Finding the Right Neighborhood In Your Home Search

If you’re a home-buyer searching for your perfect home, you probably have a checklist of criteria that you are looking for: certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms, a modern kitchen maybe, or open floor plan.  One thing that should be high on your list too (and can be overlooked) is the community and neighborhood.  Factors like walkability, HOA (Home Owners Associations), access to walking trails, schools, even neighbors’ upkeep of their homes should all be something to consider too.  Trulia words it perfectly in a recent article I read:

“You can knock down walls and repaint your new home all you want, but when it comes to your neighborhood, you take it as it is. But if you choose the right one, that can be great news.” 

Here are five tips to help you choose a home in a community that is right for you.

  1. Overall ask yourself about the type of scene you are looking for in a neighborhood – a quiet one or a more lively scene.  You may love hanging out in a particular part of town, but when it actually comes to living there, you may find that all the other people hanging out there too & making noise isn’t exactly what you had in mind.
  2. How did you feel on your first impression of the neighborhood?  Did you mind that there were RVs and cars parked all around on the road and in driveways? Did you see many houses that are run down or yards that need work?  Neighborhood associations often have rules around parking on the roads, general upkeep, and even aesthetics of the houses.  If you are concerned about the appearance of your neighborhood as a whole, maybe a one with a HOA is the right for you.  If you didn’t have a good feeling at first of a particular neighborhood, you may want to stick to your gut.
  3.  Decide if walkability is important to you and if so – make sure you understand what is defined as within walking distance.  For example – if you see a house listed as highly walkable, you may have an image of walking to cute “Mom & Pop” shops and cafés only to realize, it is walking distance to a strip mall with only fast food chains and a gas station.  Go visit the house and park the car… walk around and get a feel for the neighborhood & the walks you will go on.
  4. While you are out walking, talk to the neighbors.  What better way to really hear the ins and outs of an area than from a neighbor that already lives there.  There may be complaints or positive features that aren’t obvious from you quick visits.
  5. Check the surrounding features such as whether there are parks or walking trails close to the house.  Also look for elements that may affect the day-to-day living like being near a loud, active train or even a tourist attraction that will bring heavy traffic.  It is also good to look at the school ratings in the area even if you don’t have children as higher rating schools will be better for resale.

In the end, you want to get into a home you love in an area that is right for you.  Taking the extra steps to really study the area as much as the home will pay off in the end.

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If you or anyone you know needs help on their Boulder-Denver home buying search, I’d love to help!  Please reach out through the contact form below or emailing me at beth@goodacreproperties.com.

 

 

 

 


Selling? Improve Your Home’s First Impression.

Your home’s first impression for a home-buyer is most often online.  How your home looks in those pictures can make a major difference on whether you will get a buyer in to your home to look at it or not.  As a realtor, I sometimes cringe looking at the quality of photos posted of a home or the messiness of a house which stands out more than the natural beauty of the home itself.  You don’t want this to be your house so read more for tips to help get your house picture-perfect ready:

#1.  Make sure you take care of the major items to prepare your home for sale like touching-up paint, making necessary repairs around the house such as broken or damaged items, cleaning carpets of obvious stains, and sprucing up your yard.  You want your house to be in it’s best shape to get top dollar.  See my earlier blog on The Seller’s Roadmap if you aren’t sure on the process of selling your home.

#2.  Make sure you hire a realtor that will coordinate professional photos for you.  Most realtors should offer to pay for these photos – if they try to convince you they can just take the photos on their phone, I’d highly suggest you start looking for a new realtor! You (and your home) deserve better.  Professional photos will help make your home shine.

#3.  Talk with your realtor about whether it is worth the investment to stage your home.  Houses that are vacant or have furniture that have seen better days may really benefit from home staging.

#4.  A few days before the pictures, take an afternoon to prepare your home for the photos.  This includes:

  • Putting away & organizing major clutter.  Try to clean off counters, tops of furniture (such as coffee tables & desks), tidy up shelving that may be overflowing with personal items, tuck away pet supplies, and put away laundry.
  • Minimize toiletries in bathrooms & freshen the space.  Too many products on the counters may imply there is not enough storage.  Plan for the photographer to open shower curtains for the photos so try to keep the shower/bathtub clean & clutter-free.
  • Check all light bulbs and replace ones that are burnt out.  The photographer will likely want all the lights turned on and it will look funny if one of two bathroom lights are out, for example.  Don’t forget exterior lights!
  • Do a thorough clean of your house.  Consider a professional carpet clean if the carpets are particularly dirty & stains visible.
  • Spruce up the yard and outdoor space.  Wash off dirty outdoor furniture, clean-up the yards and gardens, pull any dead plants, mow the lawn, put away children’s toys and games.
  • Feel free to add some additional greenery inside or out with plants, but be careful about dating the pictures to a specific holiday in case your house doesn’t sell as quickly as you hope.
  • Hide electrical cords, including any jumble of wires that may be visible under your TV console or desk.

#5. On the day of the photos, you’ll want to do a final run through sprucing up your property.

  • Clean counter-tops and do another round of de-cluttering.  Put away the majority of items on the kitchen counters such as dish drying racks, extra appliances, utensil holders, spices, etc.  You want to make your counters look as spacious as possible.
  • Wipe down hardwood & tiled floors and try to get your appliances to shine, especially stainless steel that easily show smudges.
  • Make all the beds and ensure pillows & throws look tidy on furniture.
  • Clean windows of smudges & dirt which can show up in photos and take away from the pretty windows or views.
  • Toilet seats down & neatly fold any hand towels around the house.
  • Turn on all lights – don’t expect the photographer to do that for you.

Finally, after the photos are taken – it is still important to keep the house in excellent condition for the showings.  Nice photos will help get people into your house, but you want them to be impressed once they are there too.  Keep the house clean, tidy, and odor free while the house is on the market!

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If you are thinking about selling your home in the Boulder/Denver area, I would love to help.  I always provide professional photos for my clients, advice on updates or tips to help the house sell for top dollar, an innovative & custom marketing campaign around each listing, and I always strive to exceed my client’s expectations with exceptional client service.  Please email me below for more information on how we can work together & to see my sample listing marketing plan.

 

 

 


Early Fall Home To-Do List

As the days start to get a little cooler and there is a chill in the evening air, most of us can’t help but think about the fall days ahead.  With that comes cozy warm layers, hot drinks, comfort foods, and the start of the leaves changing colors (my favorite time of year!).  However, with this transition also comes a home to-do list you will want to consider to prepare your house for colder days ahead.  Read below for some key things to plan for.

  1. Do an initial check of your roof & gutters.  It’s generally fine to wait until the majority of the leaves have fallen to clean out gutters and downspouts, but now is a good time to check for debris, fallen sticks, or seals that look worn-out.  Make sure you don’t see obvious signs of damage or wear on your roof, especially around vent pipes and chimneys.  If you do, schedule repairs before the harsh winter starts as worn seals or damage could cause house leaks.IMG_1080
  2. Schedule chimney clean-ups. Make sure your fireplace is clean & safe for the upcoming year, especially if you have a wood-burning fireplace.  A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard. Creosote, the sticky substance that remains after a fire, is highly flammable.  A chimney sweep is an easy & relatively cheap maintenance item you should not avoid.  
  3. Touch-up exterior paint.  One of my first blogs was about how important it is to stay on top of exterior paint.  Review your exterior for chipping paint and prioritize touching-up areas where you know snow may accumulate in the winter.IMG_0049
  4. Schedule a tune-up for your heating system.  Make sure your heating system is working optimally by scheduling a tune-up.  Depending on the age of your system, you may only need one every other year.  Ask your heating professional how often to schedule so you are aware moving forward.
  5. Cover-up or remove A/C Units.  September is the time to remove A/C window units – it is ideal to remove them vs. putting on a cover as it minimizes winter heat loss if you can close the window.  If you have central A/C, you’ll want to turn the system off to avoid it flipping on in an unusually warm winter day.  Hose or blow off the air conditioning unit to remove leaves, small branches, dirt and dust. Ensure it dries completely and then cover the A/C unit with a protective cover for the season.  You may want to call a local HVAC company to see if there are other preventative items you should do to keep your system in good condition over the winter.
  6. Order Firewood.  If you have a wood-burning fireplace, now is a good time to order a delivery of firewood for the season.  If you can, don’t store large quantities of wood directly against the house, which can encourage bugs & pests, but do keep it covered from moisture such as rain and snow.  IMG_0848
  7. Schedule to winterize your sprinkler system. When temperatures start to fall, it’s time to winterize your sprinkler system. Your lines must be drained or blown out before the first hard freeze as the sprinkler system can be damaged from below-freezing temperatures. 
  8. Add weather-stripping.  For old, drafty windows and doors, weather-stripping can help retain heat and stop drafts.  Check old weather-stripping to ensure it is working properly and help ensure window & door gaps are as sealed as possible for the upcoming cold days.

After all your hard work, plan to enjoy the wonderful season of fall!  Go buy a new candle (I love Yankee Candle’s Autumn Leaves) and plan a foliage drive to see the gorgeous changing leaves in your area.  Enjoy!

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Real Estate Tip: Properly maintaining your HVAC systems, roof, & chimney will help avoid costly surprises at inspection objection if you are trying to sell your home.  If you have any questions related to preparing your home for sale, I would love to help.  Please contact me below.


The Home Buying Process

As a follow-up to my last blog about the home selling process, here is a guide for the other side of a real estate transaction – the home-buying process.  As with selling your home, the process to buy a house can seem complex and confusing at times.  Luckily, you can get help from a real estate professional who will guide you through the process every step of the way.  One thing some first-time home buyers don’t realize is that in most circumstances, the agent’s commission is paid for by the seller of the home, not the buyer.  So this means your representation should cost you nothing!

When you meet with a real estate professional, you will want to discuss what you are looking for in a home & ideal location so they know the parameters of your home search.  Your realtor will likely ask you pretty early on if you will be requiring a loan or paying cash.  If you are getting a loan, you will want to get pre-approved by a lender right away. This helps ensure you are searching for homes in an accurate price-range and when it is time to put an offer on a house, you can quickly have a pre-approval letter to give with your offer showing you can afford a house of that amount.  Having this pre-approval completed at the start will make the process move a lot more smoothly.  If you aren’t sure where to start with finding a lender, your broker may be able to provide recommendations.

The fun part is searching for a home!  Your realtor will search for homes in your criteria & schedule showings as appropriate.  When you are looking at homes, it is important to think beyond just the obvious like number of rooms, size of kitchen, and age of the roof.  You may want to visit my blog post about important things to consider when buying a house.  There is no magic number on the amount of homes you should see before you make an offer.  I always tell my buyers you need to have the right feeling with a house – you should feel at home in it to know it is right for you.  Once you find the right home, your agent will prepare the offer based on the price and terms you choose.  Often there will be some form of negotiation on both sides and once the parties come to an agreement, you are under contract!

The contract will dictate the dates, deadlines, & terms that must be met before closing & possession – these include items like the inspection, appraisal, due diligence documents, record & off-record title, property insurance, loan deadlines, and more.  Your broker should keep you up to speed on all upcoming deadlines and what to expect.  If you are getting a loan, you will also be getting a lot of requests from the lender on information you need to provide.  Staying on top of both of these will help make the process as smooth as possible and not risk delaying close (or worst case, terminating the contract).

The last deadlines will be the closing date & possession (not always the same date).  Closing is the transfer of funds and ownership & the day we are all looking forward to!  A title company or an attorney typically acts as an independent third-party to facilitate the closing.  Post closing & at the time of possession you can celebrate your new home and the new title of being a home owner!  Congratulations!!

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I would love to help you find your next home!  Please contact me below if you have any questions on the home buying process or would like to discuss how I can help you with you real estate needs.  Visit my testimonials page to see what others have to say about working with me.


The Seller’s Roadmap

Selling your home can be an emotional process so it’s best to go into it knowing what to expect.  If you are thinking of selling your home, you will first want to meet with a real estate professional so they can help walk you through the steps to getting your home sold.  There is no commitment for that initial meeting – you are ensuring that you & the real estate broker will work well together and the work the broker will put into selling your home is what you expect (and deserve!).  The broker will do a market analysis and pull comparable homes that have sold recently to determine an appropriate price for the house.  As difficult as it may be, it is important to review the facts and be open-minded about the price the agent is providing.  Many sellers have an emotional tie to their home and may see their home in a more subjective light than the traditional buyer will.

If you decide to move forward with listing your home, you will want to prepare your home to be sold.  A good real estate broker should be able to help provide insight into what buyers will be looking for – plan to be open-minded in hearing their recommendations.  Your broker is offering advice based on a broad buyer audience, whereas your style may be more for one particular taste.  You will want your home to be in the best possible condition so plan on things like touching-up paint, making repairs for defects such as a broken door or leaky roof, de-clutter, enhance your home’s curb-appeal, eliminate odors, and clean to make your house shine.

Once your home is ready, your broker will list it for sale.  At a minimum, your broker will put up a for-sale sign and list it in the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service).  You deserve more than this so ensure your real estate broker will be putting forward a full marketing plan to sell your home from events to advertising, social media, direct outreach, professional photos, and more.  The job of a real estate agent is to MARKET your property to get it sold.  You need an agent that knows how to do marketing to get the home sold quickly and at a sale price you are happy with.  Please contact me below for a sample of my marketing plan for listing homes.

When an offer (or multiple offers) come in on your home, your broker will work with you to help you decide which offer to move forward with or negotiate on.  When all parties agree to the offer, the contract is signed and you are officially under contract.  Be prepared for many deadlines & commitments in the following weeks to get the sale closed.  On top of preparing to move and meeting all seller obligations, it is going to be a very busy couple of weeks.  Assuming each date & deadline is met and no one defaults on the contract, the transaction is complete with the closing & agreed upon possession date & time.  Cheers!!

Download the Seller’s Roadmap here.

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I would love to help you sell your home in CO.  Please contact me below to see my sample marketing plan for listing homes & I would be happy to schedule a no-obligations meeting to discuss your real estate needs.

 


Key items to consider if you’re planning a home renovation project.

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If you’re thinking of doing a home renovation project, you probably already know that the project will take a lot of time and a lot of money, but there are other important elements you need to keep in mind and prepare for.  We recently completed a large master bathroom remodel and I went into the project feeling pretty confident in knowing what to expect.  We have experience doing home projects – remodeling almost the entire interior of a 1,700 sq. foot 1970s condo we owned over a period of 6 years. Save money, do project, save money, do next project, and repeat until the place was finished.  I learned a lesson from every one of those projects and I took each lesson into the next project and got smarter with the work we did.  However, this master bathroom project was our biggest yet and there were even more lessons to be learned.  I thought I’d share some of my biggest learnings in the hopes it may save someone a headache in the future.

  1. Hire a licensed, insured, and respected contractor.  Get multiple quotes and interview the companies, ask for references and for pictures of their work.  One great question to ask is how they handle mistakes (do they stand by their work) and will they put a dedicated team on your project?
  2. It’s going to take more time than you think.  Depending on the scope of the project – you may want to assume an extra few weeks to months.  We started planning the design of our bathroom in October with plans to start demo early January & then 8-weeks to finish.  Demo started January 8 and we weren’t able to start using the bathroom again until mid-April because of many unexpected elements that came up.  Do yourself (and the contractor) a favor and don’t plan a project with a hard deadline like needing it complete by Christmas when all your family is coming into town.
  3. Speaking of unexpected elements that come up – it’s also going to cost more than you think.  Line items will be left out by accident, scopes will change, if a permit is necessary – the city or county may have changes.  Give yourself a decent buffer and be prepared to have to give and take on your wish list if things are getting more expensive than you can manage.
  4. If you aren’t handling the design yourself, be sure you are very clear on what is being purchased.  Signing off on just an image online without understanding the specs may leave you disappointed.  Asking for the size of something, the material it is made of, a sample of the color, or the brand of the product may help keep you on schedule and avoid costly returns.  We made this mistake not asking enough questions for our master bathroom because in the past, I had always picked out everything on my own.  New lesson learned!
  5. Be prepared for a lot of dust, a lot of people in and out of your house, some really noisy days, and most likely some damage to either a dinged wall, trampled gardens, dirty carpets, etc.  If you work from home and/or have young children at home – be prepared to have your life pretty disturbed.  Make sure you schedule the project for a time of year that may be least disruptive for you.
  6. If something doesn’t look right – call it out and ask what is going on before it’s too late.  We noticed an issue in the shower and called the lead contractor at the end of the day and they were in there fixing it first thing the next day.  If we had waited another day or two, it would have been harder for them to fix it.  I made this mistake on the condo with seeing tile that slid and not speaking up.  That sloping tile drove me nuts until the day we sold the condo.  You’re paying a lot of money for your project – you deserve it to be done right so you’re happy.
  7. Think about function in your design decisions.  Those new lights may look pretty, but will it be hard to change out the bulbs?  Is there enough storage in that gorgeous vanity?  Try to think about how you will use the space when you are making these decisions.

I think I can end my list there.  I hope this at least helps someone really think through the ins and outs of a remodel before getting started.  If you have any more lessons to add that others may benefit from – please comment!

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If you’re planning to do updates before selling, also make sure your design decisions will appeal to a broad audience and not too specific to your tastes.  Keep it classic and keep it classy.


Important Items to Consider in Your Home-Buying Search

As we get into the busy spring & summer months of real estate, we will see more homes coming on the market, but along with that there will be more buyers.  In hot markets like the Boulder-Denver area, we are seeing houses fly off the market in days, often ending in bidding wars.  I believe that buyers are feeling pressured to act fast without thinking through the details of a house & how it may or may not work for them.

Houzz has a great Home-Buying Checklist that lists out 20 things to consider beyond the inspection.  There are many great points in this article to think through on your search to ensure the house you may be considering is the right fit for you and your family.  Some are obvious like:

  • Size of rooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Kitchen features
  • The neighborhood

However, there are other points that may be less obvious and potentially more important such as:

  • Interior layout: does the flow work for your daily life?
  • Lot grade & lot features: how much of the lot is usable for you & is the property safe for children or pets?  Is there more yard work than you can realistically manage?
  • Amount of natural light:  if you are seriously considering a home, look at it a second time and at a different time of day to see what the light is like in the house.
  • Regional weather conditions: think about the functionality of the house & outdoor space in all seasons, not just the season you’re searching in.
  • Street parking: there may be rules that are more or less favorable to your situation. Some families may need to rely on street parking and others may not want a street lined with cars.  Checking into HOA requirements &/or town ordinances can help identify what the parking situation is.

Having these items in the back of your mind as you go through your home search may help ensure you are happy with your home purchase for years to come.

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If you or anyone you know needs help on their Boulder-Denver home buying search, I’d love to help!  Please reach out through the contact form below or emailing me at beth@goodacreproperties.com.

Photo from @Houzz


Why is Everyone Moving to Colorado?

I’ve been asked the question: “Why are so many people moving to Colorado?” Well, the short answer is: “because the secret is out.”  The scenery here is beautiful, the weather is great, there is strong economic growth, and frankly – there is a lot to do in CO.  Many times people visit the area & then question why they would be living anywhere else. Employers are catching on to all the area has to offer as well – opening up new offices & bringing job opportunities.  Take Google’s new $130 Million Boulder Campus, for example, that will bring in hundreds of new residents to the area.  So, what do I mean by “the secret is out” – let me explain by diving further into Boulder specifically.

With over 300 days of sun per year, picturesque landscapes, and tons of recreational opportunities, Boulder offers people a great quality of life. On any given day, residents and visitors alike enjoy biking on the 300+ miles of dedicated bikeways or hiking on one of the many scenic trails that make up over 150 miles of hiking trails.  With so much beauty & opportunity in Boulder’s backyard, it is a healthy place to live both mentally & physically.  Self Magazine rated Boulder #1 in Top 10 Fittest Cities in the US (September 2017) and National Geographic rated Boulder The Happiest City in the U.S  (October 2017).

Exercise is a way of life in Boulder, but so is a good dining experience.  From restaurants that have received James Beard awards (Frasca Food & Wine) to Boulder institutions that are known for their award-winning beer and hippy atmosphere (The Mountain Sun) – the food in Boulder is good.  Very good. So good that Bon Appétit dubbed Boulder as  “America’s Foodiest Town” and Food and Wine named Pearl Street as one of the “Ten Best Foodie Streets in America.”

An added element to the restaurant scene & healthy living lifestyle is the farm culture in Colorado. With so many farms within a few miles of Boulder and an overall focus on supporting everything local, Boulder sees a lot of farm-to-table restaurants as well as an award-winning Farmer’s Market.  Every Saturday morning from April – November & Wednesday evening May – October, the Farmer’s Market is packed with people looking for everything from Colorado Peaches to Boulder Beef, local honey, fresh pasta, creamy cheese, beautiful flowers, and more.  Most will agree that leaving empty-handed is nearly impossible.

Finally, it’s not just about being healthy & working out in Boulder – there is a lot of other things to do.  Walking the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, watching street performers, shopping, or dining al fresco is always a good time.  Some people aren’t aware that Boulder actually has an impressive amount of top-notch craft breweries.  In fact, Boulder has more breweries per capita than any other city in the country.  And if you want to get out-of-town, Denver is only 30 miles away, there is a ski resort 20 miles outside Boulder, and Rocky Mountain National Park is only an hour away.

I think it’s safe to say this place is pretty great.  Come visit and if you are thinking of making the move to CO, I would love to be your relocation resource.  Reach out via the form below or email me at Beth@GoodacreProperties.com.

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Simple Home Updates

Do you look at your home and think it needs updates, but the thought of the time, money & energy required to make the updates prevent you from doing the work?  You don’t need to tackle the whole house at once, instead think of one space at a time.  Additionally, there is no need to do a complete overhaul of the space – there are little things you can do that go a long way.  Here are some things to think about.

Take a step outside:

  • Mailbox.  This is sometimes the first thing people see when they pull up to your house.  A new mailbox, post, and set of house numbers is a relatively inexpensive & easy fix that will clean up the image of your home.
  • Landscaping.  You do not need entirely new landscaping, but cleaning up weeds & overgrowth and putting down some new mulch will polish up your outdoor space. Don’t stop at just cleaning up the yard & garden – tackle your driveway and any walkways too if you see grass or weeds growing up through cracks.
  • Front door.  Give your home a facelift by replacing your front door or even just repaint it if it’s in good shape.  Consider a fun pop of color that complements the rest of the paint colors of your house for a statement door.  If your budget allows, updating the door hardware will increase the curb appeal even more.

Inside:

  • Lighting.  If you have the budget to swap out some tired, old lights for more modern fixtures, this goes a long way in my opinion.  You could address one room at a time and you don’t have to spend hundreds on each light – I’ve seen many pretty lights for under $20.  Electricians usually charge an hourly rate so try to get an estimate for how many lights they can replace in an hour or two.  If this is outside your budget, simply swapping out your light bulbs can give your home a much more comforting feel.  Get rid of those bright, fluorescent lights and put in soft white bulbs.

  • Touch-up paint.  The general wear & tear of life puts a stress on baseboards, doors, and walls.  If you don’t want to completely repaint a room, consider just touching up the paint – hiding imperfections with a fresh brush stroke of paint.  Now is the time to patch any holes or fill in any dings.  Make sure you choose the right finish paint and you don’t use a gloss paint on what was initially an eggshell.

  • Fixtures.  If you have outdated or run-down knobs on cabinets, handles on doors, towel racks, or even vent covers, all of these are easy to swap out.  Replacing these give you an opportunity to let your personality shine through, while also making your space look more polished.  

  • Blinds.  If your home still has aluminum blinds or temporary paper blinds you threw up for a quick fix years ago, consider replacing them.  New window coverings can really modernize a room. 

Decor:

  • Furniture.  If you are disappointed with how worn some of your furniture looks, sanding & painting wood pieces for a fresh new look is always a great option.  This is an area where you can try out something different & have fun with it.  I almost tossed an old, weathered Adirondack chair a few summers ago, but decided to bring it back to life & painted it a bright blue to match some of my other patio furniture.
  • Decor.  Throw pillows, comfy blankets, candles, baskets to hold clutter, throw rugs, artwork for the walls, a statement wall with a peel-and-stick wallpaper, real or fake potted planets, table lamps.  All these are simple, easy ideas to update a space and make it more enjoyable to live in.  I personally love shopping affordable decor Target and Joss & Main.

If you found this information valuable and are interested in seeing my inspiration for home updates & decor, follow my Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/ecgoltz/

 

***Real Estate Tip***

If your home looks as though it needs updates to you, a potential buyer will see the same thing.  Making some of these indoor and outdoor updates could potentially help with the resale of your home.  Feel free to reach out if you’d like to run your thinking by me.