Pure Professionals

It takes a village!

Over my 27 years in real estate, I have worked with many service providers; some good, some not so good and some Excellent.  These are the people I trust the most to help me help you.

Front Left:

Melinda Kirkwood, a Certified Transaction Coordinator & Owner of Superior Transactions.  I’ve been working with Melinda for 11 of her 32 years in the business. She makes sure all paperwork is in the files, with all signatures, initials & dates, so our transactions close…on time…and our butts are covered.

Christina Smolskis, an Executive Title Rep. with Lawyers Title, a leading provider of title insurance, protecting buyers and their lenders against claims questioning legal ownership of properties.  They pay all legal fees if a claim ever rises after the close of escrow.  Christina has been part of my team for 5 of her 20 years in the business.

Donna Wilke, has been my Escrow Officer for 6 years out of her 25 years of experience.  Unless I’m convinced otherwise, Honor Escrow has the best success for closing your escrow, on time.  She handles residential and commercial real estate closings very well, especially the difficult ones, and is always available for me.

Colleen Rogers, is the Operating Principal for our company.  For such a young gal, she has an Awesome head for business and I have been very fortunate to be a part of her family of companies and growth for nearly 12 years.  She brings a wealth of helpful knowledge and tools, that she has amassed in her 19 year career.

Back Left:

Erik Messinger, is the Broker of Record for our company.  He’s the guy whose license is on the line if something goes south in a transaction.  That why he continually keeps us informed of new regulations, forms and scams to watch out for.  Erik has been a part of our team for 10 of his 30 years in the industry.

John & Melissa Hammond, are the owners of Hammond Inspection Services.  I have been calling on them to inform and protect my buyers by providing thorough inspections & delivering timely reports, for 8 of their 12 years in the business.  They also conduct Mold Inspections which is very handy.

Mark Burkhardt, is the Team Leader (manager) of two of our offices.  He has his hands full with nearly 550 agents needing his guidance, yet he always has time for me. Mark has been helping me help you for 5 of his 40 years in the business.

Scott Stephens, Licensed Realtor since 1994, and bringing you this information to protect you and your loved ones.  I have never had a claim against my real estate license (check any license here https://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp), and I want to keep it that way. That’s why I only work with people who have the same impeccable work ethics.

Justina Brogan, has been my Marketing Director for 5 years. She has such a keen eye and attention to detail, and has developed a Fabulous array of marketing pieces to help me help sellers maximize profits.

Jeff Johnson has been my Inspection Repair Specialist for my entire 27-year career.  Why? Because his 40 years of construction experience help buyers and sellers accomplish what they want without breaking the bank.

Renae Alanis & Huy Tran, of Excelerate Capital, with over 34 years and 10 years respectively, have more loan options to help my buyers and sellers than anyone I know.  They’ve been going to bat for my clients (no matter what their financial situation is) for 3 years, and they’ll double check buyer qualifications for my sellers to bring our transactions to fruition.

I also have assembled a list of over 260 vendors that I and my fellow agents have worked with over the years that I am happy to share.  This wealth of experience is yours when you call Scott Stephens to handle your real estate transactions.

I’m Here to Help,

Scott Stephens

(714) 801-6230


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Know Someone Affected by recent Floods?

When a natural disaster hits, the effects are typically much more significant than you might first suspect. Sure, there is the immediate impact and potentially some damage resulting directly from that, but in most cases, there is also a significant amount of clean up and recovery that’s required afterward. This is especially true in instances of flooding where it can take weeks if not months or longer to get everything dried out and cleaned up.

So what should you do if your home is hit by flood waters or possible worse a mud-slide? There are a lot of potential answers to this question, depending in large part on how severe the flooding was where you live. After all, getting some water in your house or basement is a much different situation than heavy flooding that damaged your foundation or broke windows and damaged walls. Assuming your home didn’t receive significant structural damage from the flood, here are a few suggestions to get you started with the cleanup process.

Dry It Out

Your first priority in dealing with flood cleanup is getting everything as dry as possible. Use pumps, buckets, wet/dry shop vacs, or other tools to remove as much water as you can, then wipe up or mop areas that still have a little bit of surface moisture on them. Set up fans to keep air moving to aid with the drying process, and open windows if possible to give water-laden air a place to go. For rooms that don’t have good ventilation, set up dehumidifiers to help remove moisture from the air. Getting as much water as possible out of your home quickly will help you avoid mold and mildew growth that is quite common after flooding.

If you’ve got mud, sludge, and other debris in your home, use a shovel or similar tool to scoop it up and remove it from the house. Try to get as much of it as possible while it’s still wet, because it will be much harder to remove once it starts to dry. Getting this sort of debris out of your house as soon as possible is also important to keep unwanted smells out of your home; mud and other debris can contain fungi, mold spores, and other materials that will break down and decay, so you want to get it out quickly if you can.

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Keep Yourself Safe

There are worse things that can come from flood waters than just bad smells, so it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe during clean up and afterward. Flood waters can contain decaying materials, raw sewage, and materials that can cause a variety of illnesses, so it’s important that you try to protect yourself with gloves, masks, and eye protection while cleaning up after a flood. You should also shower and change your clothes as soon as possible after finishing clean up each day to avoid accidental contamination after the fact. Sanitize every surface you can, and anything that can’t be sanitized should be gotten rid of if it came in contact with dirty flood waters.

You should also keep in mind the fact that you don’t necessarily know what all is hiding in the debris you see in or around your home. Even if they’re not immediately obvious, objects with sharp points, jagged edges, and other potential hazards might be mixed in with everything that was deposited by the flood. Try to avoid picking up things directly unless you can confirm that it’s safe to do so, as even a small cut or other injury can introduce infection.

Call for Help

Don’t be afraid to call for help with your clean up and recovery. There are a number of recovery services available that can aid in cleaning up after a flood. Best of all, if the flood is declared a disaster, then many of these services may be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA or other agencies. As always, I am also here to help.

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The Age-Old Question…

As they say, “the home is where the heart is”, and for so many homeowners, it’s a lot more than a saying. Their home is a place where they made so many memories with family and friends, and considering selling it can be extremely painful. But what do you do if your home is no longer meeting your needs? Can you simply remodel your home into the house you need? It’s a hard decision to make, to be sure, but there are some major considerations that can help you decide which is the right choice for you and your family.

How Close Is Your Home to Perfect?

Sometimes, the changes you need to make your home right for today are small. For example, if you’re planning on aging in place, but all the bedrooms are upstairs, you might be able to add a small bedroom suite to the back or side of your home on the main floor, depending on the layout. This would allow you to continue to stay in your home, even if trips up the stairs were increasingly infrequent as you aged.

In other cases, if your remodel is more about a totally whole new look or going from a space that’s largely compartmentalized to entirely open concept, that’s a huge change to a house that will require a considerable amount of time, effort, and money. In those cases, it’s usually better to find the house you want and sell the one you’re in.

Is the Neighborhood Thriving or Sliding Down Hill?

If your neighborhood is healthy and thriving, and you love everything about it, it’s definitely worth considering a remodel instead of just moving along. You never really know what you’re going to get with a new neighborhood until you live there a while, and besides, you certainly already know some people nearby. That’s a wonderful way to build community.

However, neighborhoods can also deteriorate, and with them go property values, the quality of schools in the area, and sometimes even a sense of safety and security. If you’re pretty sure your neighborhood used to be a lot better and you’re not always comfortable going outside at night anymore, maybe it’s time to look for a different zip code. There’s no amount of remodeling that can fix that particular concern.

Are you Moving?

Moving is hard, but I’m here to help! I can answer all your questions so you can make an informed decision on whether to stay or go. You can use my FREE concierge service to help you get up and running faster in your new home. It’s quick and easy.Learn More

Will Your Equity Buy the Home of Your Dreams?

Most importantly, you have to look at the financials. Remodels can take place over years, giving you time to spread out the expense, even if your equity won’t quite cover the costs you think you may incur. So, that dream kitchen might take a little while to become reality, but it’s still possible if the rest of your house makes you happy and you’re willing to wait.

On the other hand, if selling your house could get you closer to the home of your dreams with the equity you’ve secured, you can save yourself a lot of mess and stress by simply moving on to the home you really want. If you’re moving to a different part of your city, or a different area entirely, that equity can easily buy something wholly different and potentially perfect, and maybe even shrink your house payment a little bit.

If You’re Still Unsure…

It’s time to reach out to your HomeKeepr community. It’s all free, and it’s really easy to get all kinds of recommendations for home pros right away! Just log in to HomeKeepr here to see what’s possible; https://app.homekeepr.com/scott-stephens/register/homeowner The very best bankers in your area are already there and can help you figure out how much equity you may be able to use toward that remodeling or purchasing, while the contractors and architects can give you estimates, I can tell you exactly how much I can get you for your current home and how much your dream home will cost.

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5 Dos and Don’ts for Moving

Are you planning a move sometime soon? When packing up your house to move, it’s easy to start throwing things in boxes without a second thought. You may have every intention of purging your possessions once you arrive at your new home but why not do it now?

When you’re focused on a move, it pays to take time to reduce your belongings before the actual packing begins. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you are in the middle of packing! You’ll want this task over with quickly and end up packing unwanted things, only to discard them later.

Some items will be easy to let go of and others will take determination. It goes without saying that the less you have to pack and move, the more streamlined your move will be. Due to the cost of moving supplies, labor, and of course….gas, downsizing your belongings has huge benefits.

Before you start packing, consider these 5 handy tips:

1 – Reduce the Clutter

Some of your belongings won’t fit in at your new location and many are easily replaced.

  • If you are moving from the beach to the mountains, does it make sense to take your beachy furniture and artwork? Consider selling it and buying decor that fits your new environment.
  • Should you take all of your holiday decorations? Given their sizes and shapes, won’t it be easier to replace them after you get settled in your new home?
  • Does your wardrobe fit the climate? Does your wardrobe fit you? Most of us keep clothing even when it no longer fits or has gone out of style. Consider donating these items and replacing them later.
  • Books are heavy and should be assessed prior to packing. With Audible Books and Kindles perhaps it’s time to let some or all of them go.

2 – The Kitchen

The kitchen is most likely the biggest source of junk. We tend to bury things in the back of cupboards and forget they are there! If you haven’t used something in the past year or two chances are you never will.

Cookbooks – Do you use them for just one or two recipes? This is not an efficient use of space and books are some of the heaviest items to move. Consider either photocopying your favorite recipes, or actually removing their pages, and putting them in a single binder.

Takeout containers – These can be replaced once you arrive at your new home. Given that it will take time to settle in, there will likely be meals from local restaurants. If you have a drawer full of tupperware that is missing lids, it’s time to get rid of those too!

The junk drawer – Do you need all of those takeout menus and old shopping lists? Are the appliances staying with the house? If so, plan on leaving the instruction manuals for the new owners.

Expired food and canned goods – Check the expiration dates on canned goods, spices, and the condiments in your refrigerator. Now is a good time to toss them if they are past their expiration date.

Kitchen gadgets – How many wooden spoons and serving trays do you need? The same with coffee mugs and souvenirs. Donating these to the Goodwill or Salvation Army can help you as well as someone in need.

Mismatched plates, glasses, and cutlery – Temporarily keep a few and plan on buying new ones after you get settled.

The refrigerator – Moving frozen or perishable food is difficult so start working your way through the refrigerator without replacing anything. As you get closer to moving, treat yourself to a few days of takeout.

3 – The Garage

Just like the kitchen, it is easy to shove things in a drawer and forget about them.

Take time to go through your shelving units, storage bins, and toolboxes and ask yourself if you will need everything at your new home.

Moving to an apartment building? Your leaf blower won’t be needed there.

Moving to the desert? Chance are you won’t need that lawn mower!

4 – Downsizing and Special Items

If you are downsizing for retirement or are looking for a simpler life, reducing your belongings will require some creativity. Here are a few things to consider:

Framed photos – If you will have less wall space at your new home, take framed photos and move them to a photo album or make a collage.

Gifting early – Ask your future heirs if they would like some of the items that you plan for them to inherit. If they are looking forward to having them, great! You can gift them now and enjoy them too. If they have no interest, you may want to pass them on to someone else.

Returning gifts – If you’re very short on space, consider returning a few gifts that you have received over the years. With an explanation and a big thank you, your friends and family will appreciate the gesture.

Furniture – Some of the furniture will have to go! Keep the loveseat and sell or donate the couch. If your dining room table won’t fit in your new home, leave it and plan on buying a drop-leaf table once you get settled.

5 – The Last Step: Identify a Packing Area and Purchase Moving Supplies

Now you are ready for packing!

Find an area outside of your day-to-day traffic pattern and create a packing station. Having your supplies in one location will make packing more productive and less stressful.

Purchase strapping tape, scissors, pens or a Unique Moving Kit). You will also need packing material such as newspaper and bubble wrap. If you have extra towels keep them handy to pack breakable things.

Boxes can be found for free on Craigslist and Freecycle or at your favorite grocery store. We recommend produce boxes as they are very sturdy.

Purchasing them at Home Depot or from your moving company is an option as well.

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When it gets Hot Out

Do you have outdoor space that would be the perfect place to hang out in during the summer? You probably imagined having a backyard oasis when you chose your home. Yet the reality may be a little different when the sun gets a bit too bright and bears down on you and your guests.

There is a solution for this very problem, and it’s a simple fix that can help transform that hot, bright patio or deck into a truly flexible outdoor haven. That’s right, it’s time to consider adding an awning to your home.

What Is an Awning?

Awnings were very popular features of homes prior to widespread air conditioning systems, and even persisted after central air was common to help shade windows and porches. You still see them as standard features on recreational vehicles, but they’re also coming back as important parts of a home’s exterior.

These large shades, made of materials like durable cloth or aluminum, are simple to install, relatively inexpensive, and create pools of shade immediately. Unlike trying to grow trees for shade, which can take years and years, or installing temporary shades like sail shades, awnings are fast and permanent solutions to your heat puddle woes.

In the past, they only came as fixed units, so once installed, they were where they were, even if you needed there to be more sunlight in the shaded space at certain times of the year. Today, however, you can choose between fixed awnings and retractable awnings, and even awnings that have remote controls to help you open and close them whenever you feel like it.

Retractable Versus Fixed

Because there are so many awning types available today, it can be hard to decide which one is ideal for your situation. Perhaps the most important question you need to ask yourself is if you’d be better off with a retractable awning or a fixed awning. Both have their pros and cons.

Fixed awnings are generally very sturdy, and can be less expensive because of the lack of additional mechanisms required to make them open and close. They don’t need a lot of maintenance because they have no moving parts, so besides the occasional wash, they mostly just hang around. Fixed awnings are great for patios that you’d like to shade year-round, or for places like above windows or doors that let far too much sun into your home.

Retractable awnings, on the other hand, can be an important part of your home’s climate management, even if they also double as shades for entertainment spaces. Because they can retract, you can close these awnings when the weather starts to cool off to allow the sun to help warm your home through passive solar heating. Even if you don’t need the thermal help, they can be closed before bad storms or heavy snows, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.

Are you Moving? Moving is hard, but I’m here to help! Use my FREE concierge service to help you get up and running faster in your new home. It’s quick and easy.Learn More

Freestanding Awnings Offer Flexible Solutions

If you’re not quite sure where you want your awning installed, or that you want it installed on your home at all, a freestanding awning might be the right solution for you. They’re great for backyards and pool areas, creating a lot of shade exactly where you need it, without being dependent on the location of a nearby wall.

Like building-mounted awnings, freestanding awnings come in a variety of materials, designs, and with retractable or fixed options. The only difference is that instead of being mounted on a building, they’re mounted on top of legs, much like a pop-up canopy. There is some risk with this design of wind damage, so if you’re in a windy area, make sure to choose one rated for high wind speeds and mount it securely to the ground.

Need Help Finding Your Perfect Awning?

It can be hard to choose the right awning for your home, but you don’t have to do it alone. Just reach out to your HomeKeepr community for the very best awning installers in your area. Joining HomeKeepr is absolutely free, so why not give it a try and see what kind of awning solutions are available in your area? https://app.homekeepr.com/scott-stephens/register/homeowner

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Jack & Jill Bedrooms or Bathroom?

A Jack-and-Jill bathroom is a space that works in conjunction with two bedrooms, allowing the spaces to have a conjoining, en suite bathroom. Traditionally, Jack-and-Jill bathrooms were found in homes for larger families and were shared by siblings. Toying with incorporating a Jack-and-Jill bathroom into your home? Here are some things to know about this bathroom style. A true Jack-and-Jill bathroom is situated between two bedrooms and can be locked from either entrance. It can also sometimes be accessible from a third hall entrance.

They typically have a dual vanity with separate sinks and share one toilet. While having a full-size Jack-and-Jill bathroom can be convenient for larger families, there are some disadvantages such as lack of privacy. If this is the only other bathroom aside from the bathroom in the primary suite, guests will have to walk through a bedroom to reach the bathroom, which could be uncomfortable. And, if you’re planning to sell your home in the future, a bathroom like this could be less appealing to buyers who don’t have large families or similar needs. Would you want a Jack-and-Jill bathroom in your home? Let me know in the comments below!

Link: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/what-is-a-jack-and-jill-bathroom-is-it-even-called-that-anymore/

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5 Ways Rate Hikes could Affect You

Obviously mortgage interest rates are going up. Yet they are not always driven like you might think.

To keep up with the surging cost of living, consumers are spending more and saving less — and rising interest rates aren’t helping the matter.

Next week, the Federal Reserve likely will raise rates by another three-quarters of a percentage point, although some on Wall Street still think it could opt for a full percentage point increase. 

Fed officials have already raised benchmark short-term borrowing rates 1.5 percentage point this year, including June’s 75 basis point increase, which was the largest increase in nearly three decades. A basis point equals 0.01%. Policymakers have indicated even more increases are coming until runaway inflation begins to show clear signs of a pullback.  

“With the hot month-over-month and year-over-year numbers coming in as they have, this tells the Federal Reserve it has more work to do with higher interest rates to eventually achieve its mandate of stable prices, or lower inflation, in this case,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

Five ways the rate hike could affect you

Any action by the Fed to raise rates will correspond with a hike in the prime rate, sending financing costs higher for many types of consumer loans.

Short-term borrowing rates will be the first to jump. “Variable-rate debt tends to follow Fed moves within one to three statement cycles,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

Here’s a breakdown of five things that rate increase could mean for you, in terms of how it may affect your credit card, car loan, mortgage, student debt and savings deposits.

1. Credit cards

Since most credit cards have a variable rate, there’s a direct connection to the Fed’s benchmark. As the federal funds rate rises, the prime rate does as well, and credit card rates follow suit.

Annual percentage rates are currently at 17.13%, on average, but could be closer to 19% by the end of the year, which would be an all-time record, according to Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

That means anyone who carries a balance on their credit card will soon have to shell out even more just to cover the interest charges:

  • If the Fed announces a 75 basis point hike next week as expected, consumers with credit card debt will spend an additional $4.8 billion on interest this year alone, according to a new analysis by WalletHub. A 100 basis point increase will cost credit card users an extra $6.4 billion this year.
  • Factoring in the rate hikes from March, May, June and July, credit card users will wind up paying around $12.9 billion to $14.5 billion more in 2022 than they would have if those increases had not occurred, WalletHub found.

2. Adjustable-rate mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit are also pegged to the prime rate. 

Because 15-year and 30-year mortgage rates are fixed and tied to Treasury yields and the economy, homeowners won’t be affected immediately by a rate hike. However, anyone shopping for a new house can expect to pay more for their next home loan — the same goes for those getting a loan to buy a car and student loan borrowers.

  • Since the coming rate hike is largely baked into mortgage rates, homebuyers are going to pay roughly $29,160 to $39,240 more in interest now, assuming a 30-year fixed-rate on an average home loan of $405,200, according to WalletHub’s analysis.

3. Car loans

For those planning on purchasing a new car in the next few months, the Fed’s move could push up the average interest rate on a new car loan past 5%.

  • Paying an annual percentage rate of 5% instead of 4% would cost consumers $1,324 more in interest over the course of a $40,000, 72-month car loan, according to data from Edmunds.

4. Student loans

The interest rate on federal student loans taken out for the 2022-2023 academic year already rose to 4.99%, up from 3.73% last year and 2.75% in 2020-2021. It won’t budge until next summer: Congress sets the rate for federal student loans each May for the upcoming academic year based on the 10-year Treasury rate. That new rate goes into effect in July.

Private student loans may have a fixed rate or a variable one tied to the Libor, prime or Treasury bill rates — and that means that, as the Fed raises rates, those borrowers will also pay more in interest. How much more, however, will vary with the benchmark.

5. Savings accounts

On the upside, the interest rates on savings accounts are on the rise after consecutive rate hikes.

People are going to need to use this cushion as prices continue to increase, according to Nela Richardson, chief economist at payroll processor ADP.

Story found at; https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/20/5-ways-the-federal-reserves-next-interest-rate-hike-could-affect-you.html?distinct_id=HywnRE7lm&user_email=scott%40scottstephens.com

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Know Air Conditioner Ratings

Heating and cooling costs are skyrocketing. So, homeowners & tenants alike want to have the most efficient Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) units in their home that they can afford. Asking for recommendations for a specific unit can bring about a wide range of different answers, however. Those who are in the market for a new HVAC unit need a way to tell just how efficient different units are beyond all of the hype. A SEER rating can help.

An HVAC unit’s SEER rating should be one of the most important factors you consider when trying to decide on a model. Unfortunately, if you don’t really know what a SEER rating is or how it’s used, the rating can be kind of confusing. To help, here’s a basic rundown of what SEER ratings are, how they’re used, and where you can turn to get more information.

What is SEER?

SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” and is one of the details provided on those big yellow “EnergyGuide” stickers that you’ll see on things like air conditioners, heaters, and HVAC units. It’s a ratio that compares the output of the unit over the course of an average season divided by the average energy used during that same season. This provides you with an idea of how cost-effective using the unit will be since the ratio sums up how much energy it will take to keep your home comfortable for an entire season.

It’s important to keep in mind that the rating represents the unit’s maximum potential efficiency; your actual experience may be less than that potential based on weather conditions and other factors such as routine maintenance. Even with that in mind, the SEER rating provides a starting point for comparing different options and finding the best solution for your home.

Using the SEER Rating

When it comes to SEER ratings, you want to find HVAC units that have high numbers. This means that a relatively small amount of energy was used to create the output that the unit achieved, which translates to a significant reduction in cost for you. If you’re upgrading from a unit that is maybe 10 to 15 years old, there’s a good chance that you could save as much as 20 to 40 percent on your energy bill due to the higher efficiency of modern units. Using the SEER rating as a guide and comparing new units to the SEER rating of your current one will help you to maximize that savings.

SEER ratings can also be used to compare models from different manufacturers to find the one that provides the best bang for your buck. A unit that’s more expensive up front may still save you money in the long run if it has a notably higher SEER rating than cheaper models. While there’s obviously limits to how much your budget can spare, using the SEER rating as a comparison point can help you to find the most efficient option from among multiple models that otherwise seem very similar.

Choosing the Right HVAC Unit

If you still aren’t sure exactly which HVAC unit you need, don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. Get in touch with pros that specialize in HVAC sales and installation, as they’ll not only know how to find the most efficient unit within your budget, but will also help you take factors such as your region, the local climate, and the size of your home into consideration. Best of all, they’ll be able to deliver and install the unit for you to make sure that everything is done correctly.

I can help you find the HVAC pros you need for the job. Our app can match you with these and other pros in your area, and best of all creating an account is free. If you’re ready to take control of your home’s temperatures throughout the year without breaking the bank, sign up for your free HomeKeepr account today, at https://app.homekeepr.com/scott-stephens/register/homeowner

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An Important Step in Staging

There are a lot of little things that you can do to increase the appeal of your home to buyers. Many of the tips you’ll find to improve your home’s appeal focus on things inside the house, ranging from paint colors to furniture and a variety of other little tweaks. There is something else that you can do to improve the appeal of your home that’s often overlooked, though: add some plants (inside and out).

A lot of people don’t put much thought into the plants around their home when prepping for a sale, and this can be a huge missed opportunity. From fixing up your lawn and planting colorful flowers out front to adding splashes of greenery indoors, there are several ways that you can leverage plants to help sell your home when the time comes. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Increase Your Curb Appeal

While interior staging is important, it’s easy to forget that the outside of your home is the first impression that potential buyers are going to get. Sometimes they’ll form an opinion about the house, before they even get out of the car. There are obviously a few external things that you can do, such as slapping a fresh coat of paint on the door and cleaning up the windows a bit. However, one of the biggest boosts to your home’s curb appeal comes in the form of improving your lawn and external plants.

As soon as you start considering selling your home, it’s time to treat brown spots or thin areas on your lawn so that everything is lush and green. Cleaning up flower beds, adding decorative plants on the porch or along the walkway, and otherwise sprucing up the look of the outside will go a long way toward capturing the attention of potential buyers. Just like a shabby exterior can dampen buyer enthusiasm, a well-manicured lawn and decorative flowers or trees can get buyers excited before they even step inside.

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Bringing in a Touch of Nature

Exterior landscaping isn’t the only way that plants can help you sell your home. Potted plants, vases with fresh flowers, and even small decorative potted trees or other tall plants can add both color and a sense of freshness to your home that are hard to replicate. It’s the same reason that a lot of grocery stores have fresh flowers near the entrance to the store; when people see plants and flowers, their brains immediately focus on the idea of freshness and life. In stores, this makes people assume that the produce is all fresh, and in your home, it helps potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house.

If you choose flowers or other plants with pleasant scents, bringing them in can add to the overall freshness of the air without the need for artificial air fresheners or incense. This can let your plants serve double duty, improving the quality of the air while also adding a splash of color and life to your home. Just make sure to avoid plants that produce a lot of pollen or else you may have some cleanup to take care of before potential buyers come for a tour.

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Call Some Help if Needed

It’s possible that you won’t really be able to take care of everything you want to do all on your own. Perhaps you have trees on your property that need trimmed or have to have dead limbs removed. Maybe you want to revitalize a flower garden but don’t really have the time. It’s even possible that you’d love to add some floral touches to your home, but aren’t really sure what would go best with your house. It’s okay, we’ve got you covered.

HomeKeepr can connect you with landscaping and trimming pros in your area that can take care of whatever issues you’re having. Creating a HomeKeepr account is completely free, so there’s no reason not to reach out to professionals if you need the help. Sign up today and you’ll be one step closer to taking your home from “For Sale” to “Sold.”

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Sometimes as amateurs we leave more waste

Many reasons to take on a DIY projects

You may decide to do something yourself because you think it will be an easy project, or because you enjoy working with your hands. You might even consider doing a DIY project because you think it would save you a lot of money over hiring a professional to do the same thing. Regardless of your reasoning, there’s one thing about DIY that a lot of project guides and instruction sets leave out: what you should do with all the left-overs once you’re done with the project.

DIY waste can be a real concern, since depending on the project there might be a lot of waste produced. Given the nature of the materials involved with most DIY projects, you shouldn’t just throw away everything that you didn’t use in your project. Here are some things to think about regarding how you can reduce the amount of waste that your DIY projects produce and what you can do with those waste materials that are produced. By changing the way that you think about DIY waste, you can change the way that you approach projects, and maybe even save some money in the process.

Planning Away Waste

One of the first things you should do when trying to reduce your DIY waste is to stop for a moment and rethink your measurements and calculations. If the project involves wood or other materials that are cut from a larger piece, make sure that your cuts are efficient and made to preserve as much of the surrounding material as possible. If you’re going to need single-use items that come in a lot of packaging, consider whether you’ll have use for similar things in the future, and if so, buy a multi-pack if available so that you’ll have one on hand without even more packaging waste. If you’re going to paint or stain the project, select colors that you’ll likely be able to reuse for future projects. You can probably see where this is going.

Basically, spend a little bit more time during the planning phase of your DIY project to make sure that you aren’t creating excess waste that could otherwise be avoided. Ideally, you’ll end up with larger pieces of scrap that can be saved for the future, as well as other materials that either you or someone else might have a use for. Even if you only manage to reduce your project waste by a little, every little bit helps, and those waste reductions can really add up if you end up doing a lot of DIY.

Need a Professional?

There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from doing something on your own as a DIY project. Not every project is ideally suited for DIY, though. If you don’t have the time or experience to tackle a project correctly, keep in mind that there’s no shame in calling in some help to get it done. HomeKeepr can help you with this; sign up for our free app today to connect to pros in your area that can help you get your project list done. They’ll even take care of the waste afterward. HomeKeepr is the only platform where homeowners can discover home service pros powered entirely by real referrals from real people – not reviews.Search

Reusing Waste Materials

When it comes to reusing scrap material from past DIY projects, you aren’t always going to get a perfect match to what your current project calls for. Sometimes you’ll have different types of wood on hand, or a color of stain that doesn’t quite match what you’d planned on. That’s okay; if what you have is a good substitution, then you can use it and save some money on your materials. If it’s not, don’t try to force a match and end up creating a substandard result. Just save your scrap and excess materials for a future project, because if you’re active in DIY, then there’s always going to be another project.

One thing that’s important to remember is that you should keep your scrap and waste material well organized. That might even be a DIY project of its own. Create an organization solution to hold scrap wood, piping, paints, and other materials that you kept out of the waste bin, so that you can always find what you’re looking for.

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