You briskly walk through your front yard and pause just long enough to drive a “For Sale” sign into the ground. Without skipping a beat, you turn around to head back in the house when a car comes screeching to a halt just inches from your driveway. The driver immediately hops out of the car and makes an offer. You accept, attach the “Sold” sign to the post, shake hands and smile. Quick and easy is how you would like the selling process to go – but unfortunately, things are never that simple.
Before you can sell your home, you have to make sure it has plenty of curb appeal. Prepping your home to sell can be tricky, much like getting ready for a blind date. You need to dress your home up to highlight its best features and hide the traits you might not want a stranger to see in the very first meeting.
Most importantly, you have to know what needs to be fixed right away (broken a/c units or windows) and items you don’t need to bother with (don’t go building a pool; they never add enough value). A great place to start is the front lawn and exterior – the first things potential buyers will see – because, as the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
Leave Everything To The Professionals
Hiring a lawn care service to spruce up your front yard professionally should be at the top of your to-do list. A fresh mow, quick trim and a much-needed edging are definitely in order, no matter how well you keep your yard. Don’t forget to add a bed or two of fresh flowers. You could do these chores yourself, but the $150 to $200 is well worth the money, as an attractive outside will help you draw buyers in for a quick tour.
Up To The Pressure
Potential buyers are very aware of the big purchase they are about to make, so they are looking for any and every problem they can find. Don’t help them out. Get a pressure washer and make sure your home looks good. You need to wash off any algae, cobwebs or wasps nests in sight. The buyer will most likely assume the inside of your house is just as clean (or dirty) as the outside.
You can rent a pressure washer for as little as $26 at your local Home Depot. Just don’t attempt to clean your roof with the pressure washer (you could wash off the granules, and damage your shingles). By quickly cleaning off the dirt and grime your home will look brand new.
A Brand New View
After you clean your home’s exterior, you can accurately evaluate the paint job. You might find that a little touching up might make a big difference. Downloading a free color app lets you view your home in different colors and make a decision without opening a single can of paint.
Redesigning your home’s exterior to boost the curb appeal is simple – and typically produces a high return on your investment. Focus on the front yard, the area the buyer will see first, if you want to mesmerize without spending a lot of cash. For more quick home improvement tips, visit http://www.sherriffgoslin.com/blog.
Designing your home’s interior can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to decide on new color schemes, furniture, flooring and remodeling. Luckily, you can find some apps to help you out. Dozens of mobile apps are available – some show you how much space you need for a piece of furniture, others let you “hang” a piece of art and a few even let you “paint” the walls before you choose a color scheme. Having the home you dream of is possible and the tools are quite literally at your fingertips.
Buying furniture can be tricky because you have to measure things – and you have to be right. If you’re off by even a few inches, you — and your new couch — could be stuck outside the doorway. Another hassle is accurately estimating a room’s square footage so you can request estimates for or order flooring materials. Enter MagicPlan. Designed for iPhone and iPad, Magic Plan quickly creates professional floor plans from the photos you take of the room. You save time and money because you don’t have to measure the whole room yourself, buy any measuring tools or hire a professional to do the work for you.
Furniture is a big investment. HomeStyler Interior Design lets you see what furniture and other decor pieces would look like before you shell out big bucks. Simply upload a photo of your room. Using 3-D models, the app places potential pieces of furniture inside your home. Think of it as a virtual fitting room!
3.) LikeThat Decor
Shopping for furniture but want to be sure you are getting the best deal? LikeThat Décor is perfect for you. Free on iOS and Android, LikeThat Décor lets you upload a picture of furniture that you like and then provides links to similar products at other stores. You can have your very own personal shopper right in your pocket.
Attention art lovers: this app is for you. You understand the difficulty of picking out the perfect piece of art for a wall in desperate need of vibrancy. Curate takes the guesswork out of placing art. Upload a photo of any blank wall and the app lets you virtually display the painting or art piece you are considering. You’re welcome.
5.) Project Color
The stress of deciding on the perfect color has just been alleviated. No more having to paint a bunch of color swatches onto your wall. Project Color by Home Depot lets you see, match and find the color you need to create your dream home or living space while saving you time and money and easing your painting frustrations.
What Are Your Favorites?
Did we miss any great apps? What home design apps are your favorites? Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to let us know!
Good help is hard to find, or so the saying goes. Technology makes finding the right person for the job so much easier than in the past. Thanks to the Internet, even if you don’t know a handyman who can fix a sink or has a strong arm for drywall, you know somebody who does. But while it is easier to find a contractor online, the process is not effortless. You have to do a little work to make sure you have the right contractor for the job.
Review The Reviews
Online business reviews are a great place to start your contractor search. Browsing online business reviews gives you access to unfiltered feedback from actual customers. Customer reviews found on popular directories (Angie’s List, Yelp and Home Advisor) can help you find qualified professionals.
Social media is also a great platform to find customer reviews, once you have a few contractors in mind. You can search their business profiles and view what customers have to say. Companies cannot hide unfavorable reviews or negative ratings on any of the major social media platforms. If the company has done anything shady – or anything great – you can read about it with the quick push of a button on your smartphone.
Read, read, read.
One thing to keep in mind though is that customers can be fickle — any little thing can set them off. Make sure you read the reviews. Don’t just skim over the rating. Some people leave unjust bad reviews because they can’t get a discount, didn’t like the contractor’s hair or other reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of work. Reading the reviews will give you a better idea of the contractor you’re hiring.
License And Insurance Please
If you find a contractor worthy of the task, you need to make sure he or she has the proper paperwork. Is the company licensed? Does it have insurance? Without insurance, you will be responsible for any damages that may occur during the job. The contractor should not have a problem providing proof of either. If the contractor is unwilling or unable to show you these documents, you need to continue your search.
What’s In The Contract?
Put everything in writing. A contract spells out, in detail, everything the job will entail. Now the contractor will know what the issues are, and you won’t have the walls in your kitchen torn out when the problem is actually in the bathroom. You will also know the price ahead of time, so nothing is made up on the fly. Bottom line, a contract helps eliminate any confusion.
Finding a contractor is much easier today than in the past, but you still have to put in a little work to make sure the contractor coming into your home is qualified to do the job. Let the internet be your guide and make sure you have a detailed contract in place. Once you complete your due diligence, move out the way and let the work begin.
Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, OH on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, is definitely a cure for the summertime blues. In this part of America, summer is defined as the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day – but the park’s fans call it Cedar Point Season.
Visiting Cedar Point is an annual road-trip for many families in the Great Lakes area. They know their way around CP (as they call it) like the back of their suntanned hands. They have their own traditions when they visit. And regulars can spot “newbies” a mile away – they look lost as they carry a park map and try to figure out how to get to one of the park’s 17 roller coasters.
Rites And Rituals
Die-hard fans want to make the most of every available minute. They show up early in the morning to watch the staff raise the flag out front and open the admission gates. They know the best days and times to visit the park to take in the most rides as possible. Their experience allows them even to know the best times to grab lunch. “By not eating when everyone else eats, you have a shorter-than-usual wait time in lines,” said Rose Lawson, who at just 19 considers herself an expert on Cedar Point. “Do your favorite rides during regular lunch hours and take your midday meal around 2 p.m.”
Family customs extend to fashion choices. Many guests sport custom-made T-shirts announcing that they are on an annual family outing. Another “must do” is the family picture next to a park statue. A popular choice is the Native American statue in the Breakers Restaurant lobby. Families love it because the statue makes a good yardstick to see how much the kids have grown over the years.
Food-wise, traditional favorites tend to be of the state-fair, guilty-pleasure variety. Deep-fried cheese on a stick, French fries with vinegar, corn dogs and cheese fries, elephant ears and – everyone’s favorite CP exclusive – a bag of French waffles to take back to your room. For many, it’s a must-have on every visit.
Not Just For Summer
Cedar Point is open from early May until after Labor Day when it cuts back to weekends through early November for “HalloWeekends.” CP regulars recommend riding a favorite rollercoaster right at midnight. Schools in the tri-state area take annual end-of-year field trips to Cedar Point to enjoy the amusement park and other nearby attractions, including a mile-long white-sand beach and two water parks.
Accolades for Cedar Point have become a kind of tradition too. It received the famed Golden Ticket Award for “Best Amusement Park in the World” from Amusement Today Magazine for 16 consecutive years from 1997-2013. As of 2015, the park is the most visited seasonal amusement park in the United States with an estimated 3.51 million visitors passing through its gates.
[Note: Historic homes are a tangible link to times gone by. We can learn how people lived and see what they considered the height of fashion in architecture and furnishings. To celebrate our Midwestern roots, we’re starting a new series to showcase some of our notable historic structures and the people who care about them.]
Around Lansing, MI, Carol Skillings and her husband Thomas Stanton are affectionately known as “the Moonies.”
The appellation, proudly worn, has nothing to do with their beliefs but everything to do with where they live: in the home built by Darius Moon, who had a profound impact on the architectural identity of Lansing and the surrounding area.
The House And Its Builder
During his career, Darius B. Moon (1851-1939) built more than 260 structures, mostly in Lansing and East Lansing. According to Preservation Lansing, a grassroots preservation group, “In large measure, his buildings gave the city its early 20th-century character.”
Mostly self-taught, he worked as a carpenter and contractor as a young man, noticing first-hand the results of poor design. His first house, in 1871, put $300 in his pocket. By the 1880s, he was focusing exclusively on architecture and a decade later had become the leading private residential architect in town, especially for the area’s well-to-do.
Business was good. So in 1893 (or ’94, depending on which source you consult) Moon built a house on Logan Street for himself and his family – an exuberant two-and-a-half-story late-Victorian Stick Style with a high cross-gable-and-hip roof and a prominent three-story pyramid roof tower. The exterior was embellished with chamfered and turned woodwork, detailed trim on the gables, galvanized tin crestings on the roof and wooden fleur-de-lis, acorn pendants and fan brackets attached at various points on the house.
The home contained 1,500 square feet, five bedrooms and indoor plumbing on the first floor – quite the luxury at the time. Mom and Dad slept on the first floor, which was typical, while the kids all had separate bedrooms upstairs.
Moon lived there for 40 years, passing it along to his daughter, Princess. During the Depression, Skillings said, Princess rented out rooms. She and her husband and family stayed there until the late 1960s.
Princess sold the house in 1971 and the new owners turned it into apartments, Skillings said. After only a couple of years, the building suffered an extensive fire on the second floor. It fell into disrepair and sat empty for four years. Declared unsafe by city officials, it was slated for demolition to make way for the widening of Logan Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), one of the main routes through the city. A community group formed Save the Moon House Inc. and, with assistance from sympathetic city staff, prevented the home from being torn down.
Stan Kasuda and Karen Wood-Kasuda bought the house for $1 and had it moved about three blocks to its current location on Huron Street. The Kasudas also got three small lots as part of the deal, Skillings recalled, and agreed to open the house to the public. The home also was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
They sold the home in the early 1990s to a couple that lived there for about five years and then sold to Skillings and Stanton.
Today, the home is one of only a few Moon buildings still standing in Lansing.
Current Owners And Renovations
Stanton and Skillings — who grew up in Lansing and is active with the city’s Historic District Commission — bought the house in 1997.
They take their historic responsibility seriously, well aware that their dream home is also a treasured city landmark.
“We’re the stewards of it,” she said. “We take care of it.”
Care means doing what they can to return the home to the way it looked when it was built and hiring history-savvy carpenters and other tradespeople to perform the work.
The home is modern inside, Skillings said, courtesy of previous owners whose renovations included a kitchen expansion and a two-story addition on the western side of the house.
Skillings said she and Stanton have focused primarily on doing “all the normal things a house needs after 30 years.”
The original wooden roof was replaced with architectural asphalt shingles. They kept the wood siding though because it maintains the character of the home and is in keeping with the principles of historic preservation. The home now sports a historically accurate paint job, has modern insulation in the attics and walls and a gas fireplace rather than a wood-burning one. The original five bedrooms have been reduced to three; one was converted to a bathroom. The home also has two furnaces and two air conditioning systems.
Skillings and Stanton have recently focused on the porches. The one on the front has been returned to its former glory, complete with elaborate wood detailing and a tin roof (and a $70,000 price tag, largely because of foundation issues, Skillings said). A new back/side porch was added in a Craftsman style to conform to local preservation rules regarding new construction.
The home is a sight to see – and visitors are encouraged to admire the exterior. Unlike the Kasudas, Skillings and Stanton don’t do tours or allow walk-throughs.
“We had an open house,” Skillings said, “now we really live in it.”
[Note: Sherriff-Goslin is neither involved in nor connected to the renovations of this home.]