BRENNA RASTRELLI's Blog
The number of American employees who work from home, at least part of the time, is increasing year after year. Some 38% of Americans say they’re currently able to work from home at least one day a week, and that number is set to continue increasing.
Working from home can pose a few problems, however. Notably, trying to find a place within your home where you can sit down in peace and get to work.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about home office design. So, whether you’re working from home full-time, part-time, or just want a quiet place to go over the bills in the evening, so can ensure you have the best possible environment to be productive in.
The balance between focused and comfortable
Ideally, a home office is a place that is well-lit, distraction-free, and minimal in decor. However, each of us has our own process when it comes to being productive.
So, when planning your office, it’s important to choose a style that will help you work but will also make you want to spend time in the room.
Another trait of a home office that is largely dependent on your work-preferences is the lighting quality. This covers anything from the lights you use to the windows, curtains, and even the color of your walls.
If you’re the type of person who could easily fall asleep in a dimly-lit room, it’s probably a good idea to choose a bright paint color and ample lighting. This is especially true for people who find themselves spending long hours in the evening.
Decorating your office
Now that you’ve determined what type of home office you need, let’s think about how you’re going to furnish it.
The key here is to minimize distractions. A television is probably a bad idea. But, quiet music playing on your laptop or headphones could help you focus.
In terms of decorations, a good design principle to go by is that you should decorate with a few large items rather than several small items. This will help you prevent the room from feeling cluttered.
Set yourself up for organizational success
When you envision an office, you probably picture file organizers, paper clip holders, notepads, and countless other office-related tool and accessories.
However, if you tend to do most of your work on your computer, odds are those things will just get in your way.
Instead of filling up your cart at Staples, think about the type of work you’ll be doing in your home office and purchase only what you need. This will help you stay organized and help you from losing documents and losing time trying to find those documents.
With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start creating your home office haven of productivity. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips and advice.
If you’re hunting for a new home and have come across one that fits all of your requirements and more, it can seem like the only thing you can do is make an offer and wait.
However, your first choice could also be another buyer’s dream home. And, if a higher bid isn’t feasible, you have to find other ways to win over the seller. One way this can be achieved is through writing a letter to the owner of the home.
If you’re bidding on your dream home, writing a letter the the owner can be anxiety inducing. Choosing what to reveal and finding the right words can be scary, even for the most seasoned writer.
So, in this article we’re going to walk you through writing a letter to a seller to give you the best possible chance of winning the bid for a new home.
Tell them why you love their home
If you’ve fallen in love with certain aspects of the home, there’s a good chance the sellers did too. Be personal in your explanations. Rather than just say you love the location, mention that it is a perfect distance to walk to the playground with your children or pets. This will help buyers better understand you and your story.
If you have family who lives nearby, or if the home has features that can greatly improve the life of you, your family, or your pets, be sure to mention this in the letter as well.
Don’t press or plead, just be polite
It can seem desperate and off-putting to receive a letter pleading with you to sell your home to someone. So, when you’re writing your letter and you come to the end, simply thank the buyer for their time and for reading, compliment them once more, and wish them luck in their new home.
Revise and review
It can be tempting to send your letter immediately after writing it, especially if writing is you don’t like writing in general. However, it’s always a good idea to revise. I suggest writing your letter one night, then reading it again the next evening to give yourself time and distance from it--this way you’ll be reading it with fresh eyes and will be able to find any wording that sounds strange or confusing.
It’s also a good idea to run your writing through a free proofreader like Grammarly. And, finally, there is no substitute for having an editor. Ask one of your friends or family members to read the letter and give you feedback.
Stand out from the crowd
There are a few things you can include in your letter to set you apart from other potential buyers. Including a family photo will help the sellers put a face to the names you mention in the letter.
It can also be helpful to print and mail the letter, rather than sending it electronically. Since we so rarely receive a physical copy of a letter these days (unless it’s from a bill collector), it can be nice to receive something positive in the mail for a change.
If there is one project you will be thankful for taking on before a move it’s a giant declutter session. Or even sessions. It doesn’t matter how many it takes you, getting rid of the stuff that just sits around taking up space and collecting dust feels liberating.
Because stuff is more than just stuff. Everything comes with a reason or attachment that is keeping us from letting go. Even your cell phone from 2012 that you’ve been planning to recycle responsibly for years.
Sometimes the “junk” we collect in drawers and boxes has a lot more to say about us than the more sentimental items like holey t-shirts and ticket stubs.
But don’t worry we won’t go there. Instead, here are four different tactics for getting the clutter out before moving day. Because less stuff means fewer boxes, less to carry and less unpacking.
Let’s start with the most extreme, what would you do if you had to start over from scratch? If you couldn’t take anything with you what would you need to run out and replace ASAP? What are the non-negotiables that make your life yours?
Alternatively, schedule small bursts throughout the next few weeks where you tackle decluttering room by room. Breaking down a total declutter into smaller projects makes it easier to wrap our brains around. I’d recommend tackling one room per weekend.
If you’re finding that breaking up your declutter room by room is too overwhelming, here’s a different technique. Plan a few days a week where you set a timer for just an hour or two to go through one junk drawer/closet/bookshelf at a time. This works because it puts an immediate end in sight that you can quite literally count down to.
Struggling with what to keep and what to toss?
Consider how often do you actually use the item in question. If it’s of sentimental value how often do you pull it out to reminisce? Did you think to yourself “Wow! I totally forgot about this”? What value does this item add to your day to day to life? If the answer is rarely to never, it’s time to let go.
Sort items into the classic four box system. Create four boxes or piles: keep, donate, pack away, toss. And then, once everything is sorted, take action! Actually, donate those items. Toss out your collections of dead pens and old cell phones.
Or box everything up, bring it with you to the new place and toss or donate anything you haven’t unpacked within a month. With the exception of seasonal items, of course. The downside here is that you’re still going to have to pack it all up and move. But it’s a less extreme version of imagining you are starting over from scratch.
Creating just the right amount of curb appeal can be a delicate balance, but one thing's for sure: Many real estate agents firmly believe that it is the most important factor affecting how long a property remains on the market. That being the case, it's a phase of preparing your home for sale that you don't want to neglect or put on "the back burner."
If your home and property is in reasonably good condition, it may be possible to give it some extra eye-appeal without going overboard on the cost. Here are a few curb-appeal basics to consider as you get your house ready for the real estate market.
Painting: If it's been more than a few years since the outside of your home has been painted, it may be time to either repaint the entire exterior (which won't be cheap) or do some extensive "touching up." Sometimes, simply repainting window trim, shutters, and the front door can help visibly improve the overall appearance of your property. In general, peeling or fading paint will negatively impact the marketability of your home, so it's an issue worth addressing early on.
Power washing: A professional power-washing service can remove unsightly stains, layers of dirt, and discoloration from concrete surfaces, fences, roofs, garages, garage doors, and your home's exterior. One cautionary note about power washing: Applying too much water pressure can potentially cause damage to materials like loose roof shingles, older painted surfaces, crumbling concrete, old slate flooring, untreated wood, and aging fences. Special instructions may need to be given to workers and their manager, regarding delicate surfaces and the need to adjust water pressure accordingly.
Front porch: There are a lot of nice touches you can add to a front porch to make it look more inviting and visually appealing. In addition to making sure floors, steps, railings, windows, and furniture are immaculate, inexpensive upgrades, such as a new welcome mat, mailbox, and house numbers can also make a noticeable difference in the impression you create. Weather permitting, colorful potted or hanging flower baskets will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property. As is the case with interior home staging, strategically arranging furniture can help prospective buyers imagine themselves relaxing on your porch and elsewhere in your house. That can be a key step in triggering their interest.
Landscaping: When your house is on the market, it's crucial to keep your lawn and shrubs looking manicured at all times. Any hint of overgrowth, dying trees, or weeds can send the wrong message to potential buyers about the quality and desirability of your home. Edging for lawns, flower beds, and sidewalks can often be a relatively inexpensive way to enhance the eye appeal of your property.
A seasoned real estate agent can provide you with more cost-effective ideas on sprucing up the outside of your house to attract prospective buyers.
A home inspection can make or break a property sale. If all goes well during a home inspection, a buyer and seller can proceed with a transaction. Conversely, if a home inspector discovers major problems with a house, a property sale may be in jeopardy.
As a homebuyer, you'll want to do everything possible to ensure a home inspection delivers valuable insights. With in-depth home insights at your disposal, you can determine whether to continue with a home purchase or reenter the housing market.
To ensure a successful home inspection, let's take a look at three common home inspection mistakes, and how a homebuyer can avoid these problems.
1. A homebuyer hires an inexperienced home inspector.
When it comes to hiring a home inspector, it is always better to err on the side of caution. With an experienced home inspector at your side, you can boost the likelihood of a successful home inspection.
Evaluate a variety of local home inspectors. Then, take a look at each home inspector's background and expertise to narrow your search.
In addition, if you feel comfortable with a home inspector, reach out to this professional directly before you make your final hiring decision. That way, you can request client referrals and gain additional insights to help you make an informed selection.
2. A homebuyer does not attend a home inspection.
A homebuyer is not required to attend a home inspection. However, attendance usually is a good idea, regardless of your homebuying expertise.
Remember, a home purchase is one of the biggest transactions that you likely will complete in your lifetime. If you want to ensure a home is a viable long-term investment, it certainly pays to walk around a property with a home inspector and conduct an in-depth evaluation.
In many instances, attending a home inspection may enable a homebuyer to gain home insights that might not be included in a home inspection report as well.
For example, a home inspector who identifies issues with a property may be able to give a homebuyer an estimate about how much it will cost to complete myriad property repairs. These insights are exceedingly valuable and can help a homebuyer determine whether a house is a worthwhile purchase.
3. A homebuyer ignores a home inspection report.
After a home inspector completes a property evaluation, this professional will provide the homebuyer with a home inspection report. Then, a homebuyer will have a set amount of time to review the report to determine whether to proceed with a home purchase.
A home inspection report contains plenty of valuable insights, and as such, should not be ignored. Instead, a homebuyer should spend time evaluating the report and learning from it. And if a homebuyer has any questions, he or she can reach out to the home inspector who provided the report for answers.
Lastly, if you need help planning a home inspection, you should employ a real estate agent. By hiring a real estate agent, you'll have no trouble getting in touch with the best home inspectors in your area.