Your Home Matters

Your Home Matters

  1. Space Planning in a New Home

    Walking into a new home for the first time can feel like heading into a foreign land. You love the home, or you wouldn’t have bought it, but it can still be a bit strange and unfamiliar. Where will everything go? How will you arrange each room? Will your furniture and décor look “right” in this new place? As agents, we understand these feelings. In fact, for your resident blogger, these exact thoughts have been on my mind for weeks as we look for our new house. If you'll indulge me this week, I'm going to write from a little more personal perspective because a move, and your "stuff" that goes with it, is...well...personal.

    I assumed that a lot of other people have shared these feelings and asked themselves the same questions during a move, so thought I would share the ways I am preparing and planning, so our new space feels like home. I should also disclose that I am fighting the strong urge to get rid of most of our stuff and buy all new furniture to fit the new house. As tempting as it is, I’m not going to overhaul just yet and I’ll tell you why.

    The first piece of advice I have is to walk through the house as much as possible. Once you decide it’s the one, carefully stroll through and try to envision how you will live in the house. How will you use each room? Where will large pieces of furniture fit and where will conveniences like TVs be hung or set up? Once you decide those basic elements, I recommend getting a bit more specific in your plans, meaning furniture placement and finally decor and finishing touches.

    I like to see things laid out before I arrange a room, so I always sketch how I want furniture and important decorative pieces to be placed. I highly suggest trying this strategy before a move. Measure each room to be sure your pieces will fit, and then roughly draw the space including windows, doorways, and closets. You can look at your rooms with fresh eyes each day and change as you see fit. This strategy helped me realize we do not need to get a new entertainment center to replace the loss of our built-ins. I plan to use a buffet from our current dining room and open shelving to accomplish the same purpose. Allow yourself to be creative and consider multiple uses for your favorite pieces.

    That thought leads me to discuss fighting the urge to buy all new stuff. Don’t get me wrong – I would love a fresh look for the new house, but that needs to wait. First, see what you can work out with existing pieces. Don’t buy without a plan. I know we will invest in a few key pieces down the road, but at first I really encourage editing what you already own and determine whether it will work long-term. Give yourself three months or so to get settled and decide whether you like your current room arrangements. At that point, if you feel like new items are the way to go, then you’ll be confident that you’re not just buying for the sake of buying. You’ll be investing in things that will create comfort and ease in your new home.

    Another strategy I have embraced is cutting the clutter. This is critical whether you’re downsizing or upgrading. I am donating or selling items we don’t need or no longer love. In our next house, I want to be surrounded only by things we use, need, and love. Those old guest room dressers that were hand-me-downs? Gone. The ugly old chair my husband has had since college? Bye-bye. This is a chance for a fresh start, so embrace the opportunity to let go. Weeding out things that tend to just take up space will also help you take inventory of what you have and brainstorm how it can be used in your new house. It’s also incredibly liberating to be able to let go of stuff and have faith that you will be fine without it.

    Finally, the strategy I am still working on myself is giving yourself a little grace and a little credit. Moving is hard and stressful, even when it is an exciting change. There is a lot to do and a lot to think about during the moving process, so please don’t worry about creating a magazine-worthy space within weeks of moving. In time, as you become settled and acquainted with your home, you’ll figure out what works, what doesn’t, and make changes accordingly. If you’re anything like me, it’s likely you’ll still be rearranging and adjusting your rooms several years after moving in, and that is quite alright!
  2. Real Estate During the Holidays

    Welcome back, everyone! Who else has had a busy couple weeks now that we are in the midst of the Christmas season? Like our ERA First family, you're likely staying very busy shopping, attending holiday gatherings and programs, decorating, cooking, and volunteering during this festive season. In addition to our holiday activities, we are staying busy around the office with clients who are buying and selling this season.

    In the past, the holiday season (Thanksgiving through January) has been considered an unpopular time for many people to buy or sell a home. However, in the past five years or so, we have seen quite an increase in transactions during this time. It's not as busy as spring and summer was as the market has slowed a bit, but we are pleased to share that our wonderful clients are keeping us busy and jolly right through the holidays. We know people need to move 12 months out of the year, and typically the ones who are selling or buying right now truly need to do so for a variety of reasons.

    If you're thinking of testing the waters and feel like you're ready to put your home on the market, we would like to share these helpful tips for you!

    1. Go ahead and decorate for the holidays, but don't go overboard. Homes look so warm and cozy this time of year with the tree, garland, cheerful snowmen, etc, so you have the opportunity to showcase that as a selling point. However, don't put out so much extra holiday decor that it distracts from the features of the home that are lovely year round.

    2. Hire a reliable, ambitious agent. There is definitely some truth to the notion that there are fewer buyers this time of year, as we noted earlier in the post, so your ERA First agent might have to network a bit and utilize some creative marketing to find the right buyer. You definitely want your agent to be willing to work for you!+++

    3. Price the home to sell. This is another big perk of hiring the right agent. Be sure he or she does a comparative market analysis and be very realistic in your pricing. If your house is priced competitively, you won't need to do a bunch of little price reductions (which we know is frustrating for sellers!).

    4. Ramp up your curb appeal. This time of year, we do not have the advantage of free-flowing greenery and leafy trees, nor can we put out potted flowers and showcase a lush, green yard. That's just not what winter in the Tri-State looks like! So our recommendation is to do all you can do make sure your home looks as great as possible and is as clean and spruced up as possible. A tasteful winter wreath, some potted evergreens or other hardy plants, plus a little garland make a very nice impression.

    5. Create a cozy atmosphere. In addition to holiday decor, make your home feel as inviting as possible for showings and open houses. Light candles, turn on the fireplace, put out freshly baked goodies, place a nice blanket on the couch or a chair, and have some pleasant music playing when potential buyers come through. Make them feel like they could just curl up and stay awhile!

    6. Be prepared to negotiate with motivated buyers. Like we mentioned, buyers who are looking at houses during the holidays need to find a home, sometimes quite quickly. Maybe they've been transferred for work or want to move closer to family, but they are likely moving out of necessity and potentially have a deadline, so be ready to work with them when an offer comes through.

    7. Be flexible. Peoples' hours of availability vary during the holiday season because they are off work or only in town for a couple days. If you don't get your preferred notice before a showing or have a request for a showing a little earlier or later than usual, try to accommodate. It's likely those buyers are devoting an entire day to house hunting and might be pressed for time. Let them see your beautiful home -- it just might lead to an offer!

    Please let us know if we can do anything to assist you with your winter real estate questions and decisions. ERA First Advantage agents are always very willing to take calls and answer emails throughout the holidays and will be happy to work with you and your schedule! 
  3. Tis the Season of Giving

    Welcome back! We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with family, friends, lots of good food, and fun. We are now officially in the holiday season -- even though we've seen festive touches popping up for weeks, and our offices have been buzzing with talk of the deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (a local favorite!!) and Cyber Monday, which has actually turned into Cyber Week with deals and special offers each day.

    One very important day this week was Giving Tuesday. It's absolutely fabulous that there is now a day dedicated to raising awareness about another aspect of the holiday season -- giving to those in need. As important as it is to show our family and friends how much we care for them, we feel it is also important to show our community and deserving charities how much we care as well.

    We take great pride in the fact that many of our agents are very active volunteers in the Tri-State community, and as a company, we are so happy to give throughout the year to many deserving organizations. If you recall last year, our Marketing Manager Kristina Arwood began a movement to pay off local school lunch tabs right before Christmas. Her generous and thoughtful contribution sparked our team and many others in the Tri-State do give as well. Tens of thousands of dollars were given to our local school kiddos with the hope that they will not have to worry about a lunch tab they cannot pay off or eating a different lunch than their peers because they have an outstanding balance. Her idea and actions were a perfect example of what this season is truly about. The holiday season is a time when we all try to give and share a bit more, whether it's gifts for families in need, a bit of extra money at church, or our time at a local nonprofit or school. Please, share your love and talents with those who can use it most right now.

    Of course, our business is real estate, but we feel that our purpose goes beyond that. As we have shared before, we often get to know the families we work with quite well, and because of that, we get to hear about new causes all the time and the charitable organizations and groups that are passionately working for them.

    We continue to be inspired by our friends and clients, and especially during the holidays we want to give all we can, and we encourage all of you to do the same.

    While we don't feel it's appropriate to promote any particular organization because there are SO many deserving groups, we will gladly promote the idea of finding a cause you are passionate about and give what you can to them. We also love the idea of supporting local organizations -- let's ensure our time and gifts truly support our neighbors in need this season.

    Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways you can contribute this season:
    • Donate old clothes, especially winter gear like coats, hats, gloves & boots to a local church, Goodwill or anywhere taking donations.
    • Give just $10 more each week at your house of worship through the holiday season if your budget allows.
    • Sign up for a giving tree, where your family can purchase gifts for a family who wouldn't otherwise be able to provide gifts this year. Banks, churches, and schools are typically great resources to find out more. Your resident blogger's family participated in an "angel tree" this year and just turned in gifts, coats, and shoes to two young ladies who needed some help.
    • Call local non-profits and ask if they need some extra volunteers this year at any of their holiday events (this is a busy time of year for them too!).
    •  Donate nonperishable food items to our local food banks -- they provide lots of holiday meals!
      • An idea that one of our agents shared last year is the idea of an Advent Box, where office members or family members bring a can of food each day of December as they count down to Christmas. Right before the holiday, donate all the goods to a food bank. Can you imagine how much food we could give if we all worked on this? Love this idea! It's so easy and could be done in any school or workplace.
    • Get the kids involved and have them choose some of their toys to donate before Santa and family members give them new ones. Check online for some really neat, creative ways to facilitate this task. 
    • Ask local animal shelters what items they need this time of year. Even better, volunteer to go play with the animals or take them for walks (the best idea is to adopt a furry friend this Christmas season!)

    What other ways are you giving this holiday season? We would LOVE to hear what awesome things you're up to!

  4. So Thankful, Today and Everyday

    Hello & welcome back! We are posting on a different day this week to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday and official kick-off of the most festive time of year. As you all are bustling around town gathering ingredients for Turkey Day recipes and maybe even doing a little early holiday shopping, we hope you're taking some extra time to just enjoy the moment and all we have to be thankful for.

    It will be so easy to get distracted over the next month or so by the shopping, decorating, parties, and stress of hosting and entertaining. If you're like us, you have to remind yourself to just be in the moment and count your blessings this season. We think this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season are particularly special because we all need a reminder to be grateful for our abundance of blessings. Forget about all the recent political hoopla, say a prayer for the family and friends of those who are sick or have lost loved ones lately, and hold close to your heart those that are struggling this season. 

    We feel tremendous gratitude as a company for so many things, and last week, your resident blogger sent out a message to agents and staff requesting gratitude lists. The responses were heartwarming, and absolutely reaffirmed that our ERA family has some of the warmest, kindest, and most genuine people working each day for all of you. What do you notice about each item on this list? They're not things -- and it certainly puts everything in perspective when we look at what we cherish most in our lives.

    This week, we'd like to share just a few of the things we are most thankful for this year.

    • Family - immediate and extended
    • Friends near and far, old and new 
    • Faith
    • Good health 
    • Children 
    • Grandchildren
    • Nieces & nephews
    • Our brave military men and women
    • Fulfilling jobs we love
    • Wonderful clients
    • Husbands, wives, significant others
    • Adventures throughout the year
    • Life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness
    • Our Country
    • Our homes
    • Support in our careers
    • Fabulous co-workers and colleagues
    • This holiday season
    • Pets

    We hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving and can spend time enjoying the holiday with your family and friends. What are you thankful this season and always? Share with us! 

  5. Small Business Saturday 2017

    If you're a regular reader of our blog, you know we at ERA First Advantage are enthusiastic supporters of small businesses. As Realtors, we are technically each small business owners in charge of our own success, so we completely understand the excitement, fear, stress, and pride other small business owners experience. We also believe these small businesses make our community stand out; they provide a variety of outstanding products and showcase the incredibly talented makers and designers we have around the Tri-State. We promoting these businesses to incoming residents and visitors to our towns.

    Next Saturday, November 25 is Small Business Saturday all across the country. Whether you're in the Tri-State or away visiting family and friends, you can get out and shop these wonderful establishments. From Jasper to Newburgh, Evansville to Henderson and Owensboro, we have some seriously fabulous local businesses carrying home decor, stylish clothes for the whole family, gourmet foods, toys, books, and many other unique gift ideas. There are also many businesses in the area that provide gift ideas that aren't things. Consider giving a gift card to a local restaurant, golf course, Sky Zone, Metro Sports, a dance studio, a yoga package, or a spa day. These businesses are all locally owned and operated as well! 

    This year, we encourage all of you to venture out and do a little holiday shopping at your local favorites, and may even discover a few new gems as well! In the spirit of celebrating next week's Small Business Saturday, we'd like to share just a few of the benefits of shopping local. 

    1. Make a day of it. Enjoy breakfast or brunch at your favorite local eatery. Then leisurely stroll through your favorite stores with your favorite people at your own pace -- no crazy lines or mad dashes for "deals". 

    2. By shopping small, you're also helping support your local schools, fire departments, and local governments. The majority of the taxes that small businesses go into our local government to pay for things like sidewalk paving, community safety, education, etc.

    3. You're helping raise your property values. It's common knowledge that communities with vibrant, lively social and retail scenes are more desirable for new residents. Theses advantages could lead to a nice increase in home values.

    4. You support your neighbors. Locally owned businesses are run by people we know. When you spend your money in a local shop or restaurant, you're supporting, sometimes literally, your neighbor or a business owner who lives in your town.

    5. You'll have a "Wow, where'd you get that?" moment. These are the best. Our local makers and curators are fantastic at bringing unique, high-quality goods to our small shops. The staff members in these stores are also knowledgeable and passionate about their goods, so let them help you pick the perfect gifts for your loved ones. 

    Why do you shop local, and what are your favorite locally owned establishments? Share with us & our other readers to we can all get out and support local next Saturday! 

find an agent

search for homes