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Getting Mortgages for Properties in Flood Zones

Posted by on December 12, 2014 with 0 Comments

Properties in Flood Zones

Getting mortgages for properties in flood zones can be frustrating. Buying a house that’s located in a flood zone won’t affect your mortgage eligibility, but indirectly it is going to make the purchase more costly. If your new home is in a flood zone, your lender is likely going to require that you buy flood insurance, with an average annual premium cost of around $650, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Where are the Major Flood Risk Areas?

Some areas of the country are naturally higher-risk than others, and while some of these areas are obvious—like Manhattan, New Orleans, and southern Florida—there are many other locations where the risk isn’t immediately apparent. It’s also important to note that areas that are not currently at risk may become so over the next several decades, as a result of climate change that may alter weather patterns and sea levels in ways that increase flood risks. Several states, including Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts, have communities that may be affected in this way in the future.

If you’re not sure whether you live in a flood risk area, there’s an easy way to find out. At the FEMA website, homeowners can access flood maps that show the level of flood risk in their location. Currently, there are over 20,000 communities that are designated by FEMA as “flood zones.” Homeowners in these communities are eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.

flooding Getting Mortgages for Properties in Flood Zones

Getting Mortgages for Properties in Flood Zones

Why Some Mortgage Lenders Require Flood Insurance

When you get a mortgage, you’re taking out a loan that uses your newly-purchased home as collateral. Mortgage lenders naturally require that your collateral be insured, because they have a significant financial interest in it—especially at the beginning of the loan term, when the lender usually has a larger financial interest in the property than the owner does.

If you live in a high-risk flood zone, you are almost always required to purchase separate flood insurance that covers the property for the entire lifetime of the mortgage. A standard homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover flood damage, because flooding isn’t a significant risk in all parts of the country, so there’s no need for it to be part of a standard policy. Note that flood damage is by definition different from water damage—a house can incur water damage in the absence of a flood, because water damage can be caused by events unrelated to flooding. For example, water damage that results from a leaking tap doesn’t count as flood damage and isn’t covered by the NFIP.

When does Your Mortgage Require Flood Insurance?

In the case of federally regulated or insured lenders, flood insurance is mandatory for homeowners in high-risk areas. These federal-associated lenders include institutions like Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), the Federal Housing Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. So, if you are applying for a mortgage from one of these federally regulated lenders, and the property is in a high-risk flood zone, then you are required to have separate flood insurance in order to qualify for the mortgage.

Not all lenders require that new homeowners purchase separate flood insurance. For lenders that are not federally-regulated or insured, there’s no mandate that stipulates they must require flood insurance. In these cases it’s up to the lender’s discretion, and therefore up to the home-buyer to find out from potential mortgage lenders whether the insurance is necessary.

It’s important to note, however, that properties in low-risk and moderate-risk areas are not immune to flooding and flood damage. According to the NFIP, nearly one-quarter of its claims come from homeowners who live outside high-risk flood areas. Because of this, the NFIP recommends flood insurance to all homeowners, and many lenders require homeowners purchase flood insurance even when the property is not in a high-risk area.

Paying for Flood Insurance Is Required at Closing

If your flood insurance is legally mandated—that is, if you’re in a high-risk zone and your mortgage comes from a federal-associated lender—then you’ll probably be required to make a certain number of premium payments up front. When this is the case, those payments must usually be made at or before closing time, and an entire year’s worth must be paid at this time.

The upside is, that providing the first year’s worth of payments are made at or before closing, the standard 30-day wait for the policy to come into effect doesn’t apply. If the premium is paid at or before closing, the flood insurance is in effect immediately at the time of closing.

Summary

  • Homeowners in eligible areas can purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program
  • If your mortgage lender is federally-regulated or insured, you must buy flood insurance if your property is in a high-risk flood zone
  • If your lender isn’t federally-associated, or you’re not in a high-risk zone, you may not be required to buy flood insurance
  • The NFIP strongly recommends homeowners buy flood insurance even if they’re not in high-risk zones, because flood damage occurs even in low and moderate-risk zones
  • In most cases a homeowner is required to pay the first year’s worth of premium payments at closing

 

Article: Getting Mortgages for properties in flood zones

Author/Contributor: Trey Conwey can be contacted at Mortgage Calculator

To-Dos For Your November Home Checklist |Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on November 7, 2014 with 0 Comments
Front1 7717 E Soaring Eagle 300x199 To Dos For Your November Home Checklist |Scottsdale Real Estate

To-Dos For Your November Home Checklist

To-Dos For Your November Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

The weather may be turning chillier and the leaves disappearing, but with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approaching, you’re likely to have a bustle of activity indoors. Get ahead of things this November by checking these 12 items off your to-do list, and rest easy in a cleaner, cozier home.

1. Decorate for the season naturally. You don’t need to spend much (if anything) to bring a seasonal touch to your home. Hang a wreathon the door, and collect acorns and pinecones from outdoors to make a simple centerpiece that will last indefinitely. Bowls of apples, pomegranates and nuts in the shell make for easy (and edible) table decor.

2. Make a donation to your local food pantry.  Getting Thanksgiving meal essentials to families in need can make a big impact at this time of year. Check with your local food pantry before you go shopping to see what it is most in need of — it can be hard to keep fresh items that families need, like milk, in stock, so see which fresh items are needed. Of course, food pantries need support throughout the year, so consider making donating a monthly to-do.

3. Schedule a pre-holiday carpet cleaning. Whether you rent a carpet cleaning machine or hire pros, getting rugs freshened up before holiday gatherings will help your home look its best. If you hire a carpet cleaner, consider having your upholstery done, too.

4. Set up a humidifier— and keep it clean. When you’re running the heater a lot, the air can get very dry. Using a humidifier puts moisture back into the air, which can help your space feel warmer and more comfortable. But be vigilant about keeping the humidifier clean — it can easily become mildewed, which can be harmful, especially for allergy sufferers.

5. Check the sump pump. If you have a sump pump to protect your basement in case of flooding, be sure to check it and make sure it is working properly before the November rains take their toll.

6. Deep clean the kitchen. Cleaning everything thoroughly now will give you a chance to take stock of what’s in those cupboards and pantry before any major holiday cooking happens.

Clear expired food out of the pantry, fridge and freezer; clean appliances; and clean dust and grime from the light fixtures and range hood.

7. Organize closets. With bulky fall and winter clothes taking up more space, it’s natural for closets to get overstuffed at this time of year.

Take a day to clear through some of the clutter, and donate a bag of clothes to charity. Make sure there is nothing on the closet floors — use shelves, bins and hooks to store things and prevent future pileups.

8. Order holiday cards and update your contact list. Planning to send out holiday cards? Make it as stress free as possible by ordering early and gathering everything you’ll need in one place.

Take a half hour to make a list of people you want to send cards to, and check that you have the most current contact information.

9. Check walkways, railings and stairs for winter safety. Clear away gardening supplies and anything else that’s in the way on walking paths. Check that railings and stairs are in good repair.

10. Keep furry friends safe. Keep pets safe by storing antifreeze and other harmful chemicals securely. And with shorter days and longer nights, winter is a more dangerous time for pets to be outdoors. Get a reflective collar for your dog, especially if he or she tends to escape or you live near a busy street, and consider keeping indoor-outdoor cats inside for winter.

11. Have trees trimmed. Trees are dormant at this time of year, which makes it a good time to have the trees on your property professionally trimmed. Trimming trees helps prevent unstable limbs from falling and causing damage during winter storms.

12. Clear rain gutters and downspouts one last time. If more leaves have fallen since the last time your gutters were cleaned, be sure to have them cleared out one last time before winter. Leaves left clogging gutters and downspouts can cause water and ice to pool, potentially causing damage to your siding or even leaks.

Brought to you by The Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412  | Scottsdale Real Estate 

Twelve Cleaning Projects That Go a Little Deeper, Naturally | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on October 22, 2014 with 0 Comments
Kitchen2 7717 E Soaring Eag 300x199 Twelve Cleaning Projects That Go a Little Deeper, Naturally | Scottsdale Real Estate

Twelve Cleaning Projects That Go a Little Deeper, Naturally | Scottsdale Real Estate

Twelve  Cleaning Projects That Go a Little Deeper, Naturally | Scottsdale Real Estate

Most of us keep up with everyday cleaning — dusting and vacuuming, wiping kitchen counters, scrubbing the bath. But what about those cleaning jobs that are a step beyond the regular routine? You don’t have to wait for spring to get them done. Fall, when we spend more time indoors and prepare for the holidays, is ideal too.

Here are 12 cleaning projects that will freshen up your home in any season. Many don’t take much time, and no toxic chemicals or smelly bleach is needed.

1. Detox your oven. Some oven cleaners can be highly toxic. But bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, can tackle any burned-on grime. Simple scrape off as much of the grime as you can, then mix plenty of baking soda with a little water to make a thick paste. Spread it all over the sides and bottom of the oven (make sure the oven is cold) and leave it overnight. The next day wipe it down with hot water. If necessary, repeat the process.

2. Clean and deodorize your microwave. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix 4 ounces of water with 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Place the mixture in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes. Remove the bowl and simply wipe the moistened interior surfaces of the microwave clean.

 3. Descale your kettle. To remove the scale from your electric kettle, empty it and pour white vinegar over the element. Leave for one hour before rinsing it with cold water. Pour fresh water into the kettle to cover the element. Boil it, then throw this water away. Done!

 4. Replace bed pillows. Can you recall the last time you bought a new pillow? If not, it’s time for a change. While you’re busy stripping the bed of those thick wool and electric blankets, think about swapping out those pillows, too. Look for pillows that contain natural materials, such as down, wool, organic cotton and natural latex.

5. Freshen clothes with lavender. Lavender has long been considered an ancient symbol of love and cleanliness, so why not use it to freshen the clothes hanging your wardrobe? Feng shui experts also sometimes burn lavender sticks to shift negative, stagnant energy in a home and create a feeling of space.

6. Clean your bathroom tile. Scrub the grout between floor and wall tiles with a mixture of baking soda and water on an old toothbrush. Work the baking soda paste into the grout, then rinse off with clean water.

 7. Opt for a natural drain cleaner. Clean drainage holes by rubbing them with a cut lemon. And instead of resorting to bleach, flush boiling water and a handful of salt down any blocked or unpleasant-smelling drains.

8. Clean your office keyboard. The keyboard is a vital part of your computer, but it’s notorious as a breeding ground for bacteria. Before you start cleaning and disinfecting your keyboard, ensure that everything is switched off. Next, dust it with a soft brush before wiping it gently with a clean, slightly damp cloth.

Tip: Spray the cloth with a mixture of ¼ teaspoon eucalyptus oil and ½ cup water. It’ll do the trick.

9. Wipe door handles. Think of how many times door handles are used every day and how many germs might be lingering there. A simple way to clean and disinfect them at the same time is with a cloth dampened with a little eucalyptus oil.

10. Give your phone a good cleaning. You can also clean and disinfect your phone by wiping it with a clean cloth that has a few drops of eucalyptus oil on it. It will leave it smelling good, too. While you’re on a cleaning streak, use the same solution to give all the light switches in your house a good wiping.

11. Go heavy duty on the windows. Chemical window cleaners can be expensive and leave a strong odor and streaks. Try making your own cleaner — one that’s cheaper, smells great and is more environmentally friendly.

Here’s how: Combine 10 ounces distilled water, 5 ounces white vinegar and five drops each lemon and lavender essential oils. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well. Spray it onto the glass, then wipe it off with a clean cloth.

Tip: Try washing your windows on a cloudy day and not in direct sunlight — streaks are caused by the cleaning solution’s drying too quickly.

12. Scrub the swimming pool. It’s easy to clean swimming pool tiles — simply place a little baking soda on a soft cloth and scrub, scrub, scrub.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

12 House-Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on September 29, 2014 with 0 Comments
Great Room1 7717 E Soaring  300x199 12 House Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice | Scottsdale Real Estate

12 House-Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice | Scottsdale Real Estate

12 House-Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice | Scottsdale Real Estate

In the hunt for the perfect house, it’s easy to get swept away by a home’s most charming details (a gracious front porch) and play down the important stuff you’ll be kicking yourself for later (the price is over budget). And if you are touring multiple houses each weekend, keeping everything straight can get complicated.

Set your priorities and streamline the house-hunting process early on, and you can breathe easier knowing you have a handle on things. It’s probably the most important purchase you will ever make, so take a few deep breaths and make a plan before diving in — you’ll be glad you did.

These 12 tips can help you stay organized and focused on the important things during your house hunt:

1. Set your priorities. Before taking a look at any houses, sit down and write out everything you want in a home, with input from all members of the household. Then choose your top five, or even top three, must-haves.

Once you start looking, all sorts of charming features are bound to sway you; keeping your priorities list close at hand can help you stay on track.

2. Make a comparison chart. After you have seen a dozen or more houses, it becomes very difficult to keep track of the features in each one. Make things a little easier by creating your own comparison chart or checklist to bring along to each home, and make notes on it during or immediately after each tour.

Beyond the basics (beds and baths) consider including notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof and exterior, natural light in each room, storage space and cost per square foot. Consider this chart a personal tool — something you can look back on to help guide your decision making, not a substitute for a good home inspection.

3. Walk through once and let yourself soak it all in. When you tour a home for the first time, the excitement can make it difficult to focus on … well, anything at all. So I say, just go with it. Have fun, wander around and mentally note your first impressions of the space. Once the butterflies have died down, it’s time to get to work.

4. Then go back to the beginning and start again. Walk back to the front of the house and literally begin your tour again. This time, pull out your clipboard and pen, take your time and approach the home as if you were an inspector rather than a potential buyer.

5. Bring furniture measurements. Jumping the gun? Maybe. A deal breaker? Probably not. But if every room in the house presents problems with your current furniture situation, you could effectively be adding thousands of dollars to the price if you have to purchase new furniture — something that is probably better to know sooner rather than later. 

6. Sketch a floor plan. You do not need to have any real drawing skills to make a basic floor plan on paper, and having it to refer to later is priceless. Just do your best. Starting at the front door, draw boxes for rooms and mark doors, windows, stairways and openings roughly where they are.

7. Ask to take photos (or even a video). It’s amazing how quickly memory fades. Make sure you have backup by creating a floor plan and taking photos or a short video tour if possible — it will really give you a full picture of what the house looks like. Be sure to ask the Realtor for permission before taking any photos or video. And even then, it is assumed that they are for personal use, so don’t post them to your Facebook page or blog … at least not until you own the house.

8. Open the closets and cupboards. Proper storage is a really important factor in how a home looks and feels when you are living in it. Note the number and size of cupboards and closets throughout the house, and don’t be afraid to peek inside. If the current homeowner has them packed solid,that may be a sign that the house doesn’t have enough storage for its size.

9. Lift up the rugs. While this is not something you necessarily want to do during a busy open house, if you are back for a second look and are really considering making an offer, it is important to know what you are getting into. Rugs (and even furniture) can be used to conceal damaged flooring, so you have a right to see what’s going on under there. Just let the Realtor know what you want to see, and he or she should accommodate you.

10. Look high and look low. It is important to get a good look at the house that could be your new home, so make a point of focusing on things outside your usual line of vision. Check out the ceilings, walls, floors, trim, windows, roof and under the sinks.

11. Check out the property at different times of day. If you do come back for a second showing, make it during a different time of day from the open house or first tour. In the evening, notice not only the changes in light, but the atmosphere in the neighborhood. Are people out sitting on porches? Are kids playing outside? Is it noisy? You are bound to learn and discover different things about the house each time.

12. Take a moment to envision how you would use the space. Just because the current owner (or staging company) has the second bedroom set up for guests doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an office, a home gym or a nursery. Paint colors, furniture arrangements and window treatments can also all be swapped out, so use your imagination and really put yourself in the home.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

To Do’s for Your September Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on September 10, 2014 with 0 Comments
Front1 7717 E Soaring Eagle1 300x200 To Dos for Your September Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

To Do’s for Your September Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

To Do’s for Your September Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Curling up with popcorn and a movie, simmering a big pot of soup or chili on the stove, and getting the house and yard in shape after the lazy days of summer — in September, the comforts of home beckon. From feeding the birds to having the chimney cleaned, see if any of these to-dos make your list this month.

1.       Remove A/C units. If you use window air conditioning units, now is the time to either remove them (preferable) or cover them outside with protective insulation.

2.       Add weather stripping. If you have old weather stripping that has loosened, remove it and replace it with new material. New double-pane windows may not need weather stripping, but most older windows can benefit from it, and if you notice a draft, you should add weather stripping no matter how new the windows are.

3.       Inspect the roof. Either get help and carefully climb a ladder so you can look at your roof, or hire someone to do this for you. Problems like damaged shingles and worn-out seals around vent pipes and chimneys are much easier to remedy if you catch them early.

 4.       Give the family room some TLC. Beef up the family room for the cozy season ahead by upgrading technology, bringing in extra cushions and a cozy throw, or simply cleaning and tidying up. Movie night is more fun when the family room is comfy and welcoming.

 5.       Put some fall-blooming plants on the porch. Sweep away summer sand and dirt, and set out a few pots of chrysanthemums or other late-summer plants in gorgeous fall hues. It’s an affordable way to give your porch a quick fall makeover. Plant a fall garden in a pot.

 6.       Stock up on birdseed. The birds that stick around for the winter could use some extra help when wild food becomes scarce. Stock up now on birdseed so you can keep those feeders full.  Providing a water source (either a birdbath or simply a saucer of water) is another way to show kindness to our feathered friends. Refresh it every day to deter mosquitoes.

 7.       Order firewood. If you use a woodstove for warmth or enjoy using your fireplace a lot, now is a good time to order a delivery of firewood. Try not to store it directly against the house, since that can encourage critters to take up residence, but do put it in a covered outdoor area to protect it from rain.

 8.       Seal gaps where mice could enter. Speaking of critters, take a close look around the exterior of your home and cover any and all gaps you find (even tiny ones!) so mice cannot get in. A heavy-duty screen or hardware cloth works well to cover exterior vents, and door sweeps attached at the bottom of doors will prevent furry critters from squeezing in.

 9.       Get covers for patio furniture and grill. If you plan to leave your patio furniture or grill outdoors through the fall and winter, cover them well and stow them beneath an overhang that will protect them from the worst weather.

 10.   Have chimney maintenance done and add a chimney cap. Don’t even think about using that fireplace until you’ve had it cleaned! Built-up creosote inside the chimney can cause a house fire.  Also, there’s always the possibility that an animal family has taken up residence inside — and even if the critters have moved on, the nest itself could cause a major problem if it’s not cleared out.  If you do not already have one, speak with your chimney sweep about adding a chimney cap.  This metal cap with screened sides will stop animals from getting in and can protect your roof from any burning embers.

 11.   Clean the laundry room. A fresh, clean laundry room can make getting chores done more pleasant. Start by cleaning out the dryer vents to prevent lint buildup, which can lead to fires. Wipe down surfaces, mop the floor and remove clutter.  Are you missing anything that would make doing laundry easier? Consider adding a surface for folding clothes, better lighting, a rolling laundry basket with dividers or a garment rack.

 12.   Swap out bedding. Dig out those thicker blankets, quilts and duvets, in preparation for the cooler nights ahead. If they smell musty, have them laundered now so they are fresh and ready to put on the bed on that first chilly night.  If you are shopping for new bedding, try a richer color palette for fall.

 13.   Make time for breakfast. Back-to-school time often means busier mornings. Make a commitment to carve out time for a real breakfast every morning. It doesn’t have to be complicated — muesli, granola or oatmeal with add-ins like fruit and nuts makes a hearty but quick breakfast.   To make things even easier in the morning, try setting the table the night before

 

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

 

10 Chores You Can Whip Through During Commercials | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on September 3, 2014 with 0 Comments
Great Room1 7717 E Soaring  10 Chores You Can Whip Through During Commercials | Scottsdale Real Estate

10 Chores You Can Whip Through During Commercials | Scottsdale Real Estate

10 Chores You Can Whip Through During Commercials | Scottsdale Real Estate

Before the ability to record television programs, commercial breaks occurred about every 15 minutes and, according to a TV game show host, lasted two minutes, two seconds each.

Today they are almost four minutes long and blast out much louder than the program.

When you feel as though you have been watching your prerecorded shows at the expense of your home’s cleanliness, don’t let yourself fast-forward through the commercials. Instead, run out of the room and get a chore done.

Here are 10 quick household tasks you can accomplish while a TV-ad lawyer is telling you to call him if you have been injured in an accident. If you’re not a big network-TV watcher, you can do the tasks while you’re waiting for the water to boil, the tea to brew or the microwave to nuke a snack.

1.    Empty the dishwasher. If the commercial break isn’t long enough, do half and go back at the next break, which is usually only a few minutes away. The great thing about the TV-ad chore list is that it keeps you from being too sedentary. Yes, everyone deserves a chance to veg out and relax, but running up and down the stairs or from room to room to get this stuff done will keep your heart rate up.

2.   Wipe down your counters. Grab a cleaning rag, clear one counter at a time and give it a wipe-down. Once this is done, you can work your way around the cabinets and appliances during future breaks.

3.   Work on the laundry. This a chore you can get done ad break by ad break all evening. Start a load. When you see Flo from Progressive pop up, throw the clothes in the dryer. Start the whites going. Then pop the whites in the dryer and plop the dry load on the sofa to fold while you watch your shows. You can put stuff away later, when the next commercial break appears.

4.   Change the sheets. If your break isn’t long enough, divvy up this chore by changing the pillowcases and shams during one break, and the mattress pad and sheets during another. The great thing about doing these chores during ads is that it makes you realize that each task really doesn’t take that long. I dread putting the sheets back on my bed, usually because I remember that they are still in the dryer about five seconds before I want to dive into bed and conk out. However, I realize now it takes only about four minutes to put them on.

5.   Get the vacuum out and plugged in. You can lightly vacuum a room or two during each break. Better yet, attack the sofa. Give the cushions a toss, collect the spare change for the coin jar and then vacuum the heck out of the cushions with the hose.

6.   Sort through your coffee table books and magazines. Flip through the magazines and newspapers you’ve already read, then recycle them or put them in the donation bin (art teachers love to have them for class projects). Neaten the still-need-to-read pile. Flip through your coffee table books. If one of them has been displayed for a while, switch it out. I like to rotate mine frequently so I can revisit my favorite books. They tend to inspire me all over again.

7.   Clean out the fridge.  Toss stuff that’s rotten or expired. Wash out any recyclable containers, add to the compost bin and throw out what you need to. On the next break …

8.  Take out the trash. While you’re at it, gather up those recyclables, including the magazines you just realized you’re done with, and take them to the bin as well.

9.   Take the pile of stuff sitting on the stairs upstairs. Then put it away.

10. Clean out your purse. Or your handbag, laptop bag, backpack, briefcase, boat tote. If there’s extra time, attack all those junky slots in your wallet, dump your change in a jar and sort your coupons. Then get excited about tomorrow’s trip to cash in your coin jar savings and plan something fun for all that bonus dough: A gift certificate, concert ticket, some special kitchen counter spray … the sky is the limit. You will have earned it, four minutes at a time.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

Your August Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on August 8, 2014 with 0 Comments
Front1 7717 E Soaring Eagle1 Your August Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Your August Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Your August Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

From the dog days of summer to the first days of school, August is a month of transition for many. Even if cool fall nights still seem ages away, the transition from outdoors to in is already beginning. So as your vacation wraps up and dinners begin to move from grill to stove, consider putting one or more of these to-dos on your list to make that transition as smooth as possible.

  • Get prepped for dinners at home. With fall around the corner, meals are likely to shift away from the grill and into the kitchen. Encourage family dinners at home by making the dining room a place you can’t wait to sit down in. Clear the table, bring in flowers or potted plants and keep stacks of fresh table linens at hand. If you want to make things even easier, consider storing silverware and cloth napkins in a caddy right on the table.
  • Tidy the mudroom. Whether or not you have kids in the house, back-to-school time is a great opportunity to get a busy entryway under control. Clear the clutter, clean rugs, wipe down shelving and put back only the essentials.
  • Organize family photos. Don’t let months go by after summer vacations to print and organize photos — get on top of it now, so you can enjoy your snapshots! Set yourself up for photo organizing success through the rest of the year by creating files for digital photos organized by month. If you want to have new family portraits taken in time, start hunting for a photographer now.
    If you have a big backlog of printed photos to organize but lack the time to go through each one, at least get them into acid-free storage boxes to prevent damage. Label the boxes by year if possible.
  • Edit your wardrobe. Sort through your summer clothes before putting them away; give away anything that is no longer working for you. Look over your fall wardrobe, setting aside anything that needs repairs or that you no longer like. Make a note of anything missing.
  • Boost closet organization. While you’re at it, see if there is a better way to organize your closet. Could you use a small chest of drawers? A few baskets to collect dry cleaning and delicates? Hooks for necklaces and scarves?
  • Conduct an energy audit of your house. Find places to increase energy efficiency and improve the health of your home (and save money) by conducting a home energy assessment, either on your own or with the help of a pro. This assessment will help locate air leaks and check ventilation, insulation, heating and cooling systems, appliances and more.
  • Deep clean your kitchen. Take a few hours to tackle the dirtiest kitchen chores: clear the drains, clean out the garbage can and recycling bins, degrease the oven and thoroughly clean out the fridge. And when you’re done? You totally deserve an ice cream.
  • Refresh the pantry. If you haven’t done so yet, invest in a set of matching, airtight storage containers in a variety of sizes. Decanting food into clear, airtight containers makes it easier to find what you need and helps food stay fresh longer.
    Bonus tip: Use erasable or removable labels, so you can customize the container to the contents. If you’re storing pasta or something else with a specific cooking time, note the instructions on the label as well.
  • Clean and replace caulk and grout. A proper seal around sinks, toilets, shower stalls and tubs, and between tiles, is essential to keep water from seeping into cracks and causing damage. Clean grout and caulk with a narrow scrub brush and inspect its condition. Replace caulk or grout as needed.
  • Put away summer gear. As the summer winds down, inspect your summer   gear for damage and clean it before storing it for next year. Scoop up a few new items at end-of-season sales to replace anything that needs to be tossed.

 

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

Your August Home Checklist Scottsdale Real Estate
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Ten Tips to Make a Small Bedroom Look Great | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on July 30, 2014 with 0 Comments
Bedroom3 7717 E Soaring Eag 1 300x199 Ten Tips to Make a Small Bedroom Look Great | Scottsdale Real Estate

Ten Tips to Make a Small Bedroom Look Great

Ten Tips to Make a Small Bedroom Look Great | Scottsdale Real Estate

Planning a small bedroom can be fun. With the right design tips and techniques, you can turn your snug room into a dreamy retreat. From clever storage solutions to multitasking furniture, these great ideas will breathe new life into your compact scheme.

  1. Stick to a limited color palette. If all white isn’t for you, bring in your favorite colors, but in a thoughtful way.
  2. Let the light in. Keep window treatments to a minimum in a small space to make the most of the natural light and keep the look unfussy. For privacy add plain roller blinds or hang flat panels of lace or voile.
  3. Maximize your storage space. A floor-to-ceiling fitted unit makes the most of every inch in this bedroom. It cleverly incorporates room to display treasures, shelves for books, drawers for more personal items, surfaces that act as bedside tables and reading lights. Talk about multitasking!
  4. Don’t be afraid to use windows. There’s no rule that says you can’t push furniture up to a window.
  5. Trick the eye with mirrors. Creating the illusion of space with mirrors is a classic trick that works every time. Perfect for smaller bedrooms, a mirrored wall will visually double the space.
  6. Have pieces made to measure. Having custom furniture made for your space can be a very worthwhile investment.  Having built-in drawers and wall-mounted bedside table and light maximize every inch of floor, and a classic transparent chair provides unobtrusive seating.
  7. Detract with a feature wall. In a narrow room, bring the far wall forward with fabulous wallpaper.
  8. Make your headboard work hard. Using a headboard for storage is a clever way to make the most of your space.
  9. Go for bold. As the saying goes, “If you can’t fight, wear a big hat.”  Bold accents distract the eye from the size of the room.
  10. Wow with white or soft neutrals. All white is a fail-safe space enhancer, but there are so many ways to do it. Soft neutrals add just the right amount of warmth, while minimal wall decorations can draw the eye to the window and the view beyond.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

Ten Tips Make a Small Bedroom Look Great

How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on July 25, 2014 with 0 Comments
Great Room1 7717 E Soaring  300x199 How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right | Scottsdale Real Estate

How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right | Scottsdale Real Estate

How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right | Scottsdale Real Estate

Like a blank page or canvas, an empty room can be either an opportunity or a challenge. With so many ways to fill it, how do you know where to start?

Here are some of the basic rules of furniture arrangement that are distilled  into 10 simple tips. They’ll help you figure out where to put things, where not to put things and how to prioritize the choices you make.

These guidelines won’t turn you into an interior designer overnight. But they’ll steer you in the right direction and help you to achieve professional-looking results with a minimum of stress.

Function. Consider how the room is used and how many people will use it. That will dictate the type of furnishings you’ll need and the amount of seating required.

Focal point. Identify the room’s focal point — a fireplace, view, television etc.— and orient the furniture accordingly. If you plan to watch television in the room, the ideal distance between the set and the seating is three times the size of the screen (measured diagonally). Therefore, if you’ve got a 40-inch set, your chair should be 120 inches away.

Priority. Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece should face the room’s focal point. Chairs should be no more than 8 feet apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls.

Symmetry. Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual.

Traffic. Think about the flow of traffic through the room — generally the path between doorways. Don’t block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones.

Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.

Variety. Vary the size of furniture pieces throughout the room, so your eyes move up and down as you scan the space. Balance a large or tall item by placing another piece of similar height across the room from it (or use art to replicate the scale). Avoid putting two tall pieces next to each other.

Contrast. Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, and a solid chair with a leggy table.

Ease of use. Place a table within easy reach of every seat, being sure to combine pieces of similar scale, and make sure every reading chair has an accompanying lamp. Coffee tables should be located 14 to 18 inches from a sofa to provide sufficient legroom.

Circulation. In a dining room, make sure there’s at least 48 inches between each edge of the table and the nearest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn’t pass behind the chairs on one side of the table, 36 inches should suffice. In bedrooms allow at least 24 inches between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 36 inches between the bed and a swinging door.

Planning. Give your back a break. Before you move any actual furniture, test your design on paper. Measure the room’s dimensions, noting the location of windows, doors, heat registers and electrical outlets, then draw up a floor plan on graph paper using cutouts to represent the furnishings. Or, better yet, use a free online room planner.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right | Scottsdale Real Estate

How to Get an Organized Bathroom | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on July 17, 2014 with 0 Comments
Bathroom photo 300x199 How to Get an Organized Bathroom | Scottsdale Real Estate

How to Get an Organized Bathroom | Scottsdale Real Estate

How to Get an Organized Bathroom | Scottsdale Real Estate

Here are some great tips to get your bathroom organized:

One of the rooms in most homes that can get out-of-hand crazy is the bathroom. Toothpaste, lotions, tissue and towels can easily get strewn out over the counter tops, or in the case of the toothpaste, stuck to the bathroom mirror.

See how following these simple storage and organization solutions can help your family stay tidy and organized in no time:

  • Towels and dirty laundry on the bathroom floor is usually a pet peeve for most of us. With a laundry hamper inside the bathroom, you, your children and your spouse will have no more excuses when it comes to cleaning up.
  • Placing pretty baskets on open shelving will give you the storage you need while concealing any unattractive items you may need to keep there.
  • If your bathroom lacks storage space, consider adding a freestanding open-shelf cabinet, like the one shown here. Keep items like toilet paper and extra washcloths on the lower shelves and things you’d like to keep out of reach of tiny hands way up high.
  • Installing a magazine rack in the bathroom will free up space on the tank of the toilet and give the room a cleaner look.
  • Curling irons, hair dryers and brushes take up a lot of space and are easily tangled. If hiring a cabinet maker to retrofit your existing drawer to have specific slots for these items is not in your budget, try using plastic boxes within the drawer to get the same functionality.
  • Keeping soaps and other bath items right above the tub where they are easily accessible is the best storage solution.
  • Toiletries and medicines take up a lot of space and are oftentimes difficult to find when you need them. If your bathroom has a closet, why not use a plastic over-the-door shoe organizer? All of your items will be easy to see and grab when you need them. Just be sure to store medicines out of children’s reach.
  •  Consider storing items you use frequently, like cotton balls and swabs, on the counter in glass jars. They will look decorative and will always be in easy reach.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes Team at 480-595-6412 | Scottsdale Real Estate

 

How to Get an Organized Bathroom | Scottsdale Real Estate

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