Holiday Travel Tips

If You're Flying

  • Do your research. Whether you're planning weeks in advance or you're trying to get a last-minute deal, it helps to do your research. Choose flexible travel dates to help you pinpoint the best deal.
  • Plan carefully. Flying in the winter may increase the chances of flight delays due to inclement weather. Avoid narrow layover times.
  • Pack light. More airlines are charging to check bags. Save money by packing lighter or sending items ahead to your destination instead of bringing them on the plane.
  • Leave early, whether you're flying or driving. This will allow you the buffer time necessary to deal with traffic jams, parking, and security.
  • Stay up-to-date on flight changes. Download your airline's app to get alerts about gate changes and delays.

Stay Healthy While You Travel

  • Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle and fill it at the water fountain once you pass through security or purchase water from a vendor in the secured area.
  • Bring your own blanket and pillow. While some airlines still provide these amenities, most do not.
  • Bring healthy snacks, including nuts, dried fruit and other easily portable food items.
  • Move around to avoid blood clots.

If You're Driving

  • Get your car ready. Take your car in for a tuneup and address any potential issues beforehand.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. Whether you're driving a few hours or a few days, it helps to know the route you're taking.
  • Keep roadside assistance information on hand. Having this information readily available will help you think clearly and act quickly in the event of car problems.
  • Store a cell phone charger in the car. Keep a charger in the glove compartment or center console to keep it charged in case of an emergency.
  • Pack a winter safety kit if you're traveling through a snowy area. The kit should include an ice scraper, a small snow shovel, tire chains, tow rope, jumper cables, a blanket, flashlights, a first-aid kit and a portable radio.

Tips For Traveling With Children

  • Take your time.
  • Pack small toys.
  • Pack a change of clothing.
  • Have a small bag with only diaper-changing items.
  • Remind your children not to talk to strangers.

Tips For Traveling With Pets

  • Make sure your pet has identification.
  • Get your pet up-to-date on its vaccinations.
  • Secure the animal properly in the car.
  • If you're traveling by air and crating your pet, ensure it has room to move and stand.
  • Take a direct flight to reduce stress on the animal.
  • If you're traveling by car, stop frequently.

Determining Your Home's Value: Effective Pricing is Critical!

Even in today's active market with challenging inventory levels, when it's time to market your home, you will be faced with this question: What is my house worth? Ordinarily, real estate agents and those doing home appraisals will look into house valuation by comparing homes currently available and the recent home sales in your area to be able to come up with a suitable value for your home.

What are the factors affecting home values@

  • Location
  • Condition
  • improvements
  • Current state of the market

Not every home has its price. This is why determining your home's value is extremely vital. There is a complete home value range for every home. Understanding this will give both the buyer and you as the seller a benchmark to make wise decisions. Need to know more? Call us today!

How to Throw a Party Without Going Broke

Set a budget. List potential expenses such as invitations, decorations, entertainment, food and drink. If you're not sure how much each item will cost, look online for estimated pricing.

*Prioritize where you'd like to spend most of your money.

*Choose a venue.

Create your guest list. Although your budget may dictate the size of your party, there are ways to cut costs so you can entertain more people.

*Save money with email invitations.

Plan your entertainment. Make sure your guests have fun at your party. Use a digital music service such as Pandora to choose holiday-themed playlists, or create a music list with a digital service like Spotify.

Plan your menu. Whether you're having your party catered, making everything yourself, or having a potluck, it helps to plan your menu.

*If you're having the party catered, hire a caterer as soon as possible, since the holiday season is the busiest time of the year.

*If you're cooking the meal yourself, scour the internet and your favorite cookbooks and magazines for recipes.

*If you're planning a potluck, supply the main dish and ask your guests to bring their favorite dish to share.

*Save money on drinks by creating a signature drink to serve, such as eggnog or a seasonal cocktail.

Decorate. Holiday decorations don't have to break the bank. Reuse old decorations to save money or borrow décor from family and friends.

Save money by co-hosting with someone else, such as a sibling, a friend, or a neighbor. This allows you to share the planning and the budget.


Make Moving Easier

1. Lighten Up. Whether you're hiring movers or renting a truck and getting help with the heavy lifting, it pays to lighten the load of stuff you plan to move. Now is the time to go through your belongings and be intentional about your goal-if it's broken, underused or you don't see yourself needing it in the future, it's time to donate it.

  • Sell or donate unused items that are still in good condition. Sites like Craigslist and eBay , or apps like Letgo allow you to sell your items easily. Start the process at least a month before your moving date.
  • Recycle items that are broken or worn out.

2. Take breaks. One of the reasons people find moving so stressful is they're overwhelmed by all the tasks that need to get done. While trying to stay on top of everything, it's easy to forget to take breaks and eat. Taking a break will give you the energy you need to recharge before you tackle the next room or task.

3. Pack smart. Be mindful of what you are packing and when you pack it to ensure your valuables are not lost or broken.

  • Start Early
  • Pack by room and number your boxes
  • Pack valuable items yourself
  • If you need certain items right away, pack them in clear plastic bins

6 Major Mistakes Buyers Make In A Seller's Market

1. Not making your best offer

The motivation to buy what we want for as little money as possible is deeply engrained in us. So when most people see the listing price of a home, they naturally wonder what they can really get the house for. Offering lower than asking price is a reasonable strategy, especially if the house is overpriced compared with other similar homes in the area, or if it's a buyer's market with lots of available inventory. But trying to get a deal when you're in a seller's market might not be the best tactic.

2. Over-Analyzing the Purchase Price

Just as impulse-buying a home is risky, over-analyzing a home purchase in a seller's market is ill-advised as well. Once you've determined the type of home you want, the location you desire, and your price range, and finally find a home that meets your qualifications, don't wait to make an offer.

3. Working with an inexperienced agent

In a seller's market, it benefits buyers to get all the help they can. If you have a seasoned agent on your side, you'll probably have a better chance of getting the home you want.

4. Not being pre-approved for a loan

You might know that you'll be approved for a mortgage loan based on your steady income, your low debt-to-income ratio, and your high credit score-but the seller doesn't know that. The only way to prove to the seller that you're a qualified buyer is to be pre-approved from a lender.

5. Not being prepared for a bidding war

If there is ever a time when a bidding war could be imminent, it's during a seller's market. No buyer wants to be involved in such a battle for fear of possible going over budget. Search below your max budget to leave room in case of an over-asking bidding war.

6. Not learning from your mistakes

There's no shame in learning that your offer has been declined, but it's easy to get frustrated if your offers are declined repeatedly. Learn from your last transaction so that you can move in to your dream home.

Spruce up Your Space with New Paint

Choose the Right Color

1. Paint makers offer new color options each year based on the most current design sensibilities, and their cues are commonly highlighted on company websites and in home and garden media. Trends aside, the color you choose should reflect your family's tastes and personalities.

2. It also helps to keep the room's purpose in mind. For example, a relaxing green or blue hue suits a bedroom or bath, and a deep red adds sophistication to a room that's intended for entertaining. Furthermore, light shades can make a small space seem larger, while dark ones may be used to create a warmer feeling in a large room.

3. Ultimately, it's usually best to select a shade that will balance out the room. If most of your furnishings are bold, go with a subdued look on the walls so they won't compete. When the big pieces in the room are neutrals, consider adding a punch of color that is pulled from the decorative accessories or artwork.

All About Finishes

Flat: Matte finishes are good at concealing flaws but more difficult to maintain; flat paints work best for old walls and low-traffic areas.

Satin or Eggshell: Versatile and attractive satin finishes are great for the walls in high traffic areas and family spaces because they are easier to wipe clean.

Semi-gloss: With its visible shine, this durable finish is suitable for trim, woodwork, and high-moisture areas in the bath or kitchen.

Gloss: These are the shiniest finishes and are sometimes used to draw attention to doors, mantels and other special architectural features.

Are You Planning to Sell Soon?

Don't feel the need to neutralize a nicely staged interior if you already have custom paint colors that coordinate well with your furnishings. However, if your home's décor is dated or the walls are in rough condition, it's best to create a blank canvas for potential buyers by applying a popular neutral color such as white, cream, or beige.

7 Ways to Invest in Yourself

1. Take a class or seminar. Learning doesn't need to stop once you've graduated.  Signing up for a class or seminar, either on-line or in-person, gives you the opportunity to learn and grow outside of the traditional confines of school. Websites such as Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare allow you to learn new skills and improve the ones you have.

2. Read. The most successful people carve time out of their days to read. Not only does reading increase your knowledge, it also improve your memory, vocabulary and focus, while sharpening your analytical skills and reducing stress.

3. Watch a video. Optimize your time and watch a video from a leading personal development expert, or expert in your field, and you'll not only learn, you'll also become motivated to make lasting positive changes in your life and at work.

4. Listen to a podcast. Podcasts are a popular way to listen and learn anywhere, whether you're getting ready for work, driving to the office, or jogging on the treadmill at the gym.

5. Join a group or organization. Connect with other like-minded people who are committed to growing personally or professionally. In addition to networking, these organizations also provide opportunities to take work-shops and classes.

6. Get a mentor. If you want to get ahead in your career, a mentor can help you improve your self-confidence, tap into your potential and find balance in your life.

7. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community while refining skills and traits, such as teamwork, empathy and communication.

Why commit to personal growth? It helps you to discover your purpose, gain clarity and focus, become more resilient, and improve your attitude!

The Three-Step Method for Success in Buying a Home

Follow these three-steps to successful homeownership:

Step 1: Get pre-approved for a mortgage!

a. Speak to a legitimate mortgage loan officer.

b. Understand the components of obtaining a mortgage, like down payment and closing costs, income, assets, types of credit, credit repair, debt to income ratios, co-signer, and gift letter.

Step 2: Work with the RIGHT real estate company and agent!

a. Someone who cares about YOUR goals.

b. Someone who's competent, experienced and  knowledgeable about the market and technology.

c. Understand the relationship (the law of agency).

d. Use a major firm that offers plenty of resources.

e. Choose ONE agent to work with.

Step 3: Choose your advocates carefully!

a. Home inspector

b. Real Estate attorney.

c. Insurance agent.

Happy House Hunting!