30 Minutes to a Clean Fridge

Feature2ImageBigThere are plenty of reasons to clean a fridge (unidentifiable leftovers, funky odors) and one big excuse not to — namely, lack of time. But you don’t need to set aside several hours to complete a basic cleanout and scrub down. Get it done in 30 minutes when you follow this guide.

Before you start

There’s no reason to clean out your fridge the day after a big supermarket trip. Pick a day just before you go shopping, when your fridge is relatively empty.

For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to unplug your fridge before you start cleaning it.

Gather your supplies:

  • small bucket
  • small cleaning brush
  • terrycloth towel
  • large sponge
  • new box of baking soda

Get to it

Take food from the fridge and place it on the table or counter. As you do this, check expiration dates and toss anything that’s no longer edible.

Fill the bucket with warm water, and add a half cup of baking soda. (Save the rest of the baking soda — you can put the box in the fridge later to neutralize odors.) Use this solution to wipe down the empty shelves and interior with a sponge, starting from the top and working your way down.

Use a brush to clean around brackets and gaskets and to dislodge any dried food. Wipe the interior dry with a terrycloth towel.

Rearrange, reseal, restock

Before you put the food back in the fridge, take a moment to group similar foods together. This will help you find items easier. Separate ethylene-sensitive produce (e.g., apples, broccoli) from produce that releases ethylene gas (e.g., bananas, pears) to prevent premature decay. Make sure that all containers are sealed properly and that anything wrapped is covered completely. Airtight storage will help prevent spills and spoilage.

As you begin to put items back in the fridge, be careful to space food out to allow a free flow of air. Keep eggs, poultry, meat and seafood separate from all other items to help limit the spread of bacteria. For more food safety tips, visit foodsafety.gov. And if you’ve unplugged your fridge, don’t forget to plug it back in!

A final note: A basic cleanout like this is no substitute for a thorough cleaning, which your fridge and freezer require periodically. To do that, you’ll need to remove and clean shelves, vacuum coils and wipe down the exterior. Consult manufacturer’s instructions for details.


Source: http://ahs.com/home-care-advice/pages/feature.jsp?featureId=m1340049&utm_campaign=newsletter_b2b_march_2013_ahs&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ahsemail&utm_content=cleanfridge_mostpop&full=true

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

bedbugsSeems bed bugs have had a sort of revival in the last few years. Travelers beware, but so should homeowners.

According to WebMD, bed bugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bed bugs tend to live in groups in hiding places like mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards.

Having bed bugs in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

Getting rid of a bed bug infestation can be a complicated process of cleaning and typically treating with chemicals- a job best left up to professionals. If you’re concerned about what to look for, Northwest Exterminating offers some helpful information on the pests:


  • Bed bugs harbor in cracks and crevices during the day and come out for blood feedings at night.
  • Hence their name, they are often found in beds among the mattress, box springs, rails, frame, headboard, and footboard.
  • They are excellent hitchhikers. They hide in luggage, purses, bags, and other belongings to travel from place to place.


  • Inspect bedding for bed bug skins and blood spots.
  • Change linens often.
  • Inspect rooms when traveling.
  • Do not set luggage on the floor or on bed when traveling.
  • Inspect luggage, clothing, and linens when you return from traveling.
  • Inspect second hand furniture before bringing it into your home.
  • Seek the help of a professional pest control company to address a bed bug infestation.


  • Bites are painless but can cause an allergic reaction which triggers small, red bumps on the skin.

6 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor

Developing relationships with your neighbors can make your life easier and your community safer—and maybe even result in lasting friendships. The good news is that it’s easy to extend acts of courtesy to those who live close by.

1. Welcome new people to the neighborhood by stopping by and introducing yourself. Baking cookies is a traditional way to extend a warm welcome, but you can also bring them recommendations for local services, such as babysitters or landscapers; a children’s activity kit filled with coloring books, crayons and games; or a list of important local phone numbers.

2. Little gestures can go a long way. Offer to collect your neighbor’s mail, water their plants or feed their pet while they’re on vacation. If that’s too much of a commitment, you might offer to keep an eye out on their house while they’re away.

3. Keep up your house and yard. This will help maintain property values while keeping the neighborhood as a whole looking its best. Mow your grass regularly, trim your shrubs as needed and make facade repairs in a timely manner.

4. If you live in a condo or townhouse, think twice before plugging in noisy appliances near your neighbor’s walls. A television, a hair dryer or even the beep of a microwave might be a little white noise for you but an annoyance for your neighbors.

5. Whether or not you’re head of your community watch program, there are always chances to help out. Keep your neighbors informed of relevant news, such as upcoming construction or recent crime. Extra eyes and ears are always welcomed.

6. If a neighbor lends you something, whether it’s a tool or their time, return the gesture quickly. It’s easy to move along with your project and forget they’ve done you a favor, so be sure to show your appreciation in a timely manner—your gratitude won’t be overlooked.

Source URL: http://www.ahs.com/home-care-advice/pages/feature.jsp?featureId=m1370069&utm_campaign=newsletter_b2b_march_2013_ahs&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ahsemail&utm_content=goodneighbor_mostpop&full=true

Home Matters: Dryer Tips for Efficient Performance

Help ensure your clothes dryer is performing at its peak with these simple tips.


Click the video above to watch.

American Home Shield has teamed up with David Leon, licensed contractor and TV host, to bring you a video library full of information to aid in your home needs. From quick fixes for common household problems to small maintenance tips that make a big difference, take a look at how our video library can help you.


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Who’s Buying What? 2013 Home Buyer Trends

b2b_may13_big_4What factors make some homes more attractive to buyers than others? The National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Profile of Buyer’s Home Feature Preferences offers some answers you might not expect.

Location and age influence buyer’s preferences.
The most obvious trends among home buyers break down along geographic and generational lines. Buyers over 55 place a higher importance on single-level homes, while buyers under age 55 most prefer a home that has a basement. Buyers over 55 also tend to purchase smaller homes than buyers age 35-54, as do buyers under 35.

Buyers in the northeast place importance on finding a home with a dining room and tend to prefer hardwood floors, while buyers in the south put more importance on wooded lots and homes that are less than five years old.

Everyone wants a little more space.
Many buyers are interested in additional space for guests, work and storage. Most home buyers note they would spend more for a home with a laundry room and a home office or den. However, the rooms that home buyers are willing to spend the most for are a basement and an in-law suite.

There’s still one feature most buyers agree on.
The single most desired feature among home buyers is probably the feature you’d most want in a home too: central air conditioning. Of the home buyers in the survey, 65% consider central air very important, far ahead of the next most desired feature, a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, at 39%. Of those home buyers who did not purchase a home with central air conditioning, 69% said they would be willing to pay over $2,500 more for a home with it.

The complete National Association of Realtors® 2013 Profile of Buyer’s Home Feature Preferences is a useful resource for insights into your clients’ preferences. It’s available for purchase at realtor.org.

Bob Vila’s 5 ‘Must Do’ Projects for June

June-1-abf6a3-e1370537333761In June, we officially welcome summer. In keeping with the season, this month’s must-do projects from Bob Vila include lawn care, do-it-yourself backyard improvements and fun, kid-friendly ideas for painting.

No. 1: Maintain your lawn

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing homeowners this time of year is keeping the lawn healthy and green. One critically important aspect of growing grass is watering. Though it seems so simple, doing it right often eludes people. Conditions vary, but the following general guidelines should serve you well:

Water enough. Most lawns require about one inch of water per week. How do you know if you’re watering enough? Simply set out a small container, turn on the sprinklers, and track how long it takes for the container to fill with one inch. If it takes 60 minutes, that’s how long you need to water your lawn each week.

Water early. Water your lawn during the early morning hours, around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. At that point in the day, the air is cooler and the winds are calmer, so evaporation is less likely to occur, and your grass will also have a chance to dry out before the sun really starts beating down.

Water evenly. Make sure that your sprinklers are reaching every part of your lawn. Test your system by dispersing several small containers around your property. After a session of watering, compare levels in the containers, making any necessary adjustments to the positioning of your sprinklers.

Water slowly. Only water as much as your lawn can absorb. If you water too much too quickly, excess water will run off your lawn — a waste of water and money. One strategy is to run your sprinklers for half the usual time, allowing the initial watering to absorb before you give the grass another drink.

Water infrequently. Instead of watering a little bit every day, give your lawn a good soak every three days or so. Watering less frequently encourages roots to grow directly downward in search of water, making your lawn more stable overall.

If you know the signs, your lawn will tell you when it needs watering. As you walk over the grass, your footsteps should readily disappear; if they don’t, you need to water. A bluish-green color is another indicator of dehydration; so are curling glass blades. You might also try the screwdriver test: seeing how hard it is to push a screwdriver into the ground. If it’s difficult, then your soil is very dry. Remember, the goal is to keep your lawn happy but not to become its slave!

No. 2: Paint it up

A coat of paint can work wonders on surfaces of all kinds. Before you commit to eggshell or high gloss, however, consider what chalkboard paint has to offer. While once available only in black, today’s chalkboard paint comes in a range of colors. It can be applied easily with a brush, roller or spray can, and you can use it almost anywhere for countless purposes: personalizing mugs, labeling drawers, decorating stair risers — you name it.

No. 3: Control the pests

If summer pests have begun to plague your house, many non-chemical treatment options are at your disposal. To deter flies, for instance, you can place potted basil plants on the kitchen counter and around doorways and windowsills. Problem with spiders? A mixture of water and unsweetened lemon or lime juice should do the trick. These and other natural pest control tricks will help you maintain a critter-free home.

No. 4: Strike a new path

Few elements define your landscape as effectively as a walkway or garden path. This summer, consider adding one to the yard using pavers or stones from your local home improvement center. Choose whatever material best suits your needs and DIY skill set, but one easy, beautiful approach is to lay a stone path. For a different look that is more challenging to achieve, think about patterning brick or artfully arranging flagstone.

No. 5: Shower outdoors

A favorite summertime luxury is the outdoor shower. Of course, a basic installation involves a garden hose, shower head and tree branch, but you can make your own free-standing unit without much trouble, and without spending a fortune. If using wood, guard against rot by employing cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber. For convenience, locate your shower near an outdoor spigot; that way, you’re spared from having to tap into the household plumbing or run extended hoses. Don’t miss these amazing outdoor shower designs for inspiration!

Buckhead Housing Market is on Fire!

Watch your local realestate market update.

Watch your local realestate market update.

The residential real estate market has been heating up this year.  We actually saw the activity start mid last year and it has been gradually clearing out the distressed inventory in many areas.  With home prices on the rise and inventory levels at low levels, new construction is gradually starting to pick up the pace and start filling the void of not having inventory for buyers.   Construction is picking up in Buckhead even with limited real estate that is currently available.

Watch our monthly video market update for Buckhead
Click Here for the video

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Dan Petersen
Real Estate Sales & Marketing
Petersen Partners  | Prudential Georgia Realty
(m) 404-234-6699 | (f) 678-539-8608
dan@petersenpartners.com | www.petersenpartners.com



Home Staging Explained

beforeafterThe International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®) recently released new statistics showing that homes Staged by Accredited Staging Professionals® (ASP®) and Accredited Staging Professional Masters® (ASPM®) sell within 23 days. Homes for sale in a non-staged condition nationally average 130 days on the market. When comparing ASP®/ASPM® Staged homes to non-Staged homes listed for sale, the homes that are Staged sell on average 83% faster.

Barb Schwartz is the founder and CEO of Staged Homes and also president and founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. She says there are two primary benefits to staging your home– one is financial and the other is emotional. From a financial perspective, staged homes sell faster for more money than those that aren’t staged.  From the emotional side, clients are more relaxed and focused on the other important aspects of moving vs. being totally focused or frustrated on the sale of their existing property. Barb sat down with real estate search giant Zillow a few years back to explain more about staging.

What goes into staging a home?

There are several steps to staging a home.  I have an easy way to remember them by calling them the 7 C’s of Staging:

  • Clean — Q-tip clean!  You cannot have your house too clean!
  • Clutter-Free — You are not selling your things — you are selling your house!
  • Color — Make sure you use colors that sell the space.
  • Compromise — Invest your money as a home seller where it will produce its greatest return.
  • Creativity — Creativity in staging is all about using — and in some cases — rearranging the materials that are already in or around the home to create a totally new and welcoming “feel” within the house.
  • Commitment — The home owner really has to be committed to staging the home completely and also staying on top of the staging as they live their daily lives.
  • Communicate — Potential buyers experience the staged home as spacious, open, warm, clean, fresh, pleasant and inviting.  That’s the message that staging conveys.  Buyers not only see the house as a place they could live in, they see it as a place they want to live in.

What does it usually cost?

In comparison to the potential return on investment, ASP Home Staging is incredibly inexpensive.  One of my favorite quotes is “As a simple rule of thumb, the investment in staging your home will always be less than the first price reduction on your home.”

The cost for a consult or staging plan for the do-it-yourselfer normally ranges from $350 to $550, depending on how much work is involved in putting the plan together.

When the home owner decides to have the stager provide the service, the fees can range from $1,000 (or sometimes less) to as high as $10,000.  On average we see a range much more modest than that. We’re seeing a range of $1,000 to $5,000 with the average around $2,300, depending upon the area of the country that you live in.

What are the biggest misperceptions about home staging?

  • Staging is lighting some candles and putting a pie in the oven
  • I’ve watched some home fix-up TV shows and I can do this myself
  • Staging is expensive
  • Staging is about renting a lot of high-end furniture and filling the house with accessories
  • Staging requires remodeling
  • Staging is about covering up the weaknesses of a property for sale
  • Staging is “fooling” the buyer into paying more money for the property than they should

Here’s the reality:

  • First of all, never light candles during a showing; it’s a risk and a hazard to have open flames with a lot of people on the property that you or your agent can’t watch all at once.  Secondly, you never know who is going to be viewing your property and many potential home buyers come from different ethnic backgrounds and have different tastes in food or aromas so putting a scent in the air is a risk of offending or turning off a potential buyer.
  • ASP’s have training and are accredited.  Secondly, they have experience as they will have staged more homes than an average consumer and they will know what works to sell homes and what doesn’t in a market.  And lastly, they have a neutral perspective; it is very difficult for most people to treat their home as a product and to remove the emotional ties they have to the personal things in their own home.
  • Staging is not expensive; in fact it’s probably that smartest investment a home owner can make to maximize the value of their property at the time of sale.  Staging is not about spending money but about using what you have to make the most of your space.
  • Staging does not require lots of expensive furniture; in fact good stagers will limit the amount of furniture to keep the space open.
    Staging is NOT remodeling!  Staging is using your things and your space in the most creative way possible without spending a lot of money.
  • Staging does NOT cover up weaknesses in a property, in fact if anything it shows what is there.  The de-cluttering and removal of any visual obstructions will help potential buyers and home inspectors more accurately assess the property.
  • Staging is about creating the most interest in the home by presenting it in its best possible light.  This creates more offers on the home which can raise the sale price and may reduce the time on market.  No one is “fooled” into anything since the home is clear, clean, open and easy to access.

You can also read the full interview with Barb on Zillow at http://www.zillowblog.com/pro/2006-12-21/home-staging-qa-with-ceo-of-stagedhomescom/.

You Can Afford a Higher Priced House if You Buy New, Study Claims

39d503685bb824cfbb900c717113cf2c Americans may be able to buy a higher-priced home if they buy new, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB study — using data from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development — suggests due to lower operating costs with new-homes buyers can purchase a newer home that is more expensive and still achieve the same annual operating costs as an older, existing home.

The study evaluated how utility, maintenance, property tax, and insurance costs vary by the age of the home.

Homes built prior to 1960 had an average maintenance cost of $564 per year. However, homes built after 2008 had average maintenance costs of $241, according to the study.

“Home buyers need to look beyond the initial sales price when considering whether to buy new construction or an existing home,” says NAHB Chairman Rick Judson. “They will find that with the higher costs of operating an older home, they can often afford to spend more to buy a new home and still have annual operating costs that fit their budget.”

The study found that homes built prior to 1960 have operating costs that average nearly 5 percent of the home’s value compared to less than 3 percent if the home was built after 2008.

“While mortgage payments will be greater with the higher purchase price of a newly-built home, the lower operating costs mean the home buyer will have annual costs that are about the same as if they’d bought a lesser-priced, older home with a smaller mortgage payment and higher operating expenses,” NAHB notes.


Source URL: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2013/06/03/you-can-afford-a-higher-priced-house-if-you-buy-new-study-claims/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+StyledStagedSold+%28Styled%2C+Staged+%26+Sold%3A+Entries%29


Update Your Home for $50 or Less

101732710.jpg.rendition.pUpdating your home in a weekend for just $50?! Sounds impossible, but it’s not!

It’s amazing how far you can stretch $50 with a little innovation and some elbow grease. Make your space look like a million bucks—and save yourself a few—with these simple budget-friendly makeovers.

Better Homes and Gardens magazine came up with a list of 20 projects you should consider trying. You can see their list of project ideas here or visit http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-projects-under-20-dollars/?sssdmh=dm17.651167&esrc=nwhi020713.

These 20 improvements may not cost a lot, but they’ll make a big difference in how your home functions. Complete one or more of these projects this weekend.