Posts for Syndication

Buy a Home Perfect For Entertaining

By Virtual Results

Buy a Home Perfect For Entertaining

It’s the holiday season, which means at some point you’ll probably be entertaining in your home in the next few weeks. If you’re somebody who enjoys being a host, then it’s important to think about that when you’re searching for a new home. Here’s what to look for if you want to buy a home that’s perfect for entertaining your family, friends, and loved ones.

Sizable kitchen

No matter how warm and welcoming your home is people always seem to congregate in the kitchen anyway. If you want to live in a home that works well for parties, then make sure it has a sizable kitchen. You’ll want enough room for guests to mingle while still leaving you space to prepare food and drinks. A kitchen island is a definite bonus, as it allows you to create a spread that your guests can nibble on.

Guest bathroom

If you’re planning to regularly host, then it’s advisable to buy a home with a guest bathroom on the first floor. Think about it – do you really want people parading through your bedroom to use the master bath? It’s also a good idea if the guest bathroom is removed from the main gathering area. A little privacy goes a long way to making your guests feel comfortable.

Outdoor space

Ample outdoor space is a must if you like to entertain – especially if you live in a warm climate where you can use the space year round. Having a nice space outdoors allows your guests to spread out and get some fresh air. It also gives you the ability to dine under the stars when the weather is nice, or to host a family barbecue. If you’re in an area where rain is a regular occurrence, look for outdoor space that is at least partially covered.

Good flow

Open concept homes have been popular for some time now, and they’re great if you love to host. Having a large space where all your guests can congregate can make a party feel lively. But don’t worry if your home doesn’t have an open concept, as long as it flows well from room to room. Look for floor plans that make it easy to move around. Small rooms can be great for inspiring intimate conversations so don’t be afraid of homes that have rooms that are on the small side. As long as your guests can move around and there are plenty of places to sit, you’ll be fine.

Adequate parking

Finally, there’s one aspect of the home you need to really consider for entertaining and that’s the parking situation. Ideally, you’d be better off having a large driveway that could accommodate several cars. If street parking is necessary, be sure you understand what the parking regulations are. Do you need a permit to park on the street? If so, that could become problematic when you’re hosting more than a few friends. Also consider how busy the street is and how easy it is to find parking nearby. If parking is a challenge, you’re better off finding a different place.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Easy Holiday Decorating

By Virtual Results

Easy Holiday Decorating

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed this holiday season? If you’re buying or selling a home now or in the near future, then you may not have the time or energy to get into the holiday spirit. Not to worry — you can still make your home feel festive with much less effort than usual. Here are some of the best ideas we’ve found to quickly and easily decorate your home this holiday season.

Display ornaments

If putting up a Christmas tree is not in the cards for you this year, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy your ornaments. There are several ways to quickly and easily create a beautiful display with your favorites. Choose a large bowl and arrange a handful of gold and silver ornaments inside to make an elegant and effortless centerpiece. You can also use several small lengths of ribbon to hang ornaments inside a window where they will catch the sunlight. For some extra sparkle, tuck a few glass or metal ornaments on a plate with pillar candles or hang them from your chandelier to reflect the light.

Forage in your backyard

There’s no reason to spend lots of cash on pre-made wreaths and holiday arrangements. You can recreate the look for much less using what you already have in your yard. Place a few large dry branches in a vase and hang ornaments on them. Trim some branches from your evergreen trees and bushes and display them in a vase or use them to create a base for pillar candles. Single berry branches look beautiful in glass bottles displayed in a group. Even a bowl of pinecones on the coffee table add a comforting, rustic touch to your holiday décor.

Create a candy centerpiece

Since you’re probably already going to pick up some candy to give out as holiday treats, why not get a little extra and use it to decorate? You can arrange candy canes around a vase or pillar candle for instant cheer. Or layer colorful candies in a tall jar and display on your mantle. Instead of ornaments, string candy canes from ribbons in your windows. You can even use them to make a quick and easy wreath. All you need is a little hot glue and a ribbon. What’s great about this idea is that as the holiday winds down, you can give the candy as gifts so you don’t have to worry about packing everything away for next year.

DIY the tree

Who says you have to put up a traditional Christmas tree? If you want to save time, you can DIY your tree with items you probably already have at home. Use string lights and drape them in the shape of a tree on your wall. Repurpose a ladder by stringing it with lights and hanging ornaments from them. Stack books in the shape of a tree and wrap lights around them. Elevate one your houseplants and use it as your tree this year. Create a tower of boxes in different shapes and sizes and top with a star. Or use a tomato cage from your garden and wrap it with lights. It only takes a little imagination to create a Christmas tree that everyone will love.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Prepare to Buy a Home in 2019

By Virtual Results

Prepare to Buy a Home in 2019Is buying a home your New Years resolution for 2019? Are you unsure where to start? While buying a home can be a complex process, there are steps you can take now so that you’re more prepared when the time comes. Here’s how to get yourself ready (and excited!) to find your dream home in 2019.

Check your credit report

If you’re planning to finance your new home, then you’re going to need to apply for a mortgage. Mortgage lenders rely on your credit report to establish the terms and interest rates for your loan. For this reason, it is imperative that you request a copy of your credit report well before you apply for a loan. You can find out your credit score and take steps to improve it over the coming months. You’ll also see if there are any errors on your report, which will give you time to have them removed.

Pay down your debt

Taking on a mortgage is a big financial responsibility. As much as possible, you should begin paying down your other debt, including car loans and credit card balances. The fewer monthly bills you have to worry about once you’re a homeowner, the better. Decreasing your debt will also improve your credit score, which will net you a better deal on your home loan. In addition, avoid taking out any new debt as you prepare to buy a home.

Save for a down payment

Depending on the type of home loan you qualify for, you’ll need to have anywhere from three to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home saved for a down payment. In addition, you’ll need money for closing costs so it’s best to start saving as early as possible. The larger the down payment you have, the more you’ll be able to spend on a house. Create a savings plan and stick to it.

Determine your budget

Now is also a good time to set a realistic budget for the home you’d like to buy in the New Year. While we all have champagne wishes and caviar dreams, it’s essential that you buy a home you can reasonably afford. There’s nothing worse than stressing out each month about having enough for your mortgage payment. A good rule of thumb is to have approximately 30 percent of your monthly income set aside for housing costs. This includes insurance, taxes, and maintenance so budget accordingly.

Start researching homes

Finally, once you’ve determined how much you can spend on a home, make a list of your needs and wants. Then begin researching neighborhoods and browsing listings. You’ll get a feel for what the market is like in each area and narrow down where you’d like to conduct your search. Get clear on what’s important to you – whether it’s location, number of bedrooms, or whether or not you’ll consider a fixer-upper. The clearer you can be going into the process, the less likely you’ll feel overwhelmed by all your options. The bonus is that it’s fun to begin looking at homes that are available and envisioning what your life will look like as a new homeowner. So have some fun and enjoy the process!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Holiday Gifts For Neighbors

By Virtual Results

Holiday Gifts For Neighbors

Do you have an annual tradition of exchanging small gifts with your neighbors over the holidays? Or maybe you’ve just moved and you’d like to give gifts as a way to meet your new neighbors? It’s a wonderful way to show your appreciation to the people who call your neighborhood home. If you’re looking for some fun new ideas, read on. These are some of the best ideas we’ve seen this year for neighbor gifts.

Simmering potpourri

If you’re looking for a non-food gift this year, then simmering potpourri is the perfect choice. This is an affordable option that looks beautiful and takes almost no time to make. You can gather all the materials in a pretty box or a mason jar, pop on a bow, and voila! These mixes can be added to water and placed on the stove over low heat for several hours. It will make your neighbors’ homes smell so wonderful and can be used several times. You can make them with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. This includes dried herbs, spices like cinnamon and clove, citrus fruit peels, and cranberries. Check out some great recipes here.

Wrapping paper

Don’t you hate it when you run out of wrapping paper and tape? Be your neighbors’ savior and give wrapping paper as a gift. This is a practical and affordable choice that just about everybody can use. And they’ll be glad you saved them the inevitable weight gain of yet another plate of cookies. If you aren’t sure what holidays your neighbors celebrate, opt for a more general-themed paper. If you want to spend a little more, splurge on some really luxurious handmade papers. If you’d like to score a bargain, hit up the post-holiday sales and buy wrapping paper for next year.

Batteries

Have you ever had a child open a toy that needed batteries – and you didn’t have any? That’s a nightmare scenario. Make sure your neighbors have a stash on hand by gifting them batteries. You can buy batteries in different sizes in bulk, and then divvy them up into smaller gifts. Tie them up with a bow and add a tag, and you will be everyone’s favorite neighbor this year for such a creative and useful gift.

Soap or hand sanitizer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but it’s also cold and flu season. Help your neighbors ward off the latest bug and stay healthy with a gift of hand soap or hand sanitizer. Buy the soap in a wonderful holiday scent or travel-sized hand sanitizers with holiday themes. Whether you buy soap or sanitizer, you can add a funny label that says “spread cheer, not germs.”

Cookies

Cookies are a traditional holiday gift for a reason – they’re so darn good! You can purchase cookies at the grocery store or a bakery if you’re short on time. If you want to make them from scratch, there are tons of great cookie recipes online. You can make a pretty presentation by picking up some vintage plates at the thrift store or holiday-themed plates from the dollar store.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Holiday Moving Tips

By Virtual Results

Holiday Moving TipsMoving can be stressful, and so can the holiday season. If you’re putting the two together, then you may be wondering how you’ll survive. Although moving during the holidays is not an easy task, it can be done without turning you into the Grinch. Here’s what you need to know if you’re moving during the most wonderful time of the year.

Strategize the timing

If you have any wiggle room with your timing, then you can be strategic about it. Try to hold off on moving until the week between Christmas and New Years. That tends to be the least hectic week during the holiday season, and most of your celebrations will be behind you.

Keep one room decorated

Do you love decking the halls? There’s no reason you have to give it up just because you’re moving. While you may not want to unpack every last elf and angel, you should consider decorating one room. This allows you to still enjoy the spirit of the holiday without making too much extra work for yourself. If you need to move any of your normal decor out of the way when you decorate, just go ahead and pack those items up so they’re ready to be moved.

Purge and donate

The holidays are a season of giving, so now is a great time to purge and donate items you no longer need. There’s no reason to drag unused items to your next place. Instead, pack them up and donate them to your favorite charity. It will lighten your load and help out an organization that could use your support.

Consider dining out

If you normally host a big holiday dinner, maybe this is the year to delegate or to dine out. You already have enough on your plate (so to speak) without having to plan and cook for your whole crew. If nobody else is able to host, you can either plan to have dinner at your favorite restaurant or order takeout and eat at home. If you use your special holiday dishes, you can pack them up for moving as soon as you’ve finished cleaning. To really save time and energy, consider using disposable plates and utensils just for this year.

Be ready for the weather

We all know how unpredictable the weather can be during the holiday season. Don’t let bad weather derail your moving day. Follow the weather report so you’re prepared the day of the move. Make sure you have all the proper supplies and that everyone has outerwear that will keep them warm and dry. Keep a pot of hot coffee or hot chocolate available at all times so everyone can warm up. Watch out for slippery sidewalks and driveways, and have waterproof materials on hand to cover up any valuable furniture or other items as you unload them from the truck.

Tell Santa

Finally, don’t forget to let Santa know if you’re going to be in your new house before Christmas. Moving is tough on kids, especially in the middle of a school year. Let them write letters to Santa with their new address, and maybe even leave a present from Santa in your new home for the kids to discover the day you move in.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Finding Gratitude in Times of Transition

By Virtual Results

Finding Gratitude in Times of Transition

Buying or selling a home can be an emotional transition. Packing up and leaving one home and then getting settled into another is often disorienting. This can be especially tough during the holidays, which is traditionally a time we associate with enjoying the comforts and familiarity of home. If you’re experiencing a transition this holiday season, take heart. There are many reasons to be thankful for this phase in your life. Here are some tips to help you find your gratitude during your transition.

Resist making comparisons

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and nothing could be truer. It’s tempting to compare how this holiday is different from those in the past, but try to resist that urge. Comparison robs you of your happiness and will make your transition more challenging. Focus on the present and find the small joys in each day.

Get out of the house

When you’re in the process of moving, it can get chaotic inside your house. When you get a little too stressed out, give yourself a time out. Get out of the house and do something fun. Go see a movie or have a delicious lunch. If you’re leaving town, drop in on a friend and let them know how much their friendship has meant to you. If you’re getting settled in a new place, take some time to explore your new neighborhood. Everyone deserves a breather, even when there’s work to do. Those boxes will still be there for you to tackle tomorrow.

Appreciate a fresh start

Everyone has different reasons for moving, and they can be both positive and negative. If you’re feeling conflicted or blue about saying goodbye, practice having a positive mindset. Remind yourself that this is an opportunity for a fresh start. Declutter and purge items that no longer serve you. It can be healthy and productive to work through your emotions and appreciate the possibilities that lie ahead.

Stay organized

One of the toughest parts of moving is not knowing where anything is. Whether you’re packing or unpacking, it’s frustrating to not know where basic items are hiding. Be kind to yourself and stay organized. Make sure you have all the supplies you need, and keep them in a central location. Label boxes once they’re packed. Pack an overnight bag that has some comfort items in it so you’ll feel more at home on your first few nights in the new place.

Practice mindfulness

Finally, one of the best ways to stay grounded during a stressful transition is to practice mindfulness. When you’re worried or anxious about what happens next, you rob yourself of the ability to feel joy right now. Mindfulness is a great way to deal with those uncomfortable emotions. Close your eyes and take a few moments to take some deep breaths. Observe your emotions without judgment. Acknowledge something that you’re grateful for at that very moment. It could be your health, the way the light is coming through the window, or your favorite cat resting at your feet.

Although transitions are often stressful – especially during the holidays – you can and will get through them. Try some of the techniques above if you’re facing a tough transition this holiday season.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Save Money Over the Holidays

By Virtual Results

Save Money Over the HolidaysAre you saving money for a down payment on a house? Then you may be wondering how to get through the holiday season with some money left in your pocket. It can be so easy to overspend this time of year, especially when you want to show your loved ones how much you care about them. Here are some of the best tips we’ve found to save money and still enjoy yourself over the holidays.

Establish guidelines

Does it feel like your shopping list gets longer and longer every year? Are you exchanging gifts with other adults that are about the same value? Maybe it’s time to establish some guidelines. While it’s always fun to give gifts to children, it could be time to eliminate gift-giving among adults. If you feel like others may feel the same way, you can suggest not exchanging gifts this year. You may be surprised by how grateful others are to save the money, effort, and stress.

Set a budget for each person

In addition to whittling down your shopping list, you can also set a budget per person to avoid overspending. Limit a specific dollar amount for each person, and stick to it. Yes, there will always be people who spend more money than you do during the holidays. But don’t feel like you have to keep up with Joneses. Remember – each dollar you save can go towards the money you’re accumulating for a down payment.

Avoid using credit

While it’s easy to pull out that credit card during the holidays if you feel financially overextended, don’t. Not only will you be paying the amount of the gift, you’ll also end up owing extra for interest. If you’re able to pay off the balance in full on your next statement, then using your card isn’t a big deal. If you’re not able to pay it all off immediately, keep the credit cards at home and use your debit card or cash to pay for holiday gifts.

Comparison shop

If you have a specific gift in mind for someone, then take the time to comparison shop. This is especially true for electronics and other gadgets that are sold from multiple retailers. There’s no reason to pay more for the exact same gift you can get cheaper elsewhere. Also check to see if the store has a price-match policy, which may save you the time of heading to another store.

Keep track of your expenses

If you really want to save money, then it’s essential that you keep track of your expenses. Make a list of all the gifts you plan to buy and the budget for each. Then fill in how much you actually spent on the purchase. Seeing the numbers in black and white will help you stay on track.

DIY your gifts

Finally, why not make some of your gifts this holiday season? We give gifts because we want to show people we care. It doesn’t take piles of money to show someone how much you love them. There are so many great ideas online for homemade gifts, including cookies, home décor, and body products. If you have a little extra time and some imagination, you can save a bundle!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Using Your Home to Give Back

By Virtual Results

Using Your Home to Give Back

The season of giving is upon us. It’s that time of year when we give thanks for what we have and give back to our communities and those in need. But did you know that you could actually use your biggest asset – your home — to give back? Here are five great ways to keep your giving close to home.

Host a solider in your home

We often take it for granted that we can spend the holidays with our families, friends, and loved ones. But those serving in the military are often unable to go home during the holidays. That’s where your home comes in! You can offer to host a soldier or service member in your home during the holidays. The easiest way to find out about what programs are available in your area is to contact your nearest MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office.

Install a Little Free Library

Another fun way to use your home to give back is to install a Little Free Library. It’s a neighborhood book exchange where everyone is invited to take a book or leave a book. The first Little Free Library was installed in 2009, and since then more than 75,000 have been installed around the world. Anyone can start a Little Free Library. You can build your own or buy a kit online. It’s a fun way to inspire reading and to strengthen your community, one book at a time.

House evacuees

If you are an Airbnb host, then you can donate your home to provide emergency shelter to evacuees. This includes people who are affected by forest fires, flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. By signing up for their Open Homes program, you can indicate if you are able to open your home for free to displaced neighbors and relief workers. You can control how often you open your home and how long guests can stay. It’s a wonderful way to help those in need find a safe and welcoming place to stay while they are rebuilding their lives.

Offer shelter to refugees

Another great way to use your home to help those is need is to house a refugee. Room for Refugees is a network that offers safe, temporary homes for refugees and asylum seekers. It caters specifically to those who are most vulnerable – families, those who are sick, unaccompanied minors, and the elderly. The program began in Scotland in 2002, and the US hosting model is now in development. Check the website for more details about how you can help.

Donate your home to charity

Finally, did you know that you can donate your home to charity? Donating your home is a great source of revenue for a charity, and there are many organizations that accept donated homes as gifts. There are many benefits to homeowners as well, including saving your heirs from paying a large inheritance tax after your death. This is by no means an easy process, and it’s important to discuss your plans both with a lawyer and the organization to which you want to donate your home. But it can be one of the most valuable gifts you ever give.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What is a Relocation Specialist?

By Virtual Results

What is a Relocation Specialist?

If you’re moving out of town for work, then you may want to consider working with a relocation specialist. A relocation specialist is a professional who will help you handle all the details of your move so that’s it’s as stress-free as possible. This includes everything from helping you sell your current home to getting you settled in your new place. Let’s take a closer look at what kinds of services a relocation specialist can offer you.

Help you sell your home

If you are a homeowner, a relocation specialist will help you find an agent to sell your home. When you’re dealing with a move that is prompted by a change in your job, you won’t have much free time to handle all the details. The relocation specialist will help ensure that your home gets on the market, and that you have as little paperwork to deal with as possible.

Help you find a new home

In addition to selling your current home, a relocation specialist will help you find a new place to live. Whether you’re buying or renting, they’ll connect you with a qualified agent in the area you’re moving to. This is usually an agent who specializes in working with those who are relocating and who may not know much about the area. In addition, a relocation specialist will help you with the paperwork that will need to be completed during the closing process and answer questions you have about laws and regulations in your new area.

Help you find a moving company and pack

Anyone who has moved before knows that it can be an enormous and stressful job. A relocation specialist will help you find a reputable moving company, and may even be able to help you get a discount. They’ll also help you locate professionals to do your packing and to ship items.

Help you arrange shipping of unusual items

If you’re moving a long distance, especially if it’s out of the country, you’ll need to ship some unusual items. This includes your car and even your pets. Moving across borders with a pet can be a complicated process, and a relocation specialist will help you to navigate it so that your pet is properly cared for.

Help you get settled

Getting set up in a new town or a new country can take some time. A relocation specialist will be able to connect you with local service providers like doctors, accountants, and even babysitters. They’re tapped into a large network of reputable people so that you can get settled into your new life as quickly as possible. They can also arrange tours and provide information about local attractions and amenities.

Help your kids get settled

If you’re moving with kids, it can be especially stressful. That’s why it can be so helpful to work with a relocation specialist. They will help you find the right school for your children and help set up childcare.

As you can see, working with a relocation specialist for a big move can be a huge asset. What’s even better is that it’s unlikely to cost you, as they generally receive fees for their vendor referrals. So if you’re getting ready to relocate for work, it makes sense to use a relocation specialist to help you arrange all the details.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Protect Your Home Over the Holidays

By Virtual Results

Protect Your Home Over the Holidays

The holiday season is officially here! It’s that time of year when we all deck the halls and gather together to celebrate. It also happens to be that time of year when you’re more vulnerable to burglars – or even house fires. It’s important to be extra-vigilant during the holidays to protect your home and your family. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t broadcast your travel plans

Are you heading out of town for the holidays? While you may want to share your excitement with your friends and family on social media, you should keep it under wraps. Don’t post where you are going or when you’ll be gone. Potential thieves are always on the lookout for easy targets. Posting your plans on social media lets them know when your home is most likely to be vacant.

Be aware of package thieves

More and more people are doing their holiday shopping online. That means more package deliveries – and more opportunities for thieves to steal them if they’re delivered while you aren’t home. Try to arrange the delivery date to coincide with a time you’re sure to be around. You could also arrange to have the item shipped to a local store where you can pick it up.

Hide gifts

We know how festive it looks to have all your beautifully-wrapped gifts displayed under your tree. This can be an open invitation to thieves – especially if your tree is right in front of a window. It’s easy to break a window and quickly take off with those pretty packages. Store gifts and other packages away so they can’t be easily stolen.

Let your neighbors know your plans

One of the benefits of getting to know your neighbors is being able to alert them when you go out of town. You can ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your house and let you and the police know about any suspicious activity. In addition, be sure to have your sidewalks and driveways cleaned and your mail picked up or held while you’re away. Letting things pile up is a dead giveaway that nobody is home.

Be safe with your holiday lights

String lights and other décor can add such wonderful ambiance to any holiday setting. Unfortunately, they can also be a fire hazard. December is the worst month for electrical fires, so you should take steps to keep your home safe. Discard old or damaged lights. Turn off all holiday lights when you leave the house. Avoid overloading electrical outlets, which can overheat and start a fire.

Stay warm safely

Finally, this is the season where we turn on our furnaces and fire up our fireplaces. Before the cold weather really descends, have your furnace inspected and serviced. Clean the air ducts and replace filters. You should also have your chimney professionally cleaned before you begin using it for the season. Have fire extinguishers on hand and make sure they are not expired. Check the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace as needed. They could save your life in an emergency.

Compliments of Virtual Results