5 Upgrades to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

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How have you been spending your summer? Have you been tending to your garden, grilling dinner on the patio or taking dips in the pool?

No matter what your property offers or how you and your family like to spend your free time, there’s almost always something you can do to make your outdoor space more inviting and enjoyable.

Could your home’s exterior use some sprucing up? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Arrange a living area. Outfit your patio with weatherproof furniture, a bright rug and some cozy blankets. Take it a step further by propping up a projector screen for movie nights. 
  • Hang string lights. Inexpensive and easy to install, string lights provide instant ambiance to your deck, pergola or gazebo. You can even attach them along a fence corner to create an outdoor nook. 
  • Install stone pavers. Use pavers to design or add to an existing patio. Pick something that matches your home’s aesthetic. For example, if your style is rustic, you could try cobblestone pavers. For a modern look, go with classic gray concrete.
  • Build a porch swing. If you’re the handy type, you’ll just need a few pieces of wood, some rope and anchors to set up the perfect place to watch the sunset. Add cushions and pillows for an extra touch of comfort.
  • Add plants and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with greenery. Include hanging and potted flowers, or grow a small garden in a sunny spot. If you’re looking to add shade, plant a fast-growing tree or two. 

A beautiful outdoor space can make your home more enjoyable for you now and more marketable when it comes time to sell. For more value-adding ideas or info about the housing market, get in touch today.


Posted on August 11, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features |

Curb Appeal Upgrades That Can Add Value

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As a homeowner, you shouldn’t ignore curb appeal.

Keep it in great condition, and you’ll likely see high property values and serious marketability when it comes time to sell. Let it slide, and the opposite could happen. 

Even if you’re not planning to sell anytime soon, refreshing your home’s exterior can add value or give you a head start if you choose to sell later.

It just takes a little effort and a touch of creativity.

Here are four ways to up your curb appeal:

Plant a garden.

A pop of color goes a long way, so plant a few flowers or a flowering bush in front of your home. Opt for perennials, which can last more than two years.

Upgrade your mailbox.

Forget the standard old mailbox that came with the house. Try a brick model — or revamp your existing one with a fresh coat of paint or a new post.

Make your front porch more inviting.

If you’re looking for an easy project with a big impact, add some charm to your porch. Get some potted or hanging plants, a brand-new welcome mat and a couple of cozy chairs.

Freshen up your door.

Give it a new coat of paint, add some new fixtures and a kickplate, and maybe update your address numbers, too. They might seem like small fixes, but they can make a big difference in your home’s overall appearance.

Curb appeal matters — especially if you’re considering selling your home soon.

Looking for more tips on boosting the value of your home? Get in touch today.


Posted on May 26, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Selling |

How to Maximize Space in a Tiny Home

Inevitably when you’re watching one of those tiny house reality shows (we know you know which ones we’re talking about, HGTV!), a buyer who’s looking at a tiny house says something along the lines of, “Well, there isn’t much space/storage room, is there?”

That’s a given when it comes to a tiny house. The clue is in the name, after all — a tiny house just isn’t going to have a lot of room, especially for storage space, and especially for the little extras that can make your house feel bigger.

But thanks to modern design, there are a lot of ways you can maximize space in a tiny home without sacrificing any of the attributes that make it attractive — or tiny. 

Invest in lots of windows …

One of the best ways to make any room feel bigger is by lighting it up, wall to wall, corner to corner. This is usually easiest to do by adding windows, which can be especially effective when placed high up toward the ceiling in a tiny house, leaving room on the walls.

More windows do take up space, of course, but if living somewhere that feels light and airy is important to you, then windows are the very best way to accomplish that goal.

… Or floor-to-ceiling shelving

Of course, you’ll want to think strategically about your tiny house’s layout because with every decision you make to add something, you’ll probably be forgoing something else you might like. So instead of a lofty window, maybe you’d rather install a wall of shelving where you can stash books, plates, clothes, whatever you want to stash.

Put shelves or hooks on your doors

Doors that swing open and shut aren’t always the best idea in a tiny house (more on other options below), but if you really love that aesthetic, then you can still maximize space by adding some storage options to those doors. Hooks can work on either side of the door, and shelves can be a good option for the side of the door that swings away from the room (so you don’t end up smashing the shelves on a wall). They can be a storage spot for bags or coats or whatever you might have needed in a coat closet in a larger home.

Use space outside

Especially if the weather is mostly nice where you live, investing in a big deck or porch where you can eat, set the kids up with homework, or just settle down and read can make living in your tiny home much more, well, livable. Some tiny homes even have an outdoor cooking space for grilling or baking outside, but if you don’t want to go that far, seating for several people and maybe a hammock can go a long way toward making you feel like your house is richer in square footage than it actually is.

Let there be skylights

When your wall space is already taken, one excellent way to add light to a space without adding windows is through skylights. After all, you probably aren’t going to hang shelving from a sloped roof; it’s real estate that you can’t really do much with except for let in some light, so if you feel like windows just aren’t cutting it, consider installing a skylight or two.

Lose the walls entirely …

Open spaces tend to look bigger than walled-off spaces — consider the trend of having a kitchen/dining/living room space that flows into each other; it makes all three areas feel more spacious than they really are. Even though walls only take up inches in reality, they seem to have a disproportionate effect psychologically.

A totally open tiny house might not be feasible for you, and there are definitely other options if you have to have walls or room dividers of some kind. But if you can, open up as much space as possible to give yourself the illusion of a bigger room.

… Or use lots of sliding doors or curtains

If you must have divided space, hanging curtains or installing sliding doors can be an excellent alternative to a wall, which takes up more room than either one. Plus, with a curtain or sliding door, you can keep the space open when you want to feel like your tiny house has more square footage than it really does, then draw the curtains or slide the door shut when privacy is more important than airiness and space.

Add a loft

Most tiny homes don’t have room for two full stories, but a common solution to the issue of space is found in lofted beds or bedrooms. A loft in a tiny house can often accommodate a queen-sized or even king-sized mattress, and when you’re asleep, it doesn’t matter if your body is physically close to the ceiling; you won’t notice at all. Some people even sleep better in a space that feels cozier and more enclosed, once they get used to it.

If you can add a loft to your tiny house and use it for a bedroom or storage space, you’ll be freeing up that much more floor space and giving your place a little boost in terms of feeling bigger than it is.

Turn under-stair space into awesome storage

Not all tiny homes have stairs, but for those that do, there’s usually some lucrative storage space to be found underneath the stairs. You could do like the bigger houses do and use an under-stair closet, but you can also get really creative in a tiny home: Maybe you can create small cubbies with drawers or baskets under the stairs, or perhaps that space will be where you put your bookshelves. Whatever you do, don’t neglect that prime real estate under the stairs — it’s not just for pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter anymore.

Use mirrors wisely

Wall space is usually at a premium in a tiny house, but one very intelligent way to use that space is with mirrors, even if they’re serving as a backdrop to a shelf. While windows are one of the best ways to let more light in, mirrors reflect and bounce back the light that’s there, plus they can make your tiny home feel twice as big when they’re placed correctly.

In a tiny house, a wall mirror probably makes more sense than a floor mirror. You can find or get mirrors cut that exactly fit your wall and reflect the entire house back at you — don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re living in a mansion once they’re installed.

Don’t be afraid to max out one room (but make it your favorite)

People like tiny houses because they’re drawn to the minimalist lifestyle, naturally. But most of us also have a “favorite” room in the house, one where we spend most of our time and energy, where we feel like we’re at our very best. Perhaps it’s the kitchen, or maybe you’re more of a bedroom dweller, or it could be the dining room where your kids sit and do their homework.

Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to go all-out with one room in your tiny house. This really should be just one room, and maybe it’s a space that you can take partially or mostly outside, like the living room or dining room. Once you take any tendencies toward maxing out one room beyond that one room, you’ll find your tiny house really won’t support it … but there’s no harm in giving yourself one room where you feel like you aren’t making any sacrifices of comfort for space.

Don’t box in your storage

Optical illusions are a fabulous way to make your tiny house feel bigger. Even though you might not actually be saving space, using doorless cabinets is one way to help maximize the space in your kitchen (especially if you hang a mirror behind those plates or appliances). On a similar note, using a hanging rod for a closet instead of building an actual closet with a door does actually save space while also making the room appear bigger because you can see around the “closet” to the walls. 

Small appliances can slide in and out on drawers

The kitchen is one place where many people in tiny houses end up making a lot of sacrifices. Storing small appliances can feel especially like a burden, but there are some interesting solutions by way of sliding drawers that let you slide out an appliance when you’re using it and tuck it back away and out of sight when you’re finished. Toaster ovens, coffee machines, and other items you use every day but don’t have the counter space to keep out and ready can still be turned on quickly and put to good use before you slide them back home.

Consider a breakfast bar

Instead of a dining area inside, one nice solution for tiny homes is to build a breakfast bar that connects to your kitchen counter. It’s just a little bit of extra space, but having somewhere to sit and drink your coffee or tea while getting ready for the day — or winding down with a beer or glass of wine at night — can make all the difference in making a place feel like “home.”

Put lights under shelves

Natural light is all well and good when the sun is out, but when it’s hiding or down for the night, you might need to boost the light in your tiny home using artificial means like actual light bulbs. Not all light fixtures are maximized for tiny home use, but you can often find some good places to put light when you look underneath shelves, drawers, kitchen cabinets, and other storage spaces. You can get some nice, bright lights for relatively cheap and save yourself the headache of figuring out what kind of lamp will be small yet powerful enough to suit your needs.

Look underneath for storage

Another time when it pays to “look underneath” is when you’re seeking out storage space. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much storage is available in your tiny house when you can think creatively about it. Can you hang some baskets underneath your sink to hold cleaning supplies? Could you add drawers under your bed or sofa where you can keep extra blankets, bedding, or clothes? Some creative tiny-house enthusiasts are even able to find storage space underneath bathtubs — so crawl around for a little while and see whether you can identify any storage opportunities that you’ve been quite literally overlooking.

Murphy beds are back…

If you haven’t lofted your bed, then a murphy bed — a bed that folds out from a wall — can be another excellent option for a tiny house. Many areas offer specialists who can make custom murphy beds that look like a desk or a table when they’re folded up, then unfold into a spacious and comfortable bed when it’s time to sleep. This way you can make your bedroom multitask as a dining room or study area, only getting out your bed (which, let’s face it, is probably one of the biggest items of furniture most of us own) when it’s time to use it.

…And fold-out desks and tables are in

Beds aren’t the only items of furniture to get the fold-out treatment. Fold-out tables and desks can work very nicely in tiny homes with limited space, and they work exactly like it sounds: You fold them out when you’re ready to use them, then tuck them away when you’re all finished until you need them again.

By being conscious of the space you’re using in your tiny home and doing your best to help every square foot multitask depending on the time of day, you’ll find that you have a lot more room than you thought you would in the tiny home of your dreams.


Posted on June 4, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Interior Design |

Don’t need it? Then don’t pay for it.

You know all those fantastic home features you hear your friends gushing about in their new home? The top-notch school district and Jacuzzi? The spacious third level and even more abundant yard? 

Well, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But they’re not right for everyone. 

In fact, for some buyers, they might even be a waste of money. 

Are you on the hunt for a home this year? Give careful consideration to whether you’re paying for features you’ll use. 

Want to know the three that people often overpay for?  

The Biggest House on the Block
Have three dogs and a few active toddlers? Then room to run is a must. Is it just you and your spouse? Springing for a five-bedroom corner lot might not be worth the cash. 

Buying tip:
Buy for the space you need and are planning for – not the extra level you might use someday. You can always buy a move-up property if your plans change.

A Highly Rated School District
Great schools are important if kids are in your future – or if you have little ones already. But if that’s not in the cards for you, plotting your homebuying plans around them isn’t necessary. 

Buying tip:
You may find more affordable properties, and property taxes, if you search outside those school districts.

Custom Amenities
Home theaters, quartz countertops and pools are popular amenities that many buyers are willing to pay top dollar for. Are you?

Buying tip:
Focus on the amenities you know you’ll use often and get the most value from. 

It’s not always easy to evaluate your short- and long-term needs. That’s why it’s essential for us to discuss how your future plans will affect your homebuying goals.  

Do you need help finding your perfect-fit home with features you’ll love (and use)? Reach out today to get started. 


Posted on May 28, 2019 at 6:54 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Buying, Home Features |

33 Ways To Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

Not too long ago in our country’s history, talking about making your house “greener” might get you labeled a hippie tree-hugger. But times change, and as gas, electricity, and water prices creep up, more and more homeowners are seeing the (strong) advantages that come with considering the environment when you make decisions about your household.

Are you interested in making your home more energy-efficient — and saving money in the bargain? You have a lot of options, from cheap to expensive, so read on to discover whether there are some big (or small) energy-saving opportunities that you’re missing.

GET AN ENERGY AUDIT

Most utility companies offer an energy audit, oftentimes for free: They’ll send an expert out to your house to take a look at all your appliances, your lights, your windows, your doors, and more — then make recommendations for changes you can make that will save energy (and money) every month. If you want a personalized rundown of everything you could do to and for your house to make it more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, an energy audit is a must.

SWAP OUT YOUR LIGHTBULBS

Compact fluorescent or even LED bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but they also last at least 10 times longer than incandescents and use only about 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb.

As your incandescent light bulbs flicker out, consider replacing them with a greener alternative. And if you decide to swap them all out at once, you’ll start seeing a difference pretty quickly in your utility bills!

PAY ATTENTION TO THE SUN

There’s a lot you can do to heat and cool your home without spending any money at all — but you’ll need to keep tabs on where the sun is in the sky. In the northern hemisphere, windows with southern exposure are going to get the most direct sunlight, so start with those. Make note of whether and when the sun shines into your home across every season, then adjust your habits (and your blinds) accordingly.

For example, if the sun is shining directly into your house during the winter season, then you might be able to save some money on your heating bill by opening up all your curtains and blinds in the morning to allow the sun in. But if you’re getting that direct sunlight in the dead heat of summer, then the opposite applies: Close your blinds and curtains in the morning to keep your house cool.

UNPLUG UNUSED ELECTRONICS (OR USE POWER STRIPS)

Did you know that plugged-in chargers, appliances, and other electrical devices still pull electricity from the wall even when they’re not in use or charging anything? It’s true!

To eliminate the constant drain on your electricity, you should unplug any unused devices, or you can also use power strips with an on-off switch. Keep everything plugged in; just flip the switch off when you’re finished using it.

WEATHER-STRIPPING YOUR WINDOWS

Especially in some older houses, sometimes windows might not be entirely airtight — meaning that you’ve got drafts from the outside sneaking hot or cold air into your home against your wishes.

A relatively cheap and easy fix is weatherstripping your windows to eliminate those drafts and ensure that what’s outside doesn’t creep inside and vice versa. It’s as simple as a trip to a hardware store and a few minutes to weatherstrip each window back at the house.

TURN DOWN YOUR WATER HEATER

Hot water feels amazing in the shower … but here’s the thing: Your water heater is constantly working to keep its water consistently hot, and if you’ve got the gauge set at a high temperature, then “consistently hot” takes a lot of energy to maintain.

Take a look at your water heater’s settings and ask yourself if the hot water really needs to be as hot as you have it. Turning down the temperature ten or even five degrees can result in some surprising savings — and you might not even notice when you’re mixing that hot water with cold for your ablutions!

REPLACE YOUR WATER HEATER

The older a water heater is, the more energy it’s going to take to maintain, so if your heater is looking a little spent, consider swapping it out for a newer model.

You can even get a tankless water heater, which heats your water up as you turn the tap on. Not only will your hot water seem inexhaustible, but you’ll also be saving a bunch of energy (and money) by divesting yourself of a 50-gallon tank that’s constantly being heated and re-heated.

COLLECT RAINWATER

Depending on where you live, the weather might be an asset that you haven’t tapped yet. You can’t use rainwater for everything, or even very many things — you can’t drink it, and you won’t want to use it to cook, wash dishes, or bathe with — but if you keep a cistern of rainwater in your yard, then you’ll always have a green way to water your grass and flowers in the spring and summer.

START A COMPOST PILE

You might already have a compost pile if you garden, but even if you don’t, it’s worth considering; you can use compost for any flowers or grass on your property, and some metro areas even have a compost exchange program where you can submit your food scraps and get fertilizer in return. There are also sometimes classes on how to get started composting, and it’ll significantly reduce the amount of trash you’re throwing away every week.

SWAP OUT YOUR SHOWERHEADS

If you like to take long showers, this fix can be especially helpful: Change your current shower head for a low-flow version that uses less water. These often have several settings for pressure and spray so that you can customize your shower experience — and you probably won’t even notice that you’re using significantly less water once you make the change.

BUY A SMARTER THERMOSTAT

You don’t necessarily need a “smart” thermostat for your home (although it’s always nice to change the temperature using a phone app from the couch — just saying!), but if you don’t have a thermostat that you can adjust to change the temperature at different times of the day, then you should definitely invest in one.

For example, you could set your thermostat to lower the temperature of the house by 10 to 15 degrees when you’re at work during the day, and instruct it to start bringing the temperature back up to “normal” an hour to 30 minutes before you arrive home. And many thermostats even let you designate temperature by days of the week, so if you know that you’re almost never home on Saturday night or Sunday morning, you can adjust your temperature accordingly.

AIR-SEAL (AND MAYBE INSULATE) YOUR ATTIC AND BASEMENT

You may know that heat rises, and that applies as much inside your house as it does in the world outside. That means a drafty attic could result in a lot of energy spent keeping the house warm in the wintertime, and it won’t do you any favors in the summer, either. An uninsulated basement can also let in cold air in the wintertime and out in the summertime.

Check to see if your basement and attic are air-sealed and insulated. If not, consider investing in an upgrade.

TURN OFF UNNECESSARY WATER

Even if your faucets aren’t leaking or toilets aren’t running, it can still save a little bit of water to eliminate water to any pipes that aren’t using it. If you have a guest bathroom that gets little use, or a kitchenette that only sees action once a year, then consider turning off the water to those sinks and other outlets.

USE CEILING FANS INSTEAD OF AIR CONDITIONING

Air conditioning is a wonderful invention, and it feels amazing in the heat of the day in the middle of summer — but it sure is an energy hog. Instead of turning on the air conditioning, try opening all your windows and turning on the ceiling fans. When it’s hot outside, sometimes just getting the air moving inside can make a big difference, especially at night after the sun is down.

RECONSIDER SPACE HEATERS, AND USE FANS JUDICIOUSLY

That said, plugging in devices to help keep you cool (or warm) in general are big users of energy, so if you’re serious about cleaning up your carbon footprint, think about whether you can do without that space heater or fan in the window. If not, we understand, but if so, then you’ll see a big difference in your energy usage.

USE COLD OR WARM WATER TO WASH CLOTHES

Some stains just won’t budge without bringing the heat, but for the most part, you clothes will get just as clean in cold or warm water as in hot water. And washing with cold water is also a little easier on the fabrics, making your clothes last a big longer. Most washers have a cold-water setting, so try it the next time you’re washing up a load and see what you think.

ONLY RUN FULL DISH/LAUNDRY LOADS

When the time does come to wash, it will save a lot of energy, water, and money if you make sure you’re only washing full loads of both dishes and clothes. This might mean you have to invest in a bigger laundry basket or buy a few more plates so you won’t run out, so think about the best way you can make sure your loads are as big as possible and then commit to only running the appliances when they’re at full capacity.

ADD SOLAR SCREENS TO WINDOWS

The sun can be used to heat your home without using much energy, and that can be a really nice thing in the wintertime … and not so nice in the summer when you’d really prefer not to heat your home at all. Solar screens can keep the sun out of any windows where it shines in directly, maintaining the cool cavern you’ve carefully cultivated. In the northern hemisphere, they’ll be most effective on south-facing windows.

INSTALL SOLAR PANELS (OR SOLAR SHINGLES)

Solar panels can offset your energy usage (and your bill) by quite a lot, and now there are even more options for making your roof an energy-catching addition to your house. Solar shingles are smaller and less obvious than full panels but still bring the same amount of generation goodness to your roof, so the next time you have to re-shingle the top of your house, look into adding some into the mix.

CHOOSE A ROOF WITH A LIGHT COLOR

The sun beats down on your roof all day, and if you’ve chosen a dark-colored roof, then the roof is absorbing all of that sunlight (and associated heat) every day, which isn’t always ideal. To keep your attic relatively cool, pick light-colored roofing materials; they reflect the sun’s rays more than absorb them, allowing you to maintain climate control down below without using as much energy.

USE RECLAIMED WOOD OR BAMBOO FOR FLOORS

Not all wood flooring is created equal when it comes to environmental friendliness, so if you’re refinishing your floors or building new, consider a renewable wood source that looks good and doesn’t require cutting down more trees. Reclaimed wood is one good option, as are bamboo floors — the plant grows quickly and is replenished by pruning, making it a great choice if you want new floors without the guilt.

ADD SOME STORM DOORS

Every time you open your doors to the outside, it’s letting the outside in. One way to combat this leakage of warm or cool air into the great outdoors is to install storm doors, especially on the most-used entrance to the house. A storm door helps provide an additional layer of protection to the doorway (already a spot where a lot of your air-conditioned or heated air escapes), giving it an extra seal and allowing less to escape when you enter or exit through the door.

UPGRADE YOUR APPLIANCES

If it’s been a while since you looked for a new washer, dryer, dishwasher, or refrigerator, then you might be surprised by how far they’ve come in terms of energy and water usage. Many appliances are now Energy Star certified, meaning they’re more energy-efficient and “green” than their traditional counterparts. When the time comes to upgrade, take yourself online or to a showroom floor and look at how the replacement appliance measures up in terms of energy usage and cost, which can help you make an informed decision about whether spending a little more money now is going to lower your other bills for years to come.

TUNE UP YOUR HEAT AND AIR CONDITIONING ONCE A YEAR

This might be as simple as replacing the filters and as complicated as getting a full service from a professional, but if you just can’t live without that heat or central air in the house, then this is a smart way to ensure your systems are performing at top efficiency (and save money, too). Look at your heating every fall and your air conditioning every spring to make sure you’re getting it all tuned up before you really need it.

REPLACE YOUR DESKTOP WITH A LAPTOP

These days, laptop computers are just as powerful and often a lot more convenient than a desktop. You can get a laptop stand for your desk and use a wireless mouse and keyboard to get the full desktop experience, but running a laptop takes less energy even with similar accessories. Plus, you have the luxury of packing up your entire computer in a single bag.

REPLACE YOUR WINDOWS

Windows are wonderful for letting in light and breezes, but when it comes to the warm or cold temperatures you’ve cultivated inside your house, windows are literal holes to the outside that will render useless your efforts to be comfortable. Your windows should be well-sealed and draft-free, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to ensure that but replace them. It’s expensive, but you might be surprised how much your windows were contributing to the heating or cooling bill once you’ve taken the plunge and replaced them.

PLANT TREES

A tree on the south side of your house can be a godsend in the summertime, creating a reservoir of cool air that spills over onto your house. It’s an investment that can take a while to mature, but if you know you’re going to be in the house for a while, then planting and caring for some trees around your house will increase your curb appeal while simultaneously making it a more pleasant place to live.

ADD A ROOF RIDGE VENT

For attics that collect and trap a lot of heat, a roof ridge vent can be the perfect way to encourage that heat to escape and never return. They’re vents that keep the attic protected from the elements but allow warm air to exit the attic, and if you’re already getting your roof redone, they could be the perfect solution to a too-hot upstairs floor.

BUY A WIND TURBINE

Like solar panels, wind turbines can offset some of your own energy costs, and they’re usually lower-profile than solar panels. Popping a wind turbine on your roof can generate energy all day, every day, but the return on the investment is going to be highest in homes that usually get a lot of wind, so talk to neighbors (and maybe that energy auditor) to see if they make sense for you.

USE CONCRETE FOR COUNTERS OR FLOORS

If you’re a fan of the industrial look and it’s time to remodel or build, then you could do a lot worse than consider concrete floors and countertops. It’s relatively cheap and easy, requires no mining or tree-felling, and is one of the greenest options available on the market (plus, just think of how good those floors will feel on a hot summer day).

REPLACE TOILETS WITH LOW-FLOW VERSIONS

Every time you flush a toilet, the older versions use gallons of water to clear the bowl. There are a lot of newer models on the market that are low-flow or even have different flush options for water usage on the same toilet. Like showerheads, low-flow toilets are one of those changes that don’t feel like a sacrifice but yield savings on your water bill nonetheless.

XERISCAPE

Green lawns look nice — but in a lot of climates, they use a ton of water and weed-killer to maintain that green, lush look. Many homeowners are turning to xeriscaping as a way to retool their outside space so that it still looks nice — and natural — but doesn’t require a sprinkler to keep up.

Talk to a landscaper about your lawn options and see whether it makes sense to revamp your lawn with some plants and gravel to replace the grass. It looks just as nice (sometimes nicer) and requires a lot less manual labor to maintain.

USE A MANUAL PUSH MOWER

If you live in a region where grass grows like weeds and you don’t need to water, then maybe it makes perfect sense to keep your lawn … but you’ll still need to mow it regularly. One greener alternative to a riding mower or a motorized push version is an old-fashioned manual push mower. They do work, but you’ll be using your own elbow grease instead of gasoline to power the blades, so you’ll get a workout while you mow.

Deciding to make your home more energy-efficient can involve a simple move like turning off water to rarely used sinks and toilets, or as complicated and involved as replacing appliances and installing solar panels. Figure out your ideal level of investment and take things one step at a time — before you know it, you’ll have a green home that saves money without sacrificing comfort.


Posted on March 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Home Ownership |

Smarter Technology for a Smarter Home

Smart tech has come a long way for homeowners. With the right tools, you no longer have to get up to turn on lights or change the thermostat. Have a habit of forgetting to lock the front door or turn on your porch light at night? Smart home tech can help with that, too. 

Are you thinking of installing a few smart devices in your home? Here are some of the most popular and practical options to consider:  

Security Products
This includes motion-activated doorbell cameras, door locks with timers and garage doors controlled by smartphone apps. These technologies can offer peace of mind for homeowners who live alone and added independence to anyone with limited mobility.

Lighting
Motion detecting exterior lights are the most publicized in this category. However, there are also indoor sensors that control lights as you enter and exit a room or open and close pantry doors. And Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs allow you to customize mood lighting throughout the house. These options offer convenience while at home and added security when you’re away.

Appliances 
Virtually all appliances come in smart versions today — from kitchen scales with built-in recipes to Bluetooth-enabled slow cookers to washers and dryers that let you schedule your laundry loads. These can make housework more manageable for those on a busy schedule.

Assistants 
These smart home tools do more than give you traffic updates. Using IFTTT (If This, Then That) customization, they can create a truly connected home. For example, they can turn on specific lights when your TV comes on or open the garage door when you get within a certain distance of the property. And they allow you to voice-activate many of your smart tech commands.

Smart home devices are also one of the most in-demand features with today’s homebuyers. Installing them could increase your property’s long-term value and marketability. 

If you’re considering a new home, or have questions about your home’s value, get in touch today.


Posted on January 29, 2019 at 6:43 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features |

Understanding What Comes With the Home

When you buy a pre-owned home, do you know what will come with the house? Do you get to keep all the appliances, the art on the walls or the outdoor pizza oven on the patio?

Determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the previous owner will vary by seller and contract. Here’s how to determine what conveys with the home you’re considering, as well as tips to safeguard yourself when negotiating those extra items.

1. Check the listing. Start at square one and look at the original listing. Hopefully the seller specified the items included in their home’s asking price. 

2. Know the screwdriver rule. For the most part, if it takes a screwdriver to remove, it’s considered a part of the home. This includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail, it’s removable and likely not included in the sale.

3. Negotiate with the seller. If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t part of the listing, we can negotiate with the seller

4. Talk to your lender. If the seller agrees to include big-ticket items, you’ll want to tell your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of loan you have, it could affect the appraisal or change the value of the property. 

So, unless the seller specified the washer and dryer in the listing, you should assume they’re not included. As for the pizza oven? If it’s built into the patio, it’s probably already built into the listing price. 

Have more questions about what’s included with a home? Get in touch today.


Posted on November 27, 2018 at 6:38 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Buying, Home Features |

Could you use a detached living space?

Today’s homeowners and homebuyers love detached living spaces. These small stand-alone structures located on the property come with all sorts of benefits — from added room for storage and recreation to extra income.
They’re also easy and affordable to design and install. Starting at around $9,600, this additional square footage can deliver serious bang for your buck, as detached areas can serve as:

Private Rental Space: You can offer the unit on a vacation rental site or lease it to a full-time tenant to bring in some extra income year-round.

Individual Living Quarters: These separate units are perfect for multigenerational families. They can be used by college kids home for summer or elderly parents who need assistance but want privacy. They’re also ideal guest rooms for family and friends coming to visit.

Quiet Home Office: Private, quiet and separated from all the hustle and bustle of the main house, detached units make highly functional home offices for the self-employed entrepreneur or side hustler.

Creative or Leisure Room: Need somewhere to escape and relax? These units are your solution. Personalize them with an art studio, a cozy reading nook, a yoga space or whatever else helps you wind down.

Fun Kids’ Playroom: Give the kids a space of their own with a toy-filled playroom in the backyard. They’re perfect for late-night slumber parties and playing video games with friends.

If you’re interested in building a detached living space on your property, get in touch today for recommendations for local contractors and designers. Remember to also look into any municipal or HOA restrictions, as you may need permits before starting your build-out.

Want to learn more about the market’s latest real estate trends and how your house compares? Get in touch today.

 


Posted on August 28, 2018 at 4:33 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Home Ownership |

What Sets Your Home Apart From All Others On The Market?

When you are getting ready to list your home think about those things that set your home apart from the rest. Take a step back and approach it like the potential buyer who will make an offer on your home. And, remember 2 keys ideas: 1) You don’t live in your home the same way you sell it. 2) It only takes one buyer.

If you can’t find the one thing that sets your home apart you can do 3 things: 1) Go online to virtual tours to see the homes your home is competing against. Look at homes in the same area and priced the same as you plan to list yours. 2) Go to new construction homes nearby to see how their designers arranged the furniture. Unfortunately, even if your home is a true custom – one-of-a-kind home – it doesn’t necessarily set it apart from the semi-custom homes. Semi-custom homes are constructed with integrity and if they are brand new they can show better than a home that is 10 years old that hasn’t been kept up or is dated. So, again, ask yourself what sets my home apart from all the rest? 3) Go to open houses or ask your Realtor to take you to a few homes that are direct competition.

Once you have done all you can to position and market your home then you have to wait. Waiting can often times be the hardest and most demanding part of the process! It’s not only challenging for you as the seller, it is challenging for the Realtor. Yet, the one thing I know is homes sell. We have received offers on every home we have listed so far. We have had a couple people who choose not to sell and wait for the better offer.  From personal experience that is tough. We had a house we bought to flip and we didn’t get the price we wanted so we decided to rent it out. 8 years later we sold it. During those 8 years we learned a lot. My biggest advice on not taking an offer – consider what it costs to hold your house – monthly and annually: property taxes, maintenance, utilities, and the cost to get it back into show quality in order to sell it.

So again, what is it that sets your home apart? The pictures in this post are pictures of recent homes I’ve toured and interesting features that stood out to my clients.


Posted on September 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Selling |

Great Ideas For Kitchen – Renovated Kitchen In Carmel, IN

Great renovated kitchen in Carmel. Do you have a preference for light or dark granite against cherry cabinets?

This home is located in Carmel, Indiana with a fenced backyard, close to Clay Terrace and the Monon Trail and under $250,000. They have renovated the entire kitchen with a light granite against cherry cabinets that extend to the ceiling and stainless steel light fixtures. Call Jack Lugar or Elisabeth Lugar at 317+572-5033 if you would like to schedule a showing on this home or need a sold realtor to represent you in the buying process.

Want some great ideas for kitchens? Click HERE and Click HERE where you will read more about how  “The kitchen island is often a central gathering spot in the home, in addition to being a functional, much-used workspace. That’s why it’s important to light it right. I’m a fan of hanging fixtures, which, if chosen correctly, provide ambient and task lighting while acting like beautiful jewelry. Here are a few key tips for selecting kitchen island lights that get the job done while looking great.”


Posted on July 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Elisabeth Lugar | Posted in Home Features, Home Maintenance Tips |