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Tom's Blog

Easy Tips to Create a Relaxing Experience at Home

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

(ARA) - In our fast-paced and chaotic lives, we're always seeking ways to relax and de-stress from the day. For some, that means watching a favorite TV show, having a glass of wine, or even a massage at the spa, but we often forget about our homes and the impact of its design on relaxation.

Kelly Edwards, designer and lifestyle expert and Waterpik suggest the following tips for creating relaxation -inspired home decor:

The kitchen is often called the heart of the home, so it's wise to invest in kitchen materials that are better for you and your family. Caesarstone and Silestone countertops are hypo allergenic, non-porous, resistant to stains, ultra strong, and will always look elegant and amazing.

Consider using streamlined high gloss laminate fronts on cabinets for a sleek and clean look and use pull-out drawers behind each cabinet for more storage space. Remember, being organized can make anyone feel less stressed.

The bathroom is the start and end to your day. By simply changing your shower head, you can turn a regular shower into a true relaxing, spa-like experience. The stylish Waterpik EasySelect shower head, for example, has a spray selector located right on the handle, so you can change the spray settings from circular massage to full body coverage without having to reach through the water stream.

Use monochromatic colors to sooth you from the moment you walk in and opt for striking marble or glass tiles. By installing a glass shower enclosure, you'll be able to show off the gorgeous tiles, update the look of your bathroom and make the room look larger.

Living Room
A natural material like grass cloth wallpaper is a great way to add color and texture to your walls in your living room, it has a very relaxed and sophisticated appeal to it. Paint the walls a color that conveys the feeling of relaxation like light shades of cream, white, green or greige (a combination of gray and beige).

Mix in a few natural elements like wood chairs and tables, cozy blankets, and fresh flowers, and you'll have a place that will feel comfortable to come home to every day.

Pick colors that are easy on the eye, like the blues and green, to evoke a sense of "rest." Change harsh overhead lighting for architecturally interesting lighting elements such as library sconces; place one on each side of the bed for the perfect reading lights.

Trade out your old worn-out shades for some natural wood blinds or bamboo shades and follow the look up by adding soft curtains to block out the light for a restful night's sleep.

For any space, a non-cluttered area will help you achieve a relaxed state of mind at home. Keep in mind that being comfortable doesn't mean being trendy; simply create your own style and just do what makes you feel your best.

Word of the Day

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Equity build-up. Term used to refer to the increase of one’s equity in a property due to mortgage balance reduction and price appreciation.

Question of the Day

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Q: How do I get help for remodeling following a natural disaster?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) not only assists businesses after a natural disaster, civil disturbance, fires and other catastrophes, it also provides disaster loans to individuals – including homeowners and renters. The loans, which cover uninsured or underinsured losses – are issued after the President or SBA Administrator signs a disaster declaration. Homeowners can then apply for loans up to $200,000 to assist with the repair or replacement of their primary residences and receive loans up to $40,000 for personal property losses. The low-interest loans have terms up to 30 years. To begin the process, applicants must register first with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain a FEMA Registration ID number.

Great Ideas for Creating Happy Family Memories

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Creating close family memories does more than enhance the good times families share, according to educational consultant Dr. Michelle Borba. It actually increases our kids’ social skills and development and is a good first step toward helping our children grow into creating happy families of their own.

Borba, a former teacher who serves on the advisory committee of Parents Magazine, suggests six no-cost and surefire ways to create happy family customs our kids will remember into adulthood:

• Nighttime rituals – Read a bedtime story to the younger kids. As kids get older, convene in the kitchen for a bedtime snack about 9 p.m. and be sure everyone gets a good night hug and kiss before heading off for bed or finishing homework.
• Special greetings – Develop a few special family rituals for saying, “I love you” without words; perhaps rubbing noses like Eskimo kisses, or creating a unique family hug.
• Birthday memories – each family member gets to create his/her favorite birthday dinner menu, cake, or outing, and it then becomes a ritual to enjoy together.
• Celebrate successes – Create special ways to commemorate each family member’s special accomplishments; perhaps a fancy plate at the dinner table or a special flag posted at the front door.
• Family game night – Dust off the Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly games and designate a couple of hours one night each week for sharing old and newly learned family games. Or make it a Family Movie Night and watch one together, complete with popcorn.
• Annual traditions – Designate every Father’s Day as a fishing or picnic day. Go berry-picking every spring. Volunteer together every first fall Saturday at a local food bank or shelter – or make a commitment to participate as a family once or twice a year in whatever activity is a family favorite.

Learn Your Laminate

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

I just ran across some informative input about the appeal of certain types of flooring to potential Real Estate buyers. Sarah Snodgrass ( a full-time, full-service, real estate agent living and working in Kansas City, recently told her clients what she really feels about laminate flooring.
While wood laminate flooring manufactured by Pergo, Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong and other companies is less expensive and easier to install than real wood flooring, Snodgrass pointed to her own experiences when noting the drawbacks of wood laminate flooring. 

She also recommended that homeowners planning a floor improvement project stick with the timeless design and high quality craftsmanship of real wood floors. Snodgrass said there are a number of reasons why paying a bit more now can reap attractive returns when it's time to sell a home. 

According to Snodgrass, the Top 5 reasons to say NO to laminate flooring are:
1. It will disappointment buyers. "Everyone is going to be momentarily fooled, then ultimately disappointed to learn that what they are seeing is not real wood. This is especially true in older areas of town where hardwood floors are common and expected."
2. It is ugly. "I realize this is a bold statement, but really – can you honestly tell me that you like this better than real hardwoods?"
3. Buyers will think that you are cheap. "It is obvious that you thought wood floors would look good, but took the cheaper route. This will lead buyers to wonder where else you cut corners. Buyers are fearful of buying homes they think might have hidden or latent problems from poor craftsmanship, inferior materials, or cheap, inexperienced installation."
4. It is loud. "Unless you are in rubber soled shoes, your shoes will sound noisier than on real wood."
5. It looks dirty and dents easier. "Wood laminate shows and reflects dirt, and almost always looks dirty. Even when it is freshly mopped, you can sometimes see your cleaning streaks in the sunlight. I have also seen high heels and dogs’ nails create dents in wood laminate."

Tips for Preventing Moss and Algae Growth in Your Lawn

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

As summer time approaches, you want to keep your lawn looking its best. Lawn moss and algae are damaging and unsightly infestations that can affect your lawn, so here are some lawn care tips to help prevent them and treat their onset. 

Moss and algae are harmful non-flowering plants that compete for space with healthy grass when it is on the verge of being in bad shape. 

Removing shade helps to keep your lawn strong by providing natural nutrients. So, if you have any trees in your garden, cut branches that prevent the whole yard from receiving sunlight. Also - take down any umbrellas or lawn furniture that may block sunlight from reaching the lawn when they are not in use. 

Drainage and aeration also help to solve the issues of compacted soil and too much moisture. You can spike the affected area to allow air in, break up the soil and eliminate excess moisture. You can also work to increase sunlight to the area, when possible, and improve growth of turfgrass. You should also avoid watering your lawn without spiking it first to allow for proper drainage. 

Source: TruGreen

Superfood Alert: Grapefruit

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Grapefruit is naturally packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, this citrus superfood has a controversial reputation, as it has made headlines for not mixing well with some medications.

Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert and advocate, has teamed up with Sunkist to address the reasons for concern and encourage consumers to talk to their doctors before assuming they need to eliminate the nutritious benefits of grapefruit from their diet. 

Grapefruit, like some other fruit juices, can increase the absorption of certain drugs into the bloodstream, which can lead to adverse affects. When eaten as a part of a healthy diet, grapefruit can help protect the body against chronic diseases, strengthen the immune system, aid with weight loss and promote skin health. 

"The facts are that while some prescription and non-prescription medications have harmful interactions with grapefruit, the concern does not apply to all medications," says Dr. Moore. "Most drugs are labeled if there is reason for caution. As grapefruit is a rich source of vitamin C with no sodium or fat, people should talk to their doctor or pharmacist to verify whether grapefruit fits in your diet or not." 


Word of the Day

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Equity. Value an owner has in a piece of property less the debt against it. For example, if the market value of a house is $150,000 and the owner has paid off $10,000 of a $75,000 mortgage, the owner has $85,000 equity.

Question of the Day

May 4, 2012 3:58 pm

Q: Does the government offer assistance with home improvements? 

A: Yes. Two very popular programs offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) include the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan and the Section 203(k) Program. In the first program, HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family house to cover alterations, repairs, and site improvements. The latter program, which also insures mortgage loans, is HUD’s primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single-family homes. Loans are also available from the Department of Veteran Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans. The Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan program, funded by the Agriculture Department, offers low-rate loans to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs. Funds are also available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards. The federal government isn’t alone in its efforts to provide assistance. Local and state governments offer special home improvement programs. Contact your governor or mayor’s office for more details.

Gen-Y: Up to Bat as Next Wave of Homebuyers

May 3, 2012 5:54 pm

Thanks to a recent report from the Virginia Association of Realtors (, I learned a lot about the next generation of homeowners and homebuyers. The VAR pointed to data from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which noted that in 2010, Generation Y surpassed the baby boomers to become America’s largest generation. 

According to the report, Gen-Y-ers currently are 15 to 32 years old, are moving into apartments and buying homes, and will dominate residential demand for much of their lives –just as the boomers did over the past 45 years. 

To get a sense of this young generation’s housing circumstances and future preferences, the ULI commissioned an online survey of a nationally representative sample of Gen-Y individuals ages 18 to 22 who are no longer in high school. 

The report is quite detailed, but the VAR focused on a few of the most relevant findings to its members, and future home sellers:
• For the first time in decades, America’s average household size is inching up as Gen-Y-ers (and even some Gen-X-ers) take longer to leave home or return to their parents after losing a job.
• Two-thirds expect to be owners, including over half those in their 20s. Among those who will be in their 30s, three-fourths believe they will be homeowners.
• Of those saying they do not expect to own by 2015, seven of ten claim they will own at some future time. • Over half those currently living with their parents believe they will have acquired their own homes by 2015.
• Hispanics are ahead of whites in their ownership expectations. Blacks have slightly more modest home buying goals, but the difference is not statistically significant.
• 21 percent expect to put down less than 10 percent as down payment; 39 percent expect it to be between 10 percent and 20 percent. And 40 percent expect to come up with a down payment of more than 20 percent.

The VAR also noted that since such a high percentage of future homeowners expect to put down less than 20 percent on a home purchase suggests—Gen Y may not be fully apprised of today’s tighter mortgage underwriting standards. 

Good food for thought if you are among the newest generation of real estate clients, or planning to sell in the near future.

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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