Clutter-cutting Made Easy

Discover space you didn’t know you had by saying adieu to little-used items throughout your home.

We’ve all got a closet that barely closes, or a pantry that’s stuffed to the ceiling with nonperishable items (and yes, that can of beans does have an expiration date). Getting rid of what you don’t need can be a very freeing experience—but it can also be hard to know where to start. Putting your home up for sale is great impetus for a clean out: a home-moving checklist priority should be dealing with clutter so potential buyers don’t consider it a home-buying warning sign and move on to a less-cluttered option.

The scout

If you love that family and friends can rely on you to handle any situation, but your tendency to keep things comes from the anticipation that you might need it someday, you might have a scout’s organization personality. In order to let go, try creating a catch phrase that will help you identify items you no longer use frequently. Try asking yourself, “How often am I really using this?” or “In what situation will I really need this?” You‘ll soon start to realize that you’ll never need a lot of the items you’re holding on to. You can also set boundaries before you begin to declutter. Determine how many of the same type of item you should realistically keep, and then make yourself follow those rules.

Purge old paperwork

Plenty of us keep old tax returns, receipts, mortgage statements from 1992—out of the fear that we’ll need it some day. But be realistic: do you really need the warranty to the microwave you got rid of two years ago? Getting rid of old office paperwork is extremely liberating. Tossing random notes and old checklists and files quickly transforms an office into a place where you can think. Create a box to hold papers that need shredding as you sort, and then shred them while you watch television to make the time go by quickly. When you’ve cut through the backlog of papers, start fresh and shred papers immediately after you’ve sorted the mail.

Shop your pantry

For some people, being prepared means having enough food to feed an army. But the more you store, the more likely you are to forget what you have. In an effort to cut pantry clutter, explore new recipes for a few weeks to utilize what you already own. Avoid buying more nonperishable items until you run out of something. You’ll save grocery money and free up room so you can restock in a more orderly fashion. Make note of how long it takes you to clear out your cupboards, and use that as a guideline for how much food you really need to store in the future.

Restful retreat

Make your bedroom a haven by surrounding yourself with things that bring you comfort and peace. Let go of furniture and other objects in the room that take up space without adding value. If space allows, carve out a nook for a reading chair and ottoman or a chaise. Install artwork or use paint to customize and brighten your space, rather than relying on useless objects.

Organize for your needs

An organized closet can help set the tone for the day ahead. When you can see everything you own, you can find things faster, get dressed with confidence and feel ready to tackle the day. When deciding how you should organize a clothes closet, ask yourself the following: How do I look for things? How do I get dressed? How do I put things away? Sort your items into categories based on your responses. To make things even easier to find, try color-coding items within your categories, and look for cheap storage solutions, such as plastic shoe boxes or bins for belts, socks or scarves.

Declutter and do good

It’s easy to hold on to bath products such as soaps and lotions, especially those received as gifts. But don’t let these items steal prime countertop space or crowd out items you need to access every day. Create a boundary, such as a basket or bin, for “relax” items; when it’s full, follow a “one in, one out” rule. Have extras worth sharing? Local shelters are always looking for supplies.

Play stations

When toys, books and dress-up clothes have proper homes, children can participate in the cleanup process and help keep clutter to a minimum. Consider dividing a bedroom or playroom into activity stations to create clear separation. Make sure children have easy access to items they gravitate to frequently, such as a basket for books. Avoid oversize containers that make it hard for children to find toys, and keep lids to a minimum—except on items you want to control access to, such as art supplies.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

6 Tips to Prepare for Home Inspections

Almost every sale entails having a home inspection.  Sellers can take steps ahead of time to ensure this goes smoothly.  Below are some tips to help prepare for inspection day.

  • Make repairs in advance of the scheduled inspection and don’t try to hide what’s not working.  If something breaks with no time to fix it, leave a note and how it will be corrected.
  • The house should be clean and in showing condition.  The inspector and buyers will be going through it in much more detail. 
  • Provide easy access to the attic, furnace, utilities, and under sinks.  An inspector should not have to spend time moving your belongings to inspect.
  • Replace any burned out light bulbs. 
  • Leave a sketch of the septic system so it can be easily found.
  • Make plans for both you and any pets to be gone from the property for at least 3 hours.

 While it’s a little nerve-racking to have your house so thoroughly examined, taking steps to get ready will help ease the process.  Contact me if you would like more tips on preparing your home for sale!  603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com

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Home Office Storage & Organization Solutions

You can create a home office anywhere—but it helps to have a plan for corralling clutter and organizing your workspace first.

Look beyond the boring cubicle walls and get inspired to create a home office that’s just that: part of your home. You don’t need a whole room reserved for an office (although that would be nice!); a desk, a chair and some good organizational and storage strategies are all it takes to carve a nook out of your home for an office.

Corner office

A fully functional home office doesn’t need to have its own separate room. Tuck it into the corner of a dining room and give plenty of storage and ample work surfaces. Use space wisely by installing shelves above the desk and cabinets below the work surface.

Write away

If your office needs are more sporadic, consider a simple writing desk for the occasional bill-paying sessions or mail sorting. This writing area is stylish but serves the function of an office as needed.

Compact office

A handsome secretary can turn any room into an office. Paint it to match the bedding and draperies and it will blend into a cottage-style bedroom while providing a spot to write and a place to store stationery, books and more.

Color coordinate

Put your walls to work in your home office space. Floating shelves can be stacked with binders, magazine boxes and more. Wall-mounted baskets are an easy way to file mail or to-do tasks.

Perfect office setup

Create a corner office at home by zoning a section of a larger room (such as a living room or family room) as a work zone. For more storage, hang floating shelves along the wall. When planning your home office, make sure there are adequate outlets nearby for computers, printers and task lighting.

Inspiration point

Surround yourself with beauty while you are hard at work. Hang art that you love above your desk, or add a few decorative items to your desktop. Improve function by adding a pretty lamp or wall sconces for better lighting.

Pretty space

Old desks often have plenty of drawers and storage, but might not be up to par in the style game. Paint a secondhand desk a fresh color that suits your room’s style.

Smarter office storage

In a small space, take office storage to the walls to keep work surfaces clutter-free. In this space, cubbies were mounted to the wall and magazine holders were screwed into the bottom of the cubbies for an innovative mail sorter. For an easy and affordable work surface, transform a slab door into a desktop by mounting it to a wall and placing bookcases or file cabinets beneath it for support.

Kitchen office

A small desk tucked into a kitchen is suited for many tasks, such as doing homework or jotting down a grocery list. Incorporate a few drawers and cubbies to maximize the space’s storage capacity.

Office with a view

Bump a desk up against a window with a deep windowsill and use the sill as an improvised shelf for baskets and boxes. Plus, placing a desk near a window provides plenty of natural light.

Cozy work space

Turn an awkward closet into an office with a few quick changes. Remove the closet doors and paint (or wallpaper) the interior. Hang shelves along the wall and tuck in a desk for a quick-fix office that packs efficient function into a small sliver of space.

Build a desk

For a simple, do-it-yourself desk, employ sturdy file cabinets as a base and a large desktop, or painted panel, as the work surface. Position the desktop on the file cabinets and screw into place.

Living-room office

Inconspicuously add an office to a living area with a few simple tricks. Incorporate as much concealed storage as possible without distracting from the rest of the room. Take steps to add in elements to tie the space to the rest of the room. A bamboo chair and burlap-covered bulletin board harmonize with the living room’s natural look and help the office adhere to interior-design principles.

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

How to Incorporate a Cozy Reading Nook in Your Home

Curling up with a good book is the perfect way to relax.  Every bookworm can agree that where you read is just as important as what you read. We can all relate to reading the same sentence for 15 minutes as a result of being in the wrong place.  Noisy, crowded and uncomfortable are not adjectives one wants to use to describe their leisure spots. Reading nooks are little areas within a home that are comfy, cozy and free of distractions. Explore the must-have elements every reading nook needs.

Get Cozy in a Corner

You may think you need a lot of space or to rearrange for a reading nook. All you need is a little corner or any space that is secluded from everything else. Reading nooks can be anywhere; consider a corner in your bedroom, a bay window or even a shed.oftness is a Must

Increase the coziness of your reading nook with softer fabrics. Invest in a plush blanket to create a welcoming cocoon. Paint the walls softer hues to ensure a cozy, distraction-free space. If a big rug beckons, consider faux fur or a great shag rug to spend a few hours with your favorite author.

Softness is a Must

Increase the coziness of your reading nook with softer fabrics. Invest in a plush blanket to create a welcoming cocoon. Paint the walls softer hues to ensure a cozy, distraction-free space. If a big rug beckons, consider faux fur or a great shag rug to spend a few hours with your favorite author.

Comfort with Cushions

Soft fabrics are great, but they won’t give you as much comfort as you need to finish a few chapters of your latest read. Grab some cushions and layer them on the floor, bench or bay window. They are a much cheaper alternative to purchasing a chair. You may also want to purchase larger pillows to line the wall for increased comfort.

Lighting is Vital

A reading nook in front of a big window is always a nice addition. You get an ample amount of natural light, fresh air and peace. The only catch is when the sun goes down, your reading nook will no longer be the ideal place. To get the best light possible, add a lamp or hang a few strings of white lights. Better yet, opt for a with a dimming option to set the mood as you please.

Keep it Simple

Too many distractions can take away from your reading experience. There’s no need for tech gadgets, save for an e-reader. An abundance of framed photos, home décor and other distractions can also take your attention away from the page. Keep it simple by sticking with basics to get the most out of your reading nook.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com 

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team


Housing Predictions for 2018

As we approach the end of 2017, there are a number of articles out with predictions on what the 2018 housing market will bring, based on the opinions of economists and housing experts.  While no one can say for sure, it sounds like it could be similar to what we experienced this year.  Below are some of the highlights.

  • Interest rates are expected to gradually rise from around 4% to 4.5% by end of year.
  • Low inventory will continue to be a challenge for buyers.
  • Millennials could be the most active home buyers in 2018 and they will be looking in higher density, amenity-rich neighborhoods.
  • Baby boomers haven’t downsized as much as anticipated.  Some speculate this is due to the fact they are working longer and also desire to age in place and not move.
  • Home values are expected to grow – some predict 3.2% and others are at 4.7%.

 Whether buying or selling, contact me if you’d like to know how the market could impact you.  Donna@DonnaForest.com; www.DonnaForest.com; 603-526-4116.

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.


Is It a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

The answer is “yes”.  It is both depending on the property you are trying to buy or sell.  I know, the news is full of stories on the shortage of inventory, high demand, and rising prices.  The truth is the type of market you face is dependent on the price point and condition.  In general, our area does not have enough listings in the price range for the bulk of buyers who are buying.  Home prices have reached unaffordable levels for many 1st time buyers.  And the downsizing baby boomers have specific needs (newer, 1st floor master, near town amenities, mostly under $400k) for which there is pretty low inventory. 

Overall, sales are about the same as 2016 in New London, Sunapee, & Newbury, mainly due to lack of desirable inventory.  New London is actually down from last year YTD, thru Oct.  With a median price of $342,000 in these 3 towns combined and an average days on market of 127 days, it can be confusing to understand what type of market is in play. 

Bottom line, buyers trying to find a move-in ready home under $300k are in a sellers’ market.  Sellers with homes that don’t fit the desired condition and price for the bulk of buyers are in a buyers’ market.   Whether buying or selling, contact me if you want to know what you are facing!

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/16 thru 10/31/16 and 1/1/17 thru 10/31/17.

Donna Forest 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

On the fence about Selling this Fall?

If you are thinking about selling and wondering if it would be better to wait until spring, here are few reasons why it may make sense to list now:

  • There are fewer homes for sale which means less competition for your property.
  • There may not be as many buyers out looking but those who are house hunting are serious buyers.
  • Prices are expected to appreciate 5% over the next year (CoreLogic).  If you are moving to a higher priced home, it could cost more if you wait.
  • The process will be quicker as lenders and appraisers are not swamped this time of year.

If you feel it’s time to move on with your life then it may not be worth waiting for the spring market.  With proper pricing and enhancing your home for maximum effect, a house will sell regardless of the month.  Give me a call to get the Better Homes & Gardens The Milestone Team advantage any time of year.  Donna Forest 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Getting to Yes

I recently spent 2 days at a class put on by the Real Estate Business Institute to become a certified negotiation expert and thought it would be good to share some points made during this time.  Some might just surprise you!

  • Negotiations are really between the two agents and not the buyers & sellers.  While the goal is for each to get the best possible outcome based on their clients’ needs and wants, the reality is that it is the two agents who are communicating with each who make it happen.  How well the agents negotiate with each other can make or break it for their clients.
  • In any negotiation, you need to know if the market conditions are with or against you.  For example, if you are a buyer in a sellers’ market, the market may push you to make decisions quickly.
  • If a deal gets “deadlocked”, sometimes taking a time-out is helpful to allow everyone to re-group and re-assess their wants and needs.
  • There are always at least 2 negotiation points in a sale – the first with the offer and the 2nd after the home inspections.
  • The best negotiator will focus on the fix and not the fight.

Contact me if you’d like to have a skilled negotiator working on your side to help achieve your “yes”!  Donna Forest 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com.

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Mudroom Design Ideas for Better Storage

People often assume that the kitchen or living room is at the heart of the home, but when you see these ideas to help corral the chaos in your mudroom, you might decide that the area just inside your front door is the true command center of your house. If you don’t have a dedicated room or hallway carved out for a purpose-built mudroom, don’t despair: a few hooks, storage baskets and designated shoe racks can make all the difference in a house where multiple family members use—and abuse—the front hallway as a dumping ground. Good mudroom design can be just what you need to corral clutter and get an entryway you—and potential home buyers—absolutely love.

Establish a mudroom zone

Even homes with grand entries sometimes find themselves challenged by the lack of front- or back-door space to store daily necessities. A few options can help. A slim drawer underneath a bench offers a spot to stash seasonal items. With no room for traditional shoe storage solutions, boots and other footwear sit close by; place them in a tray to catch loose moisture and dirt. A tray makes it easy to clean up melted snow or mud that comes in on boots; simply take the entire tray outside to dump accumulated dirt or snow, then replace.

Use baskets for outdoor items

It makes sense to have some items close at hand for out-of-house comings and goings. A shelf above coat storage in this mudroom has space for containers with various items such as sunscreen, bandages and more. Keep similar items, such as bug spray, together and label the containers (adhesive or tied-on tags work well). You might also consider assigning a basket to each member of your family, then letting them use it however they like to corral their personal clutter

Tuck shoes out of the way

Although it’s handy to have all mudroom storage together, sometimes a dedicated shoe-storage solution just isn’t feasible. Instead, carve out nooks and crannies where you can. A small recessed area offers a just-right spot for multiple shoe shelves. 

Sliding shelves are a useful tool in mudrooms, too, helping to streamline access to items. Choose heavy-duty, easy-to-clean surfaces in a mudroom, particularly for the floor, that rely on color and texture to mask any messes or daily dirt. And don’t forget to put a tray under a shoe rack to catch the debris from several rows of shoes above.

Use extra storage for essentials

Some mudrooms are hidden and expansive enough to store more than just coats and shoes. For peculiarly shaped items that may not easily stay grouped—toilet paper, for example—use decorative baskets (lidded or not) to keep them in order. 

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Source:  www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife


Small Touches – Big Differences

Want a higher price and shorter time on the market for your home?  You should be staging your house by adding decorative touches and updates.  Here are a few “To Do’s” before going on the market:

  • Have your Realtor go room to room making suggestions for improvement.  Ask them to be honest and be prepared for constructive criticism.   
  • Pay attention to the kitchen.  Put away cookbooks, utensils, excess cooking machines, etc.  Put new hardware on the cabinets for a quick update.  Clean off windowsills, organize cabinets.
  • Update bedrooms and baths.  Buy new bedcovers.  Add a new shower curtain with matching towels.  Clear off countertops, nightstands, and dressers. 
  • Boost curb appeal with fresh mulch, potted flowers, add new exterior lighting, and paint the front door.

 Remember, first impressions count.  If this sounds like too much for you to attempt, there are professional staging companies in the area that can do as much or as little as you’d like.  Simple changes can have a big impact on the appeal of your home.  Contact me if you’d like more advice on selling. 603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.