Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2918 Rolling Hills, Carrollton - Just Listed by the Grove Team

2918 Rolling Hills, Carrollton - Just Listed by the Grove Team
Woodlake Addition, offered at $132,900

Exceptional renovation located in the Woodlake Addition! Enter into this 3-2-2 split bedroom floorplan featuring updated fixtures in the kitchen along with granite counters and porcelian 'wood' floors that offer the rich look of wood, yet the durability of tile. Intelligent design, custom master closet, newer roof (2011), new double pane, low-E, double hung windows, 13-seer HVAC, and wired for CAT-6 internet...too much to list, come see!

Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty today to schedule your personal showing! 
(817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Button-up your home for winter

Button-up your home for winter

Contractors’ slow season makes fall a great time to embark on home improvement projects

As the leaves turn and fall to the ground, it's time to start thinking about “buttoning up” your home for winter to keep you and your family healthy and comfortable, your belongings safe and high energy costs at bay.

Heating accounts for 34 percent of all annual utility usage, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the most cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home is to seal and insulate the “envelope” - outer walls, windows, doors and roof. By doing so, ENERGY STAR estimates that a homeowner can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, the equivalent to lowering up to 10 percent of total energy costs for the year.

Here are a few ways to keep you and your family healthy, your belongings safe and help lower your heating bill:

Preventing the draft

Old, drafty windows and doors can account for home energy loss of up to 30 percent, according to the EPA, which means paying more in the winter to heat your home. By replacing non-performing windows and doors, homeowners can drastically reduce heating costs. A typical home that replaces its single-paned, clear glass windows with energy-efficient windows can realize up to $501 in annual savings, according to the EPA.

Additionally, old or improperly installed siding can also be the cause of drafts. However, by installing new, energy-efficient vinyl siding and underlayment, homeowners can increase a homes' R-Value, a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it.

However, even the best windows, doors and siding can be drafty, if they are poorly installed. So it's important to make sure your home improvement is completed by a quality contractor who has a long history of being in the business so you can be sure they will be around if you have any issues down the road.

Prevent moisture

Water leakage from snow, ice and rain can cause damage to the exterior and interior of your home. This can result in costly damage to framing, structure and insulation, more importantly it can cause issues - like mold - that can be harmful to the health of your family.

The roof is often the site of leaks in homes; however, by installing a new roof and taking the proper precautions, leaks won't be a problem.

Other ways to improve the seal of your home to prevent moisture damage, drafts and improve energy efficiency include:

* Sealing leaks
* Adding insulation
* Sealing ducts

For more energy saving window, door, siding and roof tips, check out the U.S. Department of Energy's website. (ARA)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celebrate autumn with these fun activities for the whole family

Celebrate autumn with these fun activities for the whole family

Fall is often considered the coziest of seasons. Not too hot, but not too cold, there is something about the vibrant colors of leaves and crisp air that make you want to pull on a sweater and take in all this season has to offer.

Celebrate all the scents and sounds of the fall with a few tips to make the most of this beautiful season:

*Reread a classic. Cozy up with a classic book. A few of the most anticipated upcoming feature films are adaptations of classic novels. Take some time away from your busy schedule to revisit some of these books before they hit the big screen. Throw a few logs into the fireplace, put on your warmest sweater and relax with a good story, whether you're reading it for the first or 20th time.

*Take a walk. There's no better way to take in the sights, smells and sounds of fall than being surrounded by the season. Enjoy the vibrant colors of leaves changing, the familiar smell of smoky bonfires and children jumping into massive leaf piles. It is the perfect time for long walks because temperatures aren't overbearingly hot and the humidity levels are much more tolerable. Dress appropriately for the cooler weather and see what fun you can have outside.

*Help others. Fall is an excellent time to direct your energies and donations toward nonprofit organizations. For example, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you can participate in a fundraiser for any breast cancer organization or donate funds during this special month.

*Harvest fall fun. Visit a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Apple trees are heavily laden with crisp and delicious apples this time of year. Head out to an orchard to pluck the perfectly grown fruits off trees bearing your favorite variety of apples. Or take children on a ride at a pumpkin farm. Let them run through the patch, inspecting every pumpkin for their perfect carving creation.

*Feed your autumnal appetite. All of fall's exciting activities will leave members of your family feeling voracious. Warm them up - and create a delicious smell in your house - with a bowl of homemade soup. This simple recipe for Chicken Soup and Crackers is destined to become a fall staple.

Chicken Soup and Crackers


4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
1 (3-pound) chicken, cooked and de-boned, then skinned and pulled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 box of frozen okra


Place broth in a 3 quart sauce pan. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper and simmer until vegetables are very tender.

Add chicken pieces and frozen okra, and boil for 5 minutes.

The fall months are a perfect time to enjoy spending time with family and getting outside to enjoy the final warm days of the year. (ARA)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

JUST LISTED by the Grove Team, Keller Willams

JUST LISTED by the Grove Team, Keller Willams
11453 Turning Leaf Trail, Fort Worth
Offered at $197,500

Nothing short of stunning! Enter into this richly appointed 4 bedroom, 2 bath home featuring wood floors throughout, granite counters with 42-inch cherry cabinets in the kitchen, stainless appliances including a double oven, plantation shutters and crown molding. Well maintained - this beautiful home also offers an extended back patio, electrical outlets in the eaves, & a new roof installed in 2012. Too much to list - a pleasure to see & show.

To schedule your private showing, call the Grove Team-Keller Williams today! (817) 337-0000 or find us online at www.groveteam.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tips for a thorough fall house cleaning

Tips for a thorough fall house cleaning

With the changing of the season right around the corner, most Americans are beginning to clean up the exterior of their homes by raking leaves and cleaning out the gutters, but what about the interior? Fall can be the perfect time to revisit that spring cleaning list that you never completed and give the interior of your home a deep clean in preparation for the holiday season.

While most people rely on their own cleaning know-how to tackle germs and dirt, they depend on their eyes to show what they think is a clean house. In fact, more than two out of three people believe that vision is the most important sense in determining the cleanliness of a home, according to a recent national consumer survey conducted by Stanley Steemer.

But it's often the dirt that you don't see that requires help from the pros. Traditional at-home cleaning methods such as vacuuming and dusting only remove a relatively small portion of dirt, dust and particles that lurk in your floors and furniture. Without a deep cleaning, you'll be trapping dirt inside your home for the entire winter, which can impact the visual appearance of your home, while also elevating the risk of allergens in the home.

To help you see through the dirt that lurks in your home, the experts in the field these fall tips for maintaining a cleaner, healthier home:

With fall comes the foliage

Reduce the amount of dirt and leaves that may get tracked into your home by using indoor and outdoor entrance mats.

A quick pickup

Remember to act quickly to clean up any spills or stains; consider keeping a professional spot remover handy at all time or use items commonly found around the home such as white vinegar and baking soda.

Dirt never quits ... it's like tooth decay

Keep up with the high traffic areas in the home by vacuuming them two to three times a week and the rest of your carpets at least once a week.

Outside work effects inside comfort

Keep your windows closed and turn on the air conditioner when raking leaves and doing other fall cleanup work outside. These activities kick unwanted dirt, dust and pollen up into the air, which can settle into upholstered furniture and carpet.

Even the most diligent person can't do alone. Get help from the pros. Schedule a professional deep cleaning every six months to help maintain the value and health of your home. (ARA)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upgrading your kitchen from 'blah' to 'bling' for less

Upgrading your kitchen from 'blah' to 'bling' for less

From cooking to entertaining, the kitchen - always the heart of the home - now takes center stage as the 21st century hub of the home. As families spend more time in their homes, today's “command central” kitchen needs to be multi-functional and high-definition ­­with easy-to-maintain surfaces dedicated to cooking, working, Web surfing and blogging, paying bills and doing homework, as well as creating a comfortable environment to entertain with family and friends.

To design a kitchen that meets the multiple needs of today's modern family, including standing up to its daily wear and tear without breaking the bank, homeowners can transform their kitchens with a few tips and tricks from interior design experts and companies that have created more durable and affordable yet equally beautiful products.

Small steps can create better spaces

Begin redesigning your kitchen to address multi-functional needs with some smart planning, and consider remodeling in phases rather than all at once. Begin with the easiest area: replace aging countertops with materials that are beautiful yet durable and versatile. Counter space for food preparation can be optimized for laptops and other electronics while you keep an eye on dinner and the kids. Design at the appropriate height and allow space for your legs under the counter so that the same space can be converted to an ad-hoc desk when you aren't cooking.

Incorporate a distinct play and work area for kids to do homework or create a crafting or game area for school and art projects, and family activities that can be tucked into a corner when not in use. Include flat-panel screens in a back splash or a separate lounge area adjacent to the workspace to entertain family and friends.

Counter life's madness with beautiful surfaces

Making the most of the countertop requires the right material for aesthetics and functionality. While there are numerous options, today's laminate countertops feature beautiful designs that mirror granite and other natural stones at a fraction of the cost, and with scratch-resistant finishes that are not only easy to clean but also resist common stains like peanut butter, permanent marker and red wine. Because laminates are made from recycled content and are easy to install and maintain, they make an eco- and budget-friendly choice for consumers.

“Everyone loves the look of natural stones but they don't realize how much maintenance they can require, while, today's high-quality laminate mirrors that look and withstands daily wear and tear,” says interior designer and HGTV's Design on a Dime host, Summer Baltzer. “I love the fact that there are now new countertop collections that offer great design options that complement both traditional and modern spaces, but also offer great features like integrated sinks and decorative edges, to make it a simple one-stop remodeling project. Consumers can give a room new life just by replacing a countertop with laminate at significant savings compared to other materials.”

Get inspired and create a space to live in high definition

Before embarking on a renovation project, talk with the family to determine what the ideal kitchen will look like. Read home improvement magazines, watch remodeling shows for inspiration, and ask experts for tips and tricks at your home improvement store. (ARA)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Check out some local events happening in Keller during the month of October

Check out some local events happening in Keller during the month of October

Pumpkin Splash

Keller Pointe Indoor Pool
Saturday, October 26 • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pre-registration required
$10 per participant in advance • $14 per participant day of event

Join us on Friday, October 26 at the Keller Pointe Indoor Pool, 405 Rufe Snow Drive, for the largest floating pumpkin patch that you'll ever see! From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. participants will have an opportunity to float through the patch and select their own pumpkin for the Halloween season. Pre-registration is required and a fee of $10 per participant applies for advanced registration or $14 the day of the event. For more information follow this link or contact 817-743-4386 or thekellerpointe@cityofkeller.com.

Haunted Trails
Big Bear Creek Greenbelt

Saturday, October 27 • 7 to 9:30 p.m.
$5 adult/$3 - age 12 & under

Saturday, October 27th from 7 to 9:30 p.m., head on down to the Big Bear Creek Greenbelt for ghostly good time along the 'Haunted Trails' of Keller. Beware of who or what may be lurking along the trail. The event may be too scary for some children. For more information follow this link or contact 817-743-4050 or email parksandrec@cityofkeller.com.

Spooky Kooky Keller Kastle
Johnson Road Park

Sunday, October 28 • 2 to 5 p.m.

Children age 11 and under are invited to enjoy an afternoon at Johnson Road Park as it is transformed into a 'Spooky Kooky Keller Kastle' from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, October 28. They will enjoy the haunted playground along with carnival games, prizes and candy. The event is free for all those attending. Come in costume and have loads of Halloween fun! For more information follow this link or contact 817-743-4050 or email parksandrec@cityofkeller.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boost your home's curb appeal for a quicker sale

Boost your home's curb appeal for a quicker sale

Selling a home in today's market requires a bit of marketing, some sweat and elbow grease, and a touch of luck. But even in a competitive selling market, it is possible to turn the sign in your front yard from “For Sale” to “Sold” so you can move on to your next residence.

First, look at your home as if you were a potential buyer. Drive up to the driveway or the front curb and park, carefully looking at the home as if for the first time. Make note of the beautiful aspects of your home, and also areas that could deter potential buyers. The outside of your home is the first image they will see, both in person, and while pre-shopping online.

One maintenance project to tackle that will really spruce up the exterior of your home is refurbishing the outside woodwork that has been weathered by the sun, rain and snow. If you have a front porch, wooden window edgings or even a back deck, chances are these areas could benefit from new stain for a refreshed and clean look.

Home decks return about 70 percent of their original cost back to homeowners when a house is sold, according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, but that's only when the decks are kept in top shape. To remove moisture and sun damage and protect your exterior woodwork from further damage from moss, mold and rot, Flood wood care offers an entire wood care system from prepping materials such as deck cleaners to stain. Before prepping your deck, consider if you need Wood Finish Remover to remove latex, oil, semi-transparent and solid stains, or if your deck is unstained, you may need Wood Brightener/Cleaner to bring the old and faded gray coloring back to a fresh new wood appearance. Finally, apply a Flood wood stain to your deck and woodwork to give it a beautiful look that will have home buyers and your neighbors impressed.

In addition to your exterior woodwork, also take a look at your siding and gutters. Vinyl and aluminum sidings can collect dirt and look dingy after a season or two. Use a power washer on the siding and gutters to wash away the grime and spider webs and bring some vibrancy back to the outside of your home. Also consider adding season-appropriate flowers, plants or landscaping or replacing gutter downspouts with decorative chains to give your home an artistic look.

Finally, take a close look at your exterior lights. Glass-enclosed lights can become filthy from all the elements, so take a quick moment to wipe them clean with glass cleaner. If your light fixtures are tarnished, or looking run down, purchase a can of spray paint in any complimentary color to the exterior of your home and freshen them up. It will make your lights appear new in no time at all.

These quick-fix projects will boost the look of your home both for prospective buyers arriving at your front door, and also in the photographs visible online. With this better exterior appearance, chances are you'll be able to sell your home much quicker. (ARA)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homes Selling More Quickly, Time on Market Down with Tighter Supplies

Homes Selling More Quickly, Time on Market Down with Tighter Supplies
Media Contact: Walter Molony / 202-383-1177 / Email

WASHINGTON (September 5, 2012) – A new measure shows the typical amount of time it takes to sell a home is shrinking, and for traditional sellers is now in the range of historic norms for a balanced market, well below the cyclical peak reached in 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The median time a home was listed for sale on the market1 was 69 days in July, down 29.6 percent from 98 days in July 2011. The median reflects a wide spectrum; one-third of homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month, while one in five was on the market for at least six months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is a clear relationship between inventory supply and time on market. “As inventory has tightened homes have been selling more quickly,” he said. “A notable shortening of time on market began this spring, and this has created a general balance between home buyers and sellers in much of the country. This equilibrium is supporting sustained price growth, and homes that are correctly priced tend to sell quickly, while those that aren’t often languish on the market.”

At the end July there was a 6.4-month supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace, which is 31.2 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.3-month supply.

There are consistent and related findings between annual consumer research in NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, and sets of data in the existing-home sales series, that show current market conditions are comparable with median selling time in balanced markets.

In periods where the existing-home sales series averaged close to a 6-month supply of homes in listed inventory, which is near the low end for market equilibrium, the home buyer and seller series showed a median selling time of just over six weeks.

In such balanced market conditions, home prices generally rise 1 to 2 percentage points above the overall rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

“Our current forecast is for the median existing home price to rise 4.5 to 5 percent this year and about 5 percent in 2013, which is somewhat stronger than historic norms because of the inventory shortfall that is most pronounced in the low price ranges,” Yun said. CPI growth is projected at 2.1 percent for 2012 and 2.3 percent next year.

From 1987 through 2011, analysis of the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers series showed the typical time on market was 6.9 weeks, while the existing-home sales series showed an average supply of 7.0 months, just above the high end for a balanced market.

The new measure of days on market shows a longer selling time than the historic findings which measured traditional sellers of non-distressed homes. The new series include short sales that typically took three months or longer to sell. “Factoring out short sales, the median time on market for traditional sellers appears to be in the balanced range of six to seven weeks,” Yun explained.

During the peak of the housing boom in 2004 and 2005 when inventory supplies were historically low, averaging 4.3 months2 over the two-year peak period, the median selling time was 4 weeks. Prices in that time frame were bid up and rose at an annual rate of 10.3 percent, historically higher than the 3.1 percent average growth in CPI during the period.

In the economic downturn, time on market for non-distressed sellers peaked at 10 weeks in 2009 with a 10.0-month annualized supply. The median price fell 12.9 percent that year, which was the biggest annual decline on record.

“Ironically, if housing construction doesn’t pick up to normal levels within two years, supply shortages could be sustained for an extended period and lead to above average appreciation,” Yun said. “Therefore, any unnecessary hindrance to housing starts, such as excessive local zoning regulations or stringent bank capital rules for construction loans, should be carefully re-examined.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

1The new days-on-market figures, which will be included in future existing-home sales releases, are derived from a monthly survey for the Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at www.Realtor.org. The median time on market includes all listings, which can be misleading at times because an abundance of fresh listings can skew the average downward. Previously published data were expressed in ranges of selling time, but the data has been adjusted to also show median selling time; calculations date to May 2010.

2Supply figures are adjusted to cover the survey periods of the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Annual surveys since 2004 are based on 12 months of transactions between July of the preceding year through June of each study’s publication year. All but one of the earlier studies were on a calendar-year basis.

NOTE: Existing-home sales for August will be reported September 19 and the Pending Home Sales Index will be on September 27; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Simple steps to care for granite, marble and other natural stone

Simple steps to care for granite, marble and other natural stone

Natural stone is one of the most sought-after upgrades in a home. Providing both versatility and timeless beauty, it's no surprise that granite is the most popular natural stone option. Though very durable, the composition of stone can make it sensitive to damage through daily use. By understanding a few important do's and don'ts, you can easily keep your home's natural stone looking as good as the day it was installed.

Natural stone like granite, marble, travertine and slate is commonly used for countertops and backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms, two of the most-used rooms in a home. With the daily activity associated with these spaces, it's important to keep in mind some important stone maintenance tips.

Tip 1: Don't use all-purpose, ammonia or bleach cleaners

Whether you have granite countertops in your kitchen or travertine tile in your bathroom, there is a correct way to clean the natural stone in your home. Many homeowners are tempted to use all-purpose cleaners or bleach to keep stone surfaces clean, but these types of cleaners may actually damage your stone. Cleaning products that contain vinegar, lemon or other acidic ingredients can dull the surface, reducing the stone's luster and eating away at the sealer. Ammonia-based cleaners should also be avoided as they can cause the stone's surface layers to wear off over time.

Tip 2: Do use safe stone cleaners

Do you want to know what cleaners are safe for granite and other natural stones? Smart homeowners only use specially formulated cleaners.

Tip 3: Do clean up spills immediately

Because natural stone is porous, spills can be absorbed, even if the stone has been sealed. That's why it's important to clean up food and liquid as quickly as possible. Acidic spills such as orange juice, tomato sauce and sodas are examples of kitchen spills that should be cleaned up immediately. In the bathroom, shaving cream, body soap and perfume spills are concerning. These types of spills have a higher potential for damage and cleaning them up quickly will help to prevent staining and etching.

Tip 4: Don't use scouring pads for tough spills

Always use a soft cloth or dishtowel to wipe surfaces. As tempting as it may be, avoid scouring pads or rough sponges, even if the spill has hardened. Rough materials are not safe for natural stone and can scratch or dull the surface, leaving it vulnerable. For tough spills or hardened food, spray a kitchen countertop cleaner first and let it soak for a few minutes. The cleaning agent will safely do the work for you and be much more effective than abrasive scrubbing.

Tip 5: Do seal your stone surfaces

Granite and other types of stone can be professionally sealed during the installation process, providing an extra protective shield. But sealing is something that needs to happen regularly to sustain this barrier. Maintaining the sealant is easy by using a cleaner with sealant built in, that rejuvenates stone and grout seals without leaving residue.

Whether you plan to upgrade to natural stone or it was one of the reasons you decided to purchase your current home, it's important to protect your investment so it looks great for many years to come. These simple steps will help the stone retain its durability while adding to the aesthetic appeal of your home. (ARA)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Home improvements that help save energy year-round

Home improvements that help save energy year-round

Want to save more of your hard-earned paycheck? Conduct a quick home improvement checkup to look for potential maintenance needs that can help you save energy year-round.

"Take time now to inspect your home for potentially energy-wasting areas," says Kathy Krafka Harkema,  "Check major systems that help protect your house - the roof, gutters, siding, exterior finish, windows, doors, foundation and steps, plus interior components like heating, cooling, chimney and electrical systems."

Look for obvious signs of deterioration, damage or potential problems, Krafka Harkema advises. Replace or repair worn or broken items before they can lead to more extensive or expensive repair needs.

Increase curb appeal

One quick way to help improve energy efficiency and curb appeal is to install a new ENERGY STAR-qualified entry door or storm door. Pella's new low-maintenance entry doors offer many styles designed for virtually any budget.

"Fiberglass entry door systems offer the look of a wood-grain door but with the energy efficiency, and durability and low-maintenance of fiberglass," says Steve Brenizer.

Look for wood-grain fiberglass entry doors for exceptional energy efficiency. "Choose a factory prefinished entry door for a consistent look and to save your precious time," Brenizer says.

Inspect windows, doors

When checking your home's windows and doors, inspect interior and exterior finishes around them. Is the paint or stain in good condition? Signs of flaking and peeling or water stains may mean that it's time to refinish or replace the unit.

Next, check windowsills and tracks for dirt and debris like sand, leaves, insects or pine needles. Open windows and doors to clean out the area with a soft brush like a dry paintbrush. Debris can hamper the airtight effectiveness and overall performance of doors and windows.

“Look at the weather stripping around doors and windows, reattach loose pieces, and replace those that are ripped to help enhance your home's energy efficiency,” Krafka Harkema adds.

Finally, feel for uneven sliding or sticking when you open and close a window. Try using a non-oily lubricant, like paraffin wax, on opposing finishes to help it move easier.

If you are wondering if your windows have passed their expiration, consider these 10 signs it's time to replace them:

1. Overall poor performance - Opening or closing is a difficult task and air leaks in, out or around the window

2. In a fog - Condensation or fogging occurs between panes of glass

3. Chipping away - Chipping, peeling or deterioration on the finish on or around the window

4. Singled out - You have a home with single-pane windows, much less energy efficient than double- or triple-pane options

5. Water logged - Telltale water stains remain on the leaky window or the area around the window (inside or out)

6. Out-of-date - Replacement parts are hard to find or even non-existent

7. Energy hog - Energy bills are on the rise, so it's time to help increase your home's energy efficiency

8. Draft dodger - You can feel cold air or drafts when sitting near the window ... and it's closed

9. Shut in - Windows are painted or nailed shut

10. Simply put - Window won't open easily or won't stay in place once you open it

Don't suffer through another winter with a drafty door or a window that whistles in the wind. Windows and doors can be replaced year-round. (ARA)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beautiful rooms are meant to be lived in

Beautiful rooms are meant to be lived in

Fall is the time of year when thoughts turn back toward the home. With kids back in school and the holidays approaching, many homeowners look for ways to make their rooms more stylish, but struggle to find the balance between beautiful and livable.

“Of course your home should be stylish. But if you can't enjoy living in it, what's the point?” says Erinn Valencich, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and blogger for HGTV's Design Happens. “I believe in creating beautiful spaces that are fun, elegant and livable.”

Redecorating a space with a few key elements can completely transform the look and feel of the room without breaking the budget. “When starting the room refresh process, keep the livability of the design elements in mind to make sure you have a balance that works within your lifestyle, but still gives the room personality and a special flair for style,” notes Valencich.

One of the easiest ways to breathe new life into a room is by refreshing the floors. A dull or scuffed floor can make a room look tired. Selecting the right flooring will create the perfect canvas to help tie all a room's design elements together. Flooring is one of the key design elements that will bring both personality and livability together.

Adding personality

“Great rooms have a personality ... a mix of vision, style and inspirations from everyday life, all while being comfortable and easy to live in,” says Valencich, who shares her tips at www.quickstepstyle.com/videos.

Blending a variety of influences will add distinction to a room. Start off by having a clearly defined color palette. One option Valencich suggests is selecting a rich-toned floor to serve as a warm background for furniture. “I like the Burnished Walnut planks from Quick-Step's Veresque collection to really help ground a room,” says Valencich. “These floors feature exclusive GenuEdge Technology, which provides a realistic hardwood edge visual. The floors stand up to busy lives, and stay looking great.”

To add contrast to a warm floor, add a subtle color to the walls. Then, incorporating a collection and variety of prints and frames will help break up the wall color and add visual interest. Once all these elements are brought together, Valencich recommends adding a few pieces and accessories that will add dimension, such as a chandelier or colorful accent pillows to tie the entire room's personality together.

Livability within design

Authentic style that works in real life is key to achieving a beautiful and comfortable room. Valencich's recommendations include:

* Keep both comfort and style in mind when selecting furniture pieces.

* Develop a list of how the room will be used by your family and guests. Keep it top-of-mind when determining the layout and flow of the room.

* Select flooring and furniture that is durable. Be sure to review all the warranty information before making a purchase.

* Consider how much maintenance will be required to keep the pieces in your room looking fresh.

* Don't let the room get too cluttered so that it becomes uncomfortable for guests to relax.

* If you are going the DIY renovation route, seek products that are easy to install.

“Keep all these different pieces in mind while going through the design-planning process. Then, mix in your sense of style and personality for a room that will fit all your needs,” says Valencich. (ARA)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Street Names Make a Difference on Asking Prices?

Street Names Make a Difference on Asking Prices?

Source:  National Association of Realtors, Daily Real Estate News

The street name of a neighborhood can affect the asking price on a home, at least according to a new survey by Trulia.

Trulia analyzed the median asking price per square foot among various types of address suffixes, like “Lane” and “Park.”

Street addresses with the words “Boulevard,” “Place,” and “Road” were found to have higher average asking prices than homes with addresses ending in “Avenue,” “Drive,” or “Street,” according to the Trulia study.

For example, homes that were located on streets with the word “Boulevard” in the address sold on average about $117 per square foot compared to properties located on addresses with “Lane,” which would sell on average for $101 per square feet, or “Street,” which sold for about $86 per square foot.

Homes that had “Boulevard” in the address had the highest asking prices of all the street-names Trulia studied.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New technologies help keep your home safe, secure and energy-efficient this fall

New technologies help keep your home safe, secure and energy-efficient this fall
September is Home Safety Month, October is Energy Awareness Month

With shorter days and cooling temperatures, autumn brings many changes that can affect your home. Now is the ideal time for homeowners to prepare their homes to be secure and energy efficient. With some easy updates and modern tools, your home will be ready for fall with surprisingly little effort.

Start by making your home safe for all members of the family. Cooler temperatures mean fewer hours of light, especially when daylight savings time ends. Shorter days can leave a house more vulnerable to intruders since it's easier to break in to a home unnoticed at night. Smart homeowners will check to make sure there is ample outdoor spot lighting and motion detector lights around their home. A well illuminated house is less attractive to criminals.

Door hardware is another great security feature to update in the fall. No need to fumble with keys in the dark - many companies now offer a touchpad lock that can be opened hassle-free with a unique code or with the click of your smartphone through the use of modern cloud technology.

Furthermore, you can keep your home safe, secure and energy efficient wherever you are with modern tools like the Iris Smart Kit that allows you to manage home tasks right from your smartphone and operate as an affordable security system. Automatically turn the light on in your living room as you approach the house at night, receive a text when your kids arrive home from school, or receive an alert when the motion sensor on your front door is activated while away on holiday vacations.

Available at Lowe's, this easy-to-use home automation system is affordable for homeowners and renters. For homeowners looking to save energy and cut back on heating costs, the kit includes a programmable thermostat that allows for remote control of the thermostat through the Iris app. Also included is a smart plug that can remotely control devices in the home, such as lamps, and report back on the specific device's current and historical energy usage.

The motion sensors and contact sensors included in the kit also include a temperature gauge, so if you notice that the temperature by your window or door is colder than the rest of the home, take some time to add weather stripping or caulk around areas where cold air can creep in. You can also detect air leaks by simply holding a piece of paper or a feather near doors and windows to detect airflow. Since heating accounts for the largest portion of your utility bill, with 45 percent going to space heating (U.S. Department of Energy), using technology to identify energy leaks in your home and making appropriate updates can put more money back into your pocket.

Iris can be easily installed by the homeowner and the basic level of monitoring service is free. The free service includes text and voice alerts to the homeowner when alarms are triggered, remote control of connected devices, thermostats and locks, and access to remote video streaming from cameras in the home via smartphone or computer.

With these easy tips, preparing your home for fall's cool weather and dark days is simple. New technologies, such as Iris, make keeping your home safe, secure and energy-efficient as easy as picking up your smartphone. You'll feel good about saving money and keeping your family and belongings secure too. (ARA)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Add curb appeal to your home with new exterior trim

Add curb appeal to your home with new exterior trim

When it comes to selling your home, curb appeal means everything. And nothing makes a worse initial impression than exterior trim that is peeling, cracked, rotted or falling apart. Replacing old or damaged exterior trim is a great way to freshen up your home today and make it stand out among others tomorrow.

According to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal sells 49 percent of all homes. Potential buyers start evaluating a house as soon as they pull up. That's why it's important to make your house look great from the street, long before putting it on the market.
“You only get one chance to make a first impression. Exterior trim that is cracked, rotted or peeling can turn away buyers,” says Peggie Bolan, vice president for Chicago-based CMI, a building products manufacturer. “Homes with beautiful exterior trim have that wow factor that attracts buyers. Making a good first impression can be the difference between getting a signed contract and keeping the 'For Sale' sign in the yard.”

Inspect your trim

Fall is an ideal time to inspect your home's exterior trim. Walk around your house and look at the trim around your windows and doors, at the corners, and near the roofline. Warning signs of potential problems include peeling or blistering paint, mold and mildew, warped boards, and spongy or soft spots. Check for termite damage too; they cause more damage to U.S. homes than fire, floods and storms combined.

If the trim is damaged beyond repair, the only solution is replacement. Depending on your carpentry skills, replacing exterior trim can be a do-it-yourself project, but it is often best to hire a local contractor or remodeler. One product option that has become a preferred choice among homebuilders and remodelers is a treated exterior composite trim called MiraTEC. This engineered wood trim is ideal for nonstructural applications, such as roofline fascia, window and door trim, corner posts and porch trim.

Find the right trim

Although traditional wood trim often looks good when installed, it can split and swell, and is prone to knots and defects. Other materials, like PVC and fiber cement trim, may be difficult to install and also have performance limitations.

With a clear cedar, wood-grain texture on one side and a contemporary smooth finish on the other, MiraTEC trim is ideal for many home styles from historic to modern. It is made from eco-friendly materials, looks and handles like wood, and is coated with a mildew-resistant primer, making it easy to paint. MiraTEC is very durable and it resists moisture, rot and termites.

Don't put your house on the market until you've taken a good look at your exterior trim. If you don't like the way it looks, neither will a buyer.