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Moving a Closet: Pack & Unpack in 3 Stages

New home, new living…new wardrobe? Nope! A slimmer, newly organized closet.

SHARON LEE

AUG 28, 2018

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

We all know your closet is miraculous because it holds everything you ever bought. But, that miracle is turning into a horror story. You’re about to move. Do you really want to move everything in that closet? Think go-go boots, prom dress and sequin leggings…

This is your opportunity to purify your wardrobe. At least two weeks prior to moving day, start the closet packing process by sorting your wardrobe to get rid of clothes that have been hiding in the back of your closet for way too long. Why move things you don’t wear? Spend at least a few days determining what are the hidden gems and what’s just taking up space. If you give yourself the gift of time and follow these three stages, not only will your wardrobe be kept in mint condition, you’ll have less clutter.

Empty & Sort

Empty everything out of the closet onto the floor. I mean everything!

Create three piles: keep, give away and throw away.

Having trouble letting go of nostalgic items? Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I wore or used this? If you can’t remember, get rid of it. You should’ve worn it at least 2 times in the past year to warrant keeping it. Be ruthless!
  • Still can’t part with it but it never leaves the closet? Take it’s picture on your phone. Does the real thing do anything that the picture can’t

Look at your give away and throw away piles, could someone else use this item even if you can’t? If so, box them up and donate them to a charity. Remember to label the box: “Donate.” If it is too worn, add it to this week’s trash or recycle pile. Again, why pay to move items that you no longer wear!

Pack, Boxes Do Matter

For folded clothing, use medium size/linen size boxes and carefully fold clothes before placing them inside.

Place hanging clothing in wardrobe boxes. These boxes are a fast and easy way to move your hangers and clothes. The box is tall and has a rod built in so you can hang your clothes inside and don’t have to fold them. It also makes unpacking really easy. Use them for suits, slacks, blouses, dresses, heavy coats and more. Check out this video about packing clothes in a wardrobe box.

First, dust out the wardrobe boxes to clear them of any debris. Then, pack with a plan. Sure, you can just throw everything into the boxes, but if you do you will make the unpacking process a lot harder.

A great way to have a truly miraculous closet in your new home is to organize your wardrobe boxes by season. Pack winter wear separate from summer wear and spring wear separate from fall wear. This will also help if you need to store your clothes.

Place shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe boxes, toe to heel. Heavy boots should be on the bottom while light shoes such as sandals can go on top.

Stuff boots and pursues with paper or t-shirts to keep their form.

You can also use the bottom of the wardrobe boxes for pillows, sweaters or light weight blankets.

Unpack & Organize!

Once you are in your new home and ready to unpack, think of your closet as prime real estate. What items do you want easy access to? Unpack for the season you’re in first. If you find you don’t have space for all the seasons in your new closet, keep the other seasons clothes in the wardrobe boxes and store them. Be sure to throw some cedar chips in with anything you store away.

Once you have unpacked the current season clothing, decide how you want to categorize your clothing within each season. If you choose your clothing based on event (sports, dressy, work) organize your closet that way. If you choose what to wear by time of day, organize your closet that way (morning, day, night). The key is to make your closet organization match how you decide what to wear. Within each season, organize by your chosen method and then by color, light to dark. You’ll be able to find everything quickly, even on a hectic Monday morning!

Place your shoes by use or occasion. For example, sport vs. work, and then break down your dressy shoes by flats to heels and light to dark. You can even put your shoes into clear plastic containers so you can see them. Take it a step further and take photos of your shoes and tape their photo to the inside of their container with the photo facing out of the box.

For your folding clothes: lay them on their side inside your drawer or on the shelf. (NOT stacked on top of each other horizontally, but stacked vertically so you can see everything at once!) Purchase wooden or plastic planks to use as dividers to keep clothes standing vertically.

Having your clothes and accessories all in view organized by categories and color, will make finding items fast. You’ll actually wear more of your clothes.

Last but not least, step back and take a picture of your new “miracle” closet and place it on the inside of your closet so you can keep it that way!

 

New home, new living…new wardrobe? Nope! A slimmer, newly organized closet. It’s going to feel miraculous to be able to see and wear your entire wardrobe.

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Smart Upgrades That Will Help Sell Your House

Upgrading your home with smart devices no longer an option — it’s a must.

 

Guest post by Jon Snyder

It’s official: smart home upgrades are HOT. A 2016 survey cited in the Washington Post says that 65 percent of buyers, especially millennials, are willing to spend more on homes that are equipped with smart devices.

 

Moreover, today’s definition of a move-in ready home has shifted. It’s not just about fresh paint and refinished hardwood floors anymore. An increasing amount of buyers don’t consider a property “move-in ready” until it’s equipped with smart gadgets. Combine this with the fact that a Coldwell Banker survey found that 71 percent of buyers desire a move-in ready home, and you’ll understand why upgrading your home with smart devices no longer an option — it’s a must.

But which upgrades are worth your time and money? Here are some low-cost, high-ROI smart gadgets to install when you’re ready to list your home.

What Buyers Want

The most desirable upgrades have these features:

  • Temperature control
  • Security and safety
  • Convenience
  • Compatibility with mainstream voice control devices and smart speakers

In addition, buyers prefer upgrades that stay with the home when you sell it. They want permanent gadgets that can be integrated with any voice command unit they bring when they move in.

The Best Investments

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your listing more appealing. In fact, you can find many of these “quick win” devices for under $300 each, with plenty hovering around $100.

Thermostats. One of the most popular features in a smart home is the Wi-Fi-connected thermostat. This device allows you to not only program the temperature changes throughout the day for energy savings, but also to control the temperature by voice or even through an app when you’re away from home.

Smoke, Gas, and CO Alarms. Common threats to your safety require prompt notification. Imagine being able to know if your house is on fire or experiencing a gas leak even when you’re away. With smart alarms, it’s possible. Connected alarm systems notify the owners of any safety issues within the home, wherever they are.

Security Systems. There are plenty of smart-home security systems on the market that can be controlled by phone or voice command. That means homeowners can arm and disarm the system without fiddling with a complicated keypad. They can also view video streams and notify police of an emergency from their phones. These systems can even include window sensors, motion detectors, and much more.

Lighting. Smart lighting allows homeowners to dim or turn lights on and off with a simple voice command. Plus, if they

ever forget to turn off the lights, they can easily do so from their phones — even if they’re at work.

Connected lights can also act as a de facto security system. By simply setting the lights to a randomized pattern, it can create the appearance that the home is occupied, potentially scaring off any would-be intruders.

Garage Door Openers. Garages are a popular point of entry for homeowners, but they’re also a common security breach. That’s where smart garage door openers come in. These devices can notify homeowners when the garage opens and closes and allow 24/7 monitoring of the garage. The doors can also be opened and closed remotely through a smartphone.

Video Doorbells. Your home’s new owners won’t even need to get off the couch to find out who’s at the door with this smart upgrade. Video doorbells are equipped with motion detectors and 24/7 surveillance, which will notify occupants that someone’s at the door, even if no one rings the doorbell.

A Smart Home Sells

If you’re ready to put your house on the market, you’ll need to make sure your property stands out from the competition. Investing in a few low-cost smart home devices can help you do just that, and it could pay dividends when your home sells.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

10 Easy Fixes for a Nearly Perfect Home Purchase

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision.

houzz logo

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!

Coastal Views Custom Home

Photo by Simply Home Decorating – More traditional kitchen ideas

1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing.

How to Reface Your Old Kitchen Cabinets

Sonoma new construction

Photo by Peter Lyons Photography – Discover farmhouse kitchen design inspiration

2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope.

Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.

Stash It All: Know the Three Zones of Kitchen Storage

Fair Haven

Photo by Stone Creek Builders – Search contemporary kids’ room pictures

3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new — especially something as fresh and fun as the colorful carpet tiles shown here — can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.

Fair Haven

Photo by Stone Creek Builders – Search transitional bedroom pictures

4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue, like the lovely silvery blue shown here.

12 Tried and True Paint Colors for Your Walls

Knoll House

Photo by Elizabeth Herrmann architecture + design – Discover contemporary dining room design ideas

5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants (like the saucer version shown here) to Edison-bulb chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.

Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail.

Pacific Heights Home

Photo by Heather Cleveland Design – Browse transitional living room photos

6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sun room.

Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.

How to Build a Renovation Plan to Match Your Budget

Turn of the Century Craftsman in Los Angeles

Photo by Daniella Southgate Staging – Search home design design ideas

7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.

Cape Cod Coastal

Photo by The Red Shutters – Search transitional family room pictures

8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.

Contemporary Renovation

Photo by Elizabeth Herrmann architecture + design – More contemporary dining room ideas

9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.

What to Know Before Refinishing Your Floors

Modern Prarie

Photo by FGY Architects – Look for contemporary exterior pictures

10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day.

Here’s what landscape architects do

Tell us: If you’re house hunting (or soon will be), what one thing makes you head for the hills? Or, for current homeowners, what do you wish you had known before buying your home? Swap your tales in the Comments!

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Tips and Tricks for Living in a Staged Home

Feeling like you are walking on eggshells in your staged home? Try these tips and tricks.

Guest Post via by NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

Your home is on the market, pristine and expertly staged to get it sold. Now what? How do you still live in your home and keep it in perfect condition – especially for the unexpected showing?

First and foremost, you have to change your mindset; it is not “your home” anymore. Treat the house as if it were a five-star hotel; you need to maintain the staged look and keep everything spotless. You do not want it to appear that anyone is living in the home; there should be no dishes, family pictures, or piles of personal stuff visible. You want your potential buyers to easily envision themselves living in the home. The good news is that keeping your house like a five-star hotel will also enable you to treat yourself and your family to a mini-vacation – no cooking and lots of fun outings!

So how do you and your family eat, sleep and live in your home without leaving any evidence? Here are some simple tricks:

KEEP IT CLEAN

Kitchen:

  • Remove all of your kitchen appliances from the counters. Do not use them; keep clean and hidden.
  • Have one set of cups, plates and utensils for each family member neatly stored in a cabinet. Use only these dishes and hand wash after every use. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink or out in a dish rack. Eat, drink, wash, dry and put away.
  • Use recycled paper plates and cups to limit dishwashing.
  • Keep only the essentials in the refrigerator and pantry (potential buyers are known to look inside). Unused pantry items can be donated to your local food bank.

Bathrooms:

  • No personal care products (soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, etc.) should be left out. Give each family member a bathroom tote to hold their daily-used products, to be put away into a closed cabinet after each use.
  • Keep antibacterial wipes under the sink for quick and easy cleanup after each sink and shower use.
  • Use stick-on toilet cleaners inside the bowls to keep toilets clean and smelling fresh.
  • Only guest towels should be displayed in the bathrooms. Each family member should have his or her own set of towels, to be washed regularly and kept out of sight.

Bedrooms:

  • Keep all nightstands and dresser tops clear of personal items. Purchase plastic containers with lids that can easily slide under beds to store reading glasses, books, journals, medications, tissue boxes, etc.
  • Be sure to make the beds each morning; that way there is one less thing to do when a showing is scheduled.
  • Keep all clothing items neatly put away and laundry baskets hidden in closets.
  • Wash, dry, fold and put away laundry on a daily basis if necessary.

Living Room:

  • To maintain a tidy living room, keep daily-used items (remote controls, DVDs, video games, children’s toys, etc.) hidden away in closed drawers, cabinets or storage ottomans.
  • Do not let newspapers, magazines or mail stack up; file away or recycle immediately. Perhaps keep the latest newspaper in your car; it may come in handy when showings are scheduled and you need to head out to a coffee shop or other fun destination.

Eating & Entertainment

  • By now you may be thinking, “How does my family eat?” It is best to go out to eat during this time. Even take-out is a no-no; the goal is to keep your home smelling like fresh flowers, not fried chicken.
  • To stay on a budget, visit websites like Groupon or Restaurants.com for deals and coupons. Also, look into daily/weekly meal deals at your local restaurants, like $2 Taco Tuesdays or where kids can “eat free.”
  • Get your whole family involved and make a list of activities to do on the days your house is scheduled to be shown. Ideas include bowling, going to the beach, zoo, museums, amusement parks, or even visiting relatives.

Pets

  • Unfortunately, Fido and your feline are not staged-home friendly; it may be best to find another place for them to stay while your home is staged. Perhaps a family member, friend or neighbor can take care of your beloved four-legged family members. Another option would be to send them to a kennel-free boarding “resort” for their own vacation.
  • If they must stay in your staged home, designate 1-2 rooms for your pets to live in. This will keep the fur cleanup to a minimum.

Living in a staged home may not come naturally, but if you and your family can adjust your daily routine, it can be a lot of fun. Take the opportunity to go out, explore and do things you all had always hoped to do. Motivate every family member to get in on the challenge and it can turn out to be a memorable time spent together!

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Simple Water-Saving Bathroom Upgrades

Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

Guest post by Katy Caballeros 

Between the toilet, shower, and sink, your bathroom accounts for nearly 60% of your home’s water usage. With water scarcity estimated to affect 2/3 for the global population by 2025, water costs are bound increase. Make a water-saving change and an investment in the future, without sacrificing performance. Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

1. Install a Low-Flow Faucet Aerator

Although a sink doesn’t seem to use as much water as the shower or toilet, it can pour out around 3 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Those extra gallons add up, especially if occasionally forget to turn off the sink while you shave or brush your teeth. By installing a low-flow faucet aerator on your bathroom sink, you can cut your water waste in half, reducing it by as much as 1,400 gallons per year. Purchasing an aerator for your sink is one of the cheapest conservation renos, with aerators available for as little as $1.

2. Switch Out Your Showerhead

It’s easy to waste water in the shower—many of us use the shower to relax or perhaps leave the water running as we wait for it to warm. While taking shorter showers can definitely help with water conservation, new energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce water waste without sacrificing enjoyment.

WaterSense labeled products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help save water and are worth consideration as you search for the right products for your home. Showerheads labeled “low flow” are another option for your bathroom reno, as they deliver 2.5 gpm instead of the wasteful 5 gpm of older showerheads.

Newer models, like Evolve’s showerheads, have features like smart home technology, which conserve water and reduce energy use. Here’s how it works: instead of wasting water as you wait for the shower to warm, this technology automatically reduces the water flow to a trickle when it reaches 95 degrees. When you’re ready to shower, you pull on the showerhead’s built in lever and the flow returns to normal. No more letting energy-burning hot water flow down the drain. They estimated this showerhead technology can save homeowners 2-6 gallons of water per shower!

3. Replace Your Old Toilet

The toilet is the most water-wasteful piece of plumbing in most homes. Nearly 1/3 of a household’s total water consumption is flushed down the toilet. They can use as much as 7 gallons per flush! Luckily, toilet technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Newer energy-saving models can reduce water waste up to 67%. There are three main types of water efficient toilets:

  1. Low Flow Toilets
  2. Duel Flush Toilets
  3. Pressure Assist Toilets

Some toilets use a combination of low flow, duel flush, and pressure assist to create a conservation-friendly commode. Low flow toilets are designed to use significantly less water than older models, whereas duel flush toilets customize each flush for either solid or liquid waste. Pressure-assist toilets use an air cartridge to push water from the tank, which means using as little as one gallon per flush. With thousands of gallons a year in water savings at stake, a toilet reno is a must for water-conscious homeowners.

HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners and found that replacing a toilet cost an average of $377. Compare that to savings up to $2,200 over its lifespan, and that’s more than a 580% return on investment.

Luckily, with innovations in water-saving technology, it’s easy to drastically cut back on water consumption without sacrificing performance. And, compared to other home updates, purchasing and installing water-saving products is relatively cheap and promise big savings on your water and energy bills. Whether you’re conserving water for your wallet, the environment, or state regulations upgrading bathroom fixtures can make a positive impact.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

The Benefits of Buying or Selling for Cash

If you can buy a house with cash, should you do it?

Most people try to avoid getting into debt; it’s a much wiser financial decision. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. On big-ticket items such as higher education, purchasing a car, and buying a house, loans are a common occurrence. But if you can buy a house with cash, should you do it? What are the benefits of making a cash offer on a home or accepting a cash offer for your home?

Benefits of Buying a House with Cash

If you have the means to be a cash house buyer, then you’re in a great position. According to the National Association of Realtors, roughly 30% of U.S. homebuyers are making their home purchases completely in cash, and it makes sense.

There are many reasons why paying cash for a home is better than getting a loan, even when it comes to the effect of a cash offer on house closing costs.

No Mortgage Payments: If you purchase your new home outright, you won’t have to worry about what type of interest rate you get or how much your monthly payments will be. Instead, you can enjoy financial freedom without a mortgage. This also means that you’ll be saving money on interest. You paid for the house in full, so you don’t have to worry about thousands of extra dollars over the years in interest payments.

Lower Purchase Price: In most cases, sellers love for cash homebuyers. It makes everything easier on the seller’s end, which means that you can probably negotiate a better price. The seller will know that you won’t back out at the last minute due to loan issues so that you can haggle a little more.

Fewer Closing Costs: You might be surprised by the impact of a cash offer on house closing costs. Many typical closing costs have to do with a mortgage, but if you’re paying in cash, you can avoid various loan fees including:

  • Property appraisal fees
  • Notary fees
  • Private mortgage insurance
  • Credit report fees

Quicker Closing: With a mortgage, closing a home requires you to wait 30 to 45 days on average. Paying in cash, you can finish the purchase transaction in one to three weeks.

Quality Investment: If you have a large sum of money in cash, it won’t be earning you any extra sitting in the bank or a CD. On the other hand, real estate investment is a great idea, even when the market may not be ideal. If you’re willing to hang on to your property for a few years, you’ll get out more than you put in on a cash deal.

Benefits of Selling a House for Cash

What about when it comes to selling your home? Should you sell a home for cash or is it better to go the conventional route? Beyond the fact that there may be negotiating for a lower selling price for a cash offer, there are many benefits to accepting a cash deal.

Fewer Deals Fall Through: If you’ve ever tried to sell a house, you understand that it can be risky. Too often, buyers lose loan backings or don’t qualify for enough to complete the purchase. With a cash offer, you don’t have to worry about this as much.

Faster Closing: If you need to get out of your home quickly, a cash offer is a great way to do this. Normal closing times are four to seven weeks. A cash offer can cut that time down to one to three weeks.

Fewer Fees: Typically, a cash offer means that you’ll be able to avoid many annoying closing costs, so you keep more of your sale money.

Cash offers in real estate can be a great idea if you know what you’re doing. At Coldwell Banker, we suggest talking to a financial expert, as well as an experienced real estate agent, to help you decide the best option for you.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Baldwin County Home Prices up 6.4% from Last Year

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors/Multiple Listing Service, May residential sales in Baldwin County totaled 664 units, down 3.1 percent from last May. Current sales are 26.3 percent above the five-year May average of 526 residential sales. The area saw 2,745 residential sales during the first five months of 2018, up 4.7 percent from the 2,623 sales during the same period one year ago. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all of Baldwin County’s housing data, click here.

Forecast: May results were two units or .3 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 662 closed transactions through May, while there were 2,673 actual sales, a difference of 2.7 percent.

Supply: The Baldwin County housing inventory in May was 2,940 units, an increase of 9.7 percent from one year ago. The area’s housing inventory has declined 48.8 percent from the 10-year May peak in 2008, when 5,744 units were available for sale. There were 4.4 months of housing supply in May, representing a decrease of 23.6 percent from the 5.8 months of housing supply available in the area in May 2017. The market reaches equilibrium at approximately 6 months of housing supply, with an even balance between supply and demand.

Demand: Baldwin County residential sales increased 2.9 percent from April. Historical data indicate that May residential sales on average (2013-17) increase from April by 15.4 percent. Existing single-family homes accounted for 56 percent of total sales in the area, while 21 percent of sales were new construction. Condo sales accounted for the remaining 23 percent. The average number of days on the market in May was 88, representing a decrease of 35.8 percent from one year ago, when homes in the area averaged 137 days on the market.

Pricing: The Baldwin County median sales price in May was $239,500, an increase of 6.4 percent from May 2017, when the median price was $225,000. The median sales price was down 4.2 percent from the prior month. Historical data trends from 2013-17 indicate that May median sales prices on average decrease .4 percent from April. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: In both Alabama and the United States, the spring home-buying season has been affected greatly by very low inventory levels. April residential listings decreased 10 percent in the state and decreased 6 percent nationwide from one year ago. Residential sales in Alabama, however, increased 16 percent from one year ago, which is impressive considering the 10 percent drop in inventory. Home price appreciation cooled off somewhat as the statewide median sales price increased 2 percent from one year ago, while it increased 7 percent during the first quarter of the year. Going forward, home sales prices are expected to continue their upward climb during the summer as inventory levels are likely to repeat the declines that were seen during the spring.

Source: Alabama Newscenter

5 Plants That Naturally Repel Mosquitoes

Many homeowners want to enjoy their outdoor living space but don’t want to get eaten by mosquitoes while doing so. Bug repellents and bug zappers are effective but don’t keep those nasty bugs away from your outdoor living area. Check out these plants that naturally repel mosquitoes and other annoying bugs that keep you from using your outdoor space more often:

1. Lavender

This beautiful purple colored plant is a natural mosquito repellent with a wonderful fragrance. Lavender is a great addition to an outdoor space as it adds color as well as keeps bugs at bay. Its unique scent will keep insects and rabbits away and is very hardy. Lavender tends to spread out and can get quite large so make sure that you have enough space when planting this beauty. Lavender does well in warmer climates but can withstand a wide variety of environments as well.

2. Citronella Grass

This plant is a no brainer when it comes to its ability to keep mosquitoes at bay. Citronella is a commonly used ingredient in many natural mosquito repellents and this grass does well in doing just that. The lemon scent of Citronella Grass is incredibly good at repelling bugs and does well in planters. Place a few pots around an outdoor living space for ultimate protection against biting insects.

3. Catnip

As a variation of the mint family, catnip is very good at deterring insects. It is low maintenance and does well in planters as it has a tendency to creep into other areas of the garden. A recent study showed that catnip was actually much more effective than DEET and the natural repelling aspects are impressive. If you do decide to choose this mosquito repelling plant have a plan of action for neighborhood cats who may be attracted to your outdoor space as well!

4. Marigolds

This annual flower produces a scent that repels mosquitoes as well as other bugs such as whiteflies, aphids, and hornworms. Marigolds are an easy addition to an outdoor space as they do well in pots that can be spread out around a patio area or even placed directly on your outdoor table. They do well in borders or edging as well and should grow well all summer long.

5. Rosemary

As an easy to grow herb, Rosemary extracts a woody scented oil that repels both moths and mosquitoes. It does well in containers but can also thrive along borders or in garden beds as well. Rosemary has the ability to grow quite large so regular trimming is recommended. It does best in dry and arid environments but can withstand colder areas when placed in pots. Enjoy the mosquito repelling qualities of this plant as well as snip off a few sprigs to use in summer cooking.

Take charge of your outdoor space and plant different varieties that will repel pesky mosquitoes the natural way. Choose a few favorites and see which plant does best in your outdoor space. Consider placing them close to the outdoor seating area for greatest impact on keeping the biting insects away from your outdoor space this summer.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Baldwin County home sales rise 23 percent

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors/Multiple Listing Service, April residential sales in Baldwin County totaled 645 units, up 23.3 percent from last April. Current sales are 41.1 percent above the five-year April average of 456 residential sales. The area saw 2,081 residential sales during the first four months of 2018, up 1.5 percent from the 1,938 sales during the same period one year ago. Two more resources to review: Quarterly

Report and Annual Report.

For all of Baldwin County’s housing data, click here.

Forecast: April results were 61 units or 10.5 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 2,011 closed transactions through April, while there were 2,081 actual sales, a difference of 3.5 percent.

Supply: The Baldwin County housing inventory in April was 2,934 units, an increase of 10.8 percent from one year ago. The area’s housing inventory has declined 49.4 percent from the 10-year April peak in 2008, when 5,802 units were available for sale. There were 4.5 months of housing supply in April, representing a decrease of 10.2 percent from the 5.1 months of housing supply available in the area in April 2017. The market reaches equilibrium at approximately 6 months of housing supply, with an even balance between supply and demand.

Demand: Baldwin County residential sales increased 1.6 percent from March. This is inconsistent with historical data indicating that April residential sales on average (2013-17) decrease from March by .4 percent. Existing single-family homes accounted for 54 percent of total sales in the area, while 21 percent of sales were new construction. Condo sales accounted for the remaining 25 percent. The average number of days on the market in April was 88, representing a decrease of 38.5 percent from one year ago, when homes in the area averaged 143 days on the market.

Pricing: The Baldwin County median sales price in April was $250,000, an increase of 8.9 percent from April 2017, when the median price was $229,645. The median sales price was up 6.9 percent from the prior month. This month-over-month price increase is consistent with historical data trends from 2013-17 indicating that April median sales prices on average increase 7.5 percent from March. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: Statewide, residential real estate sales continued to show growth during the first quarter of 2018 as they grew 2.4 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Low inventory levels, however, played a large role in driving prices upward. During the first quarter of the year, the statewide median sales price increased 7.1 percent from one year ago. Although good news for sellers, this price growth, combined with rising interest rates, could lead to affordability issues for buyers in today’s markets.

Click here to generate more graphs from the Baldwin County April Housing Report, including Total Sales, Average Sales Price, Days on the Market, Total Inventory and Months of Supply. 

 

The Baldwin County Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Baldwin County Association of Realtors to better serve Gulf Coast consumers.

Alabama statewide home sales for April up 16%

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the Alabama Center for Real Estate Corporate CabinetJoin the Center mailing list here.

Sales: There were 5,584 residential sales in Alabama during April, an increase of 16.3 percent from one year ago. Current sales results are 30.1 percent above the five-year monthly average of 4,291 transactions. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

Forecast: April sales were 11.8 percent or 593 units above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 17,302 residential sales statewide year-to-date, while there were 18,801 actual sales through April.

Supply: The statewide housing inventory during April was 24,245 listings, a decrease of 10 percent from April 2017 and 43.2 percent below the 10-year April peak in 2008, when 42,675 units were listed for sale. April inventory increased from March by 1.3 percent. This is consistent with historical data trends indicating that April inventory on average (2013-2017) increases 1.7 percent from March.

Demand: April residential sales increased 4.4 percent from March. This rise in sales is consistent with historical data trends indicating that April sales on average (2013-2017) increase from March by 1.8 percent. The average number of days on the market until a listing sold was 102 days, down 17.3 percent from one year ago, when listings across the state averaged 124 days on the market.

Pricing: The statewide median sales price during April was $152,016, an increase of 1.7 percent from one year ago. The April median sales price decreased 3.2 percent from March. This direction is inconsistent with historical data averages (2013-2017) indicating that the April median sales price on average increases 3.1 percent from March. During April, 60 percent of Alabama markets experienced price gains from one year ago. This indicator can fluctuate from month to month because of sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns.

Seeking balance: The metro markets in Alabama representing 70 percent of all sales shifted away from equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) with 3.7 months of housing supply during April. Outside the metro markets, Alabama’s midsize metro areas are reporting 4.5 months of housing supply, while non-metro areas are reporting 6.6 months of supply. There have been significant improvements from inventory peaks experienced during the recession.

Industry perspective: Statewide, residential real estate sales continued to show growth during the first quarter of 2018 as they grew 2.4 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Low inventory levels, however, played a large role in driving prices upward. During the first quarter of the year, the statewide median sales price increased 7.1 percent from one year ago. Although good news for sellers, this price growth, combined with rising interest rates, could lead to affordability issues for buyers in today’s markets.

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham metro area, Calhoun County, Huntsville metro area, Lee County, Mobile metro area, Montgomery metro area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

Click here to generate more graphs from the Alabama April Housing Report, including Total Sales, Average Sales Price, Days on the Market, Total Inventory and Months of Supply.