Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!




Jan. 27, 2023

10 Winter House Plants for Your Home


10 Winter House Plants for Your Home


Cold weather tends to keep some of us indoors during the long winter months. But there is some hope in battling the cabin fever that can make us feel a little blue. Houseplants are a great way to bring some fresh air and greenery into your home during winter.


With National Houseplant Appreciation Day (January 10) just passed, what better way to start combatting cabin fever than by adding a few houseplants to your home? Here are 10 easy-to-care-for houseplants that can help bring fresh life to your home this winter and all year long:


1. Garden Mums: Still have some mums left over from this fall? Keep them around to help you get through the cold this winter. They’re colorful and they’ll help provide cleaner, fresher air in your home during any season.


2. Spider Plants: This is one type of spider you’ll always be glad to find in your home. Spider plants add great color and grow well with little care. In fact, this plant doesn’t need much light and is even happy when its soil dries out between watering.


3. Ficus Trees: Want to add some height to the greens in your home? Bring in a ficus tree that could grow to be taller than you! This houseplant does like a lot of light, but it can grow well with little water.


4. Aloe Plants: You probably already know that this plant’s gel can help soothe burns and cuts. But did you also know that an aloe plant can help soothe cabin fever? This sun-loving plant will help clean the air in your home in addition to showing off its bright green hue.


5. Peace Lilies: Not only will this plant help freshen the air in your home all year long, but its flowers will also be a welcome sight each summer. Peace lilies do well in shady areas and will droop a bit to let you know they need a drink of water.


6. Bamboo Palms: Though it is important to make sure this houseplant gets lots of water, the bamboo palm grows well in both sun and shade. It can last in a home for years, which makes this houseplant an excellent addition to your regular décor.


7. Dragon Trees: If you’re looking to add more than just fresh green to your home, consider the dragon tree. Its leaves can be either green or purple! The dragon tree doesn’t need much light and will happily live indoors or outside once warmer weather arrives.


8. Chinese Evergreen: Also known for its vibrant colors, the Chinese evergreen grows well with little light. It is great for most homeowners but is one that pet owners might want to stay away from as it can be toxic to our four-legged family members.


9. Snake Plants: Don’t be turned away by this houseplant’s name. The snake plant can be a beautiful addition to your home décor. The fact that it is easy to care for doesn’t hurt either! This plant does well in dry conditions with some sun and occasional water.


10. English Ivy: With just a little water, a little sun and a little shade, an English ivy plant can thrive in your home all winter long. In fact, it can live for several years. Or, once the weather breaks, you could transfer this houseplant outdoors to welcome spring.


Celebrate a belated National Houseplant Appreciation Day by picking up an easy-to-care-for green or two for your home decor.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Jan. 26, 2023

3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity


3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity


If you’re a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years as home prices skyrocketed and you made your monthly mortgage payments. Home equity builds over time and can help you achieve certain goals. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average borrower with a home loan has almost $300,000 in equity right now.


As you weigh your options, especially in the face of inflation and talk of a recession, it’s important to understand your assets and how you can leverage them. A real estate professional is the best resource to help you understand how much home equity you have and advise you on some of the ways you can use it.  Here are a few examples.


1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or it’s possible you have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. 


If you want to upgrade your house, you can put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams. And if you’re planning to downsize, you may be surprised that your equity may cover some, if not all, of the cost of your next home. A real estate advisor can help you figure out how much equity you have and how you can use it toward the purchase of your next home.


2. Reinvest in Your Current House

According to a recent survey, 39% of homeowners would invest in home improvement projects if they chose to access their equity. This is a great option if you want to change some things about your living space but you aren’t ready to make a move just yet.


Home improvement projects allow you to customize your home to suit your needs and sense of style. Just remember to think ahead with any updates you make, as some renovations add more value to your home and are more likely to appeal to future buyers than others. For example, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows refinishing or replacing wood flooring has a high-cost recovery. Lean on a local professional for the best advice on which projects to invest in to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell.


3. Pursue Your Personal Goals

In addition to making a move or updating your house, home equity can also help you achieve the life goals you’ve dreamed of. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retiring, or downsizing, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging it to start a business or putting it toward education costs can help you achieve other lifelong goals.


Bottom Line


Your equity can be a game changer. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect so you can start planning your next move.


Posted in Buyers
Jan. 19, 2023

2023 Resolution: Improve Your Credit

2023 Resolution: Improve Your Credit


Is 2023 finally the year you push your credit score to Very Good? With the New Year finally here, it’s the perfect time to set goals and improve your credit score. With a few simple changes to your spending habits and payments, you can be well on your way to a better credit score in a couple of months! Here are some resolutions to help raise your credit score.  


Pay Bills on Time

You probably already know late payments can hurt your credit score. And while carrying a credit card balance comes with its own financial risks, it’s important to know that most credit card accounts will only report a late payment to a credit bureau if you fail to make the minimum payment more than 30 days from the due date. So, if you’re able to pay your bills in full every month, keep doing so. But if you’re in a jam and can’t pay the full amount by the due date, just make sure to pay as much as you can and, at the least, the minimum.


Keep Your Credit Utilization Low

When your credit utilization is low, lenders will see you as less of a risk and your credit score will remain a lot higher. Credit Utilization is the amount of credit line you have versus the amount used. The lower the number, the better! To raise your credit score, keep credit utilization below 30%, but it’s a good idea to aim for 10% or less whenever possible. It’s okay to put most purchases on a primary card to maximize rewards, but make sure you aren’t damaging your credit score in the process by approaching your limits.


Choose the Right Card For You

There are a lot of credit card options out there and choosing the right card for you is just as important as paying off your card on time! Maybe you are paying a yearly fee that you don’t need to or perhaps you’d rather have a card that pays for travel as opposed to a percentage of cashback. Before you open a new card, make sure you look into all the benefits it has to offer. You can even use multiple cards. For example, one card might give better cashback on gas and one card might offer better travel points.  It’s okay to use both as long as you are diligent about paying them off!


Use Your Credit Card for Points

One of the biggest benefits of a credit card is the cashback and points that you receive.  Aim to use your credit card as a debit card and only put on it what you can afford. If you only use your credit card on what you can afford and then pay it off in full each month this will not only help you earn the maximum amount of points, but also help raise your credit score and help lenders see you as low risk!


Stick to a Budget

If you are working to raise your credit score this year, have your New Years’ resolution be to actually stick to a budget! A reasonable budget is key to prevent overspending that can harm your credit score. A good starting point is to lay out a long-term budget that covers all monthly expenses along with a few contingencies for unplanned bills. It’s always important to have money in savings for emergencies like car breakdowns, house repairs, and medical expenses.


Also, avoid opening new credit accounts just to get rewards.  If you have a larger credit limit, you’re likely to overspend and carry a balance – wiping out your rewards with interest charges.


Watch Your Credit Score

When you are trying to raise your credit score, it’s also important to monitor where your credit is currently sitting. There are a lot of great apps like Mint and Experian that not only show you your current Credit and FICO score but also have great built-in budget tools to keep you on track. 


Whether you are trying to raise your credit score, or gain the maximum amount of credit card benefits, focusing on budgeting and paying off your cards will help! This year, make it a resolution to say goodbye to credit card debt and hello to a better credit score!


Posted in Financial Tips
Jan. 17, 2023

Mortgage Misunderstandings That Can Cost You

Mortgage Misunderstandings That Can Cost You


The spending season is upon us. But that doesn’t mean you should be spending in excess everywhere you go. Just like you may be waiting for the best deals on those perfect holiday gifts, you also should be aiming for the best deal if you’re shopping for a home mortgage.


Unfortunately, just like the flurry of holiday sales can have you confused about what price is best, a few mortgage misunderstandings could confuse you also. Today, we’re debunking five common mortgage misunderstandings that could be costing you more money. 


1. “I don’t need loan pre-approval to find the right home.”

Beginning to look for a home before you know what you can afford actually can cost you a lot more than just money. It could cost you the home of your dreams. In today’s competitive market, buyers who take the time to gain loan pre-approval before they begin searching for a home are seen as more credible than those buyers who just start looking. So, if you fail to gain mortgage pre-approval and happen to enter into a bidding war with a buyer who has already secured that lender “OK,” you may lose out on a home that seems to be just perfect for you.


2. “As long as I’m approved, my credit score doesn’t matter.”

When you go to buy a home, of course, mortgage approval is your main concern. So, if you know you have a credit score that is good enough to get your mortgage approved, you may not be worried about trying to boost it just a bit higher. But, in fact, you should! A higher credit score often means a lower interest rate, which means lower payments throughout the course of your mortgage. Ultimately, that means you pay less for your home. Your credit score matters – a lot!


3. “Once I’m approved, I can stop looking for a mortgage.”

Though gaining initial loan pre-approval is an immensely satisfying feeling, it does not mean that you can stop shopping around. If you do, you could miss out on the best rate. Instead, you can take that initial pre-approval and continue shopping for a better rate with peace of mind, knowing that your mortgage can only get better!


4. “My home only costs as much as my mortgage payment.”

Once you gain loan pre-approval, you may begin to try to determine what your monthly mortgage payments will be. But don’t be fooled into thinking that estimated payment will be the only monthly expense associated with your home. You need to include property taxes, insurance, and possible homeowner association fees as well. When you add in those necessary extras, you need to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of your available budget.


5. “I don’t need to put 20% down on my home.”


Frankly, you’re right. You don’t. But this mortgage misunderstanding certainly can cost you. If you choose a conventional loan that is lenient when it comes to your down payment, you’ll probably be paying a little extra in other places. It is likely you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. You’ll also likely face a higher interest rate than a buyer who is willing or able to put more money down. If you can afford to put the entire 20% down on your new home, save somewhere else by making that payment!


Posted in Homeowner Tips
Jan. 13, 2023

Time Management Tips for the New Year

Time Management Tips for the New Year


If you find yourself wishing that there was more time in the day, you might want to make time management your New Year’s resolution!


Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to manage your time is to plan out your day ahead of time.  This will allow you to focus on what needs to be done throughout the day and help you stay focused.  It’s a great idea to plan ahead the night before you leave for work, you can spend the last 15 minutes of work organizing your office and composing a list of important tasks for the next day.  If you work better in the morning, write down the 3 or 4 most important tasks that need to be addressed for the day.


Write Things Down

Making a to-do list might seem simple, but most people just don’t have one. You may have a collection of scraps of paper scattered about, Post-it Notes stuck to your computer or random scribbles in a notebook, but not a single organized list of everything you need to do all in one place. If you prefer making your to-do list online as opposed to paper, there are tons of great online tools you can use! Google Calendar is a place where you can set reminders and organize all your tasks and events in one place.  Monday is another great resource that allows you to manage your tasks and even assign priority!


Prioritize Your Tasks

Determine which projects are urgent.  Urgency can mean meeting a tight deadline or complying with a request from a client.  It can also mean correcting a mistake before it becomes worse. Try to consider why some tasks are urgent and do what you can to reduce or avoid the pressure of urgency where possible.


Avoid Online Distractions

Social media, news, weather, shopping, and email have the potential to zap minutes, if not hours, from your workday.  This year try eliminating easy access to “procrastination sites” by deleting desktop shortcuts. Logging out of these sites will also require you to enter a password for access.  These steps may not prevent you from spending work time at non-work websites, but they may make you more aware of how you squander your time—and how often. Why not make this the year you find more time?


Use these time management tips to keep yourself more organized in the New Year.  Make sure to revisit your time management to evaluate the changes. How well are you doing at the end of January?  February? Determine which techniques are working well for you and then you can use them in your everyday routine!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Jan. 12, 2023

Tips For Online Home Searches

Tips For Online Home Searches


Today’s home searches do not begin by simply driving by a “for sale” sign and stopping in to view a home. In many cases, buyers begin searching for their next properties from the comforts of their current homes.


In fact, online home searches have become such a reality for today’s home buyers that listing photos have become an integral part of curb appeal. If you’re planning to start your new home search online, how can you be sure you’re finding a home that will match your needs?


Here are five tips to help you get your online home search started:


1. Know your needs and wants list.

One major difference between searching for homes online and scouring local neighborhoods for available homes is the sheer number of homes available. If you don’t have a clear idea of the features you want to find in a home, you might spend a lot of time sorting through available inventory online to find even a couple homes that meet your desired criteria. Spend some time before you begin your search and determine the home features that are most important to you. Focus your online efforts on finding homes that meet all or most of those criteria.


2. Use available tools to narrow your home search.

Once you have a good grasp of the home features you’re looking for, allow online search capabilities to assist you! Use search filters to eliminate homes that are not in your price range, or those that do not have the features you’re looking for. Want a single-family ranch with at least three bedrooms, a finished basement, and a little yard space? Use search filters to find homes that might meet all or most of those wants.


3. Be sure to do neighborhood research.

You can learn a lot about a home through an online search. Once you find a home or homes that might be right for you, be sure to take time to learn about their neighborhoods too. Check out what kinds of restaurants, entertainment options, and amenities are nearby. Learn about the schools, commutes and crime rates too. Even if a home seems to have everything you’re looking for, it’s location might not be right for you and your family. Research any neighborhoods you might not be familiar with when you’re searching online.


4. Don’t believe everything you see.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? When it comes to an online home search, buyers might need to make sure those 1,000 words are accurate. Professional listing photos can paint an incredible picture of a home. And kudos to all sellers who represent their homes with awesome listing photos. But, buyers beware, seeing really is believing when it comes to a home. Let online photos draw you into a home, but take the next step and schedule a showing before becoming too captivated. Make sure the real thing lives up to the online representation during your home search.


5. Hire a professional to guide your search.


An online search is a great place to start looking for a new home. Once you find a home or a few homes that you’re interested in, allow a professional real estate agent to schedule showings for you. Once you share the homes you’re interested in with your agent, he or she might be able to point you to other homes that meet your desired criteria too. Of course, your agent will also represent your needs when it comes to negotiating a price, working with inspectors and other service professionals, and helping you get all the way to closing.


Posted in Buyers
Jan. 10, 2023

5 Tips to Get Your Home Winter Ready


5 Tips to Get Your Home Winter Ready


Since winterizing your home is a must-do for the cold-weather season, we’ve compiled a quick list of five steps you can quickly take to prepare your home for winter weather:


Check for Drafts

Though you may be preparing to welcome family and friends to your home this holiday season, you’ll want to keep Jack Frost out. So, inspect your door and window frames for possible drafts. If you find that cold air is seeping in, simply caulk or install weather-stripping around the frames. Adding a draft guard to your doors is a simple fix that will keep cold air from coming inside, too.


Inspect Heating Systems

The last major home system you want to have problems with during the winter is your heating system. Before the weather outside gets too frightful, have a professional make sure that your heating system is running efficiently. On your end, make sure to replace your furnace filters. During the cold season, it is a good idea to do this once a month. If you have and regularly use a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned out as well.


Clean the Gutters

While you’re up on the roof hanging your holiday lights, glance down at your gutters. If they’re filled with leaves, twigs or other debris, you’ve got to get that gunk out of there before snow and ice further clog them. Allowing your gutters to clog up is like inviting standing water, mold, mildew and other pests in to damage your home. Do your due diligence to clean out your gutters before you’re trying to chunk away at ice that’s covering the current mess.


Reverse Ceiling Fans

This may be the easiest home winterization tip yet! Reversing your ceiling fans will help you to better heat your home and save some money while doing so! In the summer months, ceiling fans should be running counterclockwise to drive down cool air. When winter hits, allowing the fans to run clockwise allows warm air to circulate through your home.


Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

If you don’t have one already, it may be time to buy yourself an early holiday gift. Investing in a programmable thermostat will help you to keep your home warm when you’re inside, but keep the heat turned down when you’re at work, school or even when you’re sleeping at night. Adjusting the temperature based on your activity is a great way to save on winter heating costs.


Posted in Homeowner Tips
Jan. 3, 2023

Buying a Home with Friends: Conversations to Have Beforehand


Buying a Home with Friends: Conversations to Have Beforehand


Some of them have been around since you were a child. Some you may have found in college. Some may even be in your neighborhood or at work. No, we’re not talking about your sweater collection—though sweater season is in full swing. We’re talking about your friends. You know, the people who you rely on, confide in and maybe even vacation withY


ou probably have no reservations about sharing secrets with your friends, but have you ever considered sharing a mortgage with them? It is not uncommon for friends to join forces to take on a second mortgage for a vacation home or investment property. It seems like a no-brainer, right? You’ve already vowed to be friends forever. A 15-or-30-year mortgage should be no problem


However, even the most maintenance-free friendships can face some tough times when it comes to sharing a home purchase. That is unless both parties are prepared for what co-ownership may bring. If you’re considering buying a second home with a friend, here are three major conversations you must have first.


How will you split the costs?

Unless you and a friend are planning to pay for a second home with cash, you’ll both be responsible for making monthly mortgage payments on the property. And, no, splitting a mortgage is not like splitting the bill for a night out. Having a conversation about fees like the down payment, closing costs and monthly mortgage payment is crucial before you even begin to consider looking at homes together.

While you’re chatting, don’t forget to include other monthly homeownership fees like utilities, regular maintenance, homeowner association dues or other services. It is also important to bring up potential scenarios like plumbing issues, roof leaks or other home damage. How will you split all of the certain costs that come along with owning a home?


What will happen if someone is unable to hold up their end of the deal or wants to get out of the mortgage?

Any conversation about the potential costs of owning a second home must be accompanied by a conversation about what will happen in the event that one or both parties is unable to make their payments or wants to leave the agreement altogether. Though this conversation may not be as fun as reminiscing about your old college antics, it is a must-have talk before you can confidently enter a home purchase with a friend.

With all the excitement of potentially owning a vacation home or investment property, who wants to get mired down by thinking about the negative aspects of sharing a mortgage? Hard times happen for everyone. Before they happen in your blissful home-buying experience, have a plan. Will one person take over the entire mortgage payment? Will you be forced to sell the property? Make sure you consider the “what ifs” before you and your friend are forced into an uncomfortable situation.


How will you use your new property?

Once you get the tougher financial conversations out of the way, you can begin to consider the possibilities of what it will be like to own a second home with your friend. If you’re planning to purchase the home as a vacation property, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to split time there, vacation together or rent it out on a seasonal basis.

If you and a friend are looking to buy a second home as an investment property (or if you’re planning to rent out that vacation home), you’ll need to draft a rental agreement, plus decide how you’ll deal with tenants and their issues. You’ll also need to map out a plan for marketing and maintaining your property so that it continues to be a worthwhile investment.


Are you prepared to have a few tough financial conversations with a friend? Are you also prepared to face a few certain disagreements along the way to happy homeownership? If you confidently answered “yes,” you—and your friendship—may be ready to stand the test of owning a second home together!

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 27, 2022

Signs It’s Time to Sell After Retirement

Signs It’s Time to Sell After Retirement

Signs It’s Time to Sell After Retirement


Even the happiest of professionals can admit that they dream of retirement from time to time – and maybe even more frequently. And, why not? For many, retirement means more time to spend with those you love, doing the things you love.

But when you’re used to an income that allows you to live a particular lifestyle, then that income changes, it can be difficult to maintain the lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to. Some retirees look at the lifestyle change as an opportunity to sell their home and simplify. Some homeowners decide to stay in their homes long after retirement. How will you know what decision is right for you?

Each person and their financial situation at retirement are different. But if you’re inching closer to retirement and you’re not sure what to do with your home, here are five signs that it might be time for you to sell:


1. You need more money.

Selling your home when you retire will allow you to downsize and simplify a bit, which can equate to fewer financial commitments. However, if your home is paid off, selling might also add to your retirement funds, which will allow you more freedom to travel or enjoy the things you’ve been looking forward to.


2. You’re looking for less responsibility.

Owning and maintaining a home requires quite a bit of cleaning, seasonal maintenance, and upkeep in general. When you sell a larger home to move into a smaller space or one with added amenities, like landscaping or housekeeping, you can say goodbye to some of the time-consuming tasks that come along with home ownership.


3. You feel like you don’t fit in.

When you’re a new family and you live in a neighborhood with close neighbors who are at similar stages of life, the sense of community can be amazing. If you grow older and notice that your neighbors seem to be turning over every few years, new families might remain the community norm. If you’ve watched your children grow up and leave the nest, it may be your turn to flock to somewhere new next.


4. Your retirement plans include a lot of travel time.

If your retirement aspirations have you sailing around the world or visiting cities and countries you’ve never seen, it simply might not make sense to hang on to a big home. If you do, you’ll need to hire someone to handle the regular maintenance and upkeep responsibilities. If traveling is high on your retirement priority list, you may only need a small crash pad where you can stay between trips.


5. If you have children, they have moved away.


For grandparents, retirement can mean taking on a new role of spending more time with their grandchildren. If your children have moved away and seeing your grandkids means you’ll need to leave your home for an extended period, it may not make much sense to keep the home you’ve been living in. On a similar note, if your children have moved away and you intend for them to be your heirs, it may make financial sense to leave them a nest egg, rather than a piece of property that is far from them. They’ll eventually have to sell or hire someone to look after the home, which may not be financially worth it!


Posted in Homeowner Tips
Dec. 26, 2022

How to Maximize Space in a Small Kitchen


How to Maximize Space in a 


Small Kitchen


Have you found your dream home, but the kitchen size is less than desirable? Don’t worry! There are so many different ways to organize your kitchen and surrounding areas to maximize space and minimize worry.


Make Use of Open Wall Space

When you have a small space it's important to make use of any space you have.  Open wall space is a great place to start. You should consider hanging hooks to store your pots and pans. If you are lacking in countertop space consider using a magnetic knife strip instead of a knife block.  You can also store lids to pans here as well.


Add a Shelf Above Your Cabinets

 Consider adding a shelf above your cabinets for optimal storage.  You can store small things here like plates, coffee mugs, or pans. This will free up space in your cabinets and leave your kitchen more organized.


Purchase Drawer Organizers and Storage Bins

Throwing all of your kitchen supplies into a drawer will leave you unorganized and with little space.  Consider purchasing a drawer organizer for your kitchen utensils and bins to organize your pantry. This also might clear up some space on your kitchen countertops.


Add Shelving on the Back of Cabinet Doors

Dishes and pantry items can only be stacked so high before cabinets start to feel totally unorganized. Most cabinets never seem to have enough permanent shelves, so the best solution to get the most storage is adding expandable shelves or even baskets that hang just below the shelf.


Make Use of Cabinet Sides

If you have a cabinet that doesn’t touch a wall on both sides, you can utilize the open side for extra storage. Use it to mount shelves or hang smaller items, like cutting boards, magnetic strips, or a spice rack. This will take away clutter from your countertops and leave you feeling more organized.


When you have minimal kitchen space to prep, work, and cook on, every square inch is precious.  These organization tips should help make room in your kitchen and leave you feeling like you have a new space.

Posted in Homeowner Tips