Posted by Jeff Smith on 2/19/2018

If you're selling a home, having high quality photos is one of the most important things you can do to catch the eye of prospective buyers. Taking great photos, however, is something that requires a combination of frequent practice and knowledge of how your camera works. Sure, these days you can take a decent photo with an iPhone camera and be done with it. While that method is a good start, if you want to progress with your photography you'll eventually have to make the leap to a DSLR where you have more freedom to change exposure settings. I know what you're thinking. High quality photos means spending a ton of money on camera equipment, right? Fortunately, entry level DSLR cameras have become more affordable in recent years. To start taking great photos you'll only need four things: your DSLR camera, a tripod, a wide angle lens, and a place to practice your photography.

Step 1: Setting up

You'll want to set up the room with the right balance of furniture, decorations and natural light. Avoid decorations that are too personal (like family photos) or eccentric (no stuffed animals, preferably). Set up your tripod against one of the walls of the room. Ideally, you'll have the target of your photo illuminated by natural light coming through windows, so you'll likely be standing in front of or next to the windows. However, before you take any photos use your best judgment to determine the room's best angles. The amount of and the placement of furniture will play a large role in how spacious the room looks, but equally important is the camera angle from which you take your photos.

Step 2: Learn your camera settings

You won't learn all of the settings in a DSLR overnight, but it is important to get an understanding of the basics. In spite of the many technical improvements that have been made, the basic concept of a camera hasn't changed much over the years. The two main components that determine what your picture looks like are aperture and shutter speed. Aperture (or "f-stop") is what is used to determine how much light enters the camera. Much like your pupils dilate in the dark to let in as much light as possible, having a wide aperture will allow you to take brighter photos. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter on your camera is open. A slower shutter speed allows more light into the camera, creating a brighter exposure. However, due to our inability to hold a camera entirely still having a slower shutter speed creates more opportunity for your photo to become blurred from camera shake. A third important setting is the ISO. This setting is unique to digital photography because it controls the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor. The higher the number, the more sensitive. Why not just crank it up all the way then to get the best quality? Because if you set it too high the photos become grainy or "noisy."

Step 3: Practice

Now that you know the basics, start taking photos in your home using various camera settings. Play around with taking photos with different light sources on, with your camera flash on and off, and at different times of day. You'll find that there are endless possibilities when it comes to taking photos of your home.  

Tags: Real Estate   home  
Categories: real estate   Home   photography  

Posted by Jeff Smith on 2/12/2018

If your home has hardwood floors, youíre going to want to put carpets in and around the home. This helps to warm the space up both visually and physically. How do you know what size area rug to choose or what colors to choose? Itís quite simple. There are a few rules of thumb that you should know in order to help you choose the right rug for each room of the home. 

First, youíll need to measure the seating area. Youíll select the rug thatís the closest size up from those measurements. Choose the next size up from that so all of your furniture can rest on the rug. Alternatively, you can set the room up so that no furniture rests on the rugs and the carpet simply sits in front of the furniture. This is all a matter of taste.  

Fill The Room With A Rug

You can fill an entire room with a rug as well. Just measure the room and subtract a 2-foot perimeter around the room for floor space. 

Layer Your Rugs For A Great Visual Effect

You can create more definition in your room by layering rugs. You can put a smaller rug on top of a larger rug for something a bit visually interesting in the room. Smaller rugs help to define a seating area, so you would layer those rugs on top of a larger rug.

Furniture Movers

Placing movers or sliders under furniture is more than just for rearranging a room. These little disks help to protect both your hardwood floors and your carpets. Youíll have floors free from scratches, tears, and scuffs. If you think that furniture canít ruin carpets, think again!  

Dining And Kitchen        

For rugs in your dining area, the carpet should surround your table. The rug needs to extend out a bit beyond the focal point of the room. Measure about two feet beyond your table as a good rule of thumb. 

In the kitchen, make sure that your rugs are slip resistant. Put rugs near the places that you tend to stand the most like the sink and oven. You could put several area rugs in the kitchen to create a warmer feel in the room without making it hard to clean. 


In your bedroom, one of the most important purposes for a rug is having a soft, warm place for your feet in the morning. An area rug should extend out at least two feet beyond the bed itself, which is the focal point of the room. If youíre using smaller rugs, place them strategically so that your feet are warm yet the bed is still the main visual focus in the room. 

Color Choice

Remember that your rug should be an accent to a room. Your walls are the dominant color and your rug will only add to the beauty. Pick a color that blends well with the rest of the scheme of the room.

Categories: furniture   Decorating  

Posted by Jeff Smith on 2/5/2018

If you are on the fence about whether to accept or reject a homebuying proposal, it is important to remember that a third option is available: countering the offer.

By countering a home offer, you can set the stage for a negotiation with an interested buyer. If a buyer accepts your counter-proposal, you and the buyer can move forward with a purchase agreement. Or, if a buyer rejects your counter-offer, you can always continue to seek out proposals from other potential buyers.

Before you counter a home offer, it is important to know what to expect after you make this decision. That way, you can feel confident about your decision to counter a homebuyer's proposal, even in a high-pressure situation.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you analyze a home offer and determine whether to counter it.

1. Assess the Housing Market

The housing market ultimately may play a key role in how a home seller approaches an offer. Because if a seller examines the real estate sector closely, he or she may gain actionable insights that can be used to differentiate a "fair" proposal from a "lowball" offer.

Look at the prices of comparable houses in your city or town, as well as the prices of recently sold residences in your area that are similar to your own. Then, you can use this information to take a data-driven approach to analyze an offer. And if you decide to counter an offer, you can rest assured that your decision is backed by relevant real estate insights.

2. Review Your Home's Pros and Cons

Oftentimes, it is beneficial to consider your house's age and condition as you review an offer. This will enable you to account for any potential home repairs and the costs associated with them Ė something a buyer also may do before he or she submits an offer on your home.

Don't forget to consider the strengths of your home as well. If you recently performed a series of home upgrades, you probably accounted for these house improvements when you set the initial asking price for your home. Thus, you should have no regrets about countering a home offer if it fails to match your expectations.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Hiring a real estate agent is crucial, particularly for a home seller who is uncertain about how to proceed with a home offer. A real estate agent can help you evaluate all aspects of a home offer and make it easy to submit a counter-proposal as needed.

Typically, a real estate agent will offer expert home selling recommendations. He or she also will respond to your home selling concerns and questions and ensure you can make an informed decision about any offer, at any time.

Ready to review an offer on your house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble deciding whether to counter a homebuying proposal.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 1/29/2018

Clutter can be categorized as a nuisance, an annoyance and simply the bane of manyís existence. It accumulates so quickly and it seems like it comes out of nowhere. Between you and your family or roommates, there are often multiple people contributing to the clutter. And it can make your rooms feel cramped and look messy. Here are a few tips for cleaning up that clutter and keeping it at bay. Clean: Take note of the areas that attract the most clutter and determine why that type of clutter builds up in that area. Taking control of where and why clutter is piling up will only help you in the future. Once you have a handle of the type of clutter and where itís coming from, sort through it. Throw out or recycle what can be tossed and put away anything that has a storage location. Dust and vacuum the de-cluttered area after de-cluttering. Storage: Having the appropriate storage is essential for clearing up clutter and keeping it from piling back up. Often times clutter accumulates because there is nowhere to put things. Whether itís hooks and shoe storage for entryways and mudrooms or drawers or bookcases for bedrooms or workspaces, storage is essential. Process: Whether itís clutter in your mudroom or entryway, on your dining room table, the chair in your bedroom, or on top of your desk, there must be a process for putting things away and therefore eliminating any chance of clutter. If considering an entryway with optimal storage make sure children hang up their backpacks and coats when they enter the home and store their shoes in the appropriate place. If children usually do their homework on the dining room table then make sure they understand it needs to be picked up each night. Having a small storage container nearby will make this even easier. Eliminating clutter altogether is a feat many cannot conquest, but adding a process will be sure to help. Cleaning and eliminating clutter is the easy part, but keeping that clutter away is a much larger task to undertake. It will take time to remember to put things away or throw out unnecessary things and keep processes in place. However, you will be much happier in a clutter free, clean home. Think of all the extra space you will have to eat, sit and walk! Having a process in place for children, and anyone else for that matter, is essential for having a clutter free home.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 1/22/2018

If this is your first time buying a home, you might feel a bit intimidated by the purchase contract. Contracts are often filled with industry and legal jargon, making them difficult to understand for the average buyer and seller.

Contingencies in particular give some buyers cause for concern because their contract depends on the contingencies being fulfilled. However, in most cases contingencies are pretty standard and only serve to protect the interests of both the buyer and seller during a real estate transaction.

In todayís post, Iím going to give you an introduction to contingency clauses and break down some of the most common contingencies youíll find in todayís real estate purchase contract.

Contingency clause definition

Simply stated, a contingency clause is a statement within a contract that requires a certain event takes place before the contract is considered legally valid. As a result, contingency clauses are used to cancel or invalidate a contract if certain conditions arenít met before the sale is made final. So, if one party fails to meet the obligation of the contingency, the other party is no longer bound by the contract (or required to buy or sell the house).

Contingencies can get confusing when they are vaguely worded in the contract, making them difficult to interpret. In these cases, a court may decide the specific meaning of the clause or determine that it is too vague to be legally upheld.

The other instance in which contingency clauses can be confusing is when a party includes a contingency that is atypical for a real estate purchase contract. Buyers and sellers alike should be wary of unusual contingencies.

The main contingencies

  • Appraisal contingency. Designed to protect the buyer, appraisal contingencies require that a home is appraised at a minimum amount, which is stated in the contract.

  • Financing contingency. Another contingency geared toward protecting buyers is the financing contingency. It states the number of days that a buyer has to secure financing for the home. This allows the buyer to cancel the contract (and offer) if theyíre unable to secure suitable financing for the home.

  • Inspection contingency. One of the most important and most common contingencies is the inspection contingency. It allows the buyer to have the house inspected by a licensed professional within a certain number of days. This protects the buyer against unforeseen expenses and repairs that will need to be made in the near future.

  • House sale and kick-out contingencies. A house sale contingency gives the buyer a certain number of days to sell their home before financing a new one. However, since this can be a risky clause for sellers, a kick-out clause is often included. This contingency allows the seller to keep the home on the market and entertain other offers while the buyer secures financing and sells their other home or homes.