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.
Excited Marie Kondo GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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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Top 10 Activities to Do This Winter Break

Need to get out of the house this winter break? These are our favorite activities, in no particular order, to try with your friends and family!

Ice Skating

Find a local ice rink that has open skating hours, or to up the fun, hit one of Michigan’s many outdoor pop-up rinks! There’s Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Campus Martius Park in Detroit, and Millenium Park in Portage. Try searching for one near you!

Build a Snowman

Now this might be a tricky one this year, as not much snow is in the forecast for Michigan the next couple weeks, but if we do get some fresh flakes, try to create one of these snow person masterpieces!

Go skiing or snowboarding

Northern Michigan has some absolutely wonderful ski resorts, who regularly keep their mountains covered in fresh powder. Not a fan of the ski lift or can wrap your head around the snowboard? We love a good time by the fire in the lodge!

Go on a winter hike or walk

This one is especially great along one of our amazing Michigan beaches! Watch the waves roll in and create the phenomenon known as “ice balls” – they usually happen every year.  Just be sure to wear some warm outerwear – it gets windy this time of year.

Shovel snow for your neighbors

We love this one! Have a neighbor who could use some extra help around the holiday? Get out and shovel their walkway or ask if there is anything else you can help with outside their home. Our agents are constantly looking for ways to give back, and this is an easy way to make someone’s day.

Take a holiday lights tour

Holiday lights tours are very popular this year, and for good reason! The light displays are often fun and whimsical, and the perfect thing to do in the evening. Try a professional one like these or create your own light tour by driving through your own neighborhood!

Visit an Indoor Waterpark or your favorite museum

Need some warmth but still want to get out of the house? Try visiting one of Michigan’s amazing indoor waterparks or visit a public museum – many have decreased ticket prices during winter break.

Try a new Restaurant

New place in town that you’ve been dying to try? Now’s the time!


Feeling a little sluggish after those holiday meals? Get started on your resolution early and hit your local gym, or try a fun group fitness class like Yoga or Zumba.


Even after the holidays are over, your favorite local charities need your help! All for Good is an online hub to get connected with service opportunities in your community.


Last Minute Gifts for Homeowners

Rushing to find all of your last-minute gifts for this holiday season? Don’t worry, so are we! We’ve got great gifts for every homeowner in your life.  And BONUS: all of these can still get to you before the holiday!

For the Tech Savvy Homeowner:

Technology has the power to make every homeowner’s life easier. Give the tech savvy homeowner in your life one of these great gifts and you’ll be sure to get on their new favorite list!

  • Video Doorbell like Ring or Nest
  • Smart home assistants like the Google Home or Amazon Alexa
  • Wake Up Light alarm clock – we think this one is just so cool. Such a unique way to wake up if traditional alarm clocks fail you.
  • Smart TV like Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast or Roku
  • For the pet lovers in your life, try this awesome dog camera (this is going straight into our Amazon carts!)
  • Autonomous vacuum cleaners like the Roomba keep your home clean even when you’re on the go. Perfect for those with little kiddos or pets and their fur.

REALTOR® Favorite: the perfect accessory for any home, an LED toilet bowl light. For when regular lighting just won’t do.

For the Entertainer:

You can absolutely expect to come across this type of homeowner on your gift list – chances are they are hosting you this holiday! For the entertainers in your life, you cannot go wrong with one of these.

REALTOR® Favorite: Dinosaur taco holders. Okay, not so gag, just fun and so functional!

For the New Homeowner:

New homeowners need all sorts of things, trust us! But these gift ideas are sure to be both practical and fun!

  • Nothing says “I’m a new homeowner” more than the mini tool kit you probably gave them when they moved out. Time for an upgrade! Get that new homeowner a multi-tool set so they’ll be covered, that way, they too can enjoy trying all of the sockets before finding the right size.
  • Quality linens, towels or blankets. Same here – time for an upgrade. Out with the old, and in with the new! Plus, old towels make great things to keep in a garage or basement, just in case.
  • New homeowners are likely going to be welcoming guests to their home quite a bit. Help them be the host or hostess with the mostess by gifting a Bluetooth speaker, like this one!
  • See above – new homeowners host guests a lot. Gift a cute serving tray, or charcuterie board for those impromptu get togethers!

REALTOR® Favorite: Bug vacuum. Like a normal vacuum, but for bugs. Because no one likes creepy crawlies in their new home!

Stocking Stuffers

Keeping gifts small this year, or looking for simple things to pop in a stocking? These are all inexpensive options for the homeowner in your life.

  • Batteries – because nothing derails Christmas morning like only having 2 batteries when you need 4.
  • Command Hooks – we retract our previous statement. Nothing derails Christmas morning like hammering a nail into the wall. Command strips and hooks are so much easier, trust us!
  • Home improvement gift cards. So easy to pick up (at multiple locations or online). Check out the big chain stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards, but don’t forget your local shops well. They likely have gift cards or certificates as well!
  • Save their coffee table and gift these fun state pride coaster sets from Uncommon Goods

REALTOR® Favorite: Silicone pot holders, but in the shape of lobster claws. Or alligator mouths. We can’t get enough of these fun animal options!

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!


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!

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

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!

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.

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.


Core Services

All of Your Real Estate Needs Under One Roof!

As a full-service real estate brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate and Tomie Raines REALTORS®, we provide a large variety of services to our clients.

What are our services?

We have the ability to provide a “one-stop-shop” to our clients with four additional Core Services: Home Warranty REsource, Insurance REsource, Title REsource and Lake Michigan Credit Union.


To find properties for sale near you or to find an agent, Click Here.