4 Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid These 4 Landscaping Mistakes

When a prospective buyer pulls up to your home, it’s your yard that greets them. Don’t get off track, then, in your outdoor efforts. Here are a few things not to do.

1. Ignore maintenance
Many people love the idea of a beautifully landscaped yard, but they aren’t willing to put in the work to maintain it. Make sure that any updates you make won’t require an intimidating amount of upkeep for buyers.

2. Forget that seasons change
When planning your landscape improvements, remember to include appealing elements for each season and not just a yard full of flowers that will wither in September. Evergreens add color through the winter, deciduous trees will flower in spring and turn color in autumn, and annual and perennial beds can bloom with color in the warmer months.

3. Neglect growth
Keep your trimmers sharp. Overgrown shrubs and trees can make your home look rundown. And a well-edged lawn suggests that the rest of the property is as well-maintained as the yard.

4. Let clutter sprout
Kids’ toys, athletic equipment and excessive lawn furniture can ruin the effect of even the most well thought-out landscaping. Keep it neat.

Ready to dig into other improvements you can make to your home to increase its appeal before listing it for sale? Talk to a Realtor to find out exactly what features buyers in your unique market are looking for.

Thank you to my colleagues at RE/MAX for this article.

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3 Questions to Ask Before Listing Your Home

3 Questions to Ask Before Listing Your Home

Are you considering putting your home up for sale? Before you do, be sure to ask yourself these three questions.

1. Is now a good time?
Talk with a Realtor who knows your specific market (find one here) and can analyze the current sales inventory and trends. A good agent can determine whether it is a prime time to sell your home to get the best price. There may be all kinds of reasons to wait a season to sell, such as a glut of homes on the market similar to yours.

2. Is the price right?
Setting the right price and understanding how that price was calculated is critical to getting top dollar for your home. An experienced Realtor can provide comparable sales in your area, and evaluate the specific features of your home to set a price that will bring you the most value for your house in the shortest time.

3. What’s my exit strategy?
You never know how quickly your home will sell, so establish a plan in case it happens quickly. Before you list it, know where you’ll go if a buyer swoops in immediately, whether it’s temporary housing, your brother’s basement or your next home. Having a post-sale plan takes some of the anxiety out of selling your home.

The most important step in the selling process? Working with an experienced agent who will provide unmatched service throughout the sales process. You can find one here.

Thank you to my colleagues at RE/MAX for this article.

Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper

should you buy a fixer upper

It looks so simple on TV: Find a diamond-in-the rough with “good bones,” hire a few telegenic workers, perhaps squabble with your significant other about the interior paint color and presto – the home has doubled in value. The reality, of course, is not so easy. Here are a few things to consider before investing your money – and time – in a fixer upper.

1. Can you afford it?
After consulting an experienced building inspector to assess the home, a contractor for a time and money quote on the work to be done, and a Realtor to make sure the renovations are in line with what buyers want, do the math. Be sure to include materials and add an extra 10-15 percent for renovation “surprises” that may arise. Once you have the general price tag, you can calculate whether you have the funds to cover the cost of renovation or need (and are qualified) to take out a renovation loan.

2. Do you have the time?
Even if you plan on hiring contractors to do most of the work, coordinating with with them still takes a big chunk of time. If you just started a job, are expecting a baby or simply don’t want to commit the necessary hours to the project, it might not be prime time for a fixer-upper.

3. Do you have skills? (Or handy friends?)
Doing the labor yourself can save you money. A lot of renovation work, especially cosmetic projects, is not rocket science. But if most encounters you’ve had with power tools have ended at the ER, it may be best to go with a contractor.

4. How do you feel about living in a construction zone?
Unless you’re able to live elsewhere during renovations, think long and hard about whether living in an unfinished house, complete with workers and a power tool soundtrack, will drive you nuts.

Before you dive into a fixer-upper, talk with a Realtor who can help you identify promising homes and emerging neighborhoods where you might get the most bang for your building bucks. Find me here.

A Miracle Mom’s Story in honour of Mother’s Day

A Miracle Mom’s Story

In honour of Mother’s Day, one “Miracle Mom” shares her experience with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Original guest post found here

It was June 23, 2013. After years of infertility, my husband and I were welcoming our triplets into this world. What should have been the most beautiful day of my life turned into a chaotic and bittersweet day as I delivered my babies more than 17 weeks premature. As I look back at this day, which is forever etched into my heart and memory, I can’t help but smile. My children wouldn’t have been given a chance at life if we weren’t at St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

At this hospital, I celebrated the happiest day of my life, along with the two darkest days I’ve ever experienced. My children were born at 22 weeks 6 days, not even considered viable by most hospitals in our country. Yet the neonatologists were ready, in case my children showed signs of life. My daughter, Abigail, died a few hours after birth. Her brother, Parker, lived his entire 55 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our lone survivor, Peyton, is the definition of a Miracle Child. After spending nearly four months in the NICU, she’s alive and thriving at close to 3 years old.

A Miracle Mom’s Story
Born 17 weeks premature, Stacey’s daughter, Peyton, is the youngest baby to survive at St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

The NICU can be a scary place. For some babies, it’s a brief stop on their way home. For others, like Peyton and Parker, it becomes their home. My husband and I spent every waking hour at St. John’s Children’s Hospital, oftentimes sitting bedside at our children’s isolettes, not able to even touch our babies because they were too weak. At just over a pound each, we never expected our babies to survive. But the doctors and nurses gave us hope every single day. And even as Parker died in our arms at nearly 2 months old, the staff provided us comfort. People often ask me how I return to a hospital where two of my children died. It’s easy — the hospital staff became family. Because of top-notch medical care, each of our triplets were born alive. And even though two of our babies lived just a short life, those few memories at the hospital will last us a lifetime.

As a television news anchor, I’ve spent years volunteering for children’s organizations and interviewing families with unique stories. Never in a million years did I expect to someday become one of those families. But I feel so blessed to be part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals family. You never understand the benefit of a CMN Hospital until you find yourself in need of one. For my family, we saw firsthand how donations to CMN Hospitals are being used. What may seem like a simple reclining chair is so much more to a NICU family. For us, that’s where we first held our 1-pound babies, giving us that moment where we finally felt like a family. After the NICU journey, our surviving triplet visited the follow-up clinic, where doctors checked her development. Those rooms funded by CMN Hospitals may look like a typical exam room, but for us it’s so much more. It’s symbolic of how far our Miracle Child has come.

Today, our daughter Peyton is not only a survivor, she’s a walking miracle. As a “22-weeker,” she’s the youngest baby to survive at our hospital. As I watched Peyton recently dance at a CMN Hospitals event, I couldn’t help but tear up. She has defied the odds, conquering every uphill battle that has come her way. She’s not only beautiful and full of energy, she’s healthy. And it’s all because of St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

Since partnering with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in 1992, RE/MAX agents have raised more than $147 million for the charity’s 170 member hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. Donations help fund pediatric medical equipment and treatments, healthcare services and charitable care. Learn more by visiting www.cmnhospitals.org/. You can follow Stacey’s journey as a Miracle Mom on her blog, “Perfectly Peyton.”