11 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance for Under $100

Wouldn’t it be nice to approach your home’s entrance with a grin instead of a grimace? Take our tips for beating a clear, safe, and stylish path to your front door.

First impressions count — not just for your friends, relatives, and the UPS guy, but for yourself. Whether it’s on an urban stoop or a Victorian front porch, your front door and the area leading up to it should extend a warm welcome to all comers — and needn’t cost a bundle.

Here’s what you can do to make welcoming happen on the cheap.

1. Clear the way for curb appeal. The path to your front door should be at least 3 feet wide so people can walk shoulder-to-shoulder, with an unobstructed view and no stumbling hazards. So get out those loppers and cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching shrubs.

2. Light the route. Landscape lighting makes it easy to get around at night. Solar-powered LED lights you can just stick in the ground, requiring no wiring, are suprisingly inexpensive. We found 8 packs for under $60 online.

3. Go glossy. Borrow inspiration from London’s lovely row houses, whose owners assert their individuality by painting their doors in high-gloss colors. The reflective sheen of a royal blue, deep green, crimson, or whatever color you like will ensure your house stands out from the pack.

Related: Pictures of 10 Great Value-Add Exterior Paint Jobs

4. Pretty up the view. A door with lots of glass is a plus for letting light into the front hall — but if you also want privacy and a bit of decor, check out decorative window film. It’s removable and re-positionable, and comes in innumerable styles and motifs. Pricing depends on size and design; many available for under $30.

A way to get the look of stained glass without doing custom work or buying a whole new door: Mount a decorative panel on the inside of the door behind an existing glass insert, $92 for an Arts and Crafts-style panel 20-inches-high by 11-inches-wide.

5. Replace door hardware. While you’re at it, polish up the handle on the big front door. Or better yet, replace it with a shiny new brass lockset with a secure deadbolt. Available for about $60.

6. Please knock. Doorbells may be the norm, but a hefty knocker is a classic that will never run out of battery life, and another opportunity to express yourself (whatever your favorite animal or insect is, there’s a door-knocker in its image).

7. Ever-greenery. Boxwoods are always tidy-looking, the definition of easy upkeep. A pair on either side of the door is traditional, but a singleton is good, too. About $25 at garden centers. In cold climates, make sure pots are frost-proof (polyethylene urns and boxes mimic terracotta and wood to perfection).

8. Numbers game. Is your house number clearly visible? That’s of prime importance if you want your guests to arrive and your pizza to be hot. Stick-on vinyl numbers in a variety of fonts make it easy, starting at about $4 per digit.

9. Foot traffic. A hardworking mat for wiping muddy feet is a must. A thick coir mat can be had at the hardware store for less than $20. Even fancier varieties can be found well under $50.

10. Go for the glow. Fumbling for keys in the dark isn’t fun. Consider doubling up on porch lights with a pair of lanterns, one on each side of the door, for symmetry and twice the illumination. Many mounted lights are available well under $100.

11. Snail mail. Mailboxes run the gamut from kitschy roadside novelties masquerading as dogs, fish, or what-have-you to sober black lockboxes mounted alongside the front door. Whichever way you go, make sure yours is standing or hanging straight, with a secure closure, and no dings or dents. The mail carrier will thank you.

7 Exterior Home Improvements That Increase Resale Value

Exterior Home Improvements

Curb appeal is everything when it comes to selling your home, and that means your home’s exterior needs to be in optimal condition. In fact, 71 percent of prospective home buyers say that a home’s curb appeal is an important factor in their buying decision. This infographic from LawnStarter shows seven exterior home improvements that can increase resale value and help sell your home even faster:

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Replace Your Front Door

Believe it or not, a front door says a lot about you and your home. A quality front door can be a huge asset for your home’s value, and how secure your home feels upon entrance. Kelly Fallis of Remote Stylist says, “It’s the first thing a buyer walks through. Repaint or replace; their first impression rests on it.” According to House Logic, a standard 20-gauge steel door can cost around $1,230, but that investment can more than pay for itself with the amount of value it adds to your home. A quality front door replacement can bring you a return of around 102 percent, which makes it a great bang for your buck.

Updated Landscaping

Over 92 percent of prospective home buyers use the Internet at some point during their search process, meaning a lot of eyes are going to be looking for pictures of your home. You want to be able to showcase your property in the best light possible to drive interested parties in for a closer look. According to Bankrate, a quality landscaping job has the potential to net you a whopping 252 percent return in increased home value. John Harris, a landscape economist, has stated that updated landscaping can increase a home’s value by 28 percent and have it sold 10-15 percent quicker.

New Paint

Most prospective homeowners tend to look at what they need to update or work on in the homes that they look at. Repainting your home can cause less stress on the buyer since they know that the job is fresh and adds to the look of the home. That being says, don’t go overboard with color choices. Choose warm and inviting colors, such as taupe, tan or white. “Individuals too often minimize the impact of a first impression,” says James Alisch, managing director of WOW 1 DAY PAINTING. “The exterior paint job of a home greatly impacts how potential buyers feel about a place.” You want to make sure that potential buyers can envision themselves inside your home, and having a neutral exterior color is appealing to a larger pool of buyers. If you do feel the need to add some brighter colors, make sure that they aren’t overpowering and can work well with the neutral base. It’s best to consult your local home improvement store to discuss your options and budget.

Add Home Automation

The home automation industry is expanding faster than ever. Nearly everyone has a smartphone with them at all times, so adding wireless automation to your home could be the feature that sways a buyer. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of adding home automation into your residence is around $2,100. Clair Jones of LocalInternetService.com says, “Most smart locks are available for under $250. For such a small purchase cost, homeowners can expect a full return on their investment when they sell their home, and may even see an opportunity to present their property as a ‘smart home,’ which is a hot market term right now.”

Like most technology products, the price ranges vary from cost-effective to break the bank, so weigh your potential return with your REALTOR® before proceeding.

Add a Privacy Fence

Having a quality fence can drastically change the look and security of your home and property. Depending on where you live, fences are on average four to nine feet tall and made of quality materials such as wood or stone. While a chain link fence is an option and may be secure, it won’t look good or provide the privacy that a wood or stone wall will. The average cost of a wood fence is $2,450, but homeowners can expect to get 100 percent back in updated home value.

Updated Windows

Replacing old, single-pane windows is a great way to add a level of security, modernize your home, and help bring energy costs down. According to Energy Star, you can save from $125-$465 per year on energy bills. While you may not recoup the entire cost of the new windows when you sell your home, many prospective buyers will see value in energy saving additions. New windows are a great way to give new life to your home without a ton of changes, and can help sway a buyer to choose your home.

Pressure Wash

Pressure washing is hands down the best bang for your buck in terms of rejuvenating the exterior look and feel of your home. Many people don’t realize how dirt their driveways and walkways are until they start pressure washing the surfaces and seeing the difference. Bob Vila says, “If the paint is still in good condition, a light pressure wash will brighten it up and welcome visitors.” For the low average price of $236 (maybe more depending on lot and home size), you can have your home and property pressure washed. You also have the ability to rent a machine at almost any home improvement store and turn it into a weekend project for yourself.

LawnStarterIG
This post was contributed by LawnStarter. This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

An Easy Way to Make More Money Selling Your Home

Another great article with some great tips about selling your home from Dave Ramsey’s blog:

If you’ve ever sold a home, you know it takes money to make it happen. You’ve got to fix and freshen it up to attract buyers. Then there are closing costs. And moving brings its own set of expenses.

But perhaps the biggest chunk that comes out of your pocket is the real estate agent commission, which traditionally runs around 6%. For the typical “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) home—which sold for $208,000 last year—that’s almost $12,500. Ouch!

With that kind of cash, it’s no wonder that many sellers fly solo in an effort to save a few bucks. But is it worth it?

Would You Rather Save $6,250 or Make $27,000?

Your home is a big investment, and you want to make the most of it. Keeping the agent commission all to yourself seems like an easy way to do that. The problem is you’re leaving even more money on the table by opting out of a pro.

How much more?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the typical home sold by an agent last year fetched $235,000. That’s a $27,000 difference!

But wait . . . there’s more! Selling your home on your own doesn’t necessarily mean an agent-free transaction. You still owe it to the buyer’s agent to pay their commission. After all, they worked hard to get their buyer into your home. If they get 3% of the sale, you can cut your $12,500 in savings in half, leaving you $6,250.

The numbers alone paint a pretty compelling picture. But let’s explore two reasons smart sellers go pro.

There’s Power in Numbers

If you want to sell your home, you’ve got to go where the buyers are. A recent NAR report found that 88% of buyers used a real estate agent to purchase their home in 2014.

Want to know the top method FSBO sellers used to market their home? A yard sign.

Last we checked, yards signs don’t exactly have their finger on the pulse of the market. Think about how many people drive by your home on a given day. Then stack that up against an agent’s pool of buyers. There’s no comparison!

With a real estate agent, you get instant access to thousands of potential buyers through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). A true pro has a proactive plan for exposing your home to as many buyers as possible and works with you to ensure your home gives a great first impression.

There’s No Substitute for Experience

Let’s set the sugarcoating aside and cut to the chase. Going it alone guarantees one thing: You’ll make mistakes. Some will be small—but some will come with zeroes on the end. You’ve worked too hard to let that happen!

Research shows FSBO sellers struggle most with paperwork, pricing and preparing their home for the sale. A real estate agent can help you with all of those things (and more!) and will advise you based on experience, not emotion.

Here are just a few ways a pro makes selling your home a cinch:

  • Advising you on home repairs or updates
  • Pricing your home based on the latest market data
  • Actively marketing your home to buyers
  • Scheduling showings with potential buyers
  • Negotiating to get the best price on your home
  • Handling all the required paperwork

Look at it this way: A top-notch agent sold more homes last week than you’ll probably sell in your lifetime. They eat, drink and sleep real estate. Doesn’t it stand to reason that they can help you achieve the most gain with the least pain?

Don’t Give Up Big Bucks Just to Save a Few

Can you save money by going FSBO? Sure. But you lose out on so much more! Do yourself a favor and partner with a high-performance pro who knows what it takes to get top dollar for your home in the least amount of time.

The average real estate agent sold 12 homes last year. But why settle for average?

Dave’s real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) sell at least 35 homes a year and have experience in both good and bad markets. Best of all, you can trust an ELP to give you the same helpful advice you’d hear from Dave. Why? Because ELPs are Dave fans too!

If you’re planning to sell your home, why not work with the best of the best? Check out the #1 team in Georgia for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices: www.PetersenPartners.com

What Does a REALTOR Really Do?

So, What Exactly Does a REALTOR Do For You?

checklistPat Vredevoogd-Combs, past president of the National Association of REALTORS, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing to blunt government complaints about industry pricing.

As part of her testimony, she submitted a list of 184 things that listing agents do in every real estate transaction.

“By all accounts,” she said, “the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”

Pre-Listing Activities
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Send a written or e-mail confirmation of appointment and call to confirm.
3. Review appointment questions.
4. Research all comparable currently listed properties.
5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public databases.
6. Research “average days on market” for properties similar in type, price and location.
7. Download and review property tax roll information.
8. Prepare “comparable market analysis” (CMA) to establish market value.
9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
10. Research property’s ownership and deed type.
11. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
12. Verify legal description.
13. Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions.
14. Research property’s current use and zoning.
15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county’s public property records.
16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials.
17. Perform exterior “curb appeal assessment” of subject property.
18. Compile and assemble formal file on property.
19. Confirm current public schools and explain their impact on market value.
20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure completion of all tasks.

Listing Appointment Presentation
21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections.
22. Review agent and company credentials and accomplishments.
23. Present company’s profile and position or “niche” in the marketplace.
24. Present CMA results, including comparables, solds, current listings and expireds.
25. Offer professional pricing strategy based and interpretation of current market conditions.
26. Discuss goals to market effectively.
27. Explain market power and benefits of multiple listing service.
28. Explain market power of Web marketing, IDX and REALTOR.com.
29. Explain the work the broker and agent do “behind the scenes” and agent’s availability on weekends.
30. Explain agent’s role in screening qualified buyers to protect against curiosity seekers.
31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller’s preference.
33. Review all clauses in listing contract and obtain seller’s signature.

After Listing Agreement is Signed
34. Review current title information.
35. Measure overall and heated square footage.
36. Measure interior room sizes.
37. Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available.
38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements.
39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
40. Review house plans, make copy.
41. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers’ agents and agree on showing time with seller.
43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and account numbers.
44. Verify current loan information with lender(s).
45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements.
46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller.
47. Review current appraisal if available.
48. Identify Home Owner Association manager is applicable.
49. Verify Home Owner Association fees with manager–mandatory or optional and current annual fee.
50. Order copy of Home Owner Association bylaws, if applicable.
51. Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number.
52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills.
53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system.
54. Calculate average water system fees or rates from last 12 months of bills.
55. Or confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report.
56. Research/verify natural gas availability, supplier’s name and phone number.
57. Verify security system, term of service and whether owned or leased.
58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond.
59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
61. Prepare detailed list of property’s “Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale.”
62. Complete list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
63. Send “Vacancy Checklist” to seller if property is vacant.
64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller.
65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty application.
66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
67. Have extra key made for lockbox.
68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
69. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
70. Verify all rents and deposits.
71. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
72. Arrange for yard sign installation.
73. Assist seller with completion of Seller’s Disclosure form.
74. Complete “new listing checklist.”
75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and suggest improvements for salability.
76. Review results of Interior Decor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market.
77. Load listing time into transaction management software.

Entering Property in MLS Database
78. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet–agent is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data.
79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS listing database.
80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including property placement in mapping function.
81. Add property to company’s Active Listings.
82. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Data Form within 48 hours.
83. Take more photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography.

Marketing the Listing
forsale84. Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input.
85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants and other agents. Return all calls–weekends included.
86. Install electronic lockbox. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows.
87. Prepare mailing and contact list.
88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
89. Order “Just Listed” labels and reports.
90. Prepare flyers and feedback forms.
91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability.
92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review.
93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or flyers.
94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mailboxes.
95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet sites, if applicable.
96. Mail “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing.
98. Provide marketing data to buyers from international relocation networks.
99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
100. Provide “Special Feature” cards form marketing, if applicable/
101. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites.
102. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
104. Review and update loan information in MLS as required.
105. Send feedback e-mails/faxes to buyers’ agents after showings.
106. Review weekly Market Study.
107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing and pricing.
109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listings database.

The Offer and the Contract
homesold110. Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ agents.
111. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare “net sheet” on each for owner to compare.
112. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer.
113. Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer.
114. Fax/deliver Seller’s Disclosure to buyer’s agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible.
115. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling loan officer.
116. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from loan officer.
117. Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date.
118. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent.
119. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company.
120. When Offer-to-Purchase contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer’s agent.
121. Record and promptly deposit buyer’s money into escrow account.
122. Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests.
123. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to sellers.
124. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to selling agent.
125. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender.
126. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file.
127. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing.
128. Change MLS status to “Sale Pending.”
129. Update transaction management program to show “Sale Pending.”
130. Review buyer’s credit report results–Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios.
131. Provide credit report information to seller if property is to be sellerfinanced.
132. Assist buyer with obtaining financing and follow up as necessary.
133. Coordinate with lender on discount points being locked in with dates.
134. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer.
135. Order septic inspection, if applicable.
136. Receive and review septic system report and access any impact on sale.
137. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report to lender and buyer.
138. Deliver well flow test report copies to lender, buyer and listing file.
139. Verify termite inspection ordered.
140. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required.

Tracking the Loan Process
141. Confirm return of verifications of deposit and buyer’s employment.
142. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
143. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale.
144. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.
145. Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller.

Home Inspection
146. Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller.
147. Review home inspector’s report.
148. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program.
149. Explain seller’s responsibilities of loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract.
150. Ensure seller’s compliance with home inspection clause requirements.
151. Assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors for required repairs.
152. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed.

The Appraisal
153. Schedule appraisal.
154. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to appraiser.
155. Follow up on appraisal.
156. Enter completion into transaction management program.
157. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low.

Closing Preparations and Duties
movingday158. Make sure contract is signed by all parties.
159. Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender.
160. Update closing forms and files.
161. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
162. Select location for closing.
163. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties.
164. Solve any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or in obtaining death certificates.
165. Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s final walk through prior to closing.
166. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations.
167. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company).
168. Receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy.
169. Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent.
170. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent.
171. Confirm the buyer and buyer’s agent received title insurance commitment.
172. Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing.
173. Review all closing documents carefully for errors.
174. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested.
175. Review documents with closing agent (attorney).
176. Provide earnest money deposit from escrow account to closing agent.
177. Coordinate closing with seller’s next purchase, resolving timing issues.
178. Have a “no surprises” closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing.
179. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable.
180. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.
181. Close out listing in transaction management program.

Follow Up After Closing
182. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company, if requested.
183. Attempt to clarify and resolve any repair conflicts if buyer is dissatisfied.
184. Respond to any follow-up calls and provide any additional information required from office files.

– See more at: http://ohiorealtors.org/consumers/184-tasks-agents-do-for-you/#sthash.mLteahAE.zT20XaH3.dpuf

Summer Lawn Care Tips

Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.

With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:

  • Set your mower blade height to 3 inches.
  • Deep and infrequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week to maintain green color and active growth.

Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.

  • To check the output of a sprinkler, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific length of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.
  • Although it’s OK to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they can decompose and nourish the soil, large clumps of clippings should be removed. Regularly rake up any leaves, twigs, and debris.

If your grass seems to be stressed out, check out our advice on what to do if your lawn is turning brown.

Save Your Sanity With These Moving Day Tips

Here are some great moving day tips from Dave Ramsey’s blog:

Is there anyone in the world who actually likes moving to a new home? Organizing and packing up years of accumulated stuff, keeping up with odds and ends, tripping over boxes—is there any way to make that sound fun?

While we may not be able to make moving an enjoyable experience, we have some tips to help relieve some of your stress. To start off, try not to think of moving to a new home as a single, overwhelming ordeal. Break the moving process down into easy-to-accomplish phases to keep you focused and motivated.

Here’s our suggestion for a four-phase move along with some interesting packing tips to make things easier.

Phase One: At Least Three Months Before Moving Day

1. Don’t waste time or space packing what you don’t use or need. Clear out closets, cabinets and any other random storage places and sell, toss or donate anything you haven’t used in more than a year. Have a pre-moving yard sale and make a little extra cash while you’re at it!

2. Start gathering sturdy boxes from grocery, furniture or electronics stores. It may take more time to get what you need, but they’ll be free!

3. Start pre-packing! If you’re selling your home, this will help you clear out clutter and make your home appear more spacious to prospective buyers. Pack up photos, knickknacks, rarely used dishes and cookware—almost anything you don’t use on a daily basis.

Packing Tips

—Label and/or color-code boxes to make unpacking easier. Place labels on the sides of boxes so you can see them when the boxes are stacked.

—For items that must be disassembled, keep screws, washers, and so forth in labeled plastic bags. Put all the bags in one box so they won’t get lost. Do the same with the cords from your electronics.

—Instead of wrapping each dish in newspaper or bubble wrap, separate your dishes with Styrofoam plates. Stack them in boxes vertically instead of flat. They’ll be less likely to break.

Phase Two: One Month Before Moving Day

1. Coordinate your moving dates with some overlap. Leave plenty of time between closing on your current home and the move-in date for your new home to paint or put in new flooring—whatever projects you have in mind—before you move in.

2. Go ahead and set up utilities and internet access at your new home and notify the post office of your new address.

3. Take measurements at your new home to make sure your current appliances and furniture will fit.

4. Keep packing!

Phase Three: One or Two Weeks Before Moving Day

1. Finish up the immediate updates to your new home.

2. Put up shower curtains at your new home and stock the bathroom with towels and soap so you can have a hot shower after a long day of moving. Have paper plates, disposable cups, paper towels and cleaning supplies at your new home so you don’t have to search for them the day of the move.

3. Pack a bag of essentials for each family member: medicines, toiletries and a change of clothes. Keep these handy so you’ll have everything you need for your first night in your new home without digging through boxes.

4. Nearly done packing!

More Packing Tips

—Take pictures of your electronic hookups so you have a guide to use when you get to your new home.

—Slip your hanging clothes into garbage bags while they’re still on the hanger. Simply transport them to your new closet and remove the bag.

Final Phase: Moving Day

1. All your prior hard work should make this day a simple matter of moving your things from one location to another. Make things even easier by having a friend watch your kids and/or pets so you can focus on the task at hand.

2. If you’re relying on volunteers to help you move, organize your teams in shifts so one group of friends helps you move out while the other helps you move in. That way no one has to give up a full day, and you get all the help you need.

Professional Movers Can Do the Heavy Lifting

If your budget allows, consider hiring professional movers who will take on much of the physical stress of packing and transporting your belongings. Remember, it’s your responsibility to keep things organized.

Look for companies that have a reputation for good customer service. Be sure you understand your responsibilities so you don’t end up paying more than you expect.

A Small Price to Pay for a Great New Home

Don’t let the task of moving keep you from finding a new home you and your family can enjoy. Take your time, think ahead, and keep your sense of humor!

If you think you’re ready to start shopping for a new home, we can put you in touch with a high-energy, high-octane real estate agent Dave recommends to help you make the home-buying process as smooth as your move.

How Much Does That House Project Really Cost?

Imagine you are house hunting. You find the perfect home-except for one thing. Maybe it’s hardwood floors. Knowing how much would it cost to replace the carpet with hardwoods could make a difference to your bottom line.

New online resources are available to help home buyers decide if a repair or renovation is within their budget and home sellers determine whether they should invest in fix ups prior to listing their home for sale. We recently read about two new sites in an article

For example, HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide can provide visitors with an idea of what they can expect to pay for projects in their area.

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At the site, users plug in the project they want to complete, along with their ZIP code. The tool then will list the average cost of the home improvement project or repair in their area based on what others have paid. You can see a breakdown of cost estimates from the low to high end as well as average. The site offers a searchable database to gather estimates for more than 300 types of home projects and repairs, whether your buyer wants to find the average cost of remodeling a bathroom, painting the home’s exterior, installing new windows or countertops, or more.

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Another cost estimating site, called Fixr, also offers estimates on various home improvement and remodeling projects — just plug in the project and find estimated costs as well as get access to a list of contractors in your area. The site also features cost guides to give you an overview of the price of tackling projects like kitchen and basement remodels as well as the costs of repairing siding, installing new windows, adding a porch or swimming pool, and more.

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. As we enjoy our holiday, it is important to remember what Independence Day is all about.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.

We wish you and your loved ones a safe and Happy Independence Day!