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!

Exercise

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.

Volunteer

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!

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!


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!


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!

 


5 Tips For Keeping Your House Cool & Your Energy Bill Low

thermometerSummer is coming to and end, but we still have some warm days left before the temperature
starts dropping. The heat of summer can force many homeowners to make a difficult choice – stay cool with AC but risk a sizeable electricity bill, or sweat it out and keep costs low? Thankfully, there are some easy and inexpensive ways to keep your house cool and your AC bill low this summer – here are some of our favorites.

  1. Night Air is Your Friend: Although the days may be hot, Mother Nature supplies us with an ample amount of cool air during the nighttime – so use it! Open your windows at night to let cool air in. If you’re willing to get up early in the morning to close them, this can make a huge difference in your daytime home temperature.
  2. Keep Your Unused Rooms Sealed: There’s no reason to try to cool rooms you aren’t using. Closing the doors to unused parts of the house makes the space you need to chill smaller and easier to manage, trapping cold air in.
  3. Change Our Your Lights: This one is great because it provides two benefits at once – switching from old incandescent bulbs to new CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs simultaneously lowers energy costs while cutting excess heat. More than 90% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is radiated as heat, so switching to CFLs is an easy way to cut costs and temperatures.
  4. Use Those Fans: It’s a small change, but using the exhaust fans in the bathroom or kitchen can help to blow hot air out of the house.
  5. Close the Blinds: No wonder your house is hot if you’ve got the sun streaming in all day! Close your blinds and curtains during the day to keep the suns rays – and the heat they bring – out of your house.

Contact Your Michigan Real Estate Experts

We hope these tips help you keep cool, and if you’re looking for a house of your own to beat the heat, we can help. Whether you move to Grand Rapids, Charlevoix, or any place in between, you’re not just buying a home, you’re buying a community – and we can help you find both. Feel free to check out our open houses or search for homes for sale in Michigan, and don’t forget to check back to this blog periodically for more tips and info on finding, living in, and maintaining a home of your own!