Cheap Curb Appeal Tricks That Offer The Most Value


Smart sellers know the importance of curb appeal. As your prospective buyers pull up and before they step foot into your home, you want them to be amazed by the exterior. But realistically, you don’t want to paint your entire home or re-landscape the whole yard prior to selling your home. With these cheap and easy curb appeal tricks, you’ll be able to add value to your home and wow your prospective buyers.

  1. Paint the ugly bits


If you don’t have the time or money or your WHOLE house doesn’t need a paint job, an alternative is painting the pieces that need it. Most often the pieces that need the most work is the trim, mailbox, and other small areas. Also, put your brush to good use and cover up unsightly things like an electrical box or pipes that may be running up the exterior walls.

  1. Update the garage door


Your garage door is the main focal point of the exterior of your home. When deciding on a new garage door, think about the purpose of this space. If it is used for work, consider replacing the door with one that has windows to let in light. If your garage is mainly used for storage, consider getting an insulated one. But remember to clean and organize your garage because buyers will definitely be checking it out during their tour.

  1. Create a sitting area


A sure-fire way to increase the attractiveness of the outside of your home is by creating a sitting area on your front porch. You can create this by adding a few outdoor chairs with some cute outdoor pillows. This will help make your home look welcoming and friendly. You can save money by putting out weather-proof furniture you already have. If your porch is too small, adding a small bench will make all the difference.

  1. Hide the clutter


Nothing will decrease the attractiveness of your home faster than a home with clutter in the front. This includes garbage cans, recycling bins, compost bins, and air conditioners. you can hide long hoses in baskets or a large pot. Create a small fence to hide bins by joining prefab lattice together. If this sounds too much for you, try placing large potted plants or plant brushes in front to hide these items.

  1. Make it sparkle


Before you go out and repave your driveway or sidewalk, rent a power washer instead. You want the front of your home to be as clean and organized as possible because this will tell the prospective buyer that your home is well maintained.

6 Ways to Stay Cool Without Turning on the AC



It is officially summer and the weather is here to prove it. Although we love the summer sun, it can be a bit uncomfortable at times. Many homes nowadays have air condition built into it, but in some older ones, they do not. If you don’t have AC or you’re looking to reduce your bill, here are six creative and unique ways you can stay cool this summer.

  1. Turn on the bathroom fan

You can turn on the bathroom fan or the stove’s overhead fan to help suck out the hot air. These fans were designed to pull out the hot air that rises from cooking or taking a shower.

  1. Heat proof your bed

Running your AC at night can be the biggest waste of money. It runs for hours on end and you usually wake up cold. Chillows, pillows that are designed to keep you cool through the night are a great investment and are rather inexpensive. You can also take a hot water bottle, fill it with water, and stick in the freezer to chill. Once the temperature is to your liking, stick it under your sheets near your feet. This will cool you throughout the night.

  1. Let the night air in

During the warm summer months, we typically get cooler nights. Once the sun has gone down and things have cooled off, open your windows to let the air in. You can also create a wind tunnel by opening a few windows and a fan. Keep these windows open throughout the night and in the morning before it starts getting warm, close them. You’ll trap the cool air in, creating a safe and comfortable atmosphere for most of the day. Don’t forget to close the blinds to maximize the length of cool air that stays in your home.

  1. Start grilling

Stay away from using your oven or stove during the summer or during heat waves. The heat from these appliances will also heat your home. If it’s already nearly 100 degrees outside, you don’t want an oven on that’s emitting 350+ degrees. Plus, this is a great excuse to use the grill and outdoor furniture.

  1. Make long term improvements

If you are committed to not using your AC for years to come, there are some improvements you can make to your home to help keep it cool. You can start by planting trees or large shrubbery in front large windows that receive a lot of light. This will help protect your home from the sun’s rays. You can also look into installing insulated window films that work exactly like window blinds.

  1. Turn your fan into an AC unit

You can create an AC-like unit with only a fan by placing a bowl of ice in front of it. The air from the fan will whip off the ice giving an extra cool and misty feel. Trust us, this will feel amazing and is much cheaper than trying to cool the whole home.

Staging Your Home That Won’t Cost A Dime


Every seller is posed with the question if they should stage their home or not. All sellers want to be able to sell their home as soon as possible and research shows that homes that were staged sell faster. The problem is staging a home can be quite expensive. Luckily, you can trick your potential buyers that your home is staged by keeping it in tip top shape. Here are a few other things you can do to make your home look staged without costing a dime.

  1. Keep it clean

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t follow this number one rule. Many agents suggest you hire a professional cleaner to give your home a top to bottom deep clean, but you can actually do this yourself if you’re willing to put in the work:

  • Dust and vacuum each room from top to bottom.
  • Dust inside lamp shades and switch light bulbs to the safest brightest wattage.
  • Clean all windows, inside and out.
  • Wipe down all appliances, including the oven.
  • If you have pets make sure to do light vacuuming before each viewing session and make sure to place air fresheners throughout the home to mask any odors.
  1. Nothing Personal

In order to sell your home quicker, you need your prospective buyers to be able to picture themselves living in your home. This means you need to depersonalize your home. Start with taking down family photos from the walls, including personal items like any religious or sports team decor and any awards or trophies. You have to pack these things up anyway in order to move, so why not start now.

  1. Declutter the clutter

Many people have their fair share of stuff that can add up, making a cluttery mess. You want to hide any items that make your home look like a regular person lives there. Once you’ve packed away your personal items, move onto stuff you don’t need on a daily basis. Clear excessive books, video games, or DVDs from shelving and remove out-of-season clothing from your closets to give a more open feel. If you have kids, have them choose a few toys that can easily be put into a toy box or under the bed. You never know when your agent may call with someone ready to see the place within the next 15 minutes. This also means you should clear a drawer in the bathroom and kitchen so you can easily place miscellaneous items if the call does come.

  1. Neutralize the walls

If you’re still having trouble selling your home, try painting the walls. Bribe a group of friends to come over and use the weekend to paint your walls a nice neutral beige or tan color. This tip isn’t necessarily free, but paint is rather inexpensive.

5 Ways to Experience Palos Verdes’ Natural Beauty


Palos Verdes is probably one of Los Angeles county’s best-kept gems, nestled just 30 miles south of downtown. Not as popular amongst tourist as Malibu or Santa Monica, Palos Verdes is just as beautiful or even more so. Here are 5 things you can do in Palos Verdes to experience its natural beauty.

1. Kayorkeling
Try kayorkeling, which combines kayaking and snorkeling. View the beautiful ocean life right off the back of a kayak. Just off the Terranea is a marine preserve which contains a kelp forest filled with wildlife, including white striped bass, sea lions, and dolphins.. As your guide navigates you through the coastal areas and caves, you’ll be able to observe the marine culture.

2. Whale watching

One of the many reasons we love Palos Verdes is because there is no better place to whale watch. Observers have been known to see spotted fin, gray, killer, humpback, finned, and minke whales. Excursions are scheduled daily and participants are taken around in fast catamaran boats.

3. The Firepit at Nelson’s
After you finish your whale watching for the day, head on over to Nelson’s to grab a gorgeous view of the Pacific. Catch a glimpse of a dolphin flipping as you enjoy a giant Hot Bavarian Pretzel with garlic butter, sweet beer mustard, cheese sauce or fish n chips or our favorite, the lobster tacos.

4. Hiking


From the endless list of hiking trails we had to pick our favorite. The Seascape trail has some of the best views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a family-friendly trail that begins from the end of a residential cul-de-sac with ample street parking, located just off Palos Verdes Drive. Walk less than a tenth of a mile west on the connection trail to reach Seascape Trail. The north end of Seascape Trail crosses sage covered bluffs that look out over the dramatic coves on the peninsula’s shoreline. You can see a great distance from this perch 150 feet above the ocean waves.

5. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
This saltwater aquarium has many Southern California seas creatures on display making it an interesting and educational experience. Visitors can touch live animals in the touch pools and get a close-up view of our underwater world located right in our backyard. There are many different interactive exhibits to experience. We highly recommend visiting the Aquarium, especially if you have children.

5 Ways to Increase the Value of your Home

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Whether or not you are planning to sell your home this spring, sprucing it up does not have to send you into the red.  Experts say to keep the focus on the kitchen, bathrooms, and exterior of the home where prospective buyers pay the most attention to. Keep reading to find out how you can inexpensively increase the value of your home.

Start with curb appeal

With over 90 percent of home searching beginning online, you as a seller, want prospective buyers to fall in love with your home before seeing it in person. You don’t have to go through extensive re-landscaping– a quick clean up and trimming should help. Start with cutting the lawn and trimming any trees or bushes. Put mulch around the in-ground plants to give the place a more polished look. Make sure your front porch and door are looking its best as this is the main focal point of the exterior of your home. Begin by refreshing the front door’s coat of paint, install new house numbers and a matching door knocker with a new door knob. And if it needs it, a new mailbox can be the cherry on top.

Make the kitchen cook

Experts say that the kitchen is the single most important room in the house, it can really make or break a deal. Don’t go spending thousands of dollars on remodeling the kitchen as you can make huge improvements at a fraction of the cost. Give the kitchen a fresh coat of paint, replace any outdated counter appliances such as toasters and microwaves. Next, upgrade lighting fixtures and any cabinet hardware. Also, installing a new faucet can be easily done and give your kitchen the wow-factor it needs.

Upgrade the bathroom

Bathrooms are another huge factor when selling. A clean, well-maintained bathroom shows the buyer that you really care for your home. Much like the kitchen, bathroom upgrades don’t have to be extensive. Start with updating the light fixtures, faucet, and mirror, as these are areas in which buyers first look. If you need a new toilet, get one that is water efficient. If you’re not in a hurry to sell your home, you can redo the bathroom floors and counters.

Paint the rooms

It’s crazy how something as simple as painting a room can really improve its overall look. Paint any rooms that have unusual or bright colors because you want as many people as possible to love your home. Choosing neutral, warm colors are more universal than bright blue or pink. Grays and beige colors are your best bet and can really improve the atmosphere of a room. No need to paint every room in the house however; stick to common rooms such as living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Look Underfoot

If your carpet is fairly new, hire a professional carpet cleaner to give life to your carpets.  But if you have some wear and tear areas or stains that won’t come up when professionally cleaned, replacing them is your best bet and will add value when selling your home.

Is Staging Your Home Worth The Cost

Family-room-700In past years, staging your home wasn’t necessary, giving your home a good scrub and tidying up was enough to attract potential buyers. Today, we live in a much more competitive market with many people across the country hiring staging companies to help give their home that little added touch. You may hesitate to hire such a company because in your eyes all that means is another added expense. Here is why staging your home is actually beneficial to selling your home.

You may wonder what exactly do home stagers do? Well, home stagers are much like interior decorators, they choose color schemes, fabrics, decor, and furniture that best fits your home. The job of the home stager is not to design your home to your personal likening, but to incorporate looks to fit everyone’s taste. Their job is to make your home look so good that anyone will come through your doors and fall in love.

The stager will come in and inspect your home from top to bottom. They identify specific qualities of your home and work to highlight them. They will then sit down with you and discuss their plan and costs. They will also help identify furniture or other home items that should be left out and ones that should be put away before your next open house. Stagers will even go as far as bringing in fresh flowers and popping a pie in the oven for a warm, homey scent. Some people feel this may be deceiving, but you will still need to submit the home’s physical condition in a disclosure statement.

In a study done by the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that were staged prior to being listed, sold 79 percent faster than homes that were not staged. Staging a home has shown to work in both cold and hot markets. For example, in an article by the New York Times, a couple living in Manhattan decided to sell their apartment. After six months on the market and cutting the asking price by $200,000, the couple decided to bring in a professional stager. They gave a place a complete makeover by adding new kitchen cabinets, modern decor, new doors, and fresh paint. The couple re-listed the apartment and within two months a bidding war ensued. In the end, the couple was able to sell their apartment for $200,000 more than their original asking price.

So can you stage your home yourself? The answer is you definitely can. Your home may already look like it’s straight out of a magazine, but it never hurts to have a professional eye give your home a look. They may add just a few highlighting touches that will increase your home’s desirability.

Checklist for the Big Move

boxesMoving can be both a liberating feeling as well as one of the most stressful times of your life. Moving involves packing up everything you own and transporting them to a new place. Most people tend to accumulate things over time and if you have not moved in a while, your basement or attic may look like it’s straight out of an episode of “Hoarders.” Now moving does not have to be as stressful if you start early, set weekly goals, and only keep stuff that you absolutely need. You can start by creating a checklist of everything you need to do and checking them off as you go. Here is an eight-week breakdown that will help you have a stress-free, organized move.

Week 8

Unless you have really great friends and family that’ll help you move, you’re going to need to hire a moving company. There are many different companies, with different services, so you should spend this week researching. You can also log onto to learn your rights and responsibilities when working with a moving company. You may even want to look into getting extra insurance for the move. If you’re moving to a new area and haven’t done much research on it yet, this is the time to do so. Look into the best and closest doctors, grocery stores, banks, or schools.

Week 7

This week is when you will be contacting the moving companies for an estimate. It is probably best if they have someone come out and take an inventory to calculate a more accurate estimate. Keep all your estimates and paperwork in a folder to better organize yourself. You should also be looking into which businesses you’re going to have to contact in order to change your address.

Week 6

This is when the fun begins. This week you should begin the packing process by going through your closets. Items that don’t fit or that are not worn anymore should be donated. Take each closet room by room. Next you should start packing items that are not often used, such as seasonal items. If you have kids you can contact the school to inform them of the move so they can begin the process of transferring records. Also, besides donating unwanted items, you can sell them or have a garage sale. The profits from this can help pay for the move.

Week 5

This week you should begin using up food that has been sitting in your pantry or freezer. Try to keep grocery shopping minimal. You can also send out emails informing your friends and family about your move along with your new contact information. You should also purchase your packing materials such as boxes, packing tape, and labels. Begin a room by room packing schedule and don’t forget to label each box with the room. To make things easier, color code each room.

Week 4

Begin this week with contacting the U.S. Post Office and informing them of your new address. You should also be confirming with businesses that they have your new address on file. Also, request vacation days around the dates of your move. Settle all paperwork you have with the moving company you have chosen and make sure you have insurance for any valuables.

Week 3

Cancel any newspapers you have delivered to your home and set up delivery for your new place. Start photographing any valuables you have, noting any prior damages they may already have. You should also collect valuables such as family heirlooms and pack them separately from everything else. Plan how you’re going to transport these items, either by packing them with you or shipping them with insurance and tracking services.

Week 2

It’s coming down to the end, keep packing away. Put together a packet of information for the new owners with possible warranties or vendor information along with your contact information in case they need to ask questions or forward your mail. Appliances should be cleaned out and unplugged. Be careful when unplugging gas lines, you may need a professional’s help. Freezers should be defrosted and cleaned. Make sure to fill any prescriptions and that you have them handy.

Week 1

This week may be a bit emotional if you have lived in your home for a while, but remember you’re beginning a new chapter with new memories. Make sure your utilities will be shut off one day after you move and that the utilities at your new place are turned on one day before you arrive. Contact the moving company one last time to confirm everything. Pack a bag for two weeks, with comfortable clothes and your toiletries. Go through and make sure you have everything packed, donated, or sold. Lastly, hire a cleaning company to come in after you moved to do a complete cleanse of your home, so it’s in good shape for the new owners. Lastly, take one last look at your home and take a moment to remember all the good times you’ve had there. Now it’s time to start making new memories in your new home.

Do the Holidays Affect the Housing Market?

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This time of year the main question on everyone’s mind, at least for those interested in real estate, is “Do the holidays affect the housing market?” This question is not a simple yes or no question. There are many factors that affect the housing market, like interest rates, credit availability, and property listings, amongst others. Typically, the Fall season is slower for the housing market– not so for this year surprisingly! Home sales were up compared to last years numbers, and they continue to rise. It is predicted that 2016 will see the most home sales since 2006, before the housing market collapse. Low-interest rates may have had a hand in this increase.

This holiday season is less likely to see a decline in activity. Why? Because mortgage rates and interest rates are low. Interest rates are currently under 5%, a record low. It had been predicted throughout 2015 that The Fed was going to raise interest rates, but it is already December and they have not. Housing market forecasters do believe The Fed will raise interest rates in 2016 though.

Housing prices are increasing. This Summer saw a 5% increase from the year before, which is actually less than predicted. Home prices do typically flatten out during the Winter months, but that is because of supply and demand. If there is not a demand for homes, the prices will go down. If you are a serious buyer, you should seriously consider buying this Winter. The lack of competition will give you more leverage when bidding on a home. Homes do tend to fall about 3% below their average pricing, but once spring comes they are about 3% above. If you’re looking to sell you home, remember the spring does come with a host of other shoppers. If you’re looking to sell your home fast, the winter may be you
r best option.

So do the holidays affect the housing market? Yes, but only slightly. This year has been full of surprises, but good surprises. Housing prices didn’t increase as much as expected and the fall wasn’t as quiet as expected. There is no reason to believe this winter will be any different. With The Fed on the verge of increasing interest rates, people are going to be selling and buying homes in order to get the best rates before it’s too late.

Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

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The holidays may seem to be an undesirable time to sell your home, but there are a few advantages to selling during this time of the year. Buyers are typically more serious this time of the year. Also, there are less houses on the market during this time of the year, cutting down on your competition. So, if you are deciding to sell your home this holiday season, here are a few tips that can help.

Don’t over do it with decking the halls 

Christmas decorations always give people warm fuzzy feelings and can really add appeal to a home, but be careful you don’t over do it. There is nothing tackier than a house that has taken Christmas decorating too far. Buyer’s like to envision the home their looking at as their own and it can be hard to do that if you have a huge blow up snowman taking over the front lawn. Also keep outdoor Christmas lighting minimal. Lining the roof or stringing lights in the trees is a great way to add holiday ambience to your home without overdoing it. Last thing you want to do is blind your potential buyers with Christmas lights on every inch of your home. 

Make your home cozy

There is nothing worse than stepping into a freezing cold home and this will turn buyers off right away. Make sure the temperature in your home is at a comfortable level. A home that is too hot can be distracting. Also remember to add the proper amount of lighting. During the winter it can get dark, even during the day. A home that has the right amount of light can make a huge difference. Take in account your Christmas tree lights. Don’t over do it with the lighting when your tree is in the room, it will take away from the beauty of your tree. 

Take advantage of the senses

You already are making your home visually appealing with your Christmas decorations, why not add scents to the appeal. The most organic way of doing this is bake holiday treats when you know potential buyers may be coming by. You can also give them a plate of cookies as they take a tour of your home. If baking is not your thing or don’t have the time, opt out for holiday scented candles. Bath and Body Works and Target have a great array of candles to choose from. Be careful though that you don’t over do it with the candles, you don’t want potential buyers choking on your vanilla scented Yankee Candle. 

Be careful of what you hide in the closet

During the holiday season, we typically hide unwrapped presents in the closet. Remember that buyers are usually interested in the amount of storage a home has and will look in closets. A closet that is stuffed with items will look crowded and like it has less room. The fewer items a closet has the cleaner it will look. Be mindful of other miscellaneous items that tend to clutter closets too.

What To Expect When Buying

During the home buying process there are a lot of things to consider, especially if you are a first time home buyer. Here are some things to expect before you take your first step towards buying your home.

What To Look For In A Home

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Think about the type of home you are looking for. Have an image in mind so your realtor can have an idea of what homes to look for. Think about the style and and features of the home you would want to live in and figure out what area best fits your needs and personality.

How Much Can You Afford?

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Consider the amount of money you are able to pay monthly and if you are able to afford the downpayment for the house. Be reasonable when looking for a home and keep your budget in mind. Make sure to look at the housing cost as well as monthly expenditures.

Things To Consider When Buying A home

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Be sure to use your real estate agent to assist you through your search for a new home. They are there to help you for all your real estate needs. For all first time home buyers it’s important to remember that there are plenty of options for first time buyers to be able to find a great home on the market.

Remember to keep saving your money because there are other home expenses other than the rent itself. For example, replacing the roof, getting a new water heater and other home essentials. Once you have selected the perfect house, your real estate professional should be able to help you with negotiating the purchase price.