6 Bad Household Habits to Break


Bad habits are so easy to fall into. But in the end, we know they only make us miserable. They’re the opposite of what makes you happy. They’re what make you miserable. Here are 6 bad household habits to break now for a happier you (and a fatter bank account):

#1 Taking Long, Steamy Showers (I’m guilty!)

Spending 20 minutes in the steam may be good for your pores, but it’s also great for mold and mildew. Run the exhaust fan while you’re singing in the shower, squeegee the walls afterward, and scrub that grout every few months.

#2 Keeping Out the Sun

Shutting your shades on winter days might seem smart. More insulation from the chilly weather, right? Your energy bill disagrees. A sunny window can warm your home and lower your heating costs. And as a bonus, you could see a decrease in seasonal depression.

#3 Compulsively Buying Bargains

Finding a deal feels so good, but cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, budget buys might cost you more in the long run. For instance, dollar paintbrushes will leave annoying streaks, requiring a costly re-do. And when it comes to appliances, permit a little splurge — especially if selling your home is on the horizon.

#4 Running a Half-Full Dishwasher

You get a gold star for always remembering to start your dishwasher before bed, right? Clean dishes every morning! Go you! Yeah, about that: Your dishwasher wastes water unless it’s completely full.

#5 Mega-Mulching

Your precious trees really are precious. Each one can add $2,000 or more to your home’s value while saving on energy costs. A “tree volcano” is actually damaging your foliage. Too much mulch suffocates your tree, causing root rot and welcoming invasive insects.  Protect your precious trees by packing mulch loosely, letting water filter properly toward the trunk.

#6 Going on a Remodeling Rampage

Don’t break out the sledgehammer for a demo three weeks after moving in unless your home needs serious, obvious work. Give yourself time to understand the home’s quirks before renovating. For instance, you could dump $15,000 into a kitchen remodel — only to realize the original layout would have worked better for holiday parties. Or you paint a room your favorite color, Wild Plum, only to realize the natural light in the room makes it look more like Rotten Plum. Whoops.

Breaking habits takes time, so it’s important to be kind to ourselves when we slip up. When we create new habits, we’re building new wiring, but it’s not like the old wiring disappears. Don’t turn slip-ups into give-ups.

Have any real estate related question? Send me message using the box to the right of this page.


Maximizing Your Home Value


Are you ready to list your home for sale? One of the first questions you might have is, “how can I maximize my home value?” Every seller wants to get the best possible price for their home, and fortunately, there are ways to make sure your potential buyers see the real value of your property and allow you to receive top dollar when you sell.

Clean, de-clutter, and de-personalize: The first thing every home seller needs to do is take a critical look at the home and clear out the distractions. Cleaning the house and yard is a must.  Next, remove anything that can draw a buyer’s eye away from the beauty of the home, including family photos, sports memorabilia, religious artifacts, and knick-knacks.  You want the buyer to be able to see their items in your home.

Redecorate:  Professional home stagers will often advise clients to remove and replace furnishings. Even if you love oversized furniture, it can make the room look small. Consider renting more neutral pieces during the listing.

Update carefully: It is not vital for home sellers to have the latest countertops or custom bathtub to get a good value for their home. Often the home updates and improvements sellers undergo cost more than they would lose in sales price without them. If your home is very dated, consider a seller credit instead to allow the buyer to choose their upgrades.

Homes retain value based on a few factors: the location, the condition, and the features. Before you list your house, speak with your REALTOR®, friends and family for an objective opinion about the state of your home, then make any necessary repairs and changes to ensure you get the best value for your home when you sell.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.

Items to Check before a Homebuyer Inspection


Selling a home can be a stressful time, there is so much to think about; keeping the house clean, heading out on a moment’s notice to accommodate last minute showings, not to mention planning a move. It is natural to feel overwhelmed.

Then you get that great offer and enter escrow. You are relieved until you realize there is a home inspection coming. Even a home meticulously maintained can have hidden issues. The good news is that you can prepare for the home inspection and make sure you pass with flying colors!

Here is a list of items to check before a home inspection is performed to help eliminate the number of items on the buyer’s repair list.

  • Doors, windows, cabinets, and drawers: check that they slide smoothly.
  • Run water in sinks, tubs, and showers: snake any that drain slowly.
  • Look for evidence of water leaks: garage ceiling, house ceilings, under sinks, around the water heater, etc.
  • GFIs: check our local code and put GFI plugs where required and check installed GFI plugs to make sure they work correctly.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: check that they are in working order by testing.
  • Gutter and roof: replace any missing roof tiles, check flashing around the roof and clean gutters.
  • HVC: consider HVAC servicing to replace filters and check for problems.
  • The water heater: is it properly strapped and vented.
  • Deferred maintenance: anything that has been neglected should be addressed before the home inspection.

The best defense is a good offense. This is true in home inspections too! The best way to ensure you have an excellent home inspection is to have a pre-listing home inspection. It could be the best couple hundred dollars you can spend. Better to uncover the issues before the buyer does.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as they Walk In


Buyers notice everything, good and bad. From the moment they walk in the front door, they are trying to determine if this is the right home for them and their family. If you have your home listed for sale, paying attention to what the buyers’ notice can mean the difference between an offer and a missed opportunity.

Here are eight things that buyers notice as soon as they walk in a house:

  1. Light- A bright home is inviting. Make sure you fill your home with lots of natural light or a soft evening glow.
  2. Smell- Nothing is less inviting than a strong odor. Even candles and air fresheners can be overwhelming. Less is more and make sure nothing unpleasant is lingering from last nights dinner or your furry friends.
  3. Space- Remove any unneeded furniture and offer a spacious home which flows. If you need a little help, hire a local stager or interior designer for a consultation.
  4. Ceilings- Of course, you can’t make your ceilings higher, but make sure they are free from water stains and spider webs; buyers will look up.
  5. Windows- Make sure windows are clean to maximize light and be sure to wipe down window sills and touch up with fresh paint if needed.
  6. Pictures and personal items- Remove personalization as much as possible so the buyers can imagine their family in the home.
  7. Outdated furnishings and fixtures- If your home is filled with hand-me-downs, consider a professional stager. Old wallpaper or old paint colors should be replaced as well.
  8. Dirty or cluttered rooms- Most important, clean everything thoroughly and box up items you don’t use daily.

A little attention to details will help your home sell faster and for more money.

Ready to make a move? Contact me for a no obligation consultation, and we can discuss the value of your home and marketing options.


How Home Appraisers Determine Value


What is an Appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the true (or fair market) value of what a home is worth. Appraisals are conducted by highly-trained professionals who are licensed and/or certified to determine the value of a home fairly, objectively and without bias in the state where the property is located.

Once a buyer and seller agree on a sales price, the contract is then sent to the lender for the loan approval process. One of the first things the lender will do is to order an independent appraisal. The appraiser will use local data to determine a value for the subject property. The primary purpose is to protect the lender in the event of borrower default by ensuring that the property is actually worth what the buyer is willing to pay, but this also protects the buyer from overpaying as well.

Determining Value

The process appraisers use to determine value is relatively simple, yet not easy. They start by searching for comparable local properties which have closed recently. They choose the three or more which most closely match the subject property and use them for comparison. Since these comparable homes have closed recently, they are assumed to represent market value.

Appraisers are looking at the home’s physical characteristics such as age, square footage, the number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, location, and view, as well as the observable condition. The appraiser does not evaluate the homes décor, furnishings, or anything not affixed to the property.

Once the appraiser has the comparable properties identified, they will then compare the subject property to them. They will add or subtract value for size, location, amenities, features, upgrades and so on until they have a value for the subject property. This is then reported to the lender in the form of a final appraisal.

There are a few things a homeowner can do to assure that the appraisal represents the properties highest values.

  • Make repairs to known maintenance items such as leaky faucets, cracks in the walls or ceilings, broken windows, etc.
  • Have a professional home inspection to detect maintenance issues before selling your home. This will help not only with an appraisal but with negotiating with a buyer.
  • A clean house leaves a positive impression on anyone, including an appraiser. De-clutter, clean the kitchen and baths and make sure appliances are clean and in working order.
  • Spruce up the curb appeal of your home. Clean up overgrown landscaping, repair broken items such as a garage door, make sure gutters are clean and attached to the house.
  • Provide the appraiser with a list of updates and improvements. Include dates, brands, and cost of improvements. A new roof or insulation may be overlooked if not pointed out.
  • Note any changes in your neighborhood that may increase value such as new roads, schools, or entertainment venues.
  • The newer your home appears to be, regardless of its actual age, the better. Updated carpet, tile windows, and other permanent fixtures will increase the value of your home in the eyes of an appraiser.

Ready to make a move? Contact me for a no obligation consultation, and we can discuss the value of your home and marketing options.


Five Things You May Not Have Considered When Selling Your Home


How are your closets looking? Are they stuffed to the brim with never-used guest towels, old toys and the fine china you never use? Here is a tip: if your closets look like they can’t fit another thing inside, buyers are going to assume your house does not have enough storage space. And storage space is as important to most buyers as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms!

Here are five home selling secrets to consider when selling your home. 

  1. Your Closets Should be Mostly Empty: Every buyer is looking for storage, and you’ve likely outgrown yours. Appeal to potential buyers by de-cluttering your closets, or even putting some of your extra items into an off-site storage unit while your home is on the market. Make sure that what you do leave behind is neat and organized. For advice on how to prepare your home for a move, download the Betty-on-the-Move-Your-Moving-eGuide.
  2. Web Appeal is the New Curb Appeal: By the time a buyer shows up to look at your home, they will have likely toured it via online photos. What does this mean? First, your home needs to look its absolute best when the listing photos are taken. Second, it’s essential to include all the home’s best features in the online listing photos. Whether it be a hot tub, a large backyard or an excellent basement bar area, your buyers should know what to expect when they arrive for a showing or open house.
  3. The First two Weeks are the Most Important for Sellers: If you think you’ll price your property high and bring down your price gradually if needed, think again. Homes receive four times the traffic in the first two weeks after listing so a property lagging on the market can be a red flag to today’s buyers. Think about the eager buyers who will see your home in “Just Listed” ads across the web and in email alerts, and offer them a fair price right away. The feeling of getting early showings or an offer will far outweigh the feel of an offer that comes after you’ve lowered your price a month later.
  4. You Need to be Ready to Show at Any Time: Today’s buyers are excited and competitive. They may be willing to drop everything to see your home the minute it comes across their screen. As a result, you must be vigilant to clean your house after every meal and between laundry days. Don’t leave for work, or even a quick trip to the store, without making sure your home could be toured before you return.
  5. Be Ready to Sweeten the Deal: We are still in a moderate seller’s market, so most sellers are at an advantage. But if your home isn’t quite modern enough, or isn’t as nice as the one down the road, you may have to sweeten the pot by paying closing costs, buying a home warranty for the buyer, or even just getting a pre-sale home inspection so buyers are confident in your home’s ability to sell as-is.

The takeaway? Don’t assume that a seller’s market means you’ll get multiple offers and your choice of well-qualified buyers. Be realistic about how your home will be received, and you could end up selling sooner.

Ready to list your house and start looking for Your NextHome? Send me a message using the box to the right, or call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.


What are Contingencies in a Real Estate Contract?


Contingencies are commonplace in contracts of all kinds. A contingency allows for one party or another to legally back out of a contract in the event of some specific condition occurring. They are protection against the unknown.

In real estate, there can be contingencies inserted for either buyer or seller or both. These take many different forms, and until removed in writing, either party may change their minds based on the result of the contingent event or issue.

Here are some examples of home buyer contingencies:

  • Home inspections – May identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights that a buyer is not prepared to take on
  • Specialty inspections – Mold, geological, roof inspections
  • Code Violations – An investigation into improvements made without permits
  • Lender Appraisal – Ensures the offered price is not too high
  • Sale of Current Home – Allows the buyer to back out if they cannot sell their current home in a specific time frame
  • Final Loan Approval – Loan is ready for signature and close
  • HOA CC&Rs – Review of documents to ensure rules and regulations do not infringe on the enjoyment of the property
  • Insurability – Home owner’s insurance available at a reasonable rate

Home sellers can also have contingencies included, such as one which states the sale is contingent on finding a replacement home. If the conditions of the contingency clause are not met, the contract becomes null and void, and one party can back out without legal consequences.

Contingencies are a fact of contract law, and in real estate, they ensure that buyers and sellers know their roles and obligations. Because time is of the essence, each contingency has a specific deadline. Be sure to pay close attention to these deadlines to avoid negative and costly effects on the real estate transaction.

Ready to start looking for Your NextHome? Send me a message using the box to the right, or call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.


At Home with Captain Bri – Fall Home Maintenance

Hello everyone,Copy of 100_6278 (2)

My name is Captain Bri, and my wife has asked me to share my knowledge, know how and experiences when it comes to taking care of your home. Taking care of my house and vehicles is somewhat of a hobby of mine and something I enjoy doing.

The one immutable fact I have learned over the years is that if you take good care of your home and your vehicles they will take care of you. I know I am dating myself here by quoting an old Fram oil filter commercial. In the commercial a mechanic was telling people that if you didn’t change your oil on a regular basis and use a quality oil filter your engine could fail. The jingle was “you can pay me now or your can pay me later” referring to a small payment now for an oil filter or a much larger payment later for a new engine or extensive engine work.

I am a whole hearted believer in that saying and practice it always when it comes to my home and vehicles. In my neighborhood for example, I see where many of my neighbors have not kept up on painting the wood trim on their house and it is now rotted and in need of replacing. What’s worse is that some of it has been let go for so long that the OSB wood behind the trim is rotting as well, causing very costly repairs.

Since we are approaching fall in Michigan, I thought my fall check list might be a good place to start.

Lawn care
Usually in the month of October I spread Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed on my lawn to feed and protect it from the harsh Michigan winters and help it bounce back quicker in the spring. I waited until mid-November one year but found my grass had already entered the dormant stage so all I did was waste my money on a “winterizer” that never got into the grass blades. I also do one of my three yearly power edgings in the fall which I do late October or the first week of November. Power edging in both spring and fall will keep the lawn looking manicured, and less dirt will accumulate making the edging easier than only edging once a year.

Home exterior
Every fall as in the spring and summer I do what I call a “calk walk.” Unfortunately, for my particular home, our wood trim goes right to the edge of all the windows and requires calking and painting every year. A contractor told me that our home builder should have had the edge of the windows going behind the wood trim. Instead, we have the edge of the windows meeting the trim flush. My calk walk is simply walking around the house with a calking gun and I calk where it is needed and then paint over the calk once it is dry. Some calks are not paintable, so make sure you buy paintable calk. For the higher parts of my house, I have my painter come every fall and calk and paint the second story trim.

Sprinkler system
If you have an in ground sprinkler system it needs to be blown out by a landscaping company that uses a powerful air compressor, usually in October. Also turn the valves to the hose bibs off in the basement and install covers over the hose bibs outside to keep them from freezing during winter. The covers can be found at most hardware stores, Lowes or Home Depot and are easy to install.



Air conditioner
I put a cover over my air conditioner once I know we won’t be using it until spring. (I have heard you don’t have to cover them in the winter, but I still do to protect it from the elements.)

Mushroom Lights
We have low voltage mushroom lights in the front and back of our house so each fall I go around and replace the bulbs. One year I didn’t, and by late January I was down to one mushroom light lit in the back yard around the patio and with all the snow I couldn’t replace them until the spring thaw. It is a tedious job but worth it for the aesthetics and the security.

One thing most people aren’t aware of and neither was I until I learned the hard and expensive way, is to lubricate your garage door spring every fall. At some point that spring will fail but if you lubricate it every year it will extend its life.  I do it in the fall before the air becomes dry during winter. There are garage door lubricants, but any lubricant will do. While I am lubricating the spring, I also lubricate the garage door hinges, pulleys and chain.  When you lubricate the garage door spring with spray lubricant, the lubricant will drip down onto the floor so I have invented what I call the “spring diaper”, which is a fabric sling that catches the excess lubricant.

While in the garage replace the battery in the garage door key pad and replace both light bulbs in the garage coach lights. Once winter hits I want all of that taken care of.

Once we are no longer using the air conditioner and begin using the furnace, I reverse something I do in the spring. In late spring I close all the main floor flapper valves in the ducting in the basement to force more cool air to upstairs bedrooms (it really works.) and in the fall I open all those flapper valves.

Since I am already in the basement, I install a new furnace filter (it is recommended you change every 90 day, but I do every 60 days) and a new water pad in the furnace humidifier. I buy two water pads in the fall and install one as soon as we start using the furnace and then another one in late February. Also, if you have never had the air ducting professionally cleaned, it is a good idea to do at least once. After that, keeping up on your furnace filters will help keep the ducting clean.


Furnace & Fireplace

One of the most important things on our fall home checklist is the furnace and fireplace. If you haven’t had a furnace inspection in a while it is probably a good idea to get one done. During the inspection you want to discuss the igniter with the inspector and maybe have a new one installed if yours is old. The old silicon carbide igniters are good for about 3-5 years where the newer silicon nitrite igniters have roughly twice that life span.  Getting these items completed in the fall will keep you from having your furnace and/or igniter fail when it’s 20 degrees out and you really need it.

If you have a wood burning fireplace and you use it regularly you will want to have a chimney inspection and cleaning. A very dangerous build up of creosote can coat the inside of your chimney and can ignite and even explosively causing a chimney fire. Choose an inspector/cleaner who is CSIA certified when having this done.

We have a gas fireplace and it is recommended that you have your gas fireplace inspected every year for gas leaks and other anomalies such as debris in the chimney that may lead to insufficient venting and non complete burning of the natural gas. Some HVAC professionals recommend having a CO2 detector near the fireplace for this reason.

Clothes dryer
One thing I always make sure to do on my spring and fall checklist is cleaning out the dryer tube. They make a special round brush that you can find at any hardware or appliance store and the brush has a long flexible handle. Simply remove the plastic dryer vent louvers and insert the brush and push it in as deep as you can.

I do this several times and then turn the dryer on “fluff” to help push any residual lint from the dryer tube before re installing the vent lovers. Dryer fires due to lint build up in the dryer tube are all too common and easily preventable by cleaning out the dryer tube. I do mine twice a year but the frequency of cleaning the dryer tube is certainly predicated on the use of your dryer. A family of six will need to clean the lint out more often than a family of three.


Window cleaning
Every spring and fall we remove our windows and clean out the tracks and clean the windows. You should also check the weep holes to makes sure mold is not forming and they freely let water drain out.

Garbage Disposal
My plumber recommends running ice through the garbage disposal on a regular basis to keep it clean and running freely so I am adding this to the check list for all four seasons.

Although I have no formal training in home maintenance, I hope you find my ideas and suggestions to be helpful. Click here to download our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Thank you, and enjoy your home!

Captain Bri