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An Organized Home Office; 7-Day Plan

Whether you’re using your home office to work from home or for personal business, getting it clean and organized can make your time there more productive and pleasant. Piles of work papers and to-dos are visual reminders of things you don’t want to be doing. Take this opportunity while you’re at home more to whip it into shape. This plan will help you clear the clutter and put systems in place to make it easier to keep things looking good all year.

Make a Plan of Attack

How big your home office is, and just how packed full of stuff it is will make a huge difference in how much time you’ll need to devote to get it in shape.
If you use your home office regularly, or if your home office is large or has accumulated a lot of clutter, plan to spend a few longer stretches of time on a weekend and follow up with shorter tasks during the week.

If it’s a small space or not too cluttered, you may be able to compress the plan into a single weekend — read it over before beginning and tailor it to work for you.

Day 1: Deal With Paper

Decluttering tasks: What is all of that clutter? Do you even need to keep this stuff? This is the day to find out. At the end of today’s tasks, your home office may very well look worse than when you began — consider yourself warned!

  • Do some research. Sometimes we keep things simply because we are not sure if it’s OK to throw them out. Go on a fact-finding mission (call your tax preparer or search online) and figure out what you need to keep and for how long.
  • Sort and stack. Work your way through your home office, pulling every loose paper out of drawers, shelves, cupboards etc. As you go, sort your stuff into categories as best you can, shredding and tossing what is no longer needed.
  • Make quick temporary labels for your category piles with a marker on plain paper — it’s amazing how quickly you can lose track of what goes where.
  • Set aside anything that does not belong in your home office and make a point of returning it to where it belongs (or to whom it belongs to) today.

Cleaning tasks: Keep a shredder, recycling bin and trash can nearby for obvious junk mail and garbage.

Day 2: Make Some Space

Decluttering tasks: Pour yourself a big cup of coffee or tea, because you’ll need the boost to get through today’s task — but when you’re done, your workspace should be feeling significantly better.

  • Pull every (nonpaper) item out of your desk and office storage and sort it into piles, placing like with like — for instance, all letter writing supplies in one pile; everything computer related in another.
  • Now take a closer look at those piles, removing unneeded duplicates (do you really need three staplers?) and anything that doesn’t belong in your office.
  • Armed with the knowledge gained on your fact-finding mission on Day 1, dip into your files and see if there are papers you can safely get rid of.
  • If you haven’t yet moved to a paperless home office, go online today and set up paperless statements and billing.

Day 3: Get Organized

Decluttering tasks: Think outside the file box to find an organizational system that works for you. Here are a few ideas for organizing your home office:

  • A grid of clipboards on the wall can make for a handy place to keep papers organized.
  • Wall-mounted cups keep frequently used supplies neat and within reach.
  • Labeled, open-top baskets on shelves are great for people who like piles.
  • Traditional files are still useful for important documents.

Day 4: Freshen Up

Cleaning tasks: Give yourself a big pat on the back, because the hardest work is now behind you! Today is all about making your home workspace fresh and clean, so it will be a healthier, more pleasant place to spend time in.

  • Vacuum your home office from top to bottom. Use an attachment to clean window treatments, high corners and fabric lamp shades.
  • Wipe down shelves and surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Use monitor wipes to clean your screens.
  • Use a keyboard cleaner to blow dust from between the keys or gently clean them with cotton swabs.
  • Bring in some fresh plants to help clean the air.

Day 5: Consider Comfort

Decluttering tasks: How comfortable is your home office? If you use your workspace often, it’s important to have an adjustable chair with proper support, good lighting and perhaps a small stool to put your feet up on. See what you can do today to make your home office more comfortable.

Day 6: Add a Personal Touch

Decluttering tasks: The beauty of a home office is that you can emphasize the home part as much as you like. Bring in family photos that make your smile or treasures from your travels; drape a beautiful textile over your chair; or store your office supplies in pretty fabric or woven baskets and china teacups. Cut a few fresh flowers from the garden and place them in a vase on your desk. Light a scented candle while you work. Do whatever makes your office feel more like you.

Day 7 and Beyond: Do Daily Maintenance

Decluttering tasks:

  • Aim to handle paper as soon as you get it, rather than letting it pile up. If you don’t have time to do this daily, set up an inbox with slots for a few broad categories (bills, work, school) so papers will be easier to handle later.
  • Post a note detailing what you should save and for how long.
  • Schedule a weekly time to empty your inbox.

Cleaning tasks:

  • Straighten up your home office before you are done working each day. Bring the coffee cups back to the kitchen and completely clear your desktop.

Most Important Features to Homebuyers

2021 has thus far presented a very interesting real estate market causing many people to ask themselves: “should I sell my home? ” Have you ever thought about selling while the market is hot? If so, I bet you wonder, What features are most important to homebuyers? What can you as a sellers do to your homes to make it more desirable to the most buyers?

If you are looking to take advantage of the 2021 real estate market, but aren’t quite sure which angle to take, here is a list of the 10 most likely amenities first-time homebuyers are going to prioritize:

1. UPDATED KITCHENS & BATHS

What do new homebuyers want? The answer is simple: updated kitchens and bathrooms. Millennials and first-time homebuyers have made their intentions known. Updated kitchens and baths are a must. According to a recent survey conducted by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., 81 percent of respondents recognized updated kitchens and bathrooms as the most important feature when considering whether or not to purchase a home.

If your budget warrants it, I highly recommend upgrading your kitchen and bathrooms. What’s more, you don’t need to break the bank to attract first-time homebuyers.

2. OPEN FLOOR PLANS

What are homebuyers looking for, if not for more living space? The whole idea of moving into a first home is to upgrade from the previous living arrangements, after all. Outside of modernized kitchens and baths, first-time homebuyers have expressed their desire for open floor plans. Not surprisingly, 59 percent of first-time homebuyers were expected to place a priority on less-confined homes, or those that facilitate functionality. Sellers should consider their current floor plan and determine whether or not it would be worth knocking down a wall or two before they put the property up for sale.

If at all possible, eliminate any walls that separate the kitchen from the living room. People of all generations, not only millennials, have come to favor the open kitchen concept, as it allows for a more conversational flow to the property.

3. LOW MAINTENANCE FEATURES

The cost of purchasing a new home is enough to keep a large amount of millennials from actively participating in the housing market. Even those that finally manage to take the leap must do so with cautious optimism, as prices are surpassing their pre-recession levels in more and more cities every month. For what it’s worth, first-time homebuyers are finding it difficult to come up with a down payment and monthly mortgage payment, let alone the funds to maintain the property they just bought. First-time homebuyers simply don’t have the expendable funds to worry about too many costs that follow the actual purchase itself.

Most first-time buyers cringe at the thought of spending more money after having recently made the largest purchase of their life, so it only makes sense that they will prefer a “move-in ready” home over one that requires a lot of maintenance. That said, sellers are advised to reduce the amount of post-purchase work as possible.

4. ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Not unlike limiting the amount of maintenance a property will require once it is purchased, energy efficiency has caught the attention of first-time homebuyers for the soul purpose of saving money. However, energy efficiency has the added benefit of compounding savings over time.

Sellers are advised to include as many energy efficient upgrades in their homes as they can if they want to attract the interest of first-time buyers.

According to Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value report, the addition of fiberglass insulation in your attic can set you back about $1,268. What’s more, that same project coincides with an average resale value of $1,482, or a return of 116.9 percent on the initial cost of the project; it actually adds to the value of the house.

If you are looking to sell your home, don’t hesitate to highlight any energy efficient amenities you may have. First-time homebuyers are interested in anything that will save them money in the long-run, not excluding, low-flush toilets, attic insulation, double-paned windows and anything else that will reduce both their carbon footprint and energy consumption.

5. WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY

No other generation is more aware of what today’s technology is capable of than millennials. That said, it is safe to assume that their inherent dependency on technology will affect the way millennials buy homes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all first-time buyers (20%) are expected to place a priority on homes with strong cell phone service and Internet connectivity (smart home features).

Never before has the need for strong cell phone service and WiFi connectivity been more important to buyers, and those looking to sell in 2021 should take note. Be proactive and address any issues your property may have with connectivity. For less than $100 you can buy a signal booster and eliminate any concerns your future buyers may have.

6. LAUNDRY ROOMS

Often overlooked, but never unappreciated, laundry rooms have found themselves at the top of almost everyone’s priorities list. According to a Kiplinger article, in fact, 91.0% of buyers want laundry rooms in their new homes, and first-time buyers are no exception. Perhaps it has to do with need more space, or maybe its because they are tired of using shared, communal laundry rooms at their previous apartment complexes, but first-time buyers have expressed the need to have a laundry room.

As a result, today’s sellers would be wise to give it to them. With an investment ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, sellers can install a small-scale laundry room that will attract more buyers. The added attention will surely drive up competition, and perhaps even offer prices.

7. PATIOS

With many first-time buyers moving up to a home, a top priority will be more space. More often than not, new buyers are coming from cramped living spaces, and moving up is more of a need form ore space than anything else. That said, it shouldn’t surprise sellers to learn that patios are wanted by about 87.0% of today’s buyers. Since most first-time buyers are used to using a balcony, a patio makes a lot of sense; it’s a relatively simple upgrade that can make a world of difference.

Once again, most first-time homebuyers are looking to replace their current living situation with more spacious accommodations. Sometimes the whole reason someone wants to buy a home is for more space, which would explain why about 85.0% of today’s buyers demand garage storage space.

As any homeowner will tell you, it’s easy to accumulate too much stuff. Homeowners have a knack for abundance, and garage storage space is a must. More specifically, however, is the value of efficiency. Garage storage space allows homeowners to buy the things they need/want without taking up too much space in the living area. On top of that, garage storage is usually more accessible than an attic or shed, which allows homeowners to store things over the course of a year without forgetting where they put them.

9. EXTERIOR LIGHTING

Exterior lighting is a great way to add both curb appeal and functional lighting. On the one hand, a properly lit home is much more attractive and welcoming to anyone passing by or stopping in for a visit. On the other hand, exterior lighting is almost necessary for anyone looking to host outdoor activities. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, exterior lighting is an added safety feature. A few minor installments can make a home safer for its occupants. Whether it’s barbecuing or hosting a game night, exterior lighting can make all the difference, and homebuyers are starting to take notice. For a relatively low cost of entry, exterior lighting can be installed for as little as $50.00 a fixture. Of course, the cost can increase with more luxurious fixtures, but the point remains the same: the project can be done for an affordable price.

WALK-IN PANTRY

What features are most important to homebuyers? I can’t stress this enough: more space. And, as it turns out, walk-in pantries are a great way to add more space to a home. The cost of a walk-in pantry will vary from the inexpensive to the exorbitantly expensive; the price will be dictated by the style of home. For example, luxury homes will require nicer pantries to suit the new owners’ needs. Luxury walk-in pantries can run owners upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. However, mid-range homes can get away with something more affordable. Consequently, about 83.0% of today’s buyers will want to see a walk-in pantry, which makes the investment worthwhile. Typically around five square feet, walk-in pantries are what first-time homebuyers are looking for in a new place; again, they want more space than the place they are moving from.

Your Edge…

The rest of 2021 will certainly draw the interest of first-time homebuyers on a massive scale, which leaves sellers having to answer one important question: What features are most important to homebuyers? What do new homebuyers want, and what can today’s sellers do to accommodate the needs of their customers. Outside of offering a listing in a relatively competitive market, sellers should take note of the amenities listed above. Not only will today’s best new home features help sellers find buyers, but they should simultaneously award their owners with higher returns. If for nothing else, buyers in today’s market appear ready and willing to pay up for the features they want; it’s up to the sellers to make sure they deliver.

Favorite Room in the House?

The family room has long been the favorite room in the house—it’s where homeowners get to spend quality time with other family members. However, as the significant increase in time spent at home during the pandemic has changed preferences, homeowners now favor quieter and more private areas in the home.

In a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, the new favorite room in the home: the master bedroom. In the survey, conducted by Ally Home, some respondents said it’s their new favorite spot because it’s where “they can hide from family members.”

Here are the five favorite rooms in the house, according to the Ally Home survey:

  1. Master bedroom: 27%
  2. Family room: 14%
  3. Kitchen: 10%
  4. Master bath: 9%
  5. Man or woman cave: 7%

Spending so much time at home over the last year has also sparked a wave of house projects among many homeowners. Eighty-eight percent of the 2,000 homeowners surveyed say they’re considering improvements to their homes to make it more “staycation-ready.” The most popular projects center on the outdoors:

  • 38% are considering installing an in-ground or above-ground pool or spa.
  • 35% are considering building an outdoor athletic court.
  • 29% are considering improvements to their porch, deck or patio.

Your Edge

Wondering whether making improvements to your current house is the right things to do? Call an agent who is familiar with your area. They’ll be able to help you determine the best course of action.

6 Small Steps You Can Take Today to Get Organized for Good

The thought of getting (and staying) organized spurs a variety of reactions in different people. Some consider it a quick but necessary chore, while others see it as an insurmountable obstacle. However, organization isn’t just a way to get your physical belongings in order. It can also help build confidence, add fulfillment to your life, and foster a positive mindset (something many of us need these days more than ever).

1. Toss Out Fear and Guilt

Decluttering can also bring about feelings of shame and guilt, which are usually manifested because we assign emotional attachments to our possessions. As you consider getting rid of something, your thoughts might turn to the family member or friend who gave it to you, which can make you feel guilty even if the object is outdated or broken. Guilt can also arise if you have clothing you bought for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon, that you will never wear again because it’s not your style or doesn’t fit right anymore. Toss items that no longer suit you. Or, if you feel like the item could have a potential life with someone else, consider donating or consigning the clothing.

2. Set a Schedule

Although many of our schedules have changed recently, we still need structure in our days. Humans naturally crave a sense of accomplishment, whether that’s achieved through completing a crossword puzzle, learning a new skill, or tidying up around the house. Sticking to an organizing schedule can boost feelings of productivity as you check items off your to-do list. Remember that your plan doesn’t have to be strict or detailed to be effective; it can simply be used to create a better sense of control over your day.

3. Do Daily 15-Minute Projects

To conquer a disorganized home in quick daily bursts, pick a short task to do each day. Finishing one to-do will give you a sense of accomplishment that can help motivate you to take on another small project tomorrow. These small tasks can be as simple as sorting mail, organizing your sock drawer, cleaning out your medicine cabinet, or conquering that dirty sink.

4. Break Larger Projects Into Sections

Start small to avoid getting overwhelmed by sizeable tasks. For example, if you want to organize your kitchen, start by cleaning out your pantry. Focus first on throwing away expired items or donating shelf-stable items you won’t use, then work on arranging like items together the following day (store breakfast foods, condiments, and grains on separate shelves, for example).

If you want to tackle your closet, start by evaluating what your lifestyle is like today and if your wardrobe reflects it. Acknowledge that styles, our bodies, and even our work environments can change over time. Only hang on to things you love and those that are meaningful to you. Try not to get stuck on aspirational thoughts about the clothing you’re going to wear someday. Instead, celebrate who you are today by letting go of judgments, she says. Remember that it’s OK to let those pieces go so that someone else can enjoy them.

5. Get the Kids Involved

Whether you have kids, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews around the house, it’s never too early to teach children how to organize. Encouraging kids to get involved can help you let go of perfectionism, appreciate their efforts, and value the input of young ones. The more you can involve kids and get them to think creatively, the more they will be willing to participate.

6. Donate or Sell Unwanted Items

Now that you’ve cleaned out your cabinets and closets, the final step to staying organized is parting ways with your old stuff. To get rid of unwanted items, start with your inner circle. Ask friends or family if they want anything, spending extra attention to family heirlooms. Another option is to find a charity you want to support. Donating to a cause that is meaningful to you will make it easier to part with something since you know that you’re helping someone in need. If you want to sell it, try Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or consider online consignment shops like Poshmark and ThredUp or TheRealReal for luxury items.

As you start organizing, remember that creating a functional home that works with your lifestyle is key. It should be a reflection of who you are and what you love. A good way to keep that up is by organizing seasonally so you can evaluate what you typically wear and what is or isn’t working in your home. Just remember to start small!

BHG | By Christie Galeano-DeMott | June 18, 2020

Landscaping Trends that are OUT!

Home decor styles and tastes change all the time. Even casual interior design fans can easily identify, with just a handful of clues, when a home’s signature style was last updated.

Decor fads don’t stop at the back door, either. Landscaping styles can also come and go as people’s tastes (and needs) change. And with the year we’ve all just had, a lot of our needs have moved more towards having outdoor spaces that feel like an escape. That’s why real estate pros predict we’ll soon be saying goodbye to these formerly popular landscaping choices. 

Outdoor spaces that can’t be enjoyed

Gone are the days where outdoor spaces were designed primarily to look at and had no function. Trends have shown that younger property owners want to utilize their outdoor space with particular interest in her gardens, water elements, reclaimed cobblestone gardens, and modern-looking outdoor furniture. No more ornament designs that you can’t relax in.  

Non-green greenery

Landscaping trends have gone the way of low maintenance and climate-friendly. Flowering plants such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons have fallen out of favor because they demand constant watering and maintenance. Homeowners are opting for native plants and pollinator gardens over anything that puts further strain on the planet’s natural resources.

High-maintenance gardens

This one is easy: high-maintenance gardens are OUT! We may be spending more of our days at home, but that doesn’t mean we have more time on our hands. Homeowners want landscaping options that don’t pile onto their already heavy workloads. 

It’s all about the “feel”

People are spending much more time at home these days – both for work and play. Homeowners are now looking for yards that work well with our lives: be it, a space to work from home or an occasional after-hour cocktail event with friends. Everyone wants a place that “feels” good rather than just having it look good. Comfort is key!

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