3 Outdoor Projects for Summer

3 Outdoor Projects for Summer

  The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, convertibles are out in full force, and it’s time for some outdoor projects. Here are some ideas for outdoor projects that can either add value to your home, be something you will enjoy for years to come – or both! Outdoor fire pit/fireplace. Sometimes even in the summer, the nights can be cool. What better way to enjoy the outdoors than sitting around a fireplace or fire pit? A seating area, chairs and a couch with cushions complete with rug is a cozy way to be outdoors well into the Fall. I have seen plenty of nice sets online in community groups. I have even seen people selling brand new sets that didn’t fit their space. Their mistake can be your gain if you keep your eye out. Get out the marshmallows and invite your friends over! Landscape beds with sprinklers or drips. I enjoy digging in the dirt and it is so nice to see all the colors of plants and flowers. What’s not so fun is having to water them constantly in the heat of Summer. Why not think about installing a sprinkler system under your landscaping beds? Or, if you have pots and planters, you can install a drip system to keep your plants and flowers looking great all season. You can have fun with different sizes, styles and colors. If you want to go all out, place a fountain in the landscape bed and create a peaceful space that is both inviting and relaxing. Go all out with a pool. If you really want to make the most of your Summer days, get a pool. Pools range from small above-ground pools to elaborate in-ground pools with waterfalls. The space, ground, building restrictions, and cost are all a factor with this one. Also, something to consider is that you won’t typically get your money back out of pools when you sell so don’t do this to add value. Do this because you plan on staying a while or you really want a pool! Consider maintenance costs as well. You may find it better to join the local swim club. But if you do decide to install a pool, chances are, you will find you have friends you never knew about – so let me know when it’s open for the season and I’ll bring my...

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Inspiration

Inspiration

  I live and work in Nashville TN. Our nickname is Music City. People move here every day, in hopes of becoming either a songwriter or a star. As a songwriter, or a writer in general, you need inspiration. Something that will, seemingly, just come out of nowhere. Something that hits you between the eyes and speaks to you. It may be a trip that you took, it may be a sunset. It could be a heartbreak or an illness. So many things in our daily lives can inspire us if we are open to them. It can be the same in real estate. When you are looking to buy or sell a house, you have an inspiration. Something came into play that helped you make that decision. Did you take a job in a different area and want to move closer to work? Is your family growing and need more space? Are your aging parents needing help and you are looking to combine two households? Whatever your inspiration, buying and selling real estate can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep your eye on the end game. Keep focused on the inspiration that got you here in the first place. If that inspiration is negative, then focus on how you will feel once it’s over and that chapter is closed. Some of the most award winning, popular, beautiful songs are written out of a negative place so don’t be afraid to go through it. When you come out on the other side, you will be a better, stronger version of yourself and you’ll have new inspirations for a new season. Once you get where you are going, there are entirely new inspirations to be found. What color will you paint the bedroom? What kind of stools will you put at the breakfast bar? What type of painting or art will look best in the living room? You may want to take from travels you have been on and infuse other cultures into your world or you may collect things you have seen at art fairs. However you enjoy to add life to your home, make it a piece of you. I believe, and hear from others, that when you walk into a home, it has a feel. You can feel the energy. What better energy than that of yourself. When others come into your home, they see a piece of you. They see your personality play out in the things that surround them. Make it yours and don’t apologize for it. Who cares if you don’t use this year’s “color of the year” or have the latest trend in countertops in your kitchen. If you love...

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Sound the Alarm – 3 Lessons for Security

Sound the Alarm – 3 Lessons for Security

  I know of two different families that have lost part of or their entire home due to fire over the past two weeks. It is devastating. Catastrophic. It made me think of my plan to get my dogs out of the house if the unthinkable happened to me. I’ve got it all worked out and I think I would be prepared. But what if I’m not home? I also see posts far too often on social media of people who have had their house broken into. Property is damaged, precious belongings are gone, never to be recovered, and insurance only covers so much. Even if items aren’t stolen, it is a total violation of privacy and security. You feel completely vulnerable and it can take a very long time to feel comfortable in your own home again. There are a few lessons here: Get an alarm. I just met with my friend who is a sales rep for an alarm company (CSS Alarms – this is my personal system, and in my opinion, the best!). He said in most areas, he has encounters very few people who don’t see the value of a good alarm system. But in other areas, people don’t want to spend the money to be safe. A good alarm system has security features such as glass break, motion detectors and door sensors. It also has monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You may think you live in a safe area but it’s not all about being robbed. It’s about protecting your home, your belongings, and your loved ones. If you have a monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detector, if you aren’t home or you are sleeping and don’t hear the alarm go off, it automatically notifies the fire department. This is my saving grace when I think about my dogs being home by themselves. The fire department would get there quickly and could get them out. (Pet tip: use a sticker to notify emergency responders what kind of pets and how many you have.) You can go a step further and get cameras installed. All of this is so hi-tech that you can control it from your phone so it’s convenient and there’s a cool factor to it as well. USE IT! A security system doesn’t do much good if you don’t have it monitored or you don’t turn it on. It’s not hard to push a button before you leave the house. If your system can be armed from your phone or a key fob, even better. My friend told me you’d be surprised how many people have alarm systems but don’t arm them and then they get broken into and kick themselves...

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Too Little, Too Late: 7 Steps to a Great Professional Experience

Too Little, Too Late: 7 Steps to a Great Professional Experience

Have you ever been in a restaurant and had mediocre to poor service and when it came time for the server to bring the check they all of a sudden changed their attitude and cared about your experience? Or how about the contractor who is working on your house that doesn’t care, tries to cover up issues instead of solve them, then follows up to “make sure you were happy with their service” and ask for referrals. Too little, too late. I see this in home buying, home selling and home building. A Buyer will write a lowball offer and then be very upset when a Seller accepts another offer before theirs is worked out. Too little, too late. If they really wanted the house, they should have offered a fair price to begin with and the Seller would be more negotiable and feel more a sense of urgency to come to agreement. Sellers will play hard ball when it comes to inspection results and items buyers are asking for. Then when the Buyer backs out of the contract because their requests aren’t being fulfilled, the Seller tries to throw money at it. Too little, too late. Home builders will take short cuts, leave things undone, not use proper materials, do the bare minimum and ignore requests to make it right, then come groveling when you mention you are speaking with your attorney. Too little, too late. As a consumer, listen to the experts. Your Realtor or representative does this every day. They see what Buyers and Sellers are doing, how the market is responding to certain situations and can advise you on the best way to handle it. We are all busy and so many of us have too much but we need to be conscience of not taking things on if we can’t do the job or not do it right. We all have reputations. We all have people we can refer and ask for referrals for business. Here are some tips on ways to make sure you and your client/customer have a great experience: Set expectations at the beginning. Ask how they like to be communicated with and how often. Let them know your process and how you manage it. Ask what would make this a great experience for them. Review contracts, quotes, etc. together before starting the job. Tell them you expect feedback before, during, and after the job is complete. When an issue arises, handle it immediately. Don’t make the mistake of giving someone too little, too late. Your reputation and possibly your income can depend on...

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Rain, Rain Go Away

Rain, Rain Go Away

  With all the recent hurricanes, rain is on the forefront of people’s minds. Rain and water can do a lot of damage to a home. Here are some common issues from water and some ways to make the rain, rain, go away.   ROOF LEAKS Find a reputable roofing contractor. I have a great one that will do free inspections. If they find anything that needs to be repaired, they will let you know so you can fix it for a lot less than if you waited until you have water coming in through your kitchen ceiling. Sometimes a fix can be as simple as making sure there are no exposed nail heads. If you keep up with the regular, smaller repairs, you can extend the life of your roof and save yourself money overall.   GUTTER DOWNSPOUTS Gutters are supposed to catch water and direct it away from your house. There are a few things that need to happen to make sure they do their job correctly. They need to be sloped correctly. Water should not sit in the gutters. If it can’t get to the downspouts, it can flow over the top and get into your house in a number of ways. Gutters need to have downspouts. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen plenty of water spilling out onto a patio or in a yard from the second story because there was no downspout attached. Another important element of downspouts is that they divert the water away from the house. They can only do this if they flow out to a splash block (turned the correct way) or if they extend or are buried out into the yard, far enough away from the house. Gutters need to be clean and free of debris. Again, if water can’t flow freely in and out of the gutters, it can’t do its job. Clean them out regularly – more if you have trees near your roof – or get a guard of some sort to keep debris out.   BASEMENTS AND CRAWL SPACES This is a biggie. CHECK YOUR CRAWL SPACES!!! I have seen more sales fall through because of water/moisture issues in a basement or a crawl space. Here in Tennessee, we have humidity. If the slightest bit of water gets into a basement or crawl space, you are asking for trouble. Learn how to properly use and operate your basement and crawl space vents for your area’s conditions. If you have water, get it out. Mold can start to grow and water can ruin and rot materials that are designed to insulate and support the structure of your home. There are many solutions,...

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You’ve got the keys, now what? 5 Things to do as soon as you buy a house.

You’ve got the keys, now what? 5 Things to do as soon as you buy a house.

  You have signed your life away. You’ve stressed out over everything falling into place and the day is finally here and you have bought your dream house. You’ve got the keys, now what? Well, now the fun begins. There are so many things that you can do to make your house your own. Here are a few that I think are top of the list: Change the locks. Unless you bought a brand new construction home that has an owner key that trips the locks as soon as you use it the first time, this is a MUST. You have no idea how many keys are out there to your new house. The Seller can tell you they gave you all the keys but they may have forgotten about the house cleaner they left a key for just to clean after they moved out. If they didn’t get the locks changed when they moved in, the previous handyman could have a key. It is a very inexpensive first step that can give you real peace of mind. While we’re on the subject of peace of mind… Set the alarm. Have an alarm installed or get the existing system checked and begin monitoring. You are going to be in and out of the house. You will have many people in and out of the house as well. People will see your belongings being brought in, and, some may take notice of your nice things. You will be exhausted and may forget to lock up properly when you leave. The best deterrent for thieves is a good alarm system that is armed. Just remember to arm it when you leave or go to bed! Hire a designer. I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t afford to hire a designer – I just bought a house!” There are many designers that will just charge a consultation fee and will help you with everything from where great-grand-dad’s grandfather clock will look best, how to arrange the bonus room for maximum game space, to what colors will look great to show off the family photo above the fireplace. You can get great bang for your buck on this one, trust me. Meet the neighbors. You may think you can wait on this one. You can’t. Once you’ve been in your house for a month, you’re no longer the new neighbor. I agree that the neighbors should make the effort to meet you first, however, if they don’t come by, make the effort. There will be a time when you need them to sign for a package, pick up your mail, borrow a cup of sugar, or you have water running from a pipe...

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