Homeowner Tips

5 Tips for Organizing Your Garage

5 Tips for Organizing Your Garage

Many of us have a garage but, don’t use it to store our car in. The reason? Too much stuff! Garages often end up neglected messy spaces that accumulate a plethora of items over time. Organizing your garage will not only make it look better it will also enable you to get a lot more use out of it.

Ceiling Storage – for less than $100 in materials this is an easy DIY project that will make better use of your garages space. Store items in ceiling storage that you don’t use regularly such as holiday decorations. If you'll be storing heavy items be sure to secure the storage system into the studs.

Garage Ceiling Storage

Wall Storage – from garden tools to a ladder there is so much you can store when you have the ability to hang it on the wall. Magnetic wall strips are also a great idea to secure tools with. The best part is you can customize the wall storage to fit your needs.

Install a Workbench- a workbench creates an easy space to work on projects and still keep the garage looking neat and tidy. Short on space? Consider a work bench that can fold up against the wall when you’re not using it.

Garage Wall Storage

Bike Storage- if you’re constantly shifting the bikes around or worse hitting them with your car door consider creating vertical bike storage. You can also buy hooks (very inexpensive) and hang the bikes from the ceiling. Just make sure the hooks are secure!

Screw / Nail Storage – we’ve all had loose screws and nails rolling around the garage. Save those old gum containers (think Orbit White style containers) and label them for the different nails or screws you have.

Garages are great for many types of storage and with the right systems in place can also be organized and visually appealing. Maximize your space, including the garage to enjoy every asset your home has to offer.


    1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

    5 New Year's Resolutions For Your Home

    Stream line your stuff and declutter
    No excuses — that clutter has got to go! Start by creating more storage space so you can stash stuff easily. You’ve probably got storage solutions you didn’t know you had. Put up a high shelf between the walls of a narrow hallway, and tuck storage in out-of-the-way nooks, such as under-stairs spaces and between wall studs. If your home is tight on space, don’t despair: There’s still room for storage. Shoe organizers ($20) do more than hold shoes — use them to store keys, notepads, and cell phones. This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. I promise you it will make you feel good!

    Budget For A Home Remodeling Project
    Most of us have changes we’d like to make to our homes but, few of us actually ever get around to doing them. Start planning and setting aside money for the updated kitchen or bathroom you’d like to have. If you want to paint your living room in a few months start looking at paint samples and budgeting for the cost of paint or hiring a professional. Check out an app called Digit for an easy way to start saving.

    Battle Your Bathroom and Prevent Mold
    Run your bath fans during your bath or shower and for a half-hour after to flush out moisture. You could also consider adding a timer switch to make this step automatic. Lastly if you have tile, seal the grout lines annually with a standard grout sealer to waterproof them. To get rid of the current mold, use a solution of bleach and water on a cotton ball. Mold the cotton ball to the space where the mold is located and let it sit 10 minutes, then rinse it off and let dry.

    Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
    Try conducting a DIY home energy audit. Start by checking windows, doors, chimneys and electrical outlets for air leaks. If the draft isn’t obvious, use a lit candle or stick of incense to detect unwanted air flowing into your house. Resolve by using caulk around windows, draft plug in the chimney and foam insulated pads behind outlet covers to help eliminate the drafts. Weather-stripping is very helpful to close gaps around doors. Also, unplug unused appliances, wrap an insulating cover around the water heater and use builders foam on the exterior of your home to close any gaps where electrical wires enter your home.

    Deep Cleaning
    Cleaning can be time consuming but, it’s best to do at least one deep clean twice a year. The New Year is the perfect time to tackle this job. Break the process into different floors so that you don’t try to take it on all at once. Make time to clean and vacuum behind appliances and furniture. You could also consider hiring the professionals. 


      1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

      Fun Fact Friday; Cleaning the Caulk in Your Bathroom

      Most of us have lived in homes that have some mold trapped in the caulk around the tub or shower. It’s inevitable that some builds up over time. Did you know there’s a quick and easy fix for this? Mix some bleach with a little bit of water, then take cotton balls and moisten them with the mixture you just made. Once they’re moist stretch them out and then press them along the area of caulk that has mold trapped in it. Wait about 10 minutes and remove the cotton balls and then rinse the caulk with warm water. Repeat if needed to remove all mold. 


        1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

        Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

        Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

        Most of the time when we’re talking home inspectors it revolves around buyers hiring one to inspect the home they’re purchasing. That’s not always the case though. Homeowners and seller’s hire home inspectors too. Home inspectors can identify repairs that are needed or going to be needed in the future and that can avoid costly deferred maintenance for homeowners or give sellers a chance to correct a problem prior to going on the market.

        I always like to compare a home inspection to going to the doctor to get a physical. It’s not a pass or fail activity. Home inspectors are looking for items that need repair or even replacement, safety items, and do a visual overview of the home. They’re not there to take drywall down, to look behind walls, or do anything invasive to the home. After they complete their inspection they’ll compose a report often with pictures that includes their findings.

        This poses the question – are home inspectors ever wrong? Let’s start by pointing out they’re human and no one is perfect so based off that alone yes, there are times inspectors are wrong. We’re all wrong at some point in our lives. Aside from being human and capable of error they’re also not able to see behind walls, under concrete, under floors etc. No two home inspectors are the same. Odds are if you have a home inspection done by two different inspectors they’ll have items that are the same in their reports but, other items that one found and the other didn’t or vice versa. A professional and reputable home inspector will recommend further evaluation if he’s unsure of something or feels there’s more that needs to be looked into.

        Fortunately it’s rare but, I have had a few situations where an inspector listed a full write up on something he or she thought was wrong and needed repair or replacement but, after hiring a tradesmen that specialized in X area it was shown that the inspector wasn’t correct. Occasionally buyers will take the inspectors report as the final word and withdraw from a contract. That’s worst case scenario and it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion before making any decisions.

        As with every other profession not all inspectors are created equal. Do your research before you make a decision on who you want to inspect your home or if you’re a buyer your future home. Ask your agent for recommendations and check inspectors qualifications. If something comes up that’s questionable, get a second opinion so that you know where you stand. 




          1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

          5 Tips To Update Your Kitchen

          5 Tips To Update Your Kitchen

          The kitchen, no matter how big or small is where everyone ends up gathering. It’s a very important room in every home. Presenting your kitchen in the best light possible is imperative, you want buyers to imagine themselves there and feel invited.

          Complete these 5 tips in order to see the highest return on your investment.

          Kitchen Cabinets

          The cabinets are a big part of every kitchen and they can really impact a buyer’s opinion. Sometimes painting cabinets is an option but, this isn’t as easy as it sounds and has to be done carefully. If your cabinets have doors that aren’t functioning properly or if they’ve already been painted over this might not be an option.

          If your cabinets are laminate they should not be painted over. There are companies that specialize in re-facing laminate cabinet doors and this is a great way to create a new look without fully replacing your cabinets alaltogetherIf your cabinets need attention in the form of painting, re-facing, or replacement but, it’s not an option financially your home should be priced accordingly to account for their age along with their condition. If you want to get top dollar for your home updating the cabinets will help you achieve your goal.

          Kitchen Counters

          Take a look at your kitchen counters and determine if they need to be updated. Maybe they’re laminate or ceramic tile and give your kitchen an outdated look or maybe they’re just worn out in general.

          All we’ve heard for years is granite, granite, granite but, granite takes a lot of maintenance. It’s porous and has to be sealed regularly, a task many homeowners don’t do at all or nearly enough. Years of neglect will leave granite looking dull and it is possible for stains to occur if not cleaned up quickly. If you’re going to replace your countertops check into Quartz, it is not a porous product and has become very popular. I prefer Quartz over granite, low maintenance and still looks very natural. Replacing counters in the kitchen is an affordable option to make it stand out to buyers.

          Kitchen Appliances

          This can in my opinion be a tricky one. Stainless steel is still sought after in my market and there are buyers who specifically want a home with stainless steel appliances. It’s also one that I tell buyers not to get hung up on because appliances are super easy to replace. For my sellers, if you are planning on selling your home soon and all of your appliances are fully functional I don’t recommend replacing them. If they’re ancient or don’t go well together (i.e. every appliance is a different color) that’s a different story and something I evaluate on a case by case basis. If you do opt to replace your appliances prior to putting your home on the market I don’t recommend going the high end route because you won’t see a strong ROI.


          Kitchens see a lot of activity and it’s easy for the paint to get stained, chipped, and just plain worn out looking. Paint is another budget friendly way to give your kitchen (and the rest of your house for that matter) a fresh feeling. Kitchens are tedious to paint because of all the brushwork they require but, if you’ve got a little experience painting and some patience it’s a great way to see a solid ROI.

          Don’t forget to look at the baseboards, they will need painting too but, also may need to be replaced depending on how much wear and tear has occurred. Paint the ceiling as well, paint on kitchen ceilings tends to deteriorate faster than other rooms in your home. Moisture, oils, and evaporation over time leave them stained and dull. Painting is one of the best investments you can make to give your kitchen a fresh and clean look.


          Lighting is another great way to give your kitchen a warm and welcoming feel without spending a fortune. Adding recessed lighting or pendant lights over your island will complement your kitchen. Above or under cabinet lighting is another option, both ensure there aren’t any dark spaces and are a nice added detail. I still see a lot of homes with one large rectangle fluorescent light in the kitchen and it gives off a dated vibe from the minute I walk in. For a nominal fee updating your kitchen lighting will do wonders for how it feels and looks.

          If you are thinking about moving soon look at your kitchen and consider what should be updated or replaced. A great agent will be able to help you with your decision. It’s no secret that buyers love updated kitchens and there are some easy ways to make yours shine. Don’t forget cleaning – not just a once over. Deep cleaning your kitchen is a must before hitting the market. Clean the cabinets and drawers both inside and out. If they’re overflowing be sure to de-clutter. Buyers will be opening them and you want them to be organized. Clean the appliances inside and out as well. Think the way potential buyers are going to think when looking at your kitchen and make any necessary changes, all of your preparation will pay off when your home goes on the market.


          Should Sellers Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

          Should Sellers Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

          A pre-listing home inspection is something I rarely see homeowners want to do. I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve had a client agree to one and while I see both sides of the story I think the benefits of having one outweigh the drawbacks. I’m not going to say one is needed on every single home but, more often than not I do recommend one be conducted.

          The majority of the time a buyer is going to have a home inspection conducted, even if the market is competitive and it’s a void only contingency an inspection is highly likely going to be part of the puzzle that has to be put together before closing can happen. If you possess a solid idea of the condition of your home and the opportunity to fix any major problems before going on the market you lessen your risk of your home sale falling apart.

          Let’s look at the pros and cons!



          Identifying Serious Problems Upfront

          Surprises and real estate are not a good match. Finding out you have a serious moisture problem before you list is far better than finding out once you’re under contract.


          Timing For Repairs

          In Virginia, most homes close in 30-45 days and in a typical situation the home inspection contingency is 7-10 days after ratification. This puts pressure on sellers to get any agreed upon repairs done FAST. There’s no time to waste. If you know about them before you list your home you control the timing and can get multiple estimates and have the work done without the pressure of a closing date looming over you.


          Cost-Effectiveness For Repairs

          Timing also plays into the cost of repairs. Whether it’s a contractor of your choice or the buyers if you’re on a time crunch your options for who can do the work in the allotted timeframe may be limited. If there isn’t enough time to complete the repair or if the buyer requests a credit you can bet they are going to want more than what the actual repair costs due to the burden being placed on them to then coordinate the repair after closing.

          Fewer Repair Requests

          If you’ve already taken care of any deal breakers or large repair items it’s less likely you’ll get a laundry list of repair requests from a buyer. The overall condition of your home is revealed during an inspection and it can either leave the buyer feeling comfortable or make them want to run.



          I’ve never met a buyer who didn’t appreciate a transparent seller. You can’t get more transparent than sharing your pre-listing home inspection along with repair receipts for any items you took care of. It sends the message to buyers that you’re not trying to hide anything.


          The Report

          An inspection report is an excellent tool to have – not only does it allow you to advertise to buyers up front that your home has been professionally inspected it also gives you a great comparison tool to use when the buyer obtains an inspection as well.

          POSSIBLE BENEFITS (keyword – POSSIBLE … not always going to apply)

          Higher List Price

          If you get an inspection done and based on the findings determine you need to replace your HVAC or have a new roof put on you may find your agent recommends listing higher than if they’re old and in need of replacement. This is going to apply to significant replacement items, caulking the bathroom isn’t going to make a difference on your list price so you’ll want to rely on guidance from your agent when it comes to what will impact the list price.


          Faster Closing

          The less there is to negotiate on the faster closing can occur. If repairs have already been identified and completed you’re setting yourself up to be able to close faster. Now, not everyone wants to close fast so I understand this might not be seen as a benefit for every buyer and seller but, even just knowing you’re waiting to close and everything is ready to go vs. worrying over repair negotiations and timing for repairs is a benefit.



          Based on my experience the odds of another homeowner completing a pre-listing inspection are low. Think about if a buyer is torn between your home and another home. Knowledge of your pre-listing inspection could sway a buyer or even attract a buyer faster. There’s something to be said for peace of mind when it comes to the condition of a home and that goes for buyers and sellers.



          A pre-listing inspection is going to cost you somewhere in the range of $300-$600 depending on what size and type of home you have.


          Doesn’t Replace The Buyer’s Inspection

          Although it’s possible the buyer will waive their inspection if you’ve already had one done it's not likely. The majority of buyers will still want to hire their own inspector and quite frankly they should. The pre-listing inspection is provided to a buyer for information only, not in lieu of the buyer having an inspection conducted.


          No two inspection reports are the same. Don’t expect for something new or different not to be found during the buyer’s inspection if you’ve had a pre-listing inspection. Inspectors are human and that factor alone means there’s going to be varying opinions and findings.



          This is going to vary greatly by each state so I won’t go into much detail but, I will say in most states if you know of a serious issue with your house it needs to be disclosed. Some states require far more disclosure than others so this is something to check with your agent about.


          This post was inspired by a comment from Jay Markanich, Northern Virginia Home Inspector who has also experienced the majority of homeowners opt not to have a pre-listing inspection conducted. Think about the confidence you could have when buyers come through the door of your home knowing that you’ve done everything you can to get your home ready to sell.

          Have you sold a home before and conducted a pre-listing inspection? If so, were you glad you did?