Fresh Year, Fresh Start: Cleaning Out Your Home for the New Year

Fresh Home Cleaning for New Year

Many of us could not wait to close the door on 2020 and usher in the new year– and all the positive vibes we hope comes with it! As you look forward to 2021 you may have spent some time thinking about your intentions for the coming year, whether for personal or professional growth, health and fitness, or family goals. Let’s face it, 2020 was stressful, and while many people look to each new year to freshen up their lives, this year more than ever people are looking inward to reexamine what is important to them. One thing that is just as important as setting intentions for your behaviors or habits is creating a peaceful and joyful place in which to practice your intentions.

If you, like most Americans, spent a record amount of time inside your home last year due to the pandemic, you may have accumulated more stuff than you have in previous years. Many people acquired new hobbies to pass the time at home, started – and maybe even finished – home improvement projects, or simply went a little overboard with boredom-induced online shopping (guilty). If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a decluttering session.

Living with too much stuff can cause stress, anxiety and depression. People with too much clutter in their environment also tend to suffer from relationship issues, sleep problems and chronic allergies or asthma.*Read more about the health issues related to clutter here*

So, before you pack a suitcase and hop on a flight for that vacation that got cancelled last year, take some time to clean out your home for the new year. Here are a few strategies recommended by professional organizers.

1. One category at a time: This method is used by Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She advocates for decluttering items by category: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items, in that order.

2. One room at a time: Another method is to focus on one area at a time. It could be a room, the garage, or the attic. If that amount of space is still overwhelming to you, break it down to one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer at a time.

3. Arrange keep, sell, and donate spaces. As you progress through your decluttering, it will save time and energy if you have already designated areas to accumulate items that are to be kept, sold, or donated. Then you can deal with each group of items once you have everything separated.

Once you have cleaned out your home, you might adopt some of these habits for preventing clutter from piling up again:

1. Set a rule where you don’t purchase a new piece of clothing, toy, book, or gadget without getting rid of something you are no longer using.

2. Get into the habit of always putting everything back in its place. This will keep you from purchasing items you already have, but can’t find or forgot about.

3. To prevent clothes from piling up, try choosing your outfits for the coming week every Sunday, and don’t let clean laundry sit unfolded.

4. Look through your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and shop with a list of needed items.

5. Live by the rule that if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.

Buying Your First Home? Know These 3 Things

to rent or buy a house

I love working with first-time home buyers. Helping you find your first home, learn the home buying process, and guiding you from house-hunting to move-in day gives me the warm fuzzies. Here are three things you should know before you start looking.

  1. Work with one real estate agent. It’s best to have one agent who is helping you with your search. Your agent will be dedicated to finding you the right property, and then negotiating on all the terms of your transaction on your behalf. You want that person to get to know you and your family’s needs and preferences, rather than starting over with someone new each time you go look at a house. Keep in mind that the agent who shows you a home is, ethically, the one who should continue the transaction. Also, when you call an agent from a yard sign or advertisement, you are dealing with the seller’s agent. While most real estate professionals are adept at handling both sides of a transaction professionally, it makes more sense to deal with someone you have already taken time to get to know and who has your best interests at heart as the buyer. Your agent is paid at closing; unless otherwise stated, by the seller through the proceeds of the sale. Still, you are hiring someone to work for you, so feel free to interview multiple agents and pick the one that you feel fits you best.
  2. You need to be pre-approved for financing. Unless you are paying cash for your home, you do need to talk to a lender before you start looking at houses. One reason is that it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting. Looking at homes that you can’t afford to make an offer on just leads to frustration. A mortgage lender will not only tell you what amount you can borrow, but also your projected monthly payment, your closing costs, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process. Another reason for having an up-to-date pre-approval in hand is so you don’t lose out to another buyer. If you find the perfect house, you will want to get an offer in before someone else gets it, and that pre-approval letter must accompany your offer. I would be happy to provide you with names of mortgage lenders in our area who have provided excellent service to my clients.
  3. There are some up-front costs. When you find the right house, and you and the seller have agreed on the price and terms and have signed the contract, you will first need to make your earnest money, or “good faith” deposit. This is money you are risking if you back out of the deal for reasons not protected in the contract. Usually it can be around 1% of the sales price but can be more or less depending on what you and the seller agree to in the contract. Your agent will help you with this during negotiations. The earnest money deposit gets credited back to you at closing either to pocket or to put towards closing costs (your lender will outline that).
    Next, you should have an inspection of the property done by a certified home inspector. This cost varies depending on the size, condition, age, and features of the home, but is usually a few hundred dollars. You will need to pay this at the time of service. You may elect to pay for other inspections based on the results of the initial inspection. For example, if the inspector notes an issue with the HVAC system, you may need to pay a service fee for an HVAC contractor to look at the system. You want to get as much information during your inspection period as you need to confidently move forward with the purchase.
    An appraisal of the property will be ordered, but these can be added to your closing costs and sometimes not expected to be paid in advance. However, you may be asked to provide a credit card number to be charged in the event that the closing does not take place.

I will guide through all of these steps throughout your home buying journey. Ready to get started? Give me a call!

6 Reasons Why December is a Good Month to Buy a Home

blog for home buying in December

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most people cringe at the thought of buying a home in December. Only the Grinch would want to pack up and moving during the holiday season! But hold on Cindy Lou Hoo, there are several reasons December can be a great time to buy.

1. Sellers are highly motivated. People who are listing their homes in December are usually on a timeline. They may be relocating for work, wanting to move over the school break or need to sell their home before the end of the year.

2. You have less competition. Listings do go down in December, but many buyers also take a break during the holiday season. So while the overall number of homes available might be lower, you also have less competition looking.

3. You can get a better price. Motivated sellers and fewer lookers means you can make a better deal. If your seller needs to make a move before the end of the year, they will be willing to work with you on all other terms besides closing date.

4. Rates are staying low. Mortgage rates are forecast to remain low through the end of this year, and into 2021, so it’s a good time to buy.

5. Take advantage of tax benefits. If you close on your home purchase by December 31st, you can take tax deductions for mortgage interest, loan points, and property taxes.

6. Schedules are more flexible. You might think December is too busy of a month for moving, but most people tend to have more flexible schedules in December. Children’s activities are suspended, work schedules are more lax, for both you, your sellers, as well as your lender, home inspector, and moving companies, so scheduling all the parts of your transaction and move may actually become easier.

I’d love to help you find your next home. Let’s make your holiday wishes come true!

6 Ways to Teach Your Children Gratitude

kids gratitude

This has been an unprecedented year for most Americans. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, some may be finding a lot to be grateful for– for example, the end of the election process, or remaining healthy through the pandemic– while others may have had a different experience and may be struggling with feeling gratitude. Sometimes having gratitude is something people have to work on, especially children, who are used to seeing the world with themselves in the center.

The best way for children to learn gratitude is having good role models. Seeing you express gratitude regularly goes a long way. Helping them see the world outside themselves helps build gratitude. For example, understanding that not everyone lives in a house or neighborhood like theirs, or that people in different cultures and countries celebrate and give thanks in different ways.

Here are a few creative traditions you can start with your kids to teach them how to begin to think about how their actions can bring happiness to themselves and others.

1. Start the day with an intention. Mornings can be crazy, especially on school days, but grab a second, at the breakfast table or in the car, to ask your kids to set an intention for the day. It’s OK if their intention is self-centered, for instance if they say they want to perform well at sports that evening. The point is to get them thinking about being intentional and learning that their actions affect others. Eventually you’ll likely see their intentions involving goodwill towards others.

2.  End the day with an expression of gratitude. Again, help them draw their thoughts to the world around them and how they fit in by asking them to state one thing they are grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be big ticket items, like God, their family, or their best friend, in fact, it’s better if it’s not. Make them think about all the little things they can be thankful for each day.

3. Start a “highs and lows” tradition at dinner time or bedtime. Each family member states the best and worst thing that happened that day, or their high point and their low point. Then, take it further by asking everyone to “flip” their low point. Can they identify a silver lining in their low point. Is there a lesson in it? Or did their low point benefit someone else? For example, if your child’s low point was that they sat the bench when they thought they should have been playing, help them to see that it was someone else’s turn to have that high point.

4. Practice acts of service as a family. One of the best things you can do for your children is to teach them the gift of service to others. Besides benefiting other people, it teaches your kids that giving time and service to others helps lift them emotionally, so it’s a win-win! While it might be difficult to do acts of service physically during social distancing, you could bake cookies to donate to a shelter, write letters to residents of nursing homes, or offer to walk your elderly neighbors’ dogs.

5. Start a family charity. Kids love to save up money, and many can be very generous with their savings. Start a family charity fund and offer to match what your children contribute from their allowance, other earned money, or monetary gifts. Once or twice a year, decide as a family where to donate the accumulated funds.

6. Let them be secret superheroes. Have your children pick a person to be a secret superhero for. It may be a classmate, neighbor, or member of your extended family. Your child can write notes of encouragement or praise to this person, leave them small gifts, or secretly perform an act of kindness for them. The point of remaining secret is to teach your children that they don’t need to be recognized or rewarded for being kind to others.

Local Non-Profit Organizations:

Frankfort, KY

Shelbyville, KY

Lawrenceburg, KY

Georgetown, KY

Versailles, KY

*Don’t forget about our four-legged friends at the local humane societies, as well!*