Tom Lee ABR CRS GRI LTG SRES's Blog
When it comes to making your home and property safer for your family and others, the Boy Scouts motto says it all: "Be prepared!"
While it's next to impossible to completely eliminate all risks and potential hazards in and around your home, there are dozens of things you can do to make your property safer.
Every family's safety needs are unique, but here are a few basic precautions that can help reduce the chances of home accidents occurring -- both large and small.
Stair safety: All things being equal, it's riskier to walk down a flight of stairs than it is to walk on level ground. While that may seem obvious, most people don't stop and think about the potential risks of descending stairs as they're about to do it. Although tripping and falling on stairs can be injurious to just about anyone, it's especially dangerous for elderly people. From a homeowner's standpoint, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of family or friends stumbling on your stairs. On an ongoing basis, it's necessary to make sure there are no loose objects on the stairs that could cause someone to lose their footing. Keeping stairs clear of toys, building blocks, and slipping hazards can be challenging if you have young children. Until they're taught to pick up after themselves -- which might occur sometime between now and college -- stair safety is an important issue to be aware of. Another key strategy for preventing household accidents is to make sure railings are properly installed and firmly anchored. Basement stairs can pose additional risks because they're sometimes inadequately lighted. Concrete floors at the bottom of some staircases can make a fall even more hazardous (not to mention painful). Increasing lighting, if needed, and making the bottom step more visible so that it's not accidentally skipped, are two preventative measures for reducing the chances of anyone falling on basement stairs.
Fire safety: Most people are aware that it's essential to have several working smoke detectors placed in strategic locations in your kitchen, bedroom area, and other parts of your house. Even though it's common knowledge, people don't always remember to install enough of them, replace worn out batteries when necessary, or test them every few months to make sure they're in good working condition. Some people remove the battery to silence smoke alarms while they're cooking, which can be dangerous if they don't remember to put them back afterwards. If your kitchen smoke detector has a "push to hush" button, then that can be a safer way to temporarily quiet a smoke detector when you're cooking dinner. Home fire safety also entails several other precautions, including having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (and other areas), having a second-floor fire-escape ladder available, and teaching children how to avoid and respond to potential fire dangers. More detailed information and educational materials on fire safety is available from government agencies and non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association.
Stay tuned to this blog for more helpful tips, pointers, and ideas for keeping your home safer and more secure.
Sure, it's possible to find a home with a fully equipped exercise gym, an Olympic size swimming pool, or a couple tennis courts on the premises, but who wants to spend that kind of money! Fortunately, there are house features you can look for that will help you stay in shape without having to win the lottery first! Here are a few ideas to consider when searching for the ideal home:
- Proximity to a park: Whether you're looking for a home in the city or nearby suburbia, most communities have bike paths or public parks where you can walk, jog, inline skate, bicycle, take your dog for a stroll, or play tennis. Parks with playgrounds are also a great resource for keeping your kids entertained, physically active, and engaged. Having a park or walking trail located within a mile of your house is ideal because if it's convenient, you'll be more inclined to go there frequently. While it may not be at the top of your house-hunting "wish list," proximity to a park, nature preserve, or walking trail can be instrumental in helping you and your family stay healthier and more energetic. Doctor-approved, regular exercise is also a proven way to counteract the effects of stress, elevate your mood, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods: One of the advantages of buying a home in a quiet neighborhood is that it offers a safe and relaxing environment for taking daily walks. Going for walks near your house can also be a good way to get to know your neighbors and check out the latest yard sales. Although sidewalks can be a nice feature for homeowners who enjoy neighborhood walks, quiet streets with mostly local traffic is all you really need for favorable walking conditions.
- A finished basement or extra room: The problem with putting an exercise machine in your bedroom or even the family room is that, sooner or later, you're going to get sick of looking at it! Until somebody creates a treadmill, exercise bicycle, or elliptical machine that has aesthetic appeal as well as functionality, it's never going to complement your decor! More often than not, exercise machines are an eyesore and a source of clutter. The solution is to create a dedicated exercise space in either a finished basement, a rec room, or a spare bedroom. Half of a two-car garage can sometimes provide a good area for weights and exercise machines, too, but that's only if you're willing to park your second car in the driveway.
Today’s home buyers see hundreds if not thousands of real estate photos when they’re in the market. Odds are that they’ll eliminate a number of homes from their search before ever even setting foot in them.
As you can imagine, that makes your home listing’s photographs all the more important to securing solid leads on your house.
In spite of the importance of photographs, a number of sellers get them wrong. To ensure that your home listing’s photos make a great first impression, we’re going to take a look at some of the common mistakes to avoid in your listing photography.
1. Not taking enough photos
In the age of digital photography, you can never take too many pictures. Experiment with different lighting, setups, and angles, and don’t be afraid to take as many photos as necessary to get the shots you want.
2. Going overboard with the uploads
It might be tempting to upload all of the pictures you took of your home, but it could hurt your overall presentation. Sort carefully through your pictures and pick one or two photos that best showcase each room and another one to three photos of the home’s exterior and land.
Visitors to your listing will get bored and click away if you have a slideshow with hundreds of images. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for by limiting the number of total photos of your home.
3. Avoid close-ups
Your home should be spotlessly clean and tidy when taking photos. However, that doesn’t mean you need to get up close to each object in your home to take photos. Try to take wide shots that make your home feel spacious and welcoming.
4. Look out for mirrors and reflections and other distractions
If there’s one way to ruin an otherwise serene photo of your home, it’s when you spot the photographer accidentally showing up in the shot. Plan your angles so that you don’t get any flashes, glare, or reflections in your photographs.
And, while we’re on the topic of distractions, it’s a good idea to take your pets out of the room before your start shooting. Remember, potential home buyers don’t love your dog or cat like you do.
5. Don’t settle with your first shots
The different (or lack) of lighting your home receives throughout the day can make or break your photos. Try taking photos of your home at midday, when there are the least amount of shadows. Then, shoot some photos at golden hour (just before the sun sets) to capture warm tones. Finally, right after dusk, turn the lights on in your home and take some shots from outside. These photos give the illusion of a warm, cozy place where the light is always on.
Home staging used to be a novelty you watched on the HGTV network. At the end of the program, the hosts would show up with a truckload of furnishings and a bunch of landscaping plants, and presto — a home would be transformed before your eyes.
Today, home staging is a thriving bicoastal industry making inroads everywhere across the United States, with companies devoted both to renting furnishings and doing the actual staging. The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) even offers courses to train professionals.
There's a reason for all this interest. Staging sells homes faster — up to seven times faster in some markets — and attracts more buyer interest. Here's the why and how.
It's More than Depersonalizing and Decluttering
Home staging is a form of marketing designed to show off your home's benefits to potential buyers. While part of that process is to purge the visual space of oddities that might be a turn off for most buyers, it's not just about decluttering and tidying.
One of the main purposes of staging your home is to show prospective buyers how they would use the space.
Suppose, for instance, that you have a spare room that is right now filled with junk. Whether to stage that space as a bedroom or an office depends on current buyer trends in your neighborhood. Is it mostly families? Young professionals? Your staging goal is to appeal to the buyers most likely to be at your open house and show them why your house is a functional space.
Some Tips for Artful Staging
Though functionality is key, you also want to follow basic design principles when staging your home.
Paint walls light, neutral colors — and make sure there is plenty of light.
Neutral colors appeal to most people, as do rooms that are brightly lit. If shade or orientation is blocking the sun, make sure to invest in light bulbs that mimic natural lighting. The higher on the Kelvin rating scale, the more you'll achieve a daylight look.
Float your furnishings.
Floating means pulling your seating arrangements into the center of the room to create the illusion of a cozy gathering space. An area rug helps to complete this illusion.
Decorate with cameras in mind.
Most prospective buyers who enter your house are going to have already seen the pictures online. This is perhaps the best reason to avoid visual clutter. Spaces that are sleek and minimal look larger and more inviting in photos.
Don't neglect curb appeal.
Your landscaping should be freshly maintained, with no dead or dying plants. Make sure that your gutters are clear and the front of the house has been powerwashed, especially window sills. The approach creates a strong first impression that excites buyer interest in the house.
Having your own home fitness center provides a convenient place to work out. You don’t have to worry about fitting in exercise during gym hours or having to wait your turn to use the treadmill or rowing machine. With your own gym, you can work out whenever you want and use your fitness equipment as needed. The following tips can help you design an upscale fitness center that allows you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.
The first decision to make is where to put your fitness center, which depends in part on the layout of your home. You can put your home gym in your basement or a back area of your home if you prefer having it in an out-of-the-way place where your workouts won’t disturb family members. If your home is surrounded by nature, consider putting your home fitness center in an upper part of your home that provides inspiring views while you work out.
The flooring in your home gym should provide shock absorbency and durability for safe workouts. Rubber tiles or rolls are highly shock-absorbent and durable, making them a common choice for home fitness centers. Foam tiles and soft PVC tiles are more comfortable to stand and move around on, but they do not offer as much shock absorbency to protect you from injuries if you do high-impact exercises.
Choosing equipment for your home gym depends on the kinds of exercises you like to do. You can include larger pieces of equipment, such as rowing machines, treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. Other types of equipment to consider include a weight bench and weights, a yoga mat, a balance ball and resistance bands. Keep in mind that there are many brands of luxury home fitness equipment available.
Adding a state-of-the-art sound system to your fitness center can provide you with an easy way to listen to music that helps you stay motivated during your workouts. For lighting, consider using a mixture of natural lighting from windows or skylights and artificial lighting, such as recessed lights or light fixtures with ceiling fans to improve air circulation in your home gym.
Your home fitness center doesn’t only have to include traditional gym equipment. If you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise, consider adding an indoor pool to your gym. You can include an indoor pool that’s specially designed for doing laps and add features to it, such as a heating system for comfort or underwater LED lighting for swimming at night without having to put overhead lights on.