Many home buyers feel slightly uncomfortable looking at bathrooms while touring homes. Buyers will spend more time in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms than they will in a bathroom. Perhaps they don't want to think about what usually goes on in the bathroom. Bathrooms are not generally a place where strangers share communal experiences.

 

So, they poke their heads in the door - often without stepping foot in the room, like if they don't actually step into the bathroom, they're not really in the bathroom - glance left to right, and leave. That takes all of three seconds. So, that's what you've got to impress a buyer - three seconds. Sellers can spend hours staging a bathroom for that three-second reaction.

 

Getting the Bathroom Ready for Staging

Get out the bleach and start scrubbing. If you prefer not to use bleach, find an organic substitute, but bleach works best. Your goal is to clean the bathroom from top to bottom. It should sparkle and radiate cleanliness.

 
  • Get rid of mold. Almost every bathroom contains some form of mold, especially in corners.
  • Remove the covers from light fixtures and exhaust fan, wash, dry and replace.
  • If your light fixtures are rated for 100-watt, replace the bulbs with 100-watt.
  • Remove prescriptions from the medicine cabinet, and any other personal items you don't want a buyer to find and store this stuff in a safe place.
  • Throw out worn, frayed, or outdated rugs and towels.
  • If wallpaper is peeling, steam it off the walls and paint the walls with a light-colored semi-gloss.
  • Use Lime-A-Way or a similar product to remove soap grime and calcium residue from shower doors.
  • Fix leaky or dripping faucets.
  • If cabinet hardware is weathered, replace knobs and pulls.
 

Shop for Bathroom Staging Supplies

When staging your bathroom, the effect you're going for is to create a spa-like experience. Spa accessories are related to water and nature. Think Asian influence and choose items in tranquil, soft colors. Don't be afraid to incorporate contrasting textures by combining smooth surfaces with rough material such as polished pebbles nestled at the base of an aloe vera plant.

 

You don't have to spend a fortune to create the illusion of a spa. Check out discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Costco or Tuesday Morning for inexpensive supplies. Here are types of spa accessories for you to pick and choose among:

 
  • Towels, rugs, washcloths
  • Bamboo or wooden trays
  • Candles in various sizes
  • Green plants
  • Small water fountains
  • Scented soaps
  • Glass containers filled with cotton balls or Q-tips
  • Ribbon and rough twine
  • Twigs and berries
  • Seashells
  • Fluffy white robe
  • Padded satin hanger
  • Creams, lotions, shampoos or bath salts with unusual or antique packaging
  • Sea sponges and bath brushes
 

Staging the Bathroom

Now that you've bought all this stuff, what do you do with it? You don't want to clutter the vanity or make the room feel overcrowded. Less is better. Think simplicity.

 
  • Start by layering a few towels on the rack by artfully folding in thirds a larger towel for the bottom and place a smaller towel on top. Tie the center loosely with ribbon or twine. You can also glue twigs and berries to the ribbon.
  • Create displays by grouping items together in odd numbers such as 1, 3 or 5. Vary the height of candles and jars.
  • Slip a white robe on a padded hanger and hang it on the door or from the shower door.
  • Put a stack of folded towels on a bamboo tray and arrange a few unwrapped bars of scented soap next to the towels.
  • Consider a placing a new rug next to the bathtub or shower.
  • Use greenery sparingly to add life and color.
  • Arrange bath products, drop a few flower petals around them. Be creative.
  • If you have space and so desire, fire up the water fountain.


Source: The Balance 

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Sadly for all homeowners, prepping your house for the winter is just one of those things you can't skip out on. Though I wish I meant hanging holiday lights everywhere, decorating your mantel, and watching last year's Hallmark Christmas movies on repeat until the new ones come out, there's much more to it.

Unfortunately, this is not the fun list you'll want to check twice, but you simply must—despite how tedious the tasks may be. Between the money saved on electricity and future repairs, your wallet will thank you later. Here's exactly what you need to do in order to get ready for the cold weather ahead:

Weatherproof your doors and windows.

It's important to get ahead of the winter weather and make sure your home is ready to handle the cold to come. Check your doors and windows closely for gaps and areas that may cause a draft. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal them up, or consider replacing the windows or doors if the problem is severe enough.

Reverse your fans.

Stephen Fanuka, host of Million Dollar Contractor, says turning your fans clockwise is a secret to saving money on heat in the winter since it will stop the warm air from rising, AKA keep it down where you want it to be. But how do you do this? Most ceiling fans have a switch that you can simply flip to reverse it—if the switch is not easily accessible on the outside of the fan, it may be somewhere inside.

Check for cracks in your water tank.

Another Fanuka tip is to make sure your hot water tank is crack-free. Chances are if you haven't installed one in 10-15 years, you'll need to replace it.

Clean your dryer hose.

Clogged dryer hoses pose huge fire hazards, in fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. firefighters respond to approximately 14,630 house fires annually that were caused by dryers. Consumer Reports shares that you can prevent these house fires by cleaning your lint filter, emptying or replacing your dryer hose, and regularly checking the vent and exhaust.

Get an annual fireplace inspection and chimney sweep.

Similar to dryer hoses, clogged chimneys lead to house fires, but they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a yearly inspection and chimney sweep may cost you money, but it could also save your life—so, make it happen. Additionally, make sure the flue on your chimney is fully functional so when the fireplace is not in use, you don't experience drafts.

Prevent pipes from freezing.

Two of Stephen's tips for the prevention of frozen pipes this winter include: (1) keep the heat on always and (2) let your faucets drip to keep the water flowing and make it harder for the water to freeze.


Bring the outdoors inside.

In case you didn't already do this before fall came around, be sure to move all outdoor furniture and appliances (grills, lawn mowers, et cetera) into your garage or shed as well as any planters you'd like to save through the season. Also, don't forget to turn off all sprinkle systems and unplug garden hoses.

Clean out your gutters.

Yes, this is a post-autumn activity as well, unfortunately, since it's best to avoid having any unnecessary weight from frozen leaves—in case the icicles weren't heavy enough as is. Emptying the leaves, dirt, and debris will decrease the risk of damage to your gutters.

Keep the heat on.

Keep the heat on always, Stephen urges. Even when you go away. By doing so you can keep your pipes warm and prevent them from freezing, while also saving money on having your heating system work extra hard when you return to bring the house back up to room temperature. Lowe's suggests updating your thermostat (if you haven't already) to a programmable version so you can set the house for one temp when you're home, and another for when you're away.

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There are many views on the pros and cons of buying vs. renting your winter vacation home, and people are persuaded one way or the other for a myriad of reasons.

When it comes to buying, some people plunge right in and buy the first time they visit a destination on holiday. Others take a more cautious approach, renting for a few years so they can get to know a particular destination – and maybe even check out a few other destinations – eventually buying something when they decide on a place they want to return to year after year. Still others invest in a vacation home while they are in their 50s and still working, rent it out in the short term and look forward to using it for their own winters once they retire.

When deciding whether to buy or rent, make sure you consider all of the following benefits and drawbacks to help you make the best decision based on your needs and situation.

Renting a winter vacation home

If you're recently retired and just starting your search for a winter vacation destination that’s right for you, renting is definitely the way to go at first. Many snowbirds prefer the flexibility that renting allows and others don’t want the costs and responsibility of a second home.

The Pros of Renting

  • You’re not committed to the same building, area or destination, giving you the freedom to move around from year to year.
  • You can move around within a single winter season, trying out different destinations for a month at a time
  • If anything needs fixing at the property, it’s not your problem!
  • You don’t have the stress and headaches that come with managing a vacation property year-round
  • You’re not responsible for the many costs associate with owning a vacation property such as taxes, maintenance, condo fees, utilities and more
  • You won't have to consider the possible tax issues faced by Canadians who own and decide to sell their foreign real estate
  • You don’t have top worry about estate planning and what will happen to your property after you’re gone

The Cons of Renting

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to find vacation rentals as demand increases due to so many people reaching retirement age
  • Competition for rental units is fierce, so if you want to rent for a shorter period than someone else, you will lose out
  • Rental rates are going up.  High season rents (Jan-March) are going up each year as demand increases. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 U.S. to $7,500 U.S. and up per month. Beachfront and ocean view can be even higher.
  • Rental units are rarely well equipped in the kitchen in particular, so you often have to bring a lot of your own gadgets and equipment or you have to buy locally
  • Rentals offer very little date flexibility – they’re normally available for a minimum of one month, starting on 1st of the month and requiring you to vacate on the last day of the month.
  • Rental units can often be “tired” in appearance and not freshly decorated or furnished.
  • You’re usually stuck with basic cable and old tube TVs
  • Many rental units often don’t allow pets

Buying a winter home

If you find yourself renting for 4 months or more in the same destination year after year, then experts agree you’d usually be better off economically by buying. Of course, to achieve this you either have to have the necessary capital or the means to borrow. 

While prices are generally on the rise, there are still a lot of bargains in both established and up and coming snowbird destinations across the U.S. Sunbelt and internationally. 

To fund the purchase of a U.S. winter vacation home, some snowbirds will use a line of credit on a Canadian property, some will use available cash or investments and some will work with their Canadian banks to arrange a U.S. mortgage or arrange a mortgage with a U.S. bank directly.   Remember, using a Canadian line of credit guarantees your payments are not subject to currency fluctuations, while U.S. mortgages can be tricky for Canadians and have exposure to currency fluctuations.

Regardless of how you fund the purchase of a winter vacation property, with prices rising there’s a good case to be made that an investment in U.S. real estate is a sound one.  However, before you buy there are many things to consider, not the least of which are ongoing costs, tax implications and estate planning.

The Pros of Buying

  • It may even be cheaper to own, if you were a long time renter (4 months or more)
  • When you own, you can come and go as you please
  • You can choose a design you like and decorate to meet your taste
  • You don’t have to worry about availability from year to year or stress about finding a rental
  • You can leave your belongings there so you don’t have to bring or shop for them every year
  • You can get specialty TV channels, Netflix and other services you like
  • If you want, you can rent your unit out when you are not using it to bring in income
  • You can take your pets (within the rules of your condominium or club guidelines)

The Cons of Buying

  • You’ll be going to the same place every winter - a great comfort for many, but not for those with itchy feet!
  • The dollar.  Currency fluctuations can play havoc with your budget for ongoing expenses and your U.S. mortgage (if you have one)
  • If you want to rent out your unit, there could be tax implications. Be sure to get professional advice.
  • If you sell your property, there will be U.S. capital gains tax consequences. Ask a lawyer for details.
  • Dying can bring complications. You need to thoroughly understand U.S. estate law and what would happen if you or your spouse were to die while owning property in the U.S. Consult a legal expert on this.
  • Costs! Depending on the type of property you buy, you will be responsible for maintenance costs, property taxes, utilities and homeowners insurance. Depending on the type of property you buy, you may also have condo fees and club membership fees.  Be sure to look at the Reserve Fund status of any condominium purchase and find out how financially viable the project is.
  • You’ll need to hire a person or company to look after your property when you are not there


Source: Snowbird Advisor

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Do you have a spare room in your home? Turn it into the ultimate kids playroom! Whether your little ones love to dress up, play with toys, or work on crafts, there are tons of playroom design ideas for you try!

Paint with Bright Colors

Color is key when designing a creative space that kids will love. Paint the walls with their favorite colors, an underwater theme, or a hand-drawn design for an eye-catching accent wall. Neutral colors are also great idea for those looking to style a modern playroom or who aren’t completely ready to take the plunge with bold colors. Just add some flair with a bright rug or pillows for that wow-factor.

Install Easy-to-Clean Flooring

Opting for floors that are wood or linoleum is a smart idea for spare room playrooms that might be prone to stains. If you’re looking for playroom flooring ideas that won’t break the bank or require much renovation, try foam flooring. It’s easy to clean, and it’s a fun way to add color and comfort to the room.

Decorate with Wall Decals

Interests, activities, and styles usually change as kids discover new things and get older. Stick-on wall decals are the perfect playroom decor solution for parents who want to create a cool space without having to commit to a specific wall color or theme.

Create a Chalkboard Wall

You won’t be afraid of your kids coloring on the wall with a playroom chalkboard wall! Kids and parents alike love this easy and fun DIY decor idea because it allows little ones to freely decorate the walls while giving parents peace of mind knowing that cleanup is easy and not permanent.

Add Toy Cubbies

Utilize vertical wall space in a new playroom by putting in a toy cubby! This is one of the best playroom storage ideas because it allows your kids to display their favorite toys and easily access any books, games, or play sets without having to dig through boxes in a closet.

Incorporate Cute Storage Bins

Kids room decorating ideas don’t need to be complex. With cute wicker baskets or patterned totes, you can get both fun designs and playroom storage. And if labeling isn’t quite your thing, color coordinate the toy storage bins to ensure your little ones can find exactly what they’re looking for!

Build Decorative Shelves

Floating shelves, free-standing shelves, and bookcases are all great playroom decorating ideas for changing up that spare room. Use them for toy and book storage, or display cute decorations like a framed picture, wooden trinkets, or vase of fake flowers to jazz up the room.

Set Up Cabinets

This playroom furniture idea lets you hide even the most disastrous of messes. You’ll have a home for items that don’t necessarily fit in storage boxes while keeping a clean and safe area. Use playroom cabinets to store board games, cards, construction paper, and any other craft supplies that need organizing.

Include Tables for Crafts

Whether you’re working with a large or small spare room, tables are a staple for any playroom. Kids can use them for craft projects, assembling racetracks, and putting together puzzles. Not to mention a playroom table is nice for having a place to enjoy an afternoon snack and juicebox!

Add Comfy Seating

No matter what playroom design you go with, seating that’s comfortable and easy to lounge on is essential. Keep it simple with a few small bean bag chairs and a fur rug, or incorporate a variety of fun pieces like floor cushions, a couch, and large stuffed animals.

Integrate Furniture with Storage

Functional and fun are necessary components when it comes to picking out kids playroom furniture. Ottomans with storage, hollowed-out benches, or benches with enough space underneath for baskets provide ample seating and help with playroom organization.

Create a “Nap Time” Space

A kids playroom doesn’t just have to be for playing games and pretending to be astronauts. Creating a designated nap space in a playroom allows your child to recharge and jump right back into their day of fun! Simply add a small daybed or large pillow with some blankets, and nestle it in a corner for a cozy space.

Display Kids Artwork

Putting your little one’s art projects on the wall is both a fantastic playroom wall decor idea and terrific way to show off their masterpieces. All you need is a few frames to keep the pictures in place and some hooks or nails to fasten them on the wall. For a more budget-friendly alternative, hang a wire clothes line or wooden hangers on thumbtacks to showcase new pictures frequently!

Create a Mini Stage

This children’s playroom idea is an easy project. The experienced carpenter will love this low-cost DIY playroom stage that requires some lumber, drywall anchors, and drapery panels. But if you’re looking for a simpler option, buy some cute curtains and a shower rod to install in a corner of the room.

Put Together a Dress-Up Corner

Let your kids transform from a wizard to a princess in a flash with a dress-up corner! Just add a metal hanging rack, some hooks, wicker baskets, and a mirror to any corner of a spare room, and let your little one’s imagination run wild!

Suspend a Swing

Looking for fun decor that will allow your kids to stay active even indoors? A swing should be at the top of your list! This unique feature is the perfect idea for an attic playroom, and it’s easy to install yourself. All you need is some industrial hooks, rope, and a sturdy board. (Make sure everything is properly supported!)

Toss in a Ball Pit

A mini ball pit is an ideal playroom addition that will turn any spare room into the cutest indoor attraction. Kids of all ages love this safe playroom idea, and it’s easy create your own with a baby pool and some plastic balls. You can even upgrade the size as the children grow!

Add a Cozy Fort

Having a fort that goes beyond blankets and pillows is a fun decor must-have for a playroom. Get creative with themed forts like an indoor treehouse, pirate ship, or castle. A teepee fort is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for playroom ideas on a budget.

Build a Playhouse Under Stairs

If you’re designing a basement playroom with your spare room, amp up the space with a custom a playhouse. Often, the space under the stairs goes unused, but you can utilize that vacant area by turning it into a custom playhouse kids will love!

Give Your Kids a Reading Nook

No kids playroom is complete without a reading nook. Add some floating shelves, fluffy pillows, a few blankets, and your tot’s favorite stories, and they can unwind with a good book after a long day of playing!

Invest in a Slide

An indoor slide is on every kids dream playroom list! Install a playground-style slide for endless thrills, or incorporate a miniature-size slide that’s cheaper and easy to store for more playroom space.



Source: SpaceWise

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Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right


Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market.

 
 

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets


Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.


Selling Secret #8: Light it up


Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.


Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field


A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.


Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters


You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.


Selling Secret #5: Don’t over-upgrade


Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.


Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house


One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.Selling


Secret #3: The kitchen comes first


You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.


Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show


Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.


Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression


No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

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