Archives for September 2011

Innovative Table and Chair Set

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture by Ellen Ectors “swiTCh” is really playful. The whole set is consist of table and chair where the back side of chair serves as table when rolled towards front and balls big balls as seat of chair. Well if you need to use table then you will sit on just a ball? Regardless anything this furniture set is really cute and comfortable. BUY it here

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture design

Innovative furniture design

Home Improvement Projects that Make “CENTS” For Your Home

House-Painting-Nightmares-to-AvoidIt’s a highly competitive market for home sellers right now. More homes to compete with means that the impression your homes makes – from the curb, and on the inside – matter now more than ever. You can increase your chances of selling faster – and at today’s top dollar – by investing in a select few home improvement projects that have been shown to make a big impact on buyers.

Bad news alert: it might cost you a little time, effort and cash.  The good news, though, is that the best projects for quickly increasing your home’s resale value tend to be cosmetic and fairly simple and inexpensive to do. Here are five projects with big-time return on investment for home sellers-to-be, in terms of their power to attract buyers, and to attract dollars from those buyers.

1. Painting:  Adding a fresh coat of paint to ceilings and walls is a tried and true way to increase your home’s appeal to buyers. Go for white or neutral tones that help lighten your rooms. (Now is not the time to show off your fascination with fuchsia and lime green.) Buyers will have an easier time envisioning how they will infuse their own personalities into your home if they’re looking at a relatively blank slate.

Painting lightens and brightens rooms, instantly removes scuffs and dings and gives every room a fresh, polished feel.

Fresh exterior paint – even if your time or cash budget limits your efforts to accents like eaves, shutters, doors and trims – is also a quick, inexpensive way to polish the look of your home from the curb.

2. Landscaping:  Everything you’ve heard about curb appeal is true. First impressions matter – especially if your house is one of eight or nine a buyer has seen in one day. Buyers will be more excited to look at the inside your home if the outside looks clean, charming and inviting. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, pull the weeds and plant some flowers, bushes or shrubs for the biggest impact – and be diligent about keeping your landscaping very well-manicured throughout the time your home is on the market.

Be sure to keep it low-key, relatively low maintenance and neutral, though. This is not the time to indulge your personal fantasies of living in an exotic paradise, unless that matches the existing look and feel of your home, nor is it the time to install a time-intensive English garden that buyers will love, but not want to take on. Think clean, simple and elegant for the biggest boost in value.lawn

3. Cleaning and de-cluttering:  Start by removing all your family photos from the walls and all sorts of tchotchkes and clutter from the tops of tables, desks, dressers and counters. Buyers want to be able to envision their lives in the house, not yours. Personal items – and the visual clutter they create – have been shown time and time again to block buyers’ ability to create this vision.

Also, remember that buyers are coming to see the house and evaluate its space, not to bear witness to all the fabulous furniture that means so much to you (no matter how amazing your personal taste). Remove furniture that takes up too much space and fills up rooms. Get rid of clutter such as clothes, boxes, piles of mail and other items.

And then clean – and keep cleaning obsessively, the entire time your place is on the market. Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms should look unlived in when they are shown.  And don’t forget to clean less obvious places like windows, walls, doors and  and floors, to dust off shelves and furniture, and to polish appliances.

4. Plumbing repairs and water stain/damage repair: Paying a plumber to make a few stops throughout your home can be well worth the investment. Leaky faucet in the master bathroom? Get it fixed. Does the space under your kitchen sink look like a science experiment? Leaks and water stains definitely provoke disgust and exasperation on the part of the buyers you want and need to impress.  And they can be pretty cost effective to fix – ask your agent for a referral, if you need one.

5. Staging:  Staging your home can make a dramatic difference in the price for which your home sells. Good staging is equal parts:

(a)    removing your personal belongings and replacing it with more  artwork, decor and cleaner-looking furniture,

(b)    and tweaking the home’s paint, wall coverings and even landscaping to show the place in its very best light.

When done well, staging can convert your home from just another listing on a buyer’s list to the setting for a fresh, new start to the fresh, new life of their dreams. Professional stagers, in particular, have special skills and materials they use, from convincing you to get rid of a bunch of things you value (but read: junk to a buyer), to  items like mirrors, plants, art work, lamps, pillows and even furniture that tells a visual story of the life buyers can fantasize about living in your home.

Talk to your agent about staging – some agents have the skill to do this on their own, while others might have a professional stager they frequently work with.

In some cases, you might want to take on even larger projects. Before you go that route, talk with a local real estate agent; they are well-positioned to know what sort of updates and features will make the most impact on local buyers. Not all major, non-cosmetic upgrades to your home will create a significant difference in the price it commands, so take advantage of your agent’s expertise as you make decisions about which property preparation investments to make (and which to forego).

America's Top Cities: Cheapest Real Estate In The World?


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Should You Challenge a Your Property Value?

clip_image001They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. When you’re a homeowner, that statement includes property tax–and potentially paying more of it if your property’s value is re-assessed by the county auditor’s office.

While counties vary in how and when property values are re-assessed, most have a process that takes place at least every five to eight years. You’ll know it’s underway when you receive notification from the county auditor’s office by mail. If you’ve been paying taxes on the inflated home values that dominated the market before the housing bubble burst, your notification may actually lead to a lower tax payment.

Nevertheless, despite the continued lull in the housing market’s recovery, some homeowners are receiving news from their county auditor that property values are slated for an increase. As a result, property taxes go up, too. Here is an explanation of your options if you are notified that your home value has been reassessed to an amount higher than what you believe the property is worth:

clip_image002Your Options

All counties allow the option for homeowners to react to reassessed values, whether up or down.  Start by doing a little sleuthing of your own, and use your county auditor’s website to research the home values of similar properties in your neighborhood (this information is free and public record). Gauge the “going rate” in your market by researching comparable home sales in your neighborhood, I’m happy to help with an analysis. You can go here to sign up for an account on my site.

Once you’ve gathered real value data, compare it to the new figure your country auditor has determined—and keep in mind that short sales and foreclosed property figures are typically not considered as a valid form of value comparison. If you still feel confident that there is a discrepancy between the “real” and reassessed value of your property, the first step is to understand how the appraisal process works, and the potential costs that it carries.

Unlike the home inspection that was conducted when you bought your property, that appraisal is actually based on a math-appraisal technique using statistics-based evaluation models, and at times, walking audits in a neighborhood. The appraiser will likely never see the inside of your home in determining the appraised value, but instead bases the figure on a variety of data points like square footage, county information, and the other fees that accompany a home sales transaction, like tax and title, real estate and broker fees.

When considering challenging a property reassessment, using a simple cost-benefit analysis approach, much like you would when considering whether or not to refinance a property.

Costs and Savings to Consider

clip_image003Start by figuring the difference between what you feel the value of the home is, versus the reassessed value proposed by the county. For example, if your home’s proposed “new value” is $300,000 but you believe that it is worth $225,000-there is a sizeable discrepancy of $75,000.

Counties use a “millage rate,” or the amount per $1,000, to calculate taxes on property. To analyze your unique situation, you’ll need to identify the exact millage rate for your area. For the sake of example, assume that a millage rate of two percent for the above scenario. The $75,000 discrepancy in value would lead to an annual property tax increase of about $1,500, if the homeowner chooses to accept the reassessed value. You should also consider any special exemptions that you qualify for, such as homestead exemptions, or owner-occupied exemptions, which vary by homeowner situation and location.

Once you’ve run the basic numbers, consider how long you plan to live in the property to determine whether the proposed new amount is worth challenging. In the scenario above, a homeowner who intends to live in the home for the next five years would potentially pay about $7,500 more in property taxes.  If you decide to move forward once you’ve considered the long-term costs, the next step is to seek a qualified, licensed appraiser.

A typical appraisal fee is around $400, and could potentially be higher for complicated properties, like those with pools or located on a waterfront. I have a few appraisers whom I trust, and understand that the property is being appraised because of a new county auditor value.

If you do intend to sell in the next few years, it’s also important to understand that your property value as determined by the county won’t play much of a role in terms of your sale price. Should you contest the value and win a lowered home value with the auditor, but your neighbors accept the higher value, you won’t be “haunted” by the lower value down the road. As your real estate professional I recognize that there are a lot of inaccuracies in the process, and will use many data points to determine the fair market value of your home.

Let me know how I can help. Call me at 206-713-3244 or email me:

Hit Songs: The Stories Behind The Music

tn_AllThatGlittersPopular music has provided us with many of our most cherished and mythical stories, from juicy true tidbits to outright urban legends. You probably already know that “Candle In the Wind” was written about Marilyn Monroe and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” is about his newborn daughter, but did you know these other fascinating facts about hit songs?

In 1980, the apartheid government of South Africa banned the song “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd. Black students, protesting inferior educational opportunities, had made the song their unofficial anthem, and the government banned it to prevent them from organizing.

The original name of Van Morrison’s hit “Brown-Eyed Girl” was “Brown-Skinned Girl.”

The Beatles’ hit “A Day in the Life” was banned by the BBC because of the lyric, “had a smoke, somebody spoke and I went into a dream,” which was interpreted to be a reference to marijuana, although the band denied it. Ironically, the song also contains the lyric, “I’d love to turn you on,” which was a blatant reference to LSD.

Although The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” is often lauded as a sweet and sentimental love ballad, it was written during a period when Sting was going through a divorce, and felt an uncontrollable need to monitor and exert control over his soon-to-be-ex-wife.

The ’80s hit “99 Luftballons” is actually a musical protest against the Cold War. The lyrics tell the story of the military, mistaking harmless balloons for a weapon and inadvertently starting a nuclear war.

“Love Song” was a smash hit for singer Sara Bareilles in 2007, but the song isn’t about an actual person, or even about love at all. In live performances, Bareilles tells audience the story of how her record label pressured her to write something more marketable—like a typical love song—to make her more commercially successful.

Barry Manilow had a #1 hit in 1976 with “I Write the Songs,” and it’s become one of his most-beloved signature performance pieces. However, Manilow did not write the song.

The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was named by the National Review as the #1 Conservative Rock Song. The magazine called it “an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all.”

Otis Redding’s classic “Dock of the Bay” features whistling instead of lyrics for the last verse. When he recorded the song, Redding didn’t have a verse written, so he whistled, intending to finish it later. Unfortunately, he died before he had the chance, and to release the song, producers had no choice but to leave the whistling in.

The lyric genius Prince is credited with launching many careers by simply giving away hit songs. For instance, The Bangles’ “Manic Monday” was actually written by him.

Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” was actually an obscure part of his canon until 2002, when the song was remixed and re-released. The re-release went to #1 in the UK, which gave Elvis the record for most #1 hits ever—twenty-five years after his death.

Contrary to popular belief, Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight” is not about witnessing a drowning. Collins wrote it when he was going through a divorce, and the dark, accusatory lyrics are directed at his ex-wife.

In 2007, Neil Diamond revealed that the inspiration for his beloved hit “Sweet Caroline” was actually Caroline Kennedy.

Johnny Cash’s immortal classic “A Boy Named Sue” was written by Shel Silverstein.

In “I Love Rock ’n Roll,” Joan Jett sings, “Put another dime in the jukebox…” Actually, when the song was released in 1981, a song on a jukebox already cost a quarter. Jett kept the lyric as it was, because “dime” fit the meter of the song better.

“What’s Up” was a hit song by Four Non Blondes in the ’90s. Originally, the name of the song was “What’s Going On,” but they ended up changing it so that the song wouldn’t be confused with Marvin Gaye’s tune of the same name.

The first time Led Zeppelin ever played “Stairway to Heaven” in concert, the audience booed.

7 Allergens in Your Home [infographic]


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Is it Worth It? Honeycomb Shades

Honeycomb shades

Heat Trappers

Introduced in the 1980s, honeycombs are built on a simple concept: Trapped air is an insulator that can conserve your hard-earned heat. Since then, makers have scrambled to make honeycombs work even better. Consider these two blackout versions. The budget one has double cells and side tracks to nip drafts, while the high-end one has an extra air pocket to hold in heat. Because there’s no universal energy-efficiency test for shades—at least not yet—they can’t be ranked, but both high performers qualify for a 2011 federal energy tax credit when installed inside a double-glazed window. Lowering either will raise your comfort level, so look for differences in style, function, and price.

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Cool, simple and innovative idea, the "conceal book shelf" consists of a book that is actually supporting a shelf for books. The illusion is guaranteed, the books resting on the shelf, will look like they e floating on air. It holds up to 15 pounds of books, all hardware included.






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