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How To Make a Kid Friendly Study Space

September 5, 2013

desk 2

As a kid and now a college “big-kid,” homework was never something I thoroughly enjoyed. It took me away from spending time with my loved ones. Homework always felt like an extension of an already long school day. However, what made it bearable was the fact that my parents had created a study space that I didn’t mind being in for the hour or so it took to do my school work. So here are a few ways you can make your child’s study space a little more encouraging and inviting.

Designate a Desk or Area
In my opinion, having a great desk or work area is the foundation for creating a space that your child or teen will enjoy doing their homework and studying in. Before my parents brought me a desk for my room, I used to do my homework sitting crossed legged and hunched over on my bed. As a result, my back used to ache terribly and I was never able to keep focus. Since I’ve gone to college, the desk has subsequently been moved to my younger sister’s room where she can now use it. If room for a desk isn’t available designate an quiet area in the house AWAY from distractions like TV and busier areas of the home.

Ensure Sufficient Lighting 
Lighting is super important. As a result of both sitting too close to the T.V. and working in poor lighting, I am now as blind as a bat.(OK maybe I just have bad eye genes but I’d like to chalk it up to the TV) Proper lighting can prevent your child’s eyes from straining and also help to promote alertness; this I definitely know from experience. I think this is why school’s are so bright and cold; they were trying to keep us all from passing out!

Add Pops of Color
With my younger siblings who are nine and eleven, my parents hang their artwork from school on tack boards over their work desk. This shows off their creations, provides beautiful color to the space, and makes them feel proud of themselves. Adding a jar of colorful candies is also a way to help make a study space kid friendly; as well as keep them from getting hungry.

We have compiled some of our favorite work stations below:

desk 262x300 How to Make a Kid Friendly Study Space

via Kat Smith

We really like the great storage space within this desk area; it is great for keeping all sorts of supplies.

desk 5 262x300 How to Make a Kid Friendly Study Space

via PBteen

This study space has the most perfect source of lighting, natural lighting!

desk 6 262x300 How to Make a Kid Friendly Study Space

via Yue Liang

We love the great functionality of this study space. It capitalizes on a small area but has plenty of storage and room for two little workers!

We here at Coldwell Banker Real Estate hope that you took some inspiration from this post and can find ways to apply these ideas to your kid’s, or your own, study space.

Featured photo by Brendan DeBrincat


How To Get Rid of Junk Mail

August 5, 2013

mail post

The only time I enjoy getting mail at home is when it is a post card from someone’s vacation, a handwritten thank you note, a party invitation or when a box arrives from a purchase online. So why is it that these simple joys seem to be happening less and less and are being replaced with JUNK?

Is your mailbox completely bombarded like mine? Is it filled with:

  • Bills (I really need to go paperless and start paying them online!)
  • Local newspapers (who has time to read them anymore?)
  • Catalogs (I do my shopping ONLINE! I don’t need them!)

If you answered yes, then you definitely need to continue reading this post.

In this week’s installment of “Going Green,” we decided to share a few tips that can help alleviate a cluttered mailbox and side table, because let’s admit that’s where all of our mail gets tossed anyway. In the end you’ll feel good about your decision–you’ll be relatively paper free and if you look hard enough you may catch a few trees smiling at you.

The Good News: You have complete say in what gets delivered to your home.

The first thing you should do to rid your home of junk mail is to assess what you would like to continually have delivered and what you would like to stop in its tracks. Chances are you would rather have a majority of it stopped. Most of the time we don’t even know how or why it started coming in the first place. Well, to answer that question–a lot of companies share mailing lists. So if you have ever subscribed to one magazine or catalog you didn’t really only subscribe to one, you’ve opened the gate for countless publications to come your way.

After you’ve made the decision of what you would like to keep receiving  then you should take your name off mailing lists. I know what you are thinking? I wish there was an unsubscribe button like I have on email for snail mail. We wish that too. Until that invention becomes a reality here is what we can tell you…

Find the source of the problem AKA the company who is sending the junk. Once you have identified the junk senders, call or email them and submit a request for the junk to STOP. If this sounds too time consuming there are companies that exist that can do the dirty work for you.

Below are companies worth checking out.

Non- Profit:
4. Eco Cycle
One of the largest non-profit recycle companies in the U.S. with international credibility as well.

5. Obviously
A resource that provides little known tips on how to easily stop junk and telemarketers on your own.

For Profit:
1. Green Dimes
Famously backed by Matt Damon and Oprah Winfrey.

2. 41 Pounds 
Gets their name from the average amount of mail in pounds that a person receives per year.

3. Stop the Junk Mail 
Promises to help reduce junk mail by 90%.

Good luck and we hope you are rid of junk mail forever!

Photo by J Aaron Farr

An American Soldier’s Thoughts On Home…

June 10, 2013

How To Clean Your Bedroom!

May 15, 2013

It is the middle of May and according to that means it is the annual holiday that every kid dreads…Clean up Your Room Day! Who am I kidding, adults dread it too!

If “Messy” is too nice of an adjective to describe the conditions of your child’s (or your) room then you are going to want push your pile of mess to the side and find a comfy spot to take notes because we are going on a cleaning adventure.

Before We Start…

Music Helps

Anytime I have to tackle cleaning an entire room I put on Pandora and go to town. Singing along to my favorite songs always seems to pass the time and keeps me in a good mood. So before you take one step further, find a good station and pump up the volume.

Get Some Fresh Air

This isn’t going to make your room any cleaner but open up your windows and get some fresh air in your room as you clean. Let the natural light in and the stagnant air out.

Ok now it’s time to get down to business…

Make Your Bed

Strip down your bed, put on a fresh pair of sheets, and remake the bed. A freshly made bed makes a huge difference as it is often the focal point of a bedroom. Now you can use this space to fold clothes from that laundry basket that has been waiting for your attention in the corner…you know the one 😉

Next, Focus on Clothing

closet How To Clean Your Bedroom

If your house is anything like mine then clothing is a major culprit of disorganization and general frustration and if you are anything like me more clothes come in then go out. OK, I’ll just say it, I may have a minor shopping problem.

Changing clothes out seasonally is key as it frees up a ton of valuable closet and drawer space. Spring is here which means boots and bulky sweaters have to go. Buy a few Rubbermaid containers and pack fall and winter clothes away. If you are lucky enough to live in warmer climate then you can obviously skip this step.

The next step is a tough one but it is a must. Take out every single item from your closet and dresser that is folded or on a hanger and throw in all on the bed. The sight of this will be pure pain but I promise once you are done it will be totally worth it.

Make a keep, throw out, and donate pile. If you haven’t worn something in a year get rid of it. Oh..and if you are holding onto those skinny jeans that are two sizes too small that you just know you are going to fit into one day…get rid of them too. They are just taking up space and I promise you can buy the same size in an even newer style once you fit back into this size again.

Once you finish your keep pile, hang and fold what’s left. Let out a huge breath because your closet and drawers just got a little more fabulous.

Time to Give Your Nightstand Attention

At any given point in the week I can guarantee there will be at least two half full (notice I didn’t say empty because I am an optimist) water bottles on my nightstand. Other common items are my iPad, jewelry and change. A nightstand can be a common space for clutter and it is important to focus on minimalism and simplicity. A couple picture frames, a lamp and very few other things really belong there. Take some time to pick a few items and find a home for whatever else you find there. Don’t forget to dust!

dustbunny How To Clean Your Bedroom Get Dirty!

This is arguably the worst part but it is essential. Pull out your cleaning supplies and get to work. Windex your windows, dust your blinds and vacuum/sweep your floors. I know it can be tempting to vacuum AROUND the furniture but do your best to get all the dusty bunnies that are hiding in difficult to reach spaces.

OK that is enough for one day. Congratulations you have successfully cleaned and organized your room. Now try to keep it that way so next year on May 10th you can be outside enjoying the fresh smell of Spring instead of spending your afternoon cleaning your room!

IS Buying a Home the New Engagement Ring?

April 22, 2013

engagement ring Is Buying a Home the New Engagement Ring?If you thought spending a few thousand on a diamond was rough, multiply that by 50 or more and you have what is being referred to as the new engagement ring…buying a home.

In fact many married couples considered buying a home together did more to strengthen their relationship than any other purchase.

On Monday, Coldwell Banker Real Estate will be releasing the full results of a very interesting study that shows a growing trend of engaged couples buying homes before their nuptials. Some major media outlets got a preview of the study this week and the video above from Newsy and this video from AOL Morning Rush teases some of the highlights and findings that will be unveiled this coming week.

Is It Time To Update Your Roof?

April 14, 2013


Over the years, many homeowners make updates and improvements to their properties to spice up their appearance or increase their real estate value. Many of these updates may involve installing new large scale appliances, putting in new floors and counters or painting the home. Other improvements are for maintenance reasons only, such as replacing the furnace or putting in new window treatments. However, it’s natural for owners to only make updates to the part of the home they utilize each day or features that are directly in their line of sight. There is often one overlooked aspect of a home that should not go neglected for a long period of time: the roof.

Know when to replace roofing

There is no concrete timeline that dictates when homeowners should replace their roof. However, there are certain signs owners should pay attention to that may alert them to problems. When examining the roof from the interior of the home, owners should look for areas where the ceiling is sagging, dark spots, water damage or outside light. On the exterior, cracked, missing shingles and bald spots can indicate significant damage. Signs of wear, missing gutters and loose material are also common signs that a roof has outlived its use.

Don’t skimp on the cost

The price of replacing a roof will vary based on several factors, including the materials used to reconstruct it and the size of the home. The cost to repair or replace a roof may vary from $5,000 to $15,000. However, a good roof can last for years and using quality materials will prevent owners from having to replace their roof frequently. In addition to using quality materials, it’s also important to hire the right professional. Similar to seeking out the right contractor or home inspector, homeowners should speak with no fewer than three roofers and request references. Many roofers may also provide a portfolio of their work as an example of their capabilities.

When hiring a professional, it’s also important to make sure they are willing to get building permits, clean up the job site efficiently and only remove as much roofing as can be reinstalled in the same day.

Strategies for the Spring Housing Scrum

March 6, 2013

People attend an open house in Palo Alto, California, in this file photo. Pohtographer: Annie Tritt/The New York Times via Redux

It all seems so quaint now: the casual walk-throughs, the drives to check out the neighborhood, the luxury of sleeping on the largest financial decision you’ll likely ever make. Trying to buy a home now feels more like being thrust into the trading pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange — the frenzied bidding, the need for lightning-fast decisions, the packs of sharp-elbowed competitors.

In one fraught situation, a home near Union Station in Washington, D.C., drew 168 offers in December and sold for almost twice the asking price. In the tonier neighborhoods of Los Angeles, 20 bids per house is not uncommon, according to real estate agent David Kean. And the speed of deals can be intense. “In the middle of a snowstorm we have seen houses sell in one day,” says Sam Schneiderman, owner/broker at the Greater Boston Home Team agency. “At open houses on million-dollar homes you are literally bumping into people, it’s that crowded.”

Finding an Edge

A dearth of homes for sale has run smack into a suddenly energized buying crowd egged on by rising values. The National Association of Realtors says the number of existing homes on the market in January — 1.74 million — was 25 percent lower than a year ago, and the lowest level since 1999. Over the past 12 months the inventory of existing homes for sale has dropped from a 6.2-month supply to a 4.5-month supply, the lowest level since 2005.

Price is obviously the main lever in all deals. What’s particularly important now is to understand how the seller will handle bids. Some collect all bids and immediately choose a winner, typically the highest offer, which is often more than the asking price. Other sellers give the top three or five bidders the chance to make one counteroffer. In those instances, you want to get into the bake-off but leave yourself room to counter.

In today’s tight market, some sellers are asking every bidder to counter. That’s what happened to a client of Schneiderman’s in the recent sale of a house in Newtown Center, Massachusetts, listed for $975,000. The seller got nine offers — four to nine offers is the norm now, Schneiderman says — and asked for counter bids on all nine. Schneiderman’s client bid $1,016,000 and lost. The seller’s agent said the winning bid was “significantly higher.”

To gain an edge in counteroffers from the start, you can put an escalation clause in your original offer. With one of these, you agree to beat the top offer by $5,000, up to a limit. So if you bid $380,000 and have a $5,000 escalation clause up to $400,000, that means if another bid comes in at $385,000, you automatically agree to $390,000

Beyond price, buyers need to craft an offer that screams “I’m easy” to the seller. That starts with the buyer’s agent getting vital intel from the seller’s agent on what buttons to push. Some sellers are in a hurry to close. Others would love an extra month before escrow to coordinate their move. Sometimes letting the seller stay in the home for a month or more, rent-free, after a fast close can provide the seller valuable breathing room that seals the deal. (After all, now they may need to find a house.)

Potential buyers can also gain an edge by paying for an inspection before they even make an offer, says Los Angeles real estate agent Kean. That means spending $350 to $500 or more out of pocket before entering the bidding process, but it enables buyers to waive the inspection contingency in their offer.

Deb Tomaro, an agent in Bloomington, Indiana, takes a different tack. She recommends buyers write offers that state the inspection contingency will kick in only if major defects are found. “That signals you’re not going to nickel and dime them over minor issues like replacing a screen,” she says.

Financial Bona Fides

While cash is king, if you’re in a situation where everyone is going to use financing, your offer should include your financial bona fides. “You need to assure the seller you’re going to be able to close the deal,” says Joe Parsons, owner of PFS Funding, a mortgage brokerage in Dublin, California.

PFS routinely provides a financial documentation package to accompany the offer that includes everything from confirming the mortgage has been pre-approved — a no-brainer in a competitive market — to a copy of financial statements showing the down-payment money exists. Parsons sweetens the pot by including the case file number generated by Fannie Mae’s automated desktop underwriter. “That’s just another way to show the buyer has already been run through the system and is good to go,” he says.

And, yes, write a short letter to the seller spelling out why you love the house. Tomaro scours Facebook, Pinterest and public resources to find out what she can about sellers. “I’m an online detective, bordering on being a stalker, so we can write a personalized note,” she says. “A letter won’t make up for an uncompetitive bid, but it can help differentiate you among competitive offers.”

Some even more basic advice comes from Greater Boston Home Team’s Schneiderman. “My mantra is: There is always another house,” he says. “I want my clients to only make an offer that they can make peace with. The last thing you want is to overbid and then regret the decision.”

By Carla Fried-