Spring Cleaning – Room #2 The Dining Room

Photo by Curtis Adams on Pexels.com

Crumbs and spills end up in the strangest of places. Although you may not actually sit down and use your Dining Room on a daily basis, it does tend to see a lot of foot traffic, especially if it’s in the front of your home.

  1. Begin with the chandelier which tends to collect a lot of dust. You’ll be surprised to see a noticeable difference in how bright the room becomes.
  2. Clean your table from the top to the legs. Use soap and water for any type of table. For wood tables, find the right oil or polish to give it that facelift it needs to look new again. Don’t forget to do the same with chairs. Wipe off from top to bottom and vacuum cloth seats. Check every crevice where crumbs have likely dropped over the year.
  3. Your tablecloth dresses the table. An old tablecloth that’s been washed too many times starts to wear and lose its color. Consider buying a new one if yours has seen better days.
  4. Clean and polish your cutlery. Water stains become prominent if not dried properly. Pull out the silver polish and go to work. Take your time to make them shine like new!
  5. Shake out and clean your rug. Vacuuming rugs only goes so far. Now, would be a great time to pull out the carpet cleaner but don’t forget to check the tag first to see what the rug can and cannot handle.
  6. Mop and vacuum your floor after lifting your rug and moving your furniture around. This probably has not been done in a while!

Mark the box – two rooms down. Onward spring cleaners…more to come!

Spring Cleaning – Room #1: The Kitchen

Photo by Tamil Hari on Pexels.com

Spring Cleaning – Room #1: The Kitchen

Your home is your sanctuary and should always feel as such. Spring has sprung and with it comes the cleaning that comes with it. Get ready! You are about to start your journey to a cleaner, happier home this year. We begin with the room you spend a lot of your day in. There is a lot of nooks and crannies that collect dirt, dust and grease. Miss nothing this year with this great kitchen cleaning checklist.

  1. Start from the top-down. By starting from the top, you won’t have to go back over your steps. Don’t neglect your light fixtures, and check for burned out or old bulbs that need replacing. You’ll want your kitchen to shine brightly when you’re done with it!
  2. Clean all of your cabinets from top to bottom and inside and out. Pay special attention to those above your stovetop where grease sticks the most.
  3. Wipe down all of your countertop. Be sure to scrub the grout if you have tiled counters.
  4. Use soap and water to clean your sink, then run the disposal with some citrus rinds to remove any smells that are lurking.
  5. Clean and organize your pantry. Your shelves could be hiding items that have been there a while. Throw away any expired food and reorganize so you have easy access to items you use daily.
  6. Don’t neglect your appliances. Everything from your microwave to your toaster oven should be dusted and surfaces cleaned with soap and water. Do a deep-clean on these items that are often left to collect dust.
  7. Go through your utensils, cutting boards and mixing bowls and donate old kitchen supplies. Since it’s time for spring clean-up, you may want to get some new items to show and use in your sparkling kitchen. Soak and clean all items you retain so they are as clean as the rest of the room.
  8. The floors come last. All of the dust, grime and crumbs that you’ve just cleaned will end up on the floor. Vacuum and mop thoroughly to remove any stains or spills.

One room down! Now, you should be in the spirit to continue. You be the judge on whether you want to tackle another room, or break up your cleaning over several days so it can be done thoroughly and completely. Next up, the Dining Room. Stay tuned!

Keep Your Home Germ Free With These Coronavirus Cleaning Tips

The emergence of the coronavirus in the United States has wreaked havoc on daily life, and each day something new comes to light. In recent days, details on how long the COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces has come out, along with the information that 42% of us are not cleaning them properly. Here’s some things you need to know to keep your home virus-free during this pandemic.

The COVID-19 virus reportedly can last 24 hours on cardboard and 48-72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. Duration depends on temperature and whether the surface holds moisture. There are certain measures you should be taking in your home to help keep bacteria at bay.

Leave the germs at the door. Unwanted pathogens are coming in to your home the same way you are – through the front door. Take some precautions at the entranceway to keep them from spreading throughout the house. Wipe down packages, kick off dirty shoes and add a trash bin by the door to dispose of packaging that may have been exposed.

Remove dirty clothes immediately. The coronavirus lives on fabrics and porous surfaces. Put clothes directly into the hamper when you arrive home, or even better yet, put straight into the washing machine in the warmest water possible. Avoid shaking any clothing prior to washing.

Create a disinfection station at the door with hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol and lotion. Every time you come home, disinfect hands with sanitizer and phones with alcohol wipes before going one step further. This will help surfaces remain germ-free in the event you touch them along the way.

Trap particles before they spread. This can be done through rugs and doormats in high traffic areas. Rugs trap particles, which can then be vacuumed up. Make sure to vacuum these areas frequently.

Clean high-touch surfaces often. Some high-touch areas includ doorknobs, light switches, cabinet pulls, faucets, railings and remote controls. Keeping these clean will help stop the transmission to other areas of your home.

Use the right cleaning products. In order to clean properly, look for products that contain a disinfectant. Some key words for disinfecting products include ethanol, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide and citric acid. If you’re not sure what to use, check out this list from the EPA.

Disinfect areas properly. Pre-clean prior to disinfecting and make sure to disinfect the right way. To do this, you need to wipe or spray surfaces and let them sit anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes before wiping. Times can vary so check product labels for maximum effectiveness.

Set up a cleaning schedule. This will depend on the comings and goings of family members. Those working in the medical field will need more aggressive schedules. Disinfect cell phones several times a day and make sure to vacuum and do laundry several times a week. Surfaces should be wiped and cleaned every six to eight hours, maybe even more depending on lifestyle and the number of people living in a household!

Stay safe and be well!

Things You Can Learn From HGTV About Selling Your Home

Photo credited to HGTV.com

If you are addicted to HGTV and are thinking about selling your home, you can get some great ideas on what to do and what not to do from shows like Fixer Upper and Love It Or List It. Here are some of the top takeaways when listing your home.

Fixer Upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines make beautiful homes from fixer uppers by not only remodeling but by decorating and staging them for clients before they move in.

Top Takeaway: Take some time to stage your home. Get out your china and set the table, add some colorful throw pillows, showcase a bowl of fruit, and get some great bedding and towels. The best part – the staging props will move with you to your new house.

Love It Or List It

Hillary and David battle it out to find out whether a home can be “lovable” through remodeling or whether they need to move and “list” it. Buyers feel their home no longer meets their needs – can it be revamped or is it a lost cause?

Top Takeaway: Know who your potential buyers are and take the time to show them your house is perfect for them! If you are trying to appeal to first time buyers, make sure there are areas staged “just for kids”. If it’s high-end buyers you’re targeting, you’ll want high end fixtures and decorative touches.

Rehab Addict

Nicole Curtis makes it her mission to save historic homes, one feature at a time. She makes sure that instead of tearing out everything and replacing it with new, the features that make a home special are maintained.

Top Takeaway: Don’t disregard every feature that makes your home special.  Those 1950’s tiles may just need a little elbow grease and love.

House Hunters

If you have ever watched House Hunters, you know the buyers are extremely picky  and that what they want is not what they can afford.

Top Takeaway: Make your home the shining star in its price range. Check out the competition and figure ways to make your home stand out!

Don’t Let Frightening Headlines Scare You

Article From Keeping Current Matters

Don’t Let Frightening Headlines Scare You | MyKCM

There’s a lot of anxiety right now regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The health situation must be addressed quickly, and many are concerned about the impact on the economy as well.

Amidst all this anxiety, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we will continue to see a rash of horrifying headlines over the next few months. Let’s make sure we aren’t paralyzed by a headline before we get the full story.

When it comes to the health issue, you should look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most reliable information.

Finding reliable resources with information on the economic impact of the virus is more difficult. For this reason, it’s important to shed some light on the situation. There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two such examples surfacing this week.

1. Goldman Sachs Forecasts the Largest Drop in GDP in Almost 100 Years

It sounds like Armageddon. Though the headline is true, it doesn’t reflect the full essence of the Goldman Sachs forecast. The projection is actually that we’ll have a tough first half of the year, but the economy will bounce back nicely in the second half; GDP will be up 12% in the third quarter and up another 10% in the fourth.

This aligns with research from John Burns Consulting involving pandemics, the economy, and home values. They concluded:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”

The economy will suffer for the next few months, but then it will recover. That’s certainly not Armageddon.

2. Fed President Predicts 30% Unemployment!

That statement was made by James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. What Bullard actually said was it “could” reach 30%. But let’s look at what else he said in the same Bloomberg News interview:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter,” Bullard said. “The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole” with government support.

According to Bloomberg, he also went on to say:

“I would see the third quarter as a transitional quarter” with the fourth quarter and first quarter next year as “quite robust” as Americans make up for lost spending. “Those quarters might be boom quarters,” he said.

Again, Bullard agrees we will have a tough first half and rebound quickly.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you want the best advice on what’s happening in the current housing market, let’s talk today. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you decide your next steps.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

With all of the volatility in the stock market and uncertainty about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), some are concerned we may be headed for another housing crash like the one we experienced from 2006-2008. The feeling is understandable. Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

There are many reasons, however, indicating this real estate market is nothing like 2008. Here are five visuals to show the dramatic differences.

1. Mortgage standards are nothing like they were back then.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

During the housing bubble, it was difficult NOT to get a mortgage. Today, it is tough to qualify. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases a Mortgage Credit Availability Index which is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.” The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. As shown below, during the housing bubble, the index skyrocketed. Currently, the index shows how getting a mortgage is even more difficult than it was before the bubble.

2. Prices are not soaring out of control.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

Below is a graph showing annual house appreciation over the past six years, compared to the six years leading up to the height of the housing bubble. Though price appreciation has been quite strong recently, it is nowhere near the rise in prices that preceded the crash.There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did in the early 2000s.

3. We don’t have a surplus of homes on the market. We have a shortage.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The months’ supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale in 2007, and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory which is causing an acceleration in home values.

4. Houses became too expensive to buy.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, the wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Fourteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased and the mortgage rate is about 3.5%. That means the average family pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then. Here’s a graph showing that difference:

5. People are equity rich, not tapped out.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

In the run-up to the housing bubble, homeowners were using their homes as a personal ATM machine. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up, and they learned their lesson in the process. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over fifty percent of homes in the country having greater than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time. Here is a table comparing the equity withdrawal over the last three years compared to 2005, 2006, and 2007. Homeowners have cashed out over $500 billion dollars less than before:During the crash, home values began to fall, and sellers found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the amount of the mortgage they owned was greater than the value of their home). Some decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area. That can’t happen today.

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, take a look at the charts and graphs above to help alleviate your fears.

Blog Published by Keeping Current Matters and Shared by Angela Barrett, REALTOR®. Credit for article given to KCM.