, fill up the pool, or play in those sprinklers! This may be a great time to call in a professional if you do see anything wrong.

Plan for Summer Days Outside

Do you have a pool, playscape or outdoor patio furniture? Now is the time to get those items out, clean them and then relax. If you do have a pool or outdoor water feature, make sure you follow proper guidelines or consult a professional. For playscapes and patio furniture, use this time to tighten any loose screws, check for anything that could splinter or cut, and oil any chains or attachments if needed.

Clean Out the Mudroom

Finally, we can say goodbye to the winter jackets and snow boots. Assess the quality of each family member’s clothing – is it time to retire the old jacket from the 90’s? Do the kiddo’s snow boots that they used once not fit anymore? Donate whatever can be and toss the rest. Remember, you can use Marie Kondo’s tips to tackle the mudroom. Then bring out your sneakers, flip flops, light jackets and hats!

 

Feeling like that backyard or outdoor space is not the right fit anymore? Springtime means the spring real estate market, so we have tons of available homes to choose from! Start your search today at bhhsmi.com.


Eco Friendly Tips for Your Home

Each and every day, our REALTORS® try to be good stewards for our communities and environment.  There are a ton of ways we, as homeowners, can impact the environment for the better! The key is to start small, in whatever ways you can and build from there.

1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

We’re taking it back to the basics for our first tip – but it is so critical! Make sure that you are reducing your consumption of products that may clog landfills, like Styrofoam packing materials, plastic single use bottles, etc.  Switch to reusable whenever you can, like aluminum water bottles or fabric grocery totes. Recycle whenever possible – this is a great way to get the kids involved too.

2. Change Your Gardening Routine

Rather than using harmful pesticides to keep your garden and lawn work together, switch to something that is pollinator friendly like all-natural fertilizers.  Pollinators are incredibly important in food production and atmosphere maintenance from plant life, and pesticides threaten many of those species, like bees.

3. Plant a Tree

This is a great family friendly activity. Studies show that by planting one tree, you can help to combat the effects global greenhouse gas emissions. And you and your family will enjoy your contribution for years to come. Can’t plant a tree in your space? The Canopy Project is a great organization that plants one tree for every dollar donated.

4. Lower your water consumption

Water is a renewable resource, yet much of the world does not have access to clean and safe water. And while water might be one of your lowest utility bills this month, there are a lot of savings to be had! Consider turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving, install low flow shower heads or high efficiency flush toilets to use less of this precious resource.

5. Explore LEED or Energy Star Certification

Looking at a new construction project, or building a new home? Consider asking your REALTOR® for their recommendation on a LEED certified builder to help with your home. The LEED program provides guidelines for building a more-eco-friendly home and LEED certified properties are becoming more and more popular. Not building a new home? Try looking for new Energy Star appliances to give your home a mini boost.


5 Ways to Up Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal typically brings to mind spring planting, weeding, lawn maintenance, and maybe some hardscaping to bring definition to your garden. But some of our favorite curb appeal tips have nothing to do with your yard! Take a look at our top 5 tips below for curb appeal that wows.

1. It’s all about color.

One of the first things buyers always seem to notice is color! So, give your front porch a little love with a fresh coat of paint to your front door, or some fun furniture accents. We’re loving this cabernet colored door, or may we suggest an outdoor chair or pillow in the Pantone Color of the Year, Living Coral? 

*photo credit to Pantone LLC.


2. You’ve got mail.

A fresh new take on this staple for any home could be just what you need. Be sure to check your neighborhood or HOA for any rules/restrictions, but you can freshen up where you receive your daily mail for very little investment, just by visiting your local hardware store. Try a new pedestal or roadside mailbox, or this modern wall mount mailbox is sure to stand out.


3. Improve Your Numbers

House numbers have become something of a trend in recent years, and for good reason!  They are such a quick and easy way to update the look of your entry way. Try a modern new display with chic metallics and dark wood tones,  get crafty with a planter/numbers combo, or get custom numbers carved into metal, like this example. There are so many options, and all add a little flair.


4. Let Your Light Shine

Outdoor lighting can add another level to your curb appeal – especially for people who may be house hunting in the early evening hours.  Think about how welcoming a brightly lit entry way feels compared to one that is dark and hidden. Help buyers see your hard work by adding new sconce lighting or some trendy Edison lightbulb strands.


5. Power Wash the Dirt Away

So simple, and we know we keep telling you that cleaning is key, but it really is! If you don’t own a power washer, renting one for the day from a local hardware store can be a huge game changer for your curb appeal. Buyers will see a fresh clean house as they walk up and instantly feel welcome and at home.

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Top 5 Home Staging Tips You NEED To Know

So, you spent the time in January and February to completely Marie Kondo your home, and it isn’t sparking joy in your life any longer. Maybe it’s time to think about selling? Our REALTORS® are here to help you every step of the way, including whether or not you should sell your home – but if you decide that is the next step, here are some of our favorite home staging tips!

  1. De-clutter & Clean

You’ve already got that decluttering down, right? (If not – check out our series on how to tidy up your home!) Cleaning is of utmost importance when staging and selling your home. Wipe down countertops and clean mirrors regularly, especially in preparation for a showing. Insure floors are clean, check out the inside of appliances (especially if you are selling them with the home) and dust, dust, dust! Not into cleaning? That’s ok, our REALTORS® can recommend resources to help with this.

  1. De-personalize Your Space

Homebuyers want to picture themselves in your space. By removing personal items, like family photos, unique design choices, bathroom toiletries, and anything overtly religious, you allow the buyer to see their photos, their design, their toiletries, etc. Now, you don’t need to do any major renovating to achieve this, nor do you need to clear everything away – you’re aiming for comfortable and charming.

  1. Stage Kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom First

The kitchen, living room and master bedroom are the three most lived in rooms in a home. Because of that, homebuyers often make their decisions based on these spaces! Create an environment that helps to showcase the best assets of these rooms, and you will help homebuyers picture themselves living life there too.

  1. Well Placed Color Can Go A Long Way

Most home staging tips will say neutral everything is the key. But some well-placed color can help your home feel vibrant, exciting, adventurous, or calming, serene and comforting. When thinking about color in your home, stick to items like throw pillows, rugs, blankets or fresh flowers to add color – you take those things with you, so the buyer won’t feel stuck with a bright orange wall or pink carpet.

  1. Consult the Professionals

Feeling overwhelmed with our first four tips? That’s where we come in. Our REALTORS® can help guide your home staging choices, and even recommend some trusted industry partners. Feeling eager to get going? Contact a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate agent today!


Top Four Reasons a BHHSMI Realtor® is Good to Know™

We often say a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate Agent is Good to Know™, but what does that really mean? Our company growth is dependent on every carefully chose member of our team, so when you choose a BHHSMI REALTOR® to help buy or sell your home, you’re choosing a leader in the industry.  Here’s our pick for the top four reasons a BHHSMI agent is the best option for your real estate transaction.

  1. We are part of a worldwide organization of trusted real estate experts. Not every real estate company has the name Berkshire Hathaway backing it. When you work with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network agent, you can trust in their strength, integrity, and universal integrity.
  2. We are one of the largest networks of REALTORS® in Michigan and Northern Indiana. Coming in second for number of agents in Michigan, BHHSMI has one of the largest networks of any real estate company. This means we have one of the largest referral networks, and cover the largest area – which is a good thing for you! A larger network means more offers on your home as a seller, and more potential homes for you to see as a buyer.
  3. We are real estate experts. When it comes to real estate knowledge, no one beats BHHSMI. Our agents spend countless hours each week learning how to serve you better. Whether finding new ways to market listings, researching local areas and communities or brushing up on their legal knowledge, you can count on our experts to get you the best results.
  4. We are marketing gurus. Our marketing services start on day one. We are there to help determine selling price, suggest minor or major repairs to help get top dollar, and we use the best tools in the market to get more eyes on your home. Our national marketing ensures that the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices name is in front of home buyers regularly, our listings are seen on over 100 real estate websites, and we advertise our properties on Facebook and in local information sources. And home buyers – this is good for you too! Knowing where to market a home means we also know where to go to find you that new home.

 

Ready to take the first step in selling your home or buying a new home?  Contact one of our REALTORS® today.


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson Five

The final lesson in the KonMari Method™ is sentimental items. As REALTORS® this is one of the hardest things to discuss with our clients when selling their homes. Too many sentimental items in your house, or items that match your unique tastes can turn off some potential buyers. Like the other lessons in Marie’s method, lesson five can immediately contribute to your bottom line when selling your home. And like some of the other lessons, it can also be very difficult!

To start, save all sentimental items for the end of the tidying process. If you encountered any of those items in steps 1-4, now is the time to bring them out. These items are often difficult to tidy because we have an emotional connection with them. Perhaps that drawing is from your child who is now grown and has moved out of the house, and you miss that younger time. Perhaps that item of clothing was from a time when you went through a lot of changes, and you have a lot of respect for that time in your life. Perhaps a loved one has passed, and that item or antique was given to you from that loved one.

The best part about Marie’s method is that we can decide what is important to us and what sparks joy for us. If those items do spark joy and you will revisit them, good news, you can keep them! But they shouldn’t be buried in a tub in the basement or the garage. They should be where you can easily get to them each day. Don’t want to see those items each day? That is when to evaluate if it truly sparks joy.

That wraps up our series on Marie Kondo! Have you tried any of her tidying tips? Is your home no longer sparking joy? Our REALTORS® can help with that.


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson Four

Komono is the miscellaneous items category. And there is one thing we know for sure: komono is just about EVERYTHING. If it isn’t clothing, books or papers, it is komono. It left us yelling “THAT IS SO MUCH STUFF MARIE!”

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Just like Marie’s other lessons, komono is so important when selling your home. As REALTORS® we know that personal items and clutter can prevent a buyer from seeing themselves in a home. Home buyers peek into drawers and cupboards, in kitchens and bathrooms to see how they can store their belongings.  So, this category is actually the most important! One of our favorite rooms with a lot of komono is the kitchen.  Kitchens are one of the top features that home buyers look for, and a well maintained and organized kitchen can mean valuable dollars at the negotiating table!

The process starts the same: bring everything out! Remove everything from your pantry, bring out all of your dishes and Tupperware, and put them somewhere you can see them all at once.  Then, sorting through the items one at a time, make sure each item sparks joy, and will be useful for you moving forward. Especially in the pantry, this is a great time to remove anything expired!

Once you are ready to re-store your items, make sure you keep them in categories – group like food items together, group similar dishes together. Marie also recommends using clear containers when possible, so you can see what you have and how much of it. We love this tip, because it helps when showing your house as well! When a buyer sees that you have plenty of room for all of your dishes – both every day and seasonal or limited use, they will instantly imagine they can store all of their items as well. Not to mention how handy it will be to have all of your snacks in one spot!

One REALTOR® tip as you are evaluating your food and kitchen goods – if you find that an item is no longer practical for you, or no longer sparks joy, but is still functional and not yet expired, consider donating these items to your favorite local charity like shelters, food pantries or soup kitchens! Establishments like this often rely on donations to help a lot of people, so you can clear out your clutter and help others at the same time!


Tidying Up When Selling – Lessons Two and Three

Home offices, or bonus rooms can be a big selling feature for many homebuyers. But what happens when your valuable extra space is cluttered with bills, papers, books and more? Buyers start to see the space as a burden rather than a bonus! That’s where lesson two and three on the KonMari Method™ come in especially handy!

Lesson two focuses on books.

These could be adult, child, textbook, novels, dictionaries – if it has a binding and you’ve been holding on to it, time to tidy it up! The process for books is the same one you followed for clothing: get everything out and pile it on the floor or a table. Then evaluate one at a time if the book sparks joy for you. Marie also points out here that you should consider whether the books will be valuable to you moving forward.  And do not forget to thank each book for its service to you as you tidy.

Lesson three is all about papers.

These seem like they would be a little easier to judge whether to keep it according to the KonMari Method™ but we actually found this really hard! Cards, artwork, little notes can often hold a lot of sentimental value! Remember, Marie’s 5th category is sentimental items, and she recommends completing those last. So, if you’re finding something too difficult, save it for later in the process.  Each paper that you keep should fit in to 1 of the 3 categories in the method.

  1. Pending: these are papers that you need to take action on. Think bills, a letter you haven’t yet responded to, that notice to make a check-up at the doctor or dentist. Sort these in their own location so you can attend to them in a timely way.
  2. Important: It seems self-explanatory, but these are papers that you need to keep permanently, like insurance forms, contracts, etc. Sort them somewhere they are protected – we recommend a fireproof safe where you can also store bank documents, passports, birth certificates and more. And remember, all of the papers should be together, so keep your safe with your other papers.
  3. Miscellaneous: these papers are items you want to refer back to regularly and ones you want or need to read frequently. This could be magazine clippings, recipes, seminar notes, instructional manuals, etc.

When you take care to tidy up that bonus room or office, it will have buyers singing praises of your home’s space and will help them picture their life in your home.

 

 

 

 


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson One

The first lesson in the KonMari Method™ is to evaluate and tidy your clothing. Closet and storage space is one of the top 10 items that homebuyers tell our REALTORS® they need in their new home, so Marie is on to something here!

To get started with your clothing, you have to make a little mess.  Pile all of your clothing in one place – a bed or a living room floor work well. Kondo says that when you see all of the clothing you own, you are more aware of how much you actually have and it will make the process easier.

Once everything is out of drawers or out of the closet, you need to hold each piece one at a time and determine if that piece sparks joy in your life. If it does, simple, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you have to keep in mind if you truly need it or not – for example, an undershirt might not be particularly exciting or spark that excitement for you, but you may need them to wear other clothing that does spark joy.  Not sure how to know what sparks joy?  Our last blog post gives you some examples.

As you pick the items you will keep, Marie has very specific folding instructions.  Check out her youtube page to see all of the methods!

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Aside from the benefit of giving you more closet space, we are really loving the focus on only keeping things that spark joy.  Each and every day, our REALTORS® help homeowners find joy in their homes. We believe in finding that special new home to start your next chapter or the perfect new owners to love your home the way you have.

So, take a look around – does your home spark joy? Give us a call, and let’s make Marie proud!

Tidying Up When Selling

If you’ve been online in the last two weeks, you know one thing for certain: Marie Kondo is taking over!

From her #1 New York Times best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, her proven KonMari Method™, and her new Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”,  Marie is everywhere. It seems everyone is cleaning up and clearing out for the new year, so that made us curious – could you use Marie’s methods to help sell your house? Through the rest of this month, we’ll take a look at the strategies Kondo uses, and give you some great tips to get that house ready for the market!

First up, we need to understand the KonMari Method™.  The biggest differentiator between Kondo’s method and other method’s you’ve tried before is her approach – rather than organizing room by room and never finishing, KonMari gives you 6 basic rules.

Rule #1: Commit yourself to tidying up.
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Okay Marie, we’re ready!

Rule #2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
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Our REALTORS® can help you realize this – whether your ideal lifestyle rests in your current home, or if it rests in a new dwelling, imagining the lifestyle someone can live in your home is key to selling (and buying!)

Rule #3: Finish discarding first.
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Makes sense – the saying doesn’t go ‘In with the new and out with the old!’ And discarding is going to do wonders to sell your home.

Rule #4: Tidy by category, not by location.
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This is the biggest difference in the KonMari Method™. We’ve been going room by room for too long! By focusing on categories, you insure everything can be organized as it needs to, all in one fell swoop. Remember when you perfectly organized the office and had everything in its place, only to realize there was a hidden stack of papers in the bedroom? No? Was that just us? Okay, moving on…

Rule #5: Follow the right order.
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I know, I know, the kitchen clutter is calling our name too! Afterall, REALTORS® know that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. But there is a method to Marie’s cheerful madness and we already committed to stick with it.

Rule #6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

We’re going to let Marie do the talking here:

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Whatever you want to call them, your items should spark a physical emotion – goosebumps, chills, smiles, happy tears, etc.  Everything you keep should give you that reaction.

In our next blogs, we will explore each of Marie’s categories to tidying: Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono, and Sentimental Items. Stay tuned!
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