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.

John and Barbara Gandolfo – Top Agents

Century 21 American Homes would like to congratulate John and Barbara Gandolfo who have just been featured in Top Agent Magazine.

With nearly half a century of combined experience, husband and wife Brokers John and Barbara Gandolfo have what it takes to make their client’s real estate dream come true. The pair’s sincere, friendly, and welcoming demeanor, along with their impeccable work ethic and vast industry knowledge, have endeared them to their many buyers and sellers on New York’s Long Island.

While any agent can sing their own praises, the actual proof of a job well done is in the reviews they receive. As Premier Agents on Zillow.com, they have been the recipients of scores of five-star reviews, including this one: “My family and I had the pleasure of using John and Barbara Gandolfo to sell my family s home. They were amazing! Always available to answer calls and all of our questions. They really made us feel like we mattered to them. I cannot say enough good things about them. They are a real class act! Thanks again, John and Barbara.”

When they aren’t working, John and Barbara enjoy nothing more than spending time with family and friends. They are also committed philanthropist, and donate frequently to their company’s charitable organization, the Heart of American Homes Foundation. They also provide frequent support to in-need members of the community.

For more information about John & Barbara Gandolfo, call 516-779-8423 or email JohnGandolfoSells@gmail.com

Source: https://topagentmagazine.com/top-real-estate-agents-in-new-york/

Give Your Home a Modern Makeover

Even if your home has seen a generation or two of living, creating a contemporary new look may not require a full-scale renovation. The key to creating a more modern feel is all in the details.

Many of these elements can be tackled one by one so you can transform your home into the modern marvel you desire on a timeframe and budget that fits your lifestyle. If a contemporary home is your ultimate goal, start with these key features to create a more modern look.

Lighting

modern lighting fixture

Dingy lighting and dim rooms are the antithesis of modern design. A contemporary space is airy and bright, and the lighting fixtures often help set that tone. Replace outdated fixtures with modern alternatives that boast sleek lines and finishes. Add more fixtures, including table-side task lighting and floor lamps, to brighten a room with limited natural light. Have some fun with the lighting by incorporating colored or textured globes that allow the fixtures to become focal points of contemporary design rather than functional afterthoughts.

Windows

modern windows

When it comes to curb appeal, windows play an essential role in the overall aesthetic. Old, outdated windows are a tell-tale sign of an aging home, so when you’re planning for a modern exterior upgrade, be sure to include the windows as part of your plan. An option like Milgard Trinsic Series vinyl windows offers an expansive viewable glass area and a narrow frame to help you embrace modern home design. Not only do they provide even sightlines for clean, unobstructed views, they’re manufactured for maximum durability and energy efficiency and require little to no maintenance.

Walls

freshly painted walls

No matter the color, a freshly painted space simply feels new. For a true contemporary style, honor simplicity in design and keep colors on the lighter side. However, don’t be afraid to introduce a pop of color in the form of a bold accent wall or even wallpaper that makes a statement. A good rule of thumb: maintain a simple palette of no more than three shades to incorporate a truly minimalist, modern atmosphere.

Doors

modern doors

The entry and exit points to your home are more than functional features; think of them as a canvas for making a bold design statement. For the patio, consider a sleek and contemporary door with a frame profile so narrow you’ll hardly know it’s there. For example, Milgard offers a contemporary Trinsic Series sliding patio door with the maximum available viewable glass area and an optional narrow handle that blends seamlessly into the frame to lend a modern flair. The doors are also ideal for low-maintenance living; the durable vinyl frames don’t absorb moisture or require painting.

Hardware

modern cabinet hardware

Even the smallest details matter when it comes to contemporary design. You may not need to replace or update your cabinetry, but you’ll most likely want to select hardware that fits a more modern motif. Avoid weathered and overly polished finishes in brass or nickel, and opt instead for selections like matte black, gold and copper, which are all well-suited for contemporary kitchens. Don’t be afraid to mix and match for a bit of an eclectic look, such as different pulls for the upper and lower cabinets or a unique style for drawers.

Source: Milgard

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

Barbara Mullaney – Top Agent Magazine

Century 21 American Homes would like to congratulate Barbara Mullaney – Long Beach.

Barabara Mullaney, featured in Top Agent Magazine

Barbara was also featured recently in Top Agent Magazine. Barbara launched her real estate career in 2002. When she first started, she worked in real estate during the day, while waitressing and bartending in the evenings. She had such an affinity for the business that she was soon able to focus solely on being a full time agent. As an individual agent, Barbara has achieved the honor of receiving the prestigious Century 21’s Double Centurion Award, is ranked #2 out of all the Century 21 agents in the Metro NY area, and ranks #33 out of 55,000 C21 agents in the entire United States.

The Barbara Mullaney Team sold over $37 million in Real Estate this past year. It is also important for Barbara to give back to the community where she lives and works. Most recently, Barbara and her team hosted a fundraiser as guest bartenders to raise money for Long Beach Reach, a nonprofit organization that helps people with addiction and mental illness. “It’s a fun way for people to get together for a good cause and to raise awareness,” she explains. Also this past year, Barbara played basketball with other community members against the Harlem Wizards to raise money for the local East School Elementary PTA. “It was a lot of fun, especially because of the excitement and entertainment it provided for the kids!” she says. She also contributes to the Christmas Angel, an event that supports Long Beach families in need. Other charities close to her heart are Easter Seals, Make A Wish Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer. She
and her team are passionate about supporting Long Beach residents and
anyone in need.

mullaneyteam

Source: TopAgentMagazine.com

Barbara has appeared in two episodes of HGTV’s Island Life where she
showcased the city of Long Beach on national television and helped buyers
to find their dream home.

To learn more about Barbara Mullaney, visit www.c21amhomes.com/barbaramullaney, e-mail realtor.barbara@gmail.com, or call 516.582.6096

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