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How to Make Halloween Decor Work All Harvest

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While cobwebs and plastic ghouls can create a fun, spooky vibe, a more elegant approach to Halloween decor can last the entire harvest season. We asked three top designers to share some of their favorite Halloween decorating ideas that work from Oct. 1 through Thanksgiving.

Small touches of fall — apples, small pumpkins and leaves in a vase — are enough for this space. Source: NB Design Group, Inc.

Bring nature indoors

As the weather cools and people spend more time inside, bring in outdoor touches to represent the season.

A branch placed on a table adds fall flavor to this room. Source: Alysha Findley.

“An urn of branches can create just the right amount of Halloween moodiness for your space,” designer Kerrie Kelly said.

Designer Michelle Workman suggests curly willow sticks — gathered with a ribbon and placed horizontally on a table, or arranged in a vase.

And of course, wheat sheaves, bales of hay and dried flowers are also elegant additions.

“You can buy them at any sort of art supply or craft store, and they last from Halloween through Thanksgiving,” Workman said.

Incorporate understated spooky elements

Think of items found in an old haunted house — candelabras, mercury metal accessories or mirrors. They increase the spook factor, but as Kelly explains, they are stylish, appealing and last through the end of November.

“Keeping Halloween designs understated provides versatility,” Kelly said.

A collection of mirrors and candelabras adds a festive vibe that will work for several seasons. Source: Mine H Design Consultant

Decorate with your food

Your mother may have told you not to play with your food, but it’s perfectly acceptable to decorate with your food — especially around Halloween. Beyond the traditional pumpkin decor, Kelly suggests adding gourds such as butternut squash and even curly-leaved greens, like fennel, to indoor arrangements.

“You can include seasonal goodies from your very own yard,” said designer Garrison Hullinger. “Go outside with some clippers and cut branches of changing trees, pluck some gourds or other seasonal veggies you have growing in your garden. Don’t be afraid to pair your awesome garden findings with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from your local grocer.”

A collection of gourds makes a pleasing fall decor centerpiece. Source: Groundswell Design Group

The key to a great centerpiece or porch display is groupings of items, rather than just one pumpkin or one gourd.

“Try to mix things up, so there’s not just pumpkins, but a giant pumpkin, with gourds,” Workman said. “Varying the size is important so you get dimension.”

Go vintage

Classic decor may be your best bet and gives a nostalgic rather than cheesy vibe, explains Workman.

“I love painted wood boards, like of a harvest moon.” she said. “You can also get big tin letters and spell out ‘Boo,’ and it’s cute, not too hokey — just kind of fun.”

Kelly collects vintage children’s Halloween noisemakers and pairs them with old-time candies for a mantle display.

Don’t forget to have fun

At times a porch filled with Halloween accessories is the perfect decorating route to take — especially if kids are in the house, says Kelly.

“We go all out at our house,” Hullinger said. “We have lights, tombstones, ghosts, bats, you name it! After all, you are making an impression by having guests, trick-or-treaters or family over.”

This post was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See the original post here.

How to Remove Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

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I am moving to a new house where the living room and dining area have wall-to-wall carpeting. I asked the previous owner, and he told me there is hardwood flooring underneath. Could you please tell me how to remove carpet?

Source: charlesandhudson.com
Source: charlesandhudson.com

Even with regular vacuuming, carpeting accumulates a great deal of dust, dirt and debris. So if and when you finally decide to rip it up, be sure to give the floor covering one last good vacuuming. Empty the room of furnishings, open the windows and don your dust mask — then get to work!

Materials & tools

  • Large contractor trash bags
  • Nail puller pliers
  • Steel putty knife
  • Flat pry bar (at least 15 inches)
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife (or tin snips)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Carpet padding adhesive remover (optional)
  • Scraper (optional)

Step 1

Was your carpeting installed under shoe molding? Assuming it was, the first thing to do is remove that trimwork with your putty knife and pry bar. Check the molding for damage: If it remains in good shape, save it for reuse. Chances are the trim is full of nails; when pulling them out, take care not to inflict any avoidable damage. If the molding looks a little worse for wear, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint prior to re-installation.

Step 2

Now that there is no obstruction between you and the carpeting, use a utility knife or a sharpened pair of tin snips to cut the material into three- or four-foot-wide strips. (Cut all the way through the backing but stop short of the flooring beneath.) Once complete, begin pulling the carpet away from the tack strips on the perimeter. Roll up the sections as you remove them, placing them into heavy-duty trash bags ready for disposal.

Step 3

Go to work on the tack strips, which are typically nailed to the floor and have rows of staggered tacks that face up to “grab” the carpet. Because the tacks are so sharp, it’s wise to wear leather work gloves at this stage. Insert the hooked end of your pry bar under a tack strip, then press down on the long end to lift the strip. Place all strips within rolls of carpeting, so the tacks can’t tear through the plastic garbage bags.

Step 4

The final step is to remove the carpet padding. If it has been installed with adhesive, laborious scraping may be necessary, or you can try a commercially available adhesive remover. If the padding has been stapled into place, you can rely on nail puller pliers to do the job without gouging your floor surface. Note that before being able to grab the nails with pliers, you might first have to coax them a little with a putty knife.

This article was originally published by Bob Vila on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

The 8 Mortgage Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

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Picking out the perfect home can be a challenging task. But that’s only the first step.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

You still need to be an attractive loan candidate, navigate the mortgage process and plan well for the future.

Since all that can get a little tricky, many home buyers made mortgage mistakes that cost them dearly.

In order to avoid some of the biggest missteps, you should first know what they are.

1. Picking Any Old Mortgage

You don’t want to be saddled for even a short period of time with the wrong mortgage.

Investigate all of your options, and then you need to lay your choices side-by-side and do the math—making sure you have an emergency savings for worst-case scenarios.

Loan shop with several different lenders and use the realtor.com® mortgage calculator to fine-tune your estimates.

2. Confusing Pre-Approval or Pre-Qualification With Commitment  

When you’re pre-qualified, the lender is simply giving you an estimate about how much you can borrow based on information you’ve provided.

When you’re pre-approved, the lender has verified everything you’ve provided and is offering to lend you up to a given amount at current interest rates—under certain conditions.

It’s much better to be pre-approved when shopping for a home, but it’s still not a guarantee: the lender’s final clearance and a loan commitment are subject to an appraisalsatisfactory to the lender, a good title, a last-minute credit check and other verifications.

3. Having Too Much Debt

Even if you pay your bills on time, lenders tend to focus just as much on how much credit you have available to you—that is, your debt-to-income ratio—as they do on timeliness.

Being up to your ears in debt is a sure way to be turned down for a mortgage. Postpone any big-ticket purchases until after you buy your house.

4. Forgetting About Your Credit

Before you apply for a loan, you should know your credit score and credit report inside and out.

Thoroughly check your credit report for any possible mistakes. You can order a free credit report from each of the big three credit report agencies—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian—once a year.

If you see a mistake, dispute it. If your credit is bad, that’s okay: just work on repairing itbefore you apply for a mortgage.

5. Lying on Your Loan Application

Exaggerating your income on a mortgage application or putting down other untruths can be a federal offense.

If a lender finds out, they can make your loan due and payable. And while bad loanofficers may stretch the truth to get a client approved, it’s the borrowers who end up paying the price.

6. Hiding From Payments

The worst thing you can do is ignore phone calls and letters from your lender when you are behind on your payments.

Lenders have many options at their disposal to help keep borrowers from losing their homes to foreclosure, but they can’t do anything for you unless they can talk to you about your difficulties.

7. Skipping a Home Inspection

Failing to make your purchase contingent on a satisfactory home inspection could be a costly mistake.

Good home inspectors examine houses from stem to stern. They’ll be able to tell you whether the roof or basement leaks, whether the mechanical systems are in good shape and how long the appliances should last.

Don’t get caught off guard by needed repairs, or it will mean more money for your mortgage payments.

If you’re unsure of where to find a good home inspector, ask a REALTOR® for a referral.

8. Making Big Life Changes

Lenders like stability.

It’s a good idea to have kept your job for at least a year or two before applying for a mortgage, and it’s even more important to keep your job throughout the mortgage process.

If you’re looking to switch jobs, wait until after you’ve closed the deal.

This article was published by  on realtor.com. See it here. Updated from an earlier version by Lew Sichelman. 

4 Things to Check When You Buy a House in Fall

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Buying a house in the offseason can be a great idea, as homes are a bit cheaper, sellers may be more inclined to sell and there’s less competition from droves of buyers.

4 Things to Check When You Buy a House in Fall
belchonock/iStock/Thinkstock

That’s not the only advantage for those looking to buy a house in the fall: if you know what to look for, you can actually use the fall season as a litmus test to help you spot potential problems and pluses on your prospective home.

1. Leaves, Leaves Everywhere

Shopping for a home during the autumn is an easy way to see how impressive your home will look for years to come. Those turning leaves can make a day at home that much more relaxing.

Of course, leaves can also bring a number of issues.

If the property is full of trees, expect the yard to need heavy cleanup. Leaf cleanup can be difficult and time-consuming labor, so decide whether or not you want to pay for it or do it yourself.

This should be done more than once a season, as too many leaves will clog gutters and drainage systems.

If the yard has been cleaned, look for piles of leaves by the edge of the property to get an idea of what cleanup is really like when you buy a house.

2. Fireplaces

Nothing’s cozier than a night next to a crackling fire when the cold creeps in.

To ensure the cold isn’t creeping down the chimney, check the fireplace. Open and close the damper, checking for drafts each time. A little draft is fine, but a large draft means you may need a new damper.

Also check for any strange smells, like decaying leaves.

While a home inspector will check the general appearance and functionality of the fireplace—like if the damper opens—he will not check inside the chimney.

Ask the seller for evidence of the last time the chimney has been cleaned: if it has been for more than a year, it will need a professional cleaning job.

3. Insulation and Heating

Fall is windy. That’s good, because it will be easier to check for bad insulation.

When touring the home, pass your hand over windows, electrical outlets, doors and baseboards to check for leaks. Make note of any rattling windows, which can indicate a loose seal.

Notice if any room feels colder than others. If so, this can indicate bad insulation or a problem with the heating system in that section. A freezing room during the cold months will likely mean a sweltering one during the hot months.

Ask if you can turn the heater on and off: when doing so, listen—does it sound like a monster banging around in the basement? That’s something that can wake you (or the kids) up at night.

If there are any weird smells, the duct systems may need cleaning—or the furnace may need a second look.

4. Watching the Rain

Take a walk around the property when it’s raining and check for spouts of water shooting out where they shouldn’t be.

This means a gutter problem, which could lead to flooding if water pools on the ground. Make note of where the water is gushing and check the basement’s interior for signs of leaks.

Check the yard’s drainage system. If the home is on slanted ground or a hill base, water should rush by it—not into it. Take note of any ground gutter system and the potential for them to be clogged by leaves during the autumn season.

The more potential for flooding there is, the cleaner you need to keep your yard during the rainy months.

The Telltale Signs for Next Summer

Don’t forget problems that creep up in winter will likely happen again in the summer.

By checking for leaks, drafts and other issues now, you’ll be saving yourself potential repair costs—and high utility bills—in the hottest months of the year, too.

This article was published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here.

Get More Space With Small Kitchen Solutions

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Kitchen remodeling ranks among the most popular remodeling projects each year, as kitchens have become the functional and social hubs for many families.

poligonchik/iStock/Thinkstock
poligonchik/iStock/Thinkstock

Almost every kitchen has a design flaw or something that can be changed to make the space more workable.

However, no challenge is quite as difficult as reworking a small kitchen space.

If you are on a tight remodeling budget, have building restrictions, or own a condominium where you must work with the space allotted, you do have options to transform your kitchen.

Appliances

New appliances can serve to update and unify a room. All stainless steel appliances are becoming more popular—and not just in contemporary homes.

Energy efficiency is a key factor to keep in mind when purchasing home appliances, but the energy efficiency of similar appliances can vary significantly. It is usually more cost-effective to purchase household appliances with high efficiencies.

Built-in ovens, microwaves and storage for small appliances will make your kitchen appear less cluttered.

For homeowners who entertain regularly, the kitchen wine refrigerator has become very popular. These appliances can accommodate from 12 to 300 wine bottles depending on the model.

There are even countertop fridges to keep just a few bottles at a time properly chilled.

Counter Space

Even large kitchens are difficult to work in if there isn’t enough counter space. Plan to cover as much of the area not occupied with appliances with countertops.

If the difference in floor space is a matter of a few square feet, plan your design with deeper counters.

Granite, marble and stainless steel are the most expensive options, with laminate on the lower end of the spectrum and everything else falling somewhere in between.

For homeowners who use their kitchens frequently, different materials will enable a better cooking environment. For example, marble and granite offer cool surfaces for handling dough while the butcher block allows one to easily chop and prepare food.

And, if you like both, you don’t have to choose. It’s becoming more and more popular to combine counter options to create a unique look and a more functional kitchen.

Ready to remodel? Click here to hire one of our licensed and insured pros for your kitchen remodel.

Storage

Squeeze as many cabinets into your design as possible. Think about the placement of cabinets in relation to appliances, also.

Deep cabinets that can hold plates should be located near the dishwasher, and large cabinets with slide-out drawers should be placed near the oven. The fewer unnecessary steps needed to complete a task, the smoother the function of your kitchen will be.

Waist-high sliding shelves that hold mixers and toasters can quickly get small appliances out of sight, but keep them easily at hand. Built-in storage for foods like potatoes and onions—and bread storage cabinets—will also give the kitchen a cleaner look.

Roll-Out Pantry

If there isn’t enough room for a closet pantry, many cabinet manufacturers now make roll-out pantries. These can be pulled out to view the items you have—but rolled back into a space about 18 inches wide and 5.5 feet tall.

If there isn’t room for any type of pantry, consider converting a closet outside of the kitchen to a storage area for fine china, large pots and infrequently used items.

Lighting

One easily overlooked design element is good lighting.

Under-counter lighting and clean halogen lights can make the space appear larger and more comfortable.

Sinks

A small kitchen does not have to have a small sink. A large sink will make it easier for you to clean large pots and pans, and it is a great place to stash the dirty pots before you have a chance to rinse them.

If you are in an apartment or a small house, a large sink in the kitchen can serve double duty as a utility sink, too.

Other Ideas for Small Kitchens

Some other quick solutions to increase the efficiency of your small kitchen include the following:

  • Put a wire basket on the inside of the cabinet to hold trash bags and other frequently used items. These store-bought products are affordable and easy to install on the back of the cabinet door or under the sink.
  • Mount an instant hot water heater on the sink. This is something small that makes a big difference. Installing such a device will usually replace the sprayer or soap. This could be really useful if you indulge in a cup of tea or instant coffee each day.
  • Install a tile back splash on all the walls above the counters, stove and sink. This can quickly change the look of the kitchen and make it easier to clean.
  • Change the cabinet and drawer knobs. This is a very simple and affordable option that will give the kitchen an extra special touch. There are a lot of unique designs out there, so be prepared to use your creative side.

 This story was originally published on HomeAdvisor.com and published again on realtor.com. See it here.

Tiny House: Magical Mountain Retreat on Maui

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Located in quiet Kula in the shadow of Mount Haleakala, we found a tiny house perfect for a buyer who wants to experience a different take on Hawaiian life. The remote, peaceful location contributes to the throwback charm of this cottage.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com

On Maui, the “up-country” city of Kula is separated by distance and elevation from the busy beaches and tourists that crowd the cities of Wailea, Lahaina, and Kihei.

Listed for $650,000, the compact home offers only 300 square feet of living space. However, the tiny house comes with a fabulous perk: 11 acres of lush Hawaiian land and hard-to-match views of the island and ocean.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com

The home itself has a living area, a small kitchen, and a full bathroom in its miniature space.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com

“While the home is remote, you feel like you’re melting into nature,” listing agent Liam Ball said.

“The most romantic cabin on the island,” he added. “People truly love this property when they see it. I stayed here for a couple nights last year, and it’s amazing. You feel like the Milky Way is right in your face.”

For stargazing at night or barbecuing during the day, the tiny house has a wraparound outdoor deck peering down at the Pacific Ocean below.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com
from realtor.com

While the home faces the southern shores of the island and is tantalizingly close to the tourist hub of Wailea down the hillside, the only road accessible to the home requires entrance from the north side.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com

“It’s spectacularly beautiful,” Ball said. “You’re only a few minutes from a general store, but you have incredible privacy up here.”

And for folks looking to reduce their carbon footprint, the tiny house is entirely off-the-grid. Ball noted the home is entirely powered by solar energy and mentioned one sacrifice a buyer would have to make: having water trucked in.

He added that a water well could possibly be drilled, and zoning for the land supports another house and farm building—but Ball was quick to clarify that this home is completely livable and enjoyable as-is.

“In Hawaii, you don’t want to be separated from the outdoors,” he said. “I think the idea of building something smaller is a welcome trend. You don’t need a enormous home to shield you up here.”

So if you’d like to ditch the island clichés of mai-tais and macadamia nuts, this tiny Hawaiian home might be just the right fit.

from realtor.com
from realtor.com

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. To see the original article and more listing photos, click here.

3 Tips to Sell Your House in the Fall

Posted on Updated on

Although the real estate business tends to slow down in the fall, the season still can be an attractive time to put a home on the market. If you want to sell your house in the next few months, it can be done.

Aliaksandr Nikitsin/iStock/Thinkstock
Aliaksandr Nikitsin/iStock/Thinkstock

Potential buyers—such as empty nesters or Millennials who aren’t worried about moving after the school year has started—will compete for fewer homes on the market and will likely want to seal a deal before the holiday season kicks into high gear.

Here are three tips to help make your home more attractive in autumn, so you can sell your house before winter comes.

1. Clean Up

As many regions slowly shift from a sellers’ market to a moderate or buyers’ market, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your house look its best.

Pay particular attention to eliminating clutter and safety hazards that can crop up with cooler weather:

  • Make sure your yard, walkways and gutters are free of leaves and debris.
  • Mow your lawn so it looks neat.
  • Trim trees so unexpected winds don’t knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt anybody.
  • If it is rainy, be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.
  • If you already have snow, be sure stairs and walkways leading to your front door are not icy.
  • Wash decks and wipe down windows so they sparkle instead of appear streaked by rain.
  • Vacuum and wash down the fireplace, especially if it hasn’t been used in months.
  • If you live in a region where it’s still warm enough to use the patio, make sure the area is inviting and arranged with the views from indoors in mind.
  • Above all, make sure your doorway and the rest of the house is clear from knick knacks, bicycles and toys that make your home appear cluttered.

2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal

If your house’s exterior looks drab, you may want to consider painting it a warm color, planting seasonal flowers, or placing pumpkins strategically along your walkup to accent your home’s appeal with instant color.

Potential buyers will make an instant judgment when they see your home, and you want to be sure it’s positive.

While you don’t want to go overboard with fall decorations that detract from the home itself, a few displays like a festive front-door wreath—and lighting so people can clearly see the path to your front door—can make your home feel fresh, even in the fall.

3. Keep the House Cozy

Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. So warm up your home with a fresh coat of paint and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.

Another way to warm up a home is with light, especially as days get shorter leading into winter. Be sure to open blinds and curtains so plenty of light illuminates the home’s interior.

A few embellishments like red, orange or golden yellow pillows can breathe new life into dull sofa—or a fall centerpiece can highlight a certain area of the home.

While you don’t want your home to look like the latest department store display, well-chosen embellishments that give potential buyers the impression you’ve paid attention to the fine details and taken care of any problems with the home will help you put your best face forward.

And remember, there’s nothing wrong with trying to sweeten the deal with the comforting aroma of a freshly-baked, cinnamon-laced apple pie or pumpkin cupcake to leave a lasting impression of your home as the potential buyer takes a bite.

Updated from an earlier version by Michele Dawson/Realty Times.

This article was published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here.