SellinginWinter_FullSize

5 Things to expect when selling your home in winter

Winter is traditionally a slower time for home sales, but don’t despair. Here are a few ways the timing might play in your favor.

1. Buyers tend to be more motivated
Buyers looking for homes are doing so because they really must relocate due to job, family or other unavoidable circumstances. You’ll probably waste less time dealing with real estate tire-kickers.

2. Things move faster
Because there are fewer transactions during the winter, mortgage companies, home inspectors and appraisers have less on their plates. You should be able to schedule appointments sooner and expect faster turnaround for reports and approvals than in the busy warmer seasons.

3. You can leverage the smaller inventory
With fewer homes on the market, it can be easier to promote your property’s comparative advantages. Highlight your home’s unique features. Are you the only townhome within walking distance of downtown? The only split-level with a pool in your school district? Be sure to mention it in your listing.

4. Summer buyers are looking now
Not everyone looking in the winter must move immediately. Your Realtor may have ideas about how to market your home among local businesses and organizations with fluid populations, such as universities, or via school district websites that might attract families moving to the area.

5. You can remind buyers of warmer weather
Be sure to include images of your home during greener summer months, including lifestyle shots of your deck, patio, porch and/or yard. Feature these photos in a frame during showings to remind buyers how the home can come alive in the spring.

FireFullSize

7 Fireplace Safety Tips

Curling up in front of the fireplace with a book can be the quintessence of coziness on a cold winter’s day, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t maintain your fireplace and use it correctly.

Here are a few safety tips when using your fireplace this winter.

1. Go with a pro
The National Fire Protection Association suggests you hire a certified chimney cleaner to inspect your fireplace and chimney at least once a year. They probably won’t sing catchy songs in a Cockney accent like in “Mary Poppins,” but they will remove dangerous clogs and buildup.

2. Put a lid on it
Ever chase a squirrel around your house with a broom? Exciting, but not fun. Prevent critters, birds and debris from coming down your chimney by installing a wire mesh cap on top of your chimney.

3. Play defense
Spark guards, the mesh screens that can be placed in front of your fire, prevent flying embers from launching into your living room and starting trouble. When you leave the room (or fall asleep) it’s especially important to use one.

4. Be wood wise
Burn seasoned hardwood that has been dried for at least six months. Green, unseasoned or soft woods such as pine emit more creosote — that’s the flammable stuff that can build up in your chimney.

5. Check your equipment
Test your smoke detectors every month, change your batteries every year and replace devices every 10 years.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand
Have one. And be sure you know how to use it.

7. Seal it up
When not using your fireplace, close the damper to prevent warm air, and the money you spend to heat your house, from being lost straight up your chimney.

FS-emails-blogbig

Friday’s Final Thought: How to Outhink a Robot

Friday’s Final Thought:

Today’s labor force is facing a new threat of outsourcing: technology. Many predict that today’s workers in a variety of industries will ultimately be replaced by algorithms.

Is the robo-apocalypse really upon us? Don’t be so sure. Here are four ways human intelligence outsmarts AI:

You can (and desire to) experiment
Artificial intelligence relies on past results to predict future outcomes. Of course, a previous solution is often just one way to accomplish a goal. As a human, your curiosity drives you to try something new.

You ask the questions
In Douglas Adams’ classic book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, super computers calculate that the answer to “life, the universe, everything” is 42. Yet it’s entirely useless to the cast of characters who don’t know what the question was to begin with. Computers can quickly generate data, but it takes a human to determine what information is actually useful.

You’re an emotional being
If the world operated according to logic, no one would quit their job to start a business, marry their high school sweetheart or purchase luxury cars. Life, and business, will always require big risks and no small amount of faith. That’s something computers will never understand.

IndoorKids_FullSize

8 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids

For those days when even the snow angels are shivering, it’s good to have an emergency list of indoor boredom-busting activities for kids other than the TV. See if any of these activities might appeal to your little ones.

1. Hit the “lab”
Try a few experiments. You can build a classic sparkly volcano, with baking soda, vinegar and glitter in a vase, or write secret messages with invisible ink made from lemon juice. Many more ideas are available online.

2. Ready, set, go!
Incorporate furniture, cardboard boxes and jump ropes in obstacle courses kids can run against the clock.

3. Strike out
Hardwood floors are perfect for indoor bowling. Stack plastic cups in a pyramid and try to bowl them over with rolled up socks.

4. Go old school
Have kids create cards or write letters to out-of-town friends and relatives — or even public figures they admire!

5. Go hunting
Create a scavenger hunts for kids. You can find some ideas here.

6. DIY cooking/baking show
Kids love to get creative in the kitchen, especially with foods that can be extensively “decorated” such as pizzas and cupcakes. Add another level of fun by recording the process and splicing together a mini-cooking show for relatives.

7. Color me busy
There are a zillion types of coloring books available for kids. Lately, coloring books have also grown in popularity with stressed-out adults. Sit down with your kids and try to stay in the lines — or not!

8. Get up on the dance floor
Move the furniture and clear space for the kids to boogie down. Music services like Pandora can help you find just the right tunes to get kids moving.