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Are You Ready for Your Long Island Summer to School Switch?

September is just around the corner and with Long Island schools starting between September 3rd – 5th (find you school’s start date) we have a few tips for you.

School kids running in elementary school hallway, front view
  1. Enjoy Summer: Make the most of August and enjoy the rest of your summer! Take a trip and if your schedule is limited there are plenty of beautiful beaches or you can make it a day trip to explore long island.
  2. Get Organized: Transitioning from summer to school takes a toll on all families, start by building routines and planning for the upcoming school year. Have your children practice prepping their clothing for the next day and going to bed/waking up to a schedule that suits the school year.
  3. Shopping: By now you’ve seen advertisements for back to school sales in just about every store, now is a great time to save money on school supplies and clothing. Prior to shopping it is important to do an inventory of clothes to see what still fits and what is needed. The same is true for supplies, compare your school supply list with items you already have in order to determine what you will need to buy.
  4. Monitor: Keep an eye on your children as the school year starts and made adjustments as needed.

Make the most of your remaining summer and if there is anything we can do for your Real Estate needs please give us a call or use our website to search for homes!

How-To Better Invest in Your Home

Many Americans own homes that need a little work. Whether you need to revamp a few fixtures or totally renovate, you want to make sure you’re making the smartest decision for your style, and wallet. To help, HGTV host and real estate expert Egypt Sherrod offers the following home improvement insights, in partnership with LightStream.

Good bones add the most value. While personalization is important in creating your dream home, don’t overlook the less glamorous—but essential—elements. You may not get as excited about upgrading your HVAC units as you do about making over a bathroom. However, tending to projects that improve the functionality and systems in your house often lead to a higher ROI compared to aesthetic-focused ones.

Choose “timeless” over “trendy”. It’s easy to be tempted into the latest trends during home renovations, like shiplap walls and waterfall countertops. They may be hot right now, but could become dated very quickly. Remember how cool wood paneling and shag carpets used to be? Choose timeless, classic styles and easily updatable accessories that won’t cost a fortune to replace down the road.

Invest in your nest…without depleting your nest egg. Home improvements can be a smart investment that dramatically improve your quality of life.  The key, however, is to stay within a budget that doesn’t become a financial burden. Many homeowners mistakenly use their entire savings to pay for a renovation, which can leave them without a financial emergency safety net. 

Consider your financing options. Homeowners may opt to use credit cards for their projects, which can become expensive quickly, as balances with high-interest rates carry over from month to month.  While a home equity line of credit can be a solution for some, these often take time to arrange, and many homes haven’t accrued equity to tap. But there is an option that can provide needed funds without sacrificing your financial well-being—a fixed rate, unsecured home improvement loan.

Source: SunTrust Banks, LightStream

3 Starter Tips for Throwing a Fun Pool Party

Pool owners often love to invite friends, family and neighbors over for a seasonal splash. When planning your own pool party, consider the following tips.

Clean your space. When it comes to a pool party, it’s important to start with the basics. Make sure that your pool is working and clean. If there are leaves or other debris on the bottom, use the skimmer to get them out or, if you’re feeling adventurous, dive in yourself and grab them. Double check that your filter, heater, and any other accessories are running smoothly at least a day or two before your party. These are problems that will need at least a full day to solve, so you definitely don’t want to run into them the day of. Following the pool area, ensure that your yard is straightened up. You can start by making sure outdoor furniture is all set to perfection, your lawn is mowed and your garden is on point.

Set a theme. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive a bit deeper. A pool party typically doesn’t have a theme, therefore, creating one can really take it to the next level and separate yours from the rest of the pack. When choosing a theme, be sure to take into consideration the season and try to choose lighter, more “summery” colors like pink, yellow or light blue (or all three). Once you have picked the theme, start incorporating it into every facet of the party. If the color scheme is pink – think big. Buy pink floats for the pool, pink towels for everyone to use to dry off, get pink accent pillows for your backyard furniture, make pink cupcakes, get pink plates and cups and make a pink drink for the kids (maybe even a separate one for the adults, if you know what we’re saying!). Fully incorporating the theme gives the party more energy and a direction.

Factor in the food. The next important factor is having a tasty food menu. The food can truly make or break a party. During the summertime, grilling is the go-to and is definitely our recommendation. You can never go wrong by making fan favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken. Keep in mind, it is always important to know your audience, and if you think that they would prefer something along the lines of pizza, then feel free to venture outside the grilling norm! Whether it’s the adults or the kids, the dessert at a neighborhood pool party needs to be a head turner. The amount of excitement and energy that is common in pool party attendees will carry over into yummy treats for sure.

Source: LOOP-LOC

Published with permission from RISMedia.

When Selling Your Home (or Just Enjoying It), Lawns Matter

According to recent research from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), 81 percent of all Americans have a lawn, and a majority—79 percent—say that a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying a home. Respondents to the NALP survey ranked a nice size yard second behind a renovated kitchen when asked to prioritize home features.

And for millennials, a good-sized lawn was actually the No. 1 priority, with 82 percent reporting that having a lawn is important when renting or buying a home (compared to 81 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of baby boomers).

Apparently, respondents value lawns for good reason: they use them regularly. According to the survey:

– 47 percent report entertaining in their yards at least once a month
– 57 percent use their yards for recreation at least monthly
– 77 percent report relaxing in their yards at least once a month
– 32 percent garden in their yards multiple times a week

But Americans’ love affair with green spaces doesn’t stop at their garden gates. In fact, they are also enjoying grass and green spaces beyond their doorsteps. The NALP research also found that Americans visit public parks and playgrounds more often than movie theaters, pools and beaches, bowling alleys and museums.

Whether you plan to list your home soon or just want to maximize the enjoyment of your yard, the NALP recommends the following lawn maintenance best practices:

Practice “grass cycling.” Allowing grass clippings to remain on the lawn helps return nitrogen and nutrients to the soil.

Water wisely. Provide your lawn a deep watering every few days, not daily. Watering your lawn too frequently often leads to shallow root growth.

Control weeds. April is the ideal time to apply pre-emergent weed control. Weeds can dominate lawns, so taking proper care now will help keep weeds under control.

Maintain your mower. It is important to keep your mower blades sharp. When left dull, blades are ineffective and can damage your lawn.

Fertilize your lawn. Adequate fertilizer provides proper nutrients that are critical for a healthy lawn. Talk to a lawn care professional to select the best product for your lawn.

Source: LoveYourLandscape.org

Looking to Buy Your First Home? Settle These Things First

Very few events in your life are going to be as exciting as purchasing a home, but first-time buyers need to remember that this process can be very complicated. Well before you make an offer on a home, you will need to carry out a few important tasks:

Narrow Down the Location
Finding a great neighborhood can be quite challenging, and you don’t want to bid on a beautiful home in the wrong location. After you’ve narrowed your search to a few specific neighborhoods, you should try to visit those areas during different times of the day. You also need to speak with some of the homeowners and neighbors about the pros and cons of those areas.

Get Pre-Approved
Just about any lender that offers conventional mortgage services can pre-approve you for a mortgage loan. Once you’ve been approved, you will know exactly how much money you can offer and which price range you should be looking at. Many sellers are also very eager to work with buyers who have been pre-approved because closing will take just a fraction of the time. This also can help you avoid looking at homes that you know you won’t be able to afford.

Write Out a List of Necessities
It might be tempting to look at luxurious homes with incredible upgrades, but the necessities should always come first. Some of the variables that you’ll need to consider include the location of the home and the total number of bedrooms. You might also be interested in the age of the appliances. Buying a home with older appliances might be cheaper initially, but you could end up spending thousands to replace those gadgets in the coming years.
 
Establish a Moving Plan

Every step of your move doesn’t need to be planned out before you make an offer, but there are a few considerations that you and your family will need to discuss. Some buyers decide to take one or more weeks off work, while others prefer to hire professionals who can do most of the hard labor. You must contact all of the utility companies, as well, to see if they offer any moving packages that allow you to quickly switch from one address to another.

Another vital step in this process is having the home inspected before you sign any paperwork. An experienced inspector will carefully look over every inch of the property and make sure that there are no dangerous issues that need to be addressed.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s Housecall.
 By Meghan Belnap
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

Don’t Make These Mistakes When Shopping for a Home

There’s no doubt about it, buying a home is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – decisions you will make in your lifetime, both on a financial and emotional level.

Between the stress that’s often involved and the copious amounts of information you’re suddenly taking in, it’s no wonder that your decision-making process can get muddled during the home-search process. Be aware of these five common mistakes people often make when buying a home so that you can learn to avoid them:

Working without a real estate professional. You might be tempted to save money and go it alone, especially with the lure of websites that make it seem very simple, but buying a home is not like booking a hotel room. A good real estate agent will help you find homes you didn’t know about, negotiate a better price, and handle a myriad of legalities and logistics to make sure the deal doesn’t fall through.

Getting hung up on a certain style or neighborhood. All home shoppers set out with an ideal home and location in mind, which is the right approach. But sometimes your dream doesn’t work with your budget or market availability, so be open minded and let your agent show you some other options. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Thinking about future resale value. Buying a home is very much about the here and now – getting your offer in fast and closing the deal. But in the frenetic pace of the hunt, don’t lose sight of evaluating the resale potential of the home you’re about to purchase. Remember, this is not just a home for you and your family, it’s an important long-term investment for your future. Make sure it’s a wise one.

Not jumping on a good find. Sometimes home shoppers pass on what turns out to be their best option simply because they saw it too early in the process. Don’t overlook a gem assuming you’re going to come across something better – if it checks all your boxes, go for it.

Getting hung up on cosmetics. Don’t let someone’s taste in design get in the way of your decision-making process. Learn to look beyond paint colors, cabinets, fixtures and other easily changeable style choices to what really matters about a home: space, structure and location.

A good rule of thumb when searching for a home? Stop, take a deep breath, and think. Or sleep on it when you can. Keeping a level head will help you avoid making a mistake you’ll regret later.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

4 Easy Staging Tips You Haven’t Thought About

Selling can be overwhelming. You’re packing everything up, trying to make the house look pristine when all around you is what feels like chaos. Since buyers want that great first impression, you know it’s important to declutter—often that means cleaning until your home looks like it’s never been lived in. And while you’re rushing around, trying to find a new place for your items, it may seem like an impossible task.


Take a breather—it’s actually easier than you think. Here are four staging tips that are so easy they may not have even crossed your mind:

Decorate for the potential buyer. You know who this is because you were once this person! If you’re in a starter home neighborhood, the buyer will likely be a younger individual or couple who is looking for more space after cramped apartment living. Pick some trendy paint colors like lilac gray or muted pastels and keep the decor minimalistic and modern. Forget decorating a kid’s bedroom and opt for an office layout in the second bedroom instead.

If you’re looking to downsize from a, say, four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac, you’re probably going to attract the family crowd. Emphasize your space by decorating according to their needs. Have a finished basement? Amp up the recreational feel with some movie theater loungers or make it a game room!

Think about your neighborhood as well. If you’re in walking distance to a dog park, you may find that your buyer has a furry roommate. If your home is near a highly-rated school, that’s also an indicator that kids may come with the package for whoever owns your home next.

Use resources. You don’t have to take on this process all by yourself. Rent a storage unit so you don’t have to worry about hiding away your must-keeps. This way, these items are already neatly packed away and ready for your new home, and they won’t get in the way of a buyer who isn’t looking to see how bad your shopping addiction is.

Additionally, hire a cleaning company. You can find some relatively affordable options, and this will help you stay stress-free throughout the process. Once it’s clean, all you have to worry about is keeping it that way!

Focus on the small accessories. Take a tour of your own home, but with fresh eyes. What do you see that stands out as grungy, old and just a complete turn-off? This can be anything from a sticky, splattered garbage bin that needs a good cleaning to your shower curtain which has a dense layer of soap scum that’s going to scare even the bravest buyers away. Replace any small accessories that won’t cost you a fortune, and clean anything that can look like new with some TLC.

Use your nose. Again, take a tour of your home, but this time focus on what you’re smelling. A better option might be to find a friend or family member who can volunteer to do this for you—someone who doesn’t live with you or isn’t over all the time. Identify the sources of odor in your home and figure out a solution. The last thing you want is for a buyer to come in and quickly be hit by an unpleasant smell.

The cleaning and decluttering should help with this, but there are other things you can do to ensure your home is a breath of fresh air:

  • Open up the windows! Let your home air out for an hour or two.
  • Light some candles to freshen up the rooms.
  • Bake a cake or some cookies right before a potential buyer comes over. 

Staging can be easy if you just put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. It is, however, more than just moving around furniture and putting away the excess items. Think back to the tour you took yourself before buying this home. What stood out to you—both good and bad? Think about how it all impacts the senses. Of course, trends change, but the overall feeling of clean and tidy is always the first thing people notice. And customizing your home with some easy staging tricks can make a big difference!

This was originally published on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

5 Things You Can Do to Welcome a New Neighbor

Being happy at home is not just about your house and yard, it’s about your neighbors, too. And when someone new moves in next door, it stands to change your well being…for better or worse. That’s why taking a few proactive steps with new neighbors can be so important for setting the stage for a long and pleasant relationship. You don’t have to become best friends, but coexisting peacefully is a priority, so try these steps to start things off on the right foot:

Introduce yourself right away…without being invasive. It may seem obvious, but in today’s isolated age where we value our privacy, we often tend to keep our distance for too long. So don’t delay in making a simple introduction to your new neighbors—but don’t be invasive. No need to invite them over, just a simple hello and welcome to the neighborhood will do. Let them know to feel free to knock on your door or call should they need anything.

Take care of any border mess. If you’ve been neglectful about leaves or overgrowth between your two houses, now’s the time to take care of it. Perhaps your former neighbors didn’t mind, but tidy things up to prevent any issues with the new neighbors.

Be respectful about events. If you’ve got a party or event approaching that will involve music, noise or extra cars on the street, let your new neighbor know in advance. They will appreciate the heads-up, and perhaps this is an opportunity to invite them over if the occasion warrants.

Be an information source. If they’re brand-new to your town, provide some helpful information, such as which day recycling is picked up, where the school bus stop is, how late the convenience store down the road stays open, the best local dog park, etc. The inside track on the ins and outs of a new neighborhood are always appreciated.

Answer any questions they may have about their house. If you were friendly with your former neighbor, you may be able to answer questions they have about the home they just bought, so be as forthcoming and helpful as possible. If you’ve resided in the neighborhood for some time, you may be able to offer insights on renovations they’re considering, as well.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 Signs You’re Working With a Top-Quality Real Estate Agent

If you’ve bought or sold a home before, you already know that not all real estate agents are created equal. In fact, the differences can be great, with skills, professionalism and knowledge varying greatly from one individual to another. Here are just some of the ways you can discern whether or not you’ve found yourself a top-quality agent:



1. They clearly communicate what to expect.
The real estate process can be confusing and overwhelming. A great agent will clearly explain what you can expect to happen at each stage of the process so that you’re not caught off guard. This is particularly important if you’re a first-time homebuyer or seller. You should feel informed, secure and confident with your agent as you embark on the real estate journey.

2. They are transparent and honest.
You never want to feel as if you’re being given selective information, or, worse, flat-out lied to. You know you’re working with a great agent if they’re uncompromising about telling you the truth—even when the news is bad. If your agent is providing information that negatively affects their pocketbook—or risks blowing the deal altogether—that’s an even better sign that this is a professional who values their reputation and honesty above everything else. This is the type of agent you want to work with again and again.

3. They treat you like a celebrity…even though you’re not.
A great agent gives all their clients the same amount of care and attention regardless of the size of the deal, so whether you’re buying or selling a sprawling mansion or a tiny condo, your agent should be advising you with the exact same level of intent and enthusiasm, and be just as available for your questions and needs. Remember, all real estate agents have a fiduciary duty to put their client’s interest before their own.

4. They’re active on social media.
Top-notch agents are using social media to not just promote themselves and their listings, but to truly engage with their friends and followers by sharing useful information about real estate trends, market statistics, community events, and more. They also participate in social media in order to stay engaged in their clients’ lives. Social media is a way for them to get to know you—and for you to get to know them beyond business.

5. They’re a part of the community.
The best real estate agents are in the business because they genuinely care about the communities they serve. So, if you see your agent out and about volunteering at school, participating in local fundraisers, or sharing good times with others at community concerts and festivals, that’s a good sign that they’re in this business for the right reasons.

If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a real estate professional who embodies the above traits, be sure to give them a great review online and pass their information along to friends and family members. The best agents live by referrals, so be sure to share the love!

 Source: Real Estate Express

Summer Safety for Your Furry Friends

dog playing fetchWarm weather is a great time to get your pet active outside. And while the park, lake or trail may be calling your name, you should also take safety measures to ensure everyone has a great time – your furry friend included.

“Summertime is the perfect time to head outside and have fun with your pets,” says  Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “But when it comes to things like hot temperatures and water activities, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind to keep pets protected.”

Consider the following tips from PetSmart.

Understand overheating behavior. “Dog owners should call their veterinarian immediately if during or after outdoor activities they notice excessive panting, sluggish or unresponsive behavior, vomiting or bloody diarrhea, or bright red or pale, dry gums as these are all signs of overheating and possible heatstroke,” says Freeman.

Stay indoors when temperatures soar. Staying indoors during particularly hot days is often the best option. If your dog must be outdoors, ensure they have plenty of shade, ample fresh water and a kiddie pool filled with fresh water for cooling dips.

Protect those paws from pavement. High temperatures means hot pavement. To protect sensitive paws from burning pavement, take dogs for walks on grassy areas and during the early morning or late night hours.

Watch the water. Summertime pet fun also means trips to the beach, pool, lake or favorite swimming spot. Pet parents should pay careful attention to ensure pets are safe during water playtime, especially around yards and pools that aren’t gated.

“Dogs may seem like natural born swimmers, but the truth is they need training just like people,” Freeman says. “I also always recommend having a gated pool when there are new puppies or geriatric or blind dogs in the home as they can fall in the pool and not be able to get out.”

Never leave home without ID. A leash is always a good idea out of the water, along with a collar and proper identification. “It’s important to make sure your pet is microchipped and that it is registered with up-to-date contact information,” says Freeman. “Dogs are especially prone to escaping during the summer months due to fireworks and storm anxiety.”

Source: Petsmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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