I always like to send out a message before Thanksgiving, because it’s my favorite holiday.
Why is it my favorite holiday? I’m glad you asked.
1. The entire holiday is positive – a day set aside to be thankful. Whatever your political, religious or any other convictions you hold, being thankful and grateful makes us happier. Being ungrateful or resentful makes us unhappy. Taking time to be deliberately thankful might be the most important thing we can do individually to increase our own happiness. I can’t think of a better idea to create a holiday around.
2. Thanksgiving is American. Holidays like Christmas, New Years, Easter are recognized worldwide, but Thanksgiving is ours. It’s part of our heritage and culture, like the 4th of July. It’s something special and beautiful that we can celebrate as part of our uniquely American tradition.
3. Extended family. To the extent that we get to see family on other holidays, the interactions tend to be stressful and rushed, revolving around gifts. For whatever reason, Thanksgiving doesn’t have the rushed feeling other holidays do. It IS busy for us, though…we host Thanksgiving day and have family over all weekend almost every year and with the addition of two babies and family back in town from overseas, we’re looking at a crowd of almost 30! We love having the house full of kids, laughter and, of course, FOOD.
4. My wife. It happens that I was introduced to my wife by my sister on Thanksgiving weekend. They were college friends and she was sure we would hit it off. We were engaged three months later and that was 18 years ago. It’s a special holiday to celebrate our relationship.
5. Our son. Our firstborn and my namesake, Andrew IV, was born on November 26th which sometimes falls on Thanksgiving. Some years we eat pumpkin pie AND birthday cake.
There are a lot of reasons to love Thanksgiving. The bottom line is, the world cannot help but be a better place when everyone in it is thankful.
As always, if you need to talk about something real estate related, call me any time, although I probably won’t pick up the phone on Thursday the 28th.
Whether it’s on the market or not, you want visitors to your home to have a positive first impression. Adding curb appeal doesn’t have to mean a lot of expense or work. Here are simple no cost ways to boost curb appeal you can do in a weekend.
Turn your exterior lights on including garage and front porch. Make sure they’re clean.
Clean windows inside and out until they sparkle. It makes a different inside, too, and makes your home feel sunnier and more welcoming. Instead of relying on a glass cleaner, try a mix of detergent diluted in warm water.
Turn on your interior lights and leave curtains open where possible. Let people see your cozy dining room or reading room as they pass by.
Clean up the yard, trim the landscaping and blow or sweep debris away. Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to the strongest setting and clean off your driveway, sidewalk, windows and fence.
Bring flowers or potted plants to the front yard or porch.
Simplify your porch furniture and decor. Just as you would aim to simplify the interior of your home so shoppers can envision themselves living there, the exterior of your home should be neutral and welcoming too. Focus on porch decor that offers pops of color and character.
Clean your front door and dust off your welcome mat. Pay special attention to scuff marks and hardware.
Touch up the exterior paint and make repairs where necessary.
Make sure your house number is clearly marked and visible from the street.
Hide eyesores. Place a small lattice fence or a side of paneling around your air conditioner, and hide your trash bins behind a small fence. You can also hide your hose in a pot or storage bench.
If you do hope to put your home on the market soon, reach out to me and I’ll make sure you invest your time and energy into the projects that make the most sense for your bottom line. We can also discuss staging ideas for inside your home and I can answer any other questions you have. Contact Drew Dumas Realtor at (602) 403-0458.
In this post: tips for hosting fall guests to make your home as welcoming as possible with as little stress as possible.
October feels like the start of the holiday season, doesn’t it? If you’re like us, you’re trying to plan ahead for all the November and December festivities. A big part of that is hosting fall guests! Whether you have visitors coming to the Phoenix valley to enjoy the perfect fall weather or family coming to stay for Thanksgiving weekend like we do, planning ahead and being organized keeps stress levels low and helps you enjoy your company more.
Have plenty of self-serve foods like granola bars, trail mix and chips plus crowd pleasers like “heat and eat” soup, crackers and cheese and sandwich fixings for pb&js or ham and cheese. You might bake and freeze things like banana bread or a casserole to heat on a whim. I always have a candy bowl on the counter with chocolate kisses or caramels and it ends up empty every night!
Set up a coffee and tea station. Keep coffee and tea selections accessible and have add-ins like honey and sugar out with it as well as mugs and spoons. Provide written instructions for your coffee maker or tea kettle if they require it. Having hot cocoa is nice for non coffee or tea drinkers and kids.
Make your kitchen user-friendly. You want your guests to be able to help themselves, and help you! Prep your serving dishes and utensils plus clean out the fridge and pantry. This year I’m going to have pretty labels on my cabinet fronts so people can easily find what they need without asking me where something is every ten seconds.
Cozify your guest bedroom. (Yes, cozify is a word) After scouring many blog posts on the topic, here are the items every guest room needs to be comfortable:
a comfortable bed (duh, but make sure the mattress is truly comfortable and the sheets are soft). White sheets feel the cleanest and most luxurious
a lamp for nighttime readers (and some reading selections are nice, too, especially if they’re about local attractions or history)
wifi password and/or any alarm codes
extra pillows and blankets
water and snacks
a mirror (especially if guests are sharing a guest bathroom)
a hook for hanging a robe or towel
cleared off spots for jewelry, cosmetics, etc.
a suit case rack or space to store them
space in the closet + hangers and/or a few drawers
a candle is nice
extra toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap, deodorant)
Spruce up your front porch. Mums and pumpkins are very fallish. Also, does your front door need a paint touch-up? Is your wreath looking worn out? Could you use a new front door mat? Small details make a big difference.
Keep an eye on your bathroom soap, toilet paper and towels. With a big crowd, items get used up fast and if you just have one hand towel, it can end up wet.
Prepare for kids. Have puzzles, coloring or craft supplies in a designated area so kids are occupied and not under foot. Have kid-friendly snacks available, too, for hungry teens or picky munchkins.
Pay attention to outdoor areas. Clean up your yard and back porch. You might even set up an additional sitting area in your back yard to accommodate overflow or just people who want to sip their coffee outside. If you have a fire pit, clean it up and make sure you have wood.
The first day of fall is September 23rd! Autumn is our favorite season not only because it encompasses four of the five of our birthdays (Kate September 26th, Drew October 11th, Andrew November 26th and me November 29th) but also because it means hosting Thanksgiving for 25 in our home (plus football, Halloween and pumpkin-flavored everything!). In the Phoenix valley, that means double-digit temperatures for most of the day which is a welcome reprieve from 115. Leaves don’t change much but the light is different and the Halloween decorations come out. If you’re eager to welcome fall into your home, here are ten ideas.
1. Bring in some nature. Branches, leaves and pumpkins go a long way toward adding a fall vibe. Rather than buying and storing a bunch of seasonal decor, what if you got fresh items then just tossed them out at the end of the season? Grocery stores carry a variety of pumpkins and gourds you can place on your front porch or coffee table.
2. Remember smell. You can diffuse a fall essential oil blend or or simmer cider on your stove. The spicy smell of fall is a favorite for everyone.
3. Make fall foods. Pumpkin-flavored everything is already in stores and pumpkin bead and muffins are obvious choices but what about an apple cinnamon coffee cake? Homemade caramels are fun and easy or whip up a homemade caramel sauce and share a few jars with your neighbors.
Below is my favorite fall go-to recipe that everyone loves and makes the house smell fabulous!
TWO INGREDIENT PUMPKIN MUFFINS RECIPE
1 spice cake mix (or yellow cake mix + a dash of pumpkin pie spice) 1 can 15 or 16 oz pumpkin puree (small can, not pie filling)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix spice cake mix together with pumpkin. Scoop into lined or well-sprayed muffins. Bake 18-20 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).
Optional: add chocolate chips!
4. Add fall texture throughout your home. A chunky throw blanket, a fuzzy pillow or a wood bowl full of pine cones say fall. Other fall-ish elements include burlap, galvanized metal, sticks, twigs, stumps, acorns and leaves. Even vintage books and chalkboards bring to mind going back to school.
5. Create a fall tea station or coffee bar. Mugs, a few choices, spoons and fixins is all you need. Anything pumpkin, cinnamon or hazelnut will work and everyone loves fun add-ins like syrups and creamers.
6. Spruce up your front porch. Trick-or-treaters will be arriving soon then an onslaught of holiday guests so why not add some potted flowers, update your welcome mat or change your front door color?
7. Dust off your fire pit or chiminea, it’s time for s’mores and chats around the fire again!
8. Set your table for fall. Bring out the fall-colored dishes and place mats and create a fun centerpiece. You could also fall-ify your coffee bar area for easy entertaining like this one from Giggles Galore.
9. Switch up your bedroom. Red or orange sheets are fun and you can add fall textures and smells here, too. Even a leaf garland over your headboard is a fun touch.
10. Yes, home maintenance is important this time of year. Check out your outdoor plumbing. Run your heat to be sure it’s working properly. Go up on the roof to make sure it’s ready to handle falling leaves and other debris. Trim up trees and shrubs. And consider a “fall cleaning” as you’re bringing in your decor and switching things up.
Fall is a beautiful time of year in the valley of the sun! We hope these ideas for adding fall to your home will help you enjoy the season even more. And of course if you are looking at buying or selling a home this fall, Drew would love to sit down with you and explore your options. Contact us to get started!
If you have purchased a home before, you can skip this post. It is good reference for some of the things to think about if you've only rented, or lived with family up until now.
If you're reading this, you've thought about buying your own place. If you've scratched the surface, you have probably discovered there's a whole lot more to it than you realized. Take a deep breath, and I'll lay out the process. Remember, a good REALTOR is there to answer any questions and walk you through the whole process. You're not in this alone, and while it's a big complicated step for you, the professionals surrounding you do it for a living, and can help you every step of the way.
There is a lot to think about when buying your first home: Cost, payments, financing, location, neighborhood, utilities, property taxes, homeowners insurance, school districts, HOAs, and let's not forget, in addition to all the details, you might actually want to buy a place you'd like to live in!
So where do you start? The first place to start, is to have a constructive conversation with your REALTOR to discuss the things that are most important to you. Which high school district you are in might be of lesser or greater importance to you than someone else. Once you have had this initial conversation, then we can put a plan in action to find you the perfect place to call home.
Here are the steps:
Partner with a responsive lender. Having the right mortgage product, and the right person putting it together for you is essential. We will partner with a lender I trust. Think of it this way: If you go find a lender through an ad or an internet special, they will try to earn your business and get you the best rate. If things don't work out, if they drop the ball, if you don't end up getting the house- they lose a commission, but you were just one of many leads they get every month. If you work with a partner of mine, I do a lot of business. I am very selective regarding who I work with. If a lender I partner with runs into a problem with your loan, they're not risking only one commission. If they don't perform, and do everything they can to serve you at the highest level possible, they risk losing my partnership, and all the business I bring to them. Believe me, their motivation to do everything possible is very high when we are partnered. I only work with people I trust to be ethical, responsive, and committed to doing the right thing for you, and my expectations are high.
We'll figure out your budget. A good starting place when thinking about a house payment is looking at what you pay for rent. The mortgage lender will look at your credit and other debts, and will determine what is possible for you to borrow, but more importantly, make recommendations on what is reasonable and prudent. The industry is rampant with people trying to sell homebuyers the absolute maximum amount they can afford. I won't work with people like that. I want you to have the right-sized home, with an affordable payment, one that is the best option for you. If we are going to work together in the future, and you are going to recommend your friends and family to me, that is only going to happen if I'm looking out for your best interests, not trying to get you to buy something you can't afford.
Begin the search. Now that we know your needs and desires, and we've figured the financial piece, now it's time to look at houses. (The biggest mistake most people make, is looking at houses before they figure out the finances. This is probably the largest factor resulting in people buying more house than they can comfortably afford.) You'll receive emails directly from the MLS meeting your criteria, along with homes we can find on Zillow and other commercial advertisers.
Make an offer. Most buyers I've worked with did not end up with the first home we made an offer on. This step requires us to pace ourselves a little bit. We will put together the offer that is in your best interest, not just the price, but timing, closing costs, appliances, and even the amount of earnest money required. Essentially, we will write the strongest offer possible, resulting in you getting the best deal possible. As a point of clarification, "concessions" is the term used for the closing costs that the seller might pay on your behalf. In addition to the price of the house, there are also costs for your loan, the HOA, and the title company. Many of these costs are negotiable between buyer and seller, so for example if you have plenty of cash on hand to cover a sizable down payment, your strongest offer may include your paying all of the closing costs and a smaller purchase price. If you have a small down payment, we might be in a better position to write your offer with a higher purchase price, with the seller agreeing to pay some of the closing costs. Once the offer is accepted, we will open an escrow account with a title company. Your escrow money is a good faith deposit, proof that you actually intend to buy the house.
Negotiate for repairs. The offer process has two steps. The first step, where we made the offer, was mainly concerned with price. Once the offer is accepted, we will have time to conduct inspections of the property. We can inspect all the major systems and make sure that you are thoroughly informed about the condition of the home. Typically, the inspections will result in issues being discovered. If there are major problems with the house, for example, if the roof is caving in, we can walk away and get all of your earnest money back. Usually there are some items that need to be fixed, but nothing big enough to make you walk away. Once we have the lists of recommended repairs from the inspectors, we issue an inspection notice to the sellers, where we ask them to fix the problems we're concerned about. This begins the second round of negotiation, where the seller may or may not agree to fix what you have asked for. This can go back and forth until both parties agree. Sometimes repairs are agreed to, sometimes a price adjustment in lieu of repairs is agreed to, it all depends on the transaction. If no agreement is reached, you get your earnest money back. If an agreement is reached, then your earnest money becomes non-refundable. This is the point where you and the seller have reached a final agreement for price and repairs.
Happy Day! The only thing left is to close on the house. Plan to take a couple hours out of your day to go down to the title office to sign all the paperwork. Depending on the time of day you sign, it might be the next business day before you get the keys to your new home. The title has to record with the county before you are the legal owner. Usually if we sign in the morning, you can receive the keys later that afternoon.
As you can see, while it is a straightforward process, there are a lot of bumps and pitfalls along the way. By far, the most fun part of my job is working with new homeowners, people that have never purchased before, or at least have never purchased in Arizona. Once you've done it a few times, it becomes routine, just like anything else... but that first time, all the planning, all the hopes and dreams, all the focus on the future and what could be, what will become of the life lived in that home, that's the best part of my job, and why I'm excited to work with you.
It’s almost exactly two years since I took the leap of faith into working for myself full time. Now that I’m past survival mode, I’m eager to branch out and start expanding my services and my network. I hope you’ll join me. Stay tuned to this space for more.