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Feb. 28, 2019

Top 10 Reasons Why My Family Has Moved to Rancho Cucamonga

Top 10 Reasons Why My Family Has Moved to Rancho Cucamonga

Top 10 Reasons

#1 Great schools.

My family of four, which includes my wife, seven-year-old son, and terrific two-year-old son, have moved to Southern California recently to take advantage of the great educational system, and yes, nice weather helps. 

We had decided to settle in Upland after checking out Orange County & the San Diego area. A highly sought after school system in my area is the Etiwanda School District of Rancho Cucamonga, bordering Fontana (see my “Top 10 Schools” blog for the specific ratings). The local consensus is that the neighboring city of Claremont might have the best high school system in the area, but Claremont has only one high school in the city as opposed to many great high schools in Rancho.

A great elementary school, Pepper Tree Elementary in Upland gets the nod for being the top elementary school in the area. But after weighing all the options, such as availability of nearby parks for our kids, average age of the homes, median home prices, job outlook, etc., we have opted to move to Rancho Cucamonga after spending a year in Upland because we were spending so much more time in Rancho for shopping, restaurants, parks, etc. Upland did have some nice parks, but because RC is much newer and the average age of the residents is lower, we felt Rancho Cucamonga was much better suited for our family. We have tried two schools and have found a perfect school for my son in Victoria Groves Elementary. My son David has learned the phonics alphabet to being able to read most of the books for his grade. Becoming one of the top students academically is a pure joy to watch and the result of a good system & friendly environment. Being right next to a park and being surrounded by median price ranged homes is a dream come true. We walk 5 minutes to school, and on the way back from school, Davin often plays in the park with his friends. Because he speaks minimal English and has a late birthday, we have decided to hold him back one year, and now he is one of the oldest kids in his class. This concept is outlined in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.


Victoria Gardens

#2 Shopping

Victoria Gardens & Ontario Mills Outlet Mall

Both venues are world class. We love the fun Victoria Gardens specialty shopping, where we can take out the baby stroller and go shop to shop, roaming around on a sunny day, but the Ontario Mills indoor outlet mall gets our vote for the top shopping destination in the area. Outlet stores like Polo Ralph Lauren are our family favorite, and Gucci & Coach handbags for the kids’ mom and the Lego store and baby stores for the kids. There’s also fun rides, numerous toy vending machines, and an awesome food court. Bourbon street spicy fire-grilled chicken is hands down our favorite from the food court, but sometimes New York Pizza or Japanese teppanyaki grilled chicken is a very good alternative. And yes, even Panda Express will make our list at times. Just like Seinfeld’s George Costanza, we do like our chicken spicy. We probably don’t have enough time for a food blog, so with that said, we’ll try to talk about something other than food and go more in depth about food in a future blog. The outlet offers numerous sales events and being close is definitely a plus and is one of the top reasons why we moved to Rancho. 



#3 Diversity

We had thought about moving to Hawaii and went on to investigate the housing prices and educational system in Oahu. After our findings on the school system and housing prices in Hawaii, we decided to settle in Southern California instead. Diversity was a huge factor in deciding where to live, and California was the best place for my family hands down. In Rancho, as opposed to Claremont & Upland, there are younger families and definitely more kids, and it’s well-diversified with all types of ethnicities represented well. I found that the diversity of California is much better suited for my family than any other state we could think of.


#4 Housing Prices

The median housing price of Rancho Cucamonga is $521,800 and climbing. Compared to some parts of the country, it is still pretty high. But compared to most places in California, $500K for a 3 to 4 bedroom home is still a bargain. Even better, some of the luxury homes and golf course homes are priced well below comparable homes by the beach in Orange County. Being able to purchase a 2 to 3 bedroom golf course condo for about $500,000 is definitely a great bargain for Southern California. The current housing prices have settled and are leveling off, creating a more stable real estate market in my area. 


#5 Jobs and Median income

Rancho Cucamonga has a median household income of $79,973 and climbing and a very stable job outlook. A lot of employers, especially real estate & financial sector employers, have migrated to Rancho Cucamonga. People complain that there is too much competition, but for me, having an auto-row, shopping mall effect by having a lot of similar businesses is mostly good. There’s an Amazon fulfillment warehouse very nearby, and companies like Amphastar Pharmaceutical (880 employees), Southern California Edison (800), Mercury Casualty (606), Big Lots (565), Frito-Lay (561), CMC Steel Fabricators (517), Bass Pro Shops (500), and Coca-Cola (450) to name a few have made RC their home. 


#6 Traffic

This is a huge factor, personally. Compare to congested L.A. County or Orange County cities, Rancho Cucamonga streets are great. We can go out for a night or for a Sunday drive without worrying about getting caught in a traffic jam. There’s plenty of parking spaces everywhere we go. 


#7 Activities for Kids

No, we are not next to our favorite Legoland, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, Sea World, Knott’s Berry Farm or even Kidspace Children’s Museum of Pasadena, but we are so close to them and all are within driving distance from Rancho Cucamonga. Even going on a 3-day cruise to Mexico is fairly easy since most of the cruise ships depart from Long Beach, which is less than an hour drive away.


#8 Comic-Con, Ice Shows, Circuses, Etc.

Who needs shows like circuses, ice skating, Comic-Con or many other kids shows? We do! Sure, going to Disneyland, Sea World, or even Legoland can cover a lot of these things, but all of the coolest shows and the best shows on earth start or come through Southern California. After all, we are the entertainment capital of the world. 



#9 Beaches and Mountains

World-famous beaches are all over Southern California. La Jolla is one of my most favorite beaches to go and play, and after a bike ride on Manhattan Beach, you must go to Martha's for some tofu scrambled eggs, even at lunchtime. The Strawberry Festival at Oxnard Beach in the spring and boogie board heaven at any time of the year since the water is only waist deep for a mile and a half. Tourist’s favorites like Huntington Beach Pier, Santa Monica Pier, and Venice Beach are a must visit. These beaches are so close to us. What is great about living here in Rancho? Have we mentioned all those horse trails and all of the equestrian homes in the area, hence the name Thoroughbred, which might be even more famous for Christmas lights, then the hundreds of equestrian homes? If you love horses, there is a whole section of town and all you see is horse properties. People drive all over the area to see the famous Thoroughbred Christmas lights for free. The hiking trails and mountain views are breathtaking, plus you can ski, and the resorts are very close by – Mt. Baldy Resort, Mountain High Resort of Wrightwood, and Bear Mountain Ski Resort of Big Bear Lake. Our favorite outdoor activity is Santa’s Village of Lake Arrowhead, home of Dick Clark, Doris Day, June Lockhart, Heather Locklear, Mark Harmon, Liberace, and even Roseanne Barr claimed home there in Lake Arrowhead. Over 5000 Ft above sea level, Lake Arrowhead certainly is a great private getaway over the canyon nearby Rancho.


#10 Parks

There are so many great parks in Rancho Cucamonga – Day Creek Park, Milliken Park, Victoria Groves Park, and even the small but safe Ellena Park is great for kids. So many parks are everywhere in Rancho, and best of all, kids are always playing in these parks. I cannot believe this is number 10 on my list. This really was one of the biggest reasons why we moved to Rancho in the first place. All parks are maintained very well by the city and by the residents.

Posted in Local Top 10
Feb. 25, 2019

10 Things to Know if you are Closing a Home Deal for the First Time

10 Things to Know if you are Closing a Home Deal for the First Time

10 Things to Know if you are Closing a Home Deal for the First Time

The real estate agent has already helped you to prepare the best offer. It contains the list of contingencies (for example, that seller fully disclosed any problems with the house, points on the results and actions after the inspections, etc.) and it is finally accepted.

Anticipation of a purchase is rising. You are ready to sign the documents and move into your new family home, loft, condo, or a sea-view apartment as soon as possible.

Although, it is too early to pack your boxes yet. A long journey waits, and there are ten steps to take before you own your property.

#1. Open an Escrow

The first step to closing the deal and unlocking the front door of your own house is to open an escrow.

Escrow, on average, will last approximately one money. During that time, the third party is taking care of transactions on both the seller and buyer’s behalf. For example, if you are providing an inspection as a buyer, you deposit some funds to the escrow account.

Costs of this service are to be negotiated beforehand. Some escrow companies may charge unexpected “junk fees.” You might only become aware of these fees during payments, because they are usually hidden.

#2. Lock-In the Interest Rate

You need to lock your interest rate from the time a loan application begins approval until a couple days before the closing.

Exact day and time is up to you. Most of the buyers do not lock the interest rate when they apply for their mortgage.

They are afraid the rates will decrease during that window of time. Nevertheless, chances are that the interest rate may both increase or decrease during that period.

 A lot of variables should be considered. Waiting till the last moment could get you a lower rate at the same time, if you get lucky. The decision is yours to make, just do it in time.

#3. Have a Home Inspection

Making sure that tiles won't fall off on the first day in your new home is generally a reason to have a home inspection.

Specialists will check the conditioning system, plumbing, and electricity. Choose your inspectors wisely, and do not fall for the cheapest option. Cheap usually proves to be a bad choice in terms of quality, experience and technical knowledge.

Of course, even the most expensive professionals cannot foresee the future. But they may save you thousands of dollars uncovering existing issues.

Even new houses need to be checked duly and thoroughly. It does not matter that the house recently had all the municipal inspections by the builder.

#4. Have a Pest Inspection

The best choice is to hire a licensed pest inspection company. They will check if your future property is contaminated by flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas, rats, mice, bed bugs, termites, beetles, critters, carpenter bees, ants, and other types of pests.

They will also check mold growth and other possible environmental health threats caused by lead, fungus and asbestos.

There is no need to explain how much harm even a small amount of termites may bring. Not to mention the potential harm a growing mold population can cause, as they tend to cause major damage. These issues will lead to major fixing expenses and health issues.

Presence of any kind of contamination is a subject of renegotiation of terms, or a reason to rethink the deal completely.

#5. Fix all the Issues after the Inspections

If inspections revealed any problems, you may want to drop the price, or ask the seller to fix the problems that came up.

Some inspectors advise to look deeper into the issue. They say you should ask for a second opinion, or evaluate it further with a specialist.

It is highly recommended to discuss the estimates and fix the issues as soon as possible.

#6. Ask for Title Search and Insurance

Title insurance is needed to eliminate the third party ownership on the property that you are buying.

The officer will help you to make a title search and make sure that there are no legitimate claims from relatives, collectors, and the like. Such claims might end in questioning your right of possession, or invalidating it at all.

Title insurance will become a legal proof that everything is clear and you are good to go further with the closing.

#7. Conduct a Home Appraisal

A home appraisal determines the estimated market value of your soon-to-be property.

The appraiser evaluates it based on different factors. These include general condition, geographic location, proximity to objects of interest, value of the near-by houses, their recent sales, neighborhood growth and potential.

Mortgage lenders usually need this information to make sure the amount you would like to borrow is worth the money. There is always a risk of a low appraisal. This might not be bad for you as a buyer.

But imagine this scenario, you negotiated a deal with the buyer, and it is already lower than he initially wanted. This is due to the declining market and neighborhood constructions. This will cause the home appraiser to drop the value even more.

You cannot disagree that it may slow down the closing process. This is due to the seller's doubts, if the appraisal is fair, or if he really wants to sell at a price that low.

At the same time, you as a buyer want to save and you have a legitimate right to go for it. Same goes with high appraisals, which will stop you as a buyer and make you want to appeal.

And both of you will be right in standing your ground. Such a possibility may lead to a delay and require new negotiations.

Unfortunately, some appraisers are not qualified enough, or unfamiliar with all the specifics of the particular areas.

Before trusting the home appraiser with this responsibility, make sure he is from your county, has a residential appraiser certification and a professional designation.

#8. Set the Time and Date of the Closing

There are several moments to consider when scheduling the closing for your property.

One of them is to schedule at least half a day’s time for the occasion. An hour or two may not be enough if you face some unsolved issues or unexpected situations.

Closing can be held in any agreed location. For example, at the attorney's office, or at your lender's or title company's offices. The closing date should be close to the end of the month, but not the last day of the month.

It is better to settle between the 20th and 25th of the month. In this case, you will have some time before the end of the month to resolve all the disputes.

Why not the last day? There are a few reasons. These include wanting to renegotiate new conditions, technical issues or something going wrong.

If you schedule a closing and fail to complete it on that day, there are consequences. You will be facing increased closing costs next month, in addition to the penalty for the delay.

#9. Be Present at a Walk-Through

A final walk-through is a last chance to see your future house before you buy it.

Usually it is scheduled twenty-four hours before the closure.

The property should be in the condition that is specified in your sales contract. You may inspect if any changes have been made after the home or pest inspections. Check if everything is in order and if any additional replacements are necessary.

If there is an issue, the closing day may be shifted. Or upon mutual agreement, the repair costs will be submitted to the escrow account. Do not skip it because missing the final walk-though is one of the reasons of closure delay.

#10. Get Ready for your Closing Day

Now you’ve run the escrow marathon and survived all the possible obstacles in your way. It is finally time to sign the papers and get the keys to your new home.

First of all, prepare all the paperwork that you have collected during the whole process. This includes the title search and insurance, inspection reports, bank statements, home appraisal, checks of down payment closing costs, prepaid interest and anything else.

There will be quite a few people present with you at the closing, your attorney, a seller (and/or his representative), the seller's attorney, real estate agents (both yours and your seller's), a lender's representative, a title company's representative, the closing agent, and a public notary. Exact number and function depends on the state and county.

Basically, the purpose of the meeting is to sign the following documents:

·         Closing Disclosure (CD). This document contains your final payments, costs and charges upon agreed terms and periods.


You are supposed to receive it three business days before the closing date and compare it with the conditions of the initial loan estimate.


·         Mortgage note.


Signing this document, you agree to your mortgage terms and conditions, as well as penalties, in case you are not able to pay duly and in time.


·         Deed of trust or mortgage.


It is a security for your lender that he will get his money, even if you are unable to obey the terms of the mortgage note.


·         Certificate of occupancy (for new houses only). Such document is needed to move into a house.

If your home buying team is competent enough, you will not be seeing those documents for the first time at the closing. Do not sign anything that is unclear to you, different from what you agreed to, or seems wrong.

Make sure that you understand what you are signing and how your payments will be distributed over the time. Charges change differently depending on the mortgage type, and may also depend on your insurance or taxes.

Risks and Delays on a Closing Day

Even a well prepared closure may not go as planned. Some mistakes can be revealed during the signing of the documents.

There are a few examples of how this might happen. If you or your seller's financial circumstances change or if one of you changed your last name during marriage. It is possible some of the repairs were not considered, or one of you simply backs out from the deal. Everything is possible, and you have to prepare for every option.

If either of you refuse to sign the deal because you changed your mind, or found a better option, the other party has right to collect the damage fees. This clause is usually obligatory in all the agreements.

Closing a deal is a big responsibility, stress and financial risk for all parties involved. It is important to understand that, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

You need to do your research and gather all necessary documents. You must also follow your attorney's, inspectors' and real estate agent's advice. Not to mention, you have to be sure that you definitely want to close this deal.

Then calm down and take a deep breath. Now you can go through with it!

After you Sign the Papers

Take the keys and start moving into your new house. Now you are a legitimate owner and a responsible person for a mortgage loan.

Closing on a first new home is mind blowing – both in a good and a bad way.

Nothing can be compared to buying your first home. When you finally get through with it, you will be able to relax and enjoy your new property.

Hopefully, these basic steps will help the first time home buyers handle this incredible process with less stress and more energy.

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 23, 2019

Top 12 Dumbest Moments

Top 12 Dumbest Moments

1-  A burglar removed some shingles and climbed onto a chemist roof.  On the way down, he was strangled by his own clothes. He was found weeks later, decomposing on the roof.

2- An angry man in a wheelchair was annoyed that the elevator left without him. He rammed his chair into the doors, and he plunged into the elevator shaft and fell to his death.

3- Blasting a ticket machine is never a good idea. This guy tried to buy a ticket, and ended up losing his life in an explosion when he detonated the front panel.

4- The judge decided to not punish a man who shot himself in the testicles while carrying a gun in his waistband.

5- Two girls tried to take a selfie at the horse race. A plane came down, and the wing of the plane killed them both instantly.

6- A young couple drove down the freeway. They parked up, and a cargo truck ran into them, killing them both while they were doing the dirty deed.

7- A man installed an electric fence around his car to try and stop robberies. He reversed into the fence, forgot it was still turned on and shocked himself to death.

8- A gentlemen opened up a power junction with the intentions of hard-wiring up his shed. He did this during a downpour, and he was deep fried.

9- A man tried to cut through a strong cable, not realising that the cable was holding him and the platform he was standing on up. He reached the bottom of the shaft in a matter of seconds.

10- A German man wanted to impress a girl. He tried to do pull-ups on a balcony, and fell down 11 stories.

11-  A 63 year old pounded metal rods into the ground and connected them up to a current. The aim was to kill moles, but instead he made the realm inhabitable for the neighbours.


12- If you cut a rig on an oil tank, don’t light a cigarette. 150 men were hurled to their death.

Posted in Just For Fun
Feb. 23, 2019

Top 10 things to do in Rancho Cucamonga with Kids

Top 10 things to do in Rancho Cucamonga with Kids


If you want to spend some quality time with the kids or if you want something to do in Rancho Cucamonga then you can find out whatever you need to know right here.


1.      Jumping Jacks


Jumping Jacks has plenty of indoor fun! It has jump rooms and so many games to play.


2.      Pump it Up


This has tons of inflatables and it is absolutely ideal for those kids who just love to bounce!


3.      Boomers


Boomers is known for its miniature golf, but you’ll also find go-karts and bumper boats!


4.      Mary Vagle Nature Centre


Walk along a nature trail and explore wildlife like never before. If you are lucky, you may even see some of the wildlife around your local area as well. Keep your eyes peeled!


5.      American Museum of Ceramic Art


Play with clay and wander around a fully functional ceramic studio. This is for older kids who love the idea of messy fun.


6.      Raging Waters


One of the biggest water parks in California with over 35 attractions!


7.      Fairmont Park


Tennis courts, fishing, BBQs, pedal boats and bowling! You don’t have to be an expert to have fun at this wonderful attraction and it is very child-friendly.


8.      Mission Inn

A local museum that tells so many wonderful stories. This one is more suited to older kids but nevertheless, it is packed full of fun.


9.      Metropolitan Museum

Over 100,000 artefacts and free entry. Kids will love the interactive models they have available and it is a great learning opportunity.


10.   Sky Zone

Play dodgeball, dive into foam pits and bounce the day away. The kids will love it and you will even be able to join in as well. It’s time to de-stress after a long week!



Posted in Local Top 10
Feb. 23, 2019

The 12 All-Time Quarterback (QB) Legends

The 12 All-Time Quarterback (QB) Legends


The National Football League (NFL) in the U.S.A. is known for driving its followers nuts with enthusiasm, and it has been reported that this competitive sport has its moments in the heart of its followers.


Well, for NFL lovers we all know that the QB decides the match. They take total dominance of the arena, dictating the game, leading the offense and taking all the credit for a job well done. In fact to be a profound QB, there is an absolute need for passion, boldness in risk taking, calculative thinking, a team spirit and not only a cannon thrower or how many touchdowns he can attain in a game. With cross-examination and performance, in this piece I have carefully analyzed twelve All-Time legendary QBs from the least to the very best below.


12.      Jimmy Kelly: Played in the NFL for 11 seasons with his entire career dedicated to the Buffalo Bills. He played 2 seasons with the Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League (USFL). Though he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1983, he remained with the Houston Gamblers until 1986. Jimmy led the no-huddle shotgun formation which made one of the greatest juggernauts in 2002. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame due to his fervent contributions to his club. It is little wonder why his jersey no. 12 is among the two numbers retired by the Buffalo Bills.


11.       Fran Tarkenton: He covered a distance of 47,003 yards with 342 touchdowns in total in his career. In his time of between 1961-1978, he transformed the QB position and was considered as the first dual-threat in NFL history. He was awarded the NFL MVP in 1957. He further bagged 2-time All-Pro selection and a 9-time Pro Bowler. However, in his 18years professional career with the Vikings and Giants, he never won the NFL championship but lead the Vikings to 3 Super Bowl. Though his records have been broken, he remains a general in the Hall of Fame and a legend of the game.


10.      Otto Graham: He played for the Cleveland Browns from 1946-1955 and considered the greatest in his days, before retiring as a QB in the history of NFL.  “Automatic Otto” as he was called, was one of the first to throw football passes consistently. He is a 3-time NFL champ, 5-time Pro Bowler, 5-time All-Pro and 3-time NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965 and still leading the NFL QB winning of all time with 81.0%


9.        Steve Young: He played the game between 1985-1999. Covering a yard of 33,124 with a total of 232 touchdowns, he remains one of the greatest QB to ever play the game irrespective of his early days as a backup to Montana. He has 3 Super Bowl rings to his portfolio with just one as a starting QB in 1999 where he was named the MVP. In 1992 & 1994, he was awarded the NFL MVP. He played for the 49ers and is a bonified member of the pro football Hall of Fame with 7 pro bowl selections and 6 All-Pro selections.



8.        Dan Marino: Dan never won the big game but made an impact in the game of football. Though he took his team to the Superbowl championship game of XIX, he lost to the famous Montana. He won the NFL MVP of 1984, got selected to 9 pro bowls and was 7-time All-Pro. Having a distance coverage of 61,361 with 420 touchdowns, Marino got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. The Miami Dolphins which he led for 17 years won 5 AFL East titles on his watch with the help of his magical quick release and rifle firing arm.


7.         Johnny Utitas: Johnny was a rookie in his Baltimore Colt playing days with 34 touchdowns during 1959 which was remarkably outstanding at that time. He won 4 MVP and took his team to 3 championships with an astonishing NFL back to back title in 1958-1959. Johnny was nickname “The Golden Arm” and the first player to have 30 touchdowns in a season with the introduction of “the 2 minutes Offense.” Johnny Utitas is a true legend, take it or live it.


6.        John Elway: Futures for the Denver Broncos, Elway showed the legend in him with his ability, accurate pinpoint, and power throw arm skill. Elway, having lost 3 Superbowl game won the 2 final appearances of his career. He triumphed and placed himself in the spotlight with a 51,475-yard distance coverage throw and 300 touchdowns.


5.         Brett Favre: The only QB in the history of NFL to top 70,000 passing yards plus 500 touchdowns. Having gunned for the Minnesota Vikings, he attained his hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers. He has 3 MVP, 11 pro bowl, and 321 straight NFL games. Also, he accomplished 186 victories with the XXXI Superbowl in the prime of his football career.


4.        Roger Staubach: Staubach played with the Cowboys and became a prolific legendary football player by leading the team to success. However, he led Dallas to 9 straight winning seasons and Super Bowl championship by becoming the first player to win the Heisman Trophy. Staubach was a legendary player with a coined phrase “Hail Mary,” giving hell to the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs. Named to the 1970's NFL all-decade team, he made the Hall of Fame thrower with 6 time Pro Bowl appearance.


3.        Peyton Manning: Manning is a spectacular player with 530 touchdown thrown passes in a single season. Manning is one of the best and smartest players ever to play the game because anytime he takes the field, he keeps you on your toes with the rush of adrenaline pumping through your veins. Manning had 14 pro bowl appearances, 4 MVP while playing for the Indiana Colts with his 5th MVP at Broncos after returning from a neck injury winning the Superbowl 50 to end his football career.


2.        Joe Montana: The game of football will never be complete without the mention of Joe Cool Montana. He helped the San Francisco 49ers to a 4 years Super Bowl in his prime as a QB. He has 3 MVP to his credit. The wonderful performance of 1981 NFL against the Cowboys titled “The Catch” will never be forgotten for a long time with a surprising comeback from behind to win the game. The 92-yard drive with 36 seconds remaining in the Superbowl XXIII win by Joe Cool will never fade away easily.


1.         Tom Brady: Brady, soon to be 40 years of age by August is a living legend of the game of football. Playing for the New England Patriots, he has virtually set and broken every single record in the game of football. Having completed 5,100 yards with 38 touchdowns, he seems to never get enough with winning the most playoffs when it matters most. He has 4 wins of the 6 Superbowl which he led the Patriots too. Also, he has 2 MVP for the league, 3 Superbowl MVP and has appeared in 10 major Super Bowl.


Quarterback is a unique position with much responsibility. He determines the wins and losses for his teammates. However, winning is the Supreme goal of every team as well as to play in the championship and league. Tom Brady is simply the best with 5 rings to his credit and has got the combination of Joe Cool’s winnings, and Manning. There is no stopping Brady as he continues to set and break records like Usain Bolt, the athlete.




Posted in Sports Blog
Feb. 18, 2019

Negotiation Tips

Negotiation Tips

Negotiation Tips by John Blake Team #1 Luxury Homes Team

Tactic #1. Use the Middleman

Your attorney’s real estate agent can act as your middleman and negotiate with your seller's representative.

Using him as a buffer will not only save you time, but it may also provide you with useful information concerning the sellers, their intentions, etc. which the other party will not disclose to you directly.

Tactic #2. Play Good Cop and Bad Cop

Like in all movies, one of the buyers plays a person who is on the seller's side, while the other one acts as a displeased party.

In this way, you will not be estranged from the seller, and will let him know that you are working on the compromise and are aware of his best interests.

Tactic #3. Wait for the Big Boss

The current tactic is somehow similar to the first one. Some third party (attorney, parents, professional friend of the family) need to see and evaluate the offer and give his or her expertise.

This is a chance to lower the seller's counter-offer and keep your positions, in addition to the waiting factor, which the seller can naturally perceive as you considering other options.

Tactic #4. Be Curious

Asking questions may reveal some valuable information from the seller and might help you to discover the reason as to why the house is being sold,  which could be your priceless leverage.

Tactic #5. Consider Compromise

If you think that you might lose and fail the whole deal at one point or another, be ready to give away something during the negotiation.

As they say, compromise means that you agreed in the end, but both of you left with a feeling that you backed off.

Tactic #6. Focus on the Ball

Remember your main goal: to get the house.

If you feel that you are stuck in negotiating some minor details, a good decision will be letting them wait till you agree on the major points.

How to Avoid Mistakes During the Negotiation

Matters not, if you are buying a house of your dreams for the first time, or just got carried away in the rush of the negotiation intensity, no one is protected from making mistakes.

#1. Be Nice

No one likes rude people. If you somehow offended your future seller during a house visit, for example, by discussing all necessary renovations and poor taste of the current owners – they probably will not want to sell their beloved house to you personally.

#2. Be Calm

Never express too much interest!

Most of the specialists agree that when sellers see how desperately you want this house to become yours, they do not believe your first offer and they will definitely counter offer.

To avoid this situation, you should always play it cool, no matter how perfect this property appears to you.

#3. Think Like A Seller

Take a different look at this situation – imagine you have to sell this house in two, five or ten years.

Will it be possible, or does it lack some basic features that, during decreasing market situation, will become essential?

#4. Get Help

Saving money on real estate agents and attorneys may cost you thousands if something goes wrong.

Be cautious with extremely cheap services, if they are significantly lower than the average market price in your area, as the lack of the professionalism may cause significant losses in the future, so pick your team carefully.

Also, do not rely solely on yourself, especially if you are going through the house buying process for the first time.

With so much information available online and information that you have, you have all chances to spend all your time researching and analyzing before you can proceed to close the deal.

#5. Do Not Expect the Price to Get Lower After Inspections

Bid lower than you can pay, and make your final offer with the most comfortable price that you can afford.

Repairs after the inspections most likely will not cost the seller millions, so do not keep your hopes high on this account.

Consider any future revealed issue as a possible subject of renegotiating on some points, although be ready to go through with what you have already signed up for.

#6. Sign Cautiously

Make sure you acknowledge all terms and realize all liabilities before you sign any documents.

Once you sign the contract, there is no way to make amendments without renegotiating and signing a new one, which may fail to happen at all.

#7. Calculate All Future Costs

Budgeting is essential during the purchase, as the amount that you pay is not just the price of the house.

Besides payments to the agent and attorney, there are escrow payments, deposit and down payments, the title search and insurance, and many more.

You definitely need to estimate your abilities and decide for yourself, if you can manage it.

What If There Are Multiple Offers?

In a seller's market, you probably will not be the only one wishing to buy the same house.

Sellers might be considering several offers at the same time and making decisions basing on the best offer that is available to them.

They may also play with one potential buyer, sending him a counter-offer and say no to all the others.

You, as a buyer, will never know although there are main points on how to stand out in the case of the multiple offers.

The best way to protect yourself from failing is to simply make your offer better than what others have made. Usually, your real estate agent will be able to tell if there is a chance for the existence of multiple offers, and you should act accordingly.

At first, receiving a pre-approval for the mortgage will be a good start to becoming the best potential seller's choice as the statement is issued based on your credit report, bank statements, etc. and it shows your ability to pay for your possible purchase.

Also, let the seller know the financial options that you have: some mortgage conditions and funding programs are more attractive and may influence seller's decision.

Bid close to his price — there is no much sense in offering significantly less than he wants on a market that is selling.

By doing this, you will save your time on continuous counter-offering process.

It would be helpful to review the contingencies list because the fewer clauses you have there, the more attractive your offer appears to the seller.

However, it is recommended not to remove home inspection, as the seller will not be liable for any uncovered issues with the house, and you will have to pay for the repairs on your own.

Showing your intentions by making a large good faith deposit and down payment usually convinces the owner of  your commitment and may finally tilt the balance towards your proposal.

Negotiating the price is a very stressful period in a house buying process.

You are not sure what the result would be, and exactly how much money you will spend.

In any case, keep in thought that the owner is interested in selling his home, and you are willing to buy it. With a little time and energy, you will be able to do it!


John Blake Team

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 18, 2019

Best Ways to Organize Your Move

Best Ways to Organize Your Move


Best Ways to Organize Your Move John Blake Team: #1 Luxury Homes team

Moving into your new, amazing home can be one of the happiest and exciting moments of your life. It is the end of a chapter and the start of a whole new amazing part of your life that you will experience.

However, if not done properly, moving houses can also be an endless source of stress and frustration.

That is why we are going to focus, below, on all the best, most efficient and clever ways to organize a perfect move, the move that you will later want to remember and refer to.

#1. Best Tips and Tricks for an Easy Move

Packing all your belongings in boxes and moving them around can be tough. We've all been there. Chances are we all have had unforgettable moves as well as dreadful moments.

First, make a list. Before starting the moving process, stop and give yourself time to imagine how your new home will look like.

That is also a great moment to make a list of all the unnecessary objects. Your home might be hiding quite a number of items that you've been waiting to get rid of.

There might also be some that are simply not worth the trouble of being packed, transported and unpacked at the new location. Use this moment to think about this and make a list of everything that needs to go.

Remember, some charities are willing to come and collect, free of charge, all the things that you are willing to donate. If your list might end up including things that you may not want to move with, but are too valuable to just give away, start selling them on eBay a few weeks before the moving happens.

This might go so well that you might even be able to fund part of your moving costs out of it. Second, make a plan. A smart and well thought of strategy might save you time, effort, frustration or even a future meltdown, as well as all the misery that comes with it.

In order to do that, use smart ways to take some of the weight off your shoulders. Try backing up all the data that you have on your computer in an external hard drive, or, even better, in a cloud service program. Knowing that your computer information is securely backed up can be pretty relieving.

Third, pack like a pro. There is no limit as to how good you can pack because there is no such thing as an overly good packing, especially if you are faced with an interstate move. 

Here are the inner tips and tricks that can make our lives easier when moving comes knocking at our doors:

·         Use press and seal.


·         It's also a brilliant idea to buy a roll of stretch wrap.


·         It protects your valuables from being scratched and battered during transportation .


·         Vacuum seal out-of-season clothing. You might also want to pack them in boxes and suitcases.


·         Wheeled suitcases are a perfect choice for the transportation of heavy stuff like books.



·         Defrost your refrigerator 24 hours before the move.


·         Hire a sitter for your kids/pets, so that you don't have to worry about them.

Consider buying insurance to cover any accidents that might occur during the move. Review and plow the market for the best options for relocation coverage through insurance. Remember that the services of some professional moving companies come with insurance.

The truth is, many accidents can happen when moving from one home to another. And that is why you would want your objects to be insured. Online insurance can be bought as fast as in 10 minutes if you are already decided on what you need.

Consider buying insurance and offer yourself a worry-free move. You deserve it!

Start with the Easiest and the Most Important, Sensitive Stuff

Make sure you start packing by arranging together the most sensitive and important stuff.

These aspects include identification documents, property documents or sensitive financial information as well as jewelry, electronics, and your personal computer.

All of these objects need to be specially packed and cared for.  All important documents should be stored in a fire-proof box, under lock and key. That box should always be under your care and placed in your personal car during the move.

Try a deposit box for your nice and neatly packed jewelry. There is always the option of pressing and sealing the jewelry drawer/board as it is and placing it in your personal car.

If your computer is a laptop, take it with you in your overnight bag. If not, label its cords carefully and store it separately in a safe corner. It might be the last thing to pack and the first to unpack at the new home.

Easy labeling systems make success stories - in this case, a good labeling system is more helpful than a personal assistant.

The best way to go in order to organize the boxes in the best way during a move is to employ a hybrid system between a color label system (assign each room a color) and a list comprising of all the objects that go into each colored, numbered box.

This way, when you want something you don't need to search for it forever, but go straight to the point, with a little help from your genius master list. Stay organized with the help of a colorful, multi-purpose binder.

The binder should include: your master list, the information from the moving company, your checkbook, and all your current bills, stamps, and memory sticks.

It should also have computer data backup devices, as well as some medical information if you are suffering from any chronic health issue. For long distances, the binder might also include information about your pets and their vaccinations.

This binder should stay safely with you throughout the move. Make sure you don't lose it from your sight. Always pack a box of essentials. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to your new home and then starting to search through tens of boxes in order to scrape up the essentials that you may need right away.

So, in order to avoid this little set-back, plan in advance and fully pack a smart box with the most basic but essential stuff. This box will safely and happily get you through your first day/night in your new home. The most appropriate choice for the essentials box is a clear plastic bean with a lid.

That will also make it stand out and help you easily differentiate it from all the rest of the boxes lying around everywhere.

A few of the things that you might include in the essentials box are: a few dishes, towels, sheets, kettle, coffee press, phone charger, hair drier, toilet paper, light bulbs, one or two rolls of trash bags, paper towels and the much-needed tools and box cutters.

Don't forget to complete the box of essentials with an overnight bag, clothes for changing, your laptop and some sealed (it's very important that they are sealed!) small bottles of shampoo and shower gel.

The essentials box and the overnight bag will get you through the first day and night without any problems, even if you feel too exhausted to unpack anything straight after the move.

#2. Moving Out of the State or Changing the City of Residence

Moving to a different part of the town that you live in is something, but having to move to a different city or a different state even is a whole new ball game.

Make sure you that get the best transportation/moving day - The thing with our off town and out-of-state moves is that it is expensive and will require a detailed, extensive planning.

With intrastate moves costing an average of $2000 - $3000, and interstate moves averaging $7000 - $8000, you definitely need to consider all your moving options carefully (including whether or not you might want to drive or ship off your car in advance). We recommend that you get at least 3 to 4 bids from different moving companies before you decide with whom to work with. That will ensure that you get a fair price and maybe even a good deal out of it.

The first thing to consider while analyzing these bids is verifying that the movers you want to work with are legit and up to date with all the required insurance and approvals.

Other things to have in mind and inquire about are the motor-vehicle and liability insurances, as well as the workers' compensation plan in case of an accident. Most of the moving companies that are serious have this information already listed on their websites.

If not, don't shy away from giving them a call. It is important to settle all these details and get them out of the way before the big day arrives. Don't forget to book well in advance. Consider the right transportation option for you.

The truck size matters. It is imperative that you pick out the right transportation for your impending change of houses. While the objects from a one-bedroom apartment might just fit a 16' cubic meter truck, the content of a fully furnished 3-bedroom house might require up to 2 or 3 trips of a 26' truck.

Make sure that you spare yourself a lot of grief and get the right size for your moving truck, especially if you are faced with a long distance move. You might also want to check if your moving company is sub-leasing your contracts with movers from a different state.

If so, that puts your objects and boxes in that much of a risk. Make sure insurance covers everything. On the day of the move, double check that you have all the contact information regarding the mover in a handy place.

Make sure that all is up and running and ready for your arrival at your new home. We know it is highly improbable that you can travel across the state to verify that all is ready for your arrival. However, there are some things you can do remotely to make sure that your move in the new house will go smoothly. One example is moving your utilities and home services.

The importance of a checklist. The checklist is one of the most important things. A good checklist is like a user-friendly, clear map of the road ahead. It can tell you what to do and when to do it.

It will help you organize all the aspects of the move before it starts and keep it organized during the move itself. The importance of following a checklist lies in the fact that it puts thoughts in order, and it enables people to put any unnecessary worry aside.

Take pictures to ensure you recover your deposit.

Take clear, good quality pictures of your old empty and cleaned house right before you leave. Do the same thing in the new home that you are moving into, right after you arrive. These pictures might help you to ensure that you are recovering your deposits.

The deposit is usually an important sum money during the period of a big move. Considering how expensive your move might get, the deposit might help you round up your savings and pay for everything.

Choosing and Hiring a Mover

The checklist above is as thorough as it gets, with the weekly tasks to tick off as you go along the way. However, a big factor to consider is whether or not to hire a mover. Movers are a big help with all the items you need to pack, load and transport over a long distance. 

If you have a lot of stuff to bring with you, hiring a moving company will definitely be the practical choice.

The big deal is choosing the right moving company to work with you. Here are some things to consider when hiring movers:

1.       Reputation. Ask around for movers that friends and relatives will recommend based on experience.


Have at least three companies to compare services and reviews from before making your final choice.


2.       Choose local. Oftentimes, local companies are the better choice in terms of budget and availability.


3.       Ask for an in-house cost estimate.


Let them see your belongings and inform them of the distance to your new home so they can quote you an estimate.


4.       Look at the fine print.


Check their cost estimate for hidden charges, insurance coverage, payment terms, policy on damage to items, etc.


Compare these with the other movers you are considering and base your decision on your comparisons.


When making your final choice for a mover to hire, keep in mind that getting the cheapest mover doesn't always guarantee that you'll save on money.


Cheap could mean mediocre service, and that may incur unwanted problems along the way. Choose wisely and take all the above-mentioned factors into consideration.

Renting a U-Haul Instead

A U-Haul is a truck that you can rent to load your things when moving to a different location.

Unlike movers, you do the packing, loading and driving yourself. This may be a great way to save on moving cost, but only if you have a manageable amount of stuff to bring with you.

You can call on your friends for help in packing and loading your things into this rented truck. This will make it easier to do the moving without professional help.

To get the best U-Haul deal and pull off a successful and uneventful move, these are some things to keep in mind:

1.       Time your move.


Mid-month and mid-week are the best days to get a good price, since most movers say the weekends and month-ends are the busiest time for them.


2.       Look for cheap boxes to use in packing.


Used and recycled boxes are cheaper and you can resell them once you're done unpacking.


3.       Start packing a long time off.


Don't do a last minute stunt.


Plan months ahead which items you will bring and which ones to give away or donate.


4.       Organize a moving team.


You'll need all the help you can get, from packing, to labeling, to unpacking, and sorting your stuff.


You won't be able to do it all on your own, so might as well ask for help early on.


5.       Time your departure from your old place.

Make sure you will be able to stop and rest when needed at convenient times and places.


You want to be able to get to your new house while there is still light outside for ease in unloading.


If you do decide to do the move with a U-Haul, make a specific time table.

Include all the things that you would be doing in preparation for your move.

If you will be proceeding without professional help, you may even want to ask for advice from people you know.

Their moving experience will provide you with tips on what to avoid and areas of preparation you may have overlooked.

Whether you make your big move with professional help, family and friends or by yourself, preparation and organization is key.

You may ask for all the help you can get and hire the best movers.


But, without your personal involvement in planning and organizing, you will not be able to keep track of everything that needs to be monitored and prepared. 


John Blake Team

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 15, 2019

Declutter the Entire House

Declutter the Entire House

Declutter the Entire House by John Blake Team #1 Luxury Homes Team

When we put our home on the market to attract potential buyers, we have only two objectives: to get the house sold quickly and earn the price we have in mind.

Before you actually start decluttering to achieve a neat and clean appearance, it is a good idea to hold a yard sale to earn some extra cash and get rid of the things you don’t need at the same time. You can use this cash for buying some storage products and solutions, to be used when you start the actual process of clearing away the area.

One of the most important steps in staging your home for sale is to clear up the mess and get rid of extra furniture, old decorative stuff, unused kitchen appliances, and piles of books and newspapers. Some people only do this step and along with repainting their house and they manage to get a really good price.

It is true that decluttering can greatly improve the appearance of your home but what people fear is how to go about doing it. Clearing everything out is easy when all you need to do is throw the useless items out. But it is definitely not easy when you have to put away certain things for future use and store the essentials, just to clear away some space.

Let’s find out how you can declutter the entire house effortlessly and quickly, to take staging your home to the next level and be successful in selling it at a price you have in mind.   

Clearing Everything Out

The best strategy is go room by room, including bedrooms, bathrooms, living, dining and the kitchen in order to keep it simple and not to miss out anything.

Decluttering the kitchen is one major activity though and that is why it has been explained in a separate chapter. Here we will discuss how to declutter your rooms and arrange the essentials neatly so that they don’t make your home look like a mess.

But before you start clearing out items from the bedrooms, bathrooms and living area, it is a good idea to look at the exterior of your home. This include the garage, driveway, porch, and garden or lawn. Declutter these areas first and then move indoors. Place all your tools in a box and store them away in the attic.

Get rid of any empty car oil bottles or cans. Remember to bring minimalism to the entire area by either throwing useless items out or storing the ones you don’t need at least for the time being in some storage area till the time you move.  


·         You don’t want out-of-season clothes to clutter your cupboards, sofas, and chairs. As a first step, pack all these unwanted clothes in boxes or suitcases and put them away.

·         Find affordable organizers to place in drawers and cupboards to organize your jewelry, toiletries, undergarments, and other items neatly to clear away some storage space.

·         Take unnecessary wall hangings down and store them.

·         If you have kid at home, sort through their toy collection and keep only the ones they play with. Pack the others in boxes and store them somewhere in the attic or under the bed.


·         Remove all unnecessary items from the shelves and keep only those that are required on a daily basis, like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

·         Sort through prescription medicines to keep only those that are important.

·         Buy a hanging bag or organizer for toiletries to neatly arrange them.

·         Get rid of old shampoo, body wash, and lotion bottles. Keep only the essentials and if you need other items neatly place them on shelves or racks. 


Living or Family Room

·         Store all books and magazines in an area where they will not be seen. Better yet get rid of the ones you don’t need.

·         Remove photo frames and other small decorative items and store them away.

·         If there are toys all around, take a basket or one of those fancy little fabric toys containers and store the toys neatly.

·         Dedicate an area for placing all the gadgets along with chargers and remote controllers so that they are not scattered all over the place.   

·         If your living room also serves to be the entrance, make sure you don’t have any trash cans or dust bins placed near the door.

·         Pay attention to high traffic areas to declutter them and also make sure the doorbell and other electronic systems like the intercom are working properly. If they require new batteries, change them.

·         After the kitchen, it is the living or family room people are the most interested in. So, make it your goal to clear away unnecessary items from this area and make it inviting and cozy. 

·         The objective of decluttering is to make room for some inviting stuff like a rocking chair or a neat magazine holder to give a final cozy look to your family or living room.

Solutions for Fast and Effective Decluttering

Of course you don’t want to spend too much time clearing out extra and useless items from your home. The goal should be to declutter as fast as you can and do it effectively.

There are some services that you can check out in this regard to achieve your objective successfully and in less time. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) storage ideas are especially useful when it comes to decluttering and preparing your home for staging.

Before putting your home on the market, it is recommended to throw out things you don’t need. So, when you’re done clearing away some of the clutter, it’s time to store the items that you don’t need temporarily.

#1. On-site Storage

Have you considered an on-site storage option for clearing away some of the clutter while still keeping the essentials safely stored at a remote place?

This option is becoming increasingly popular because of its many benefits including low cost, convenience and flexibility. The company providing the storage system drops off a container at your place and you can fill it up the way you want.

Once you’re done putting in things, boxes and cartons, you can call them up again and they will deliver the container to a secure storage location. The containers come in many different sizes and costs and you can choose one according to your requirements.     

#2. Truss Shelves

These are mostly used in places like the attic to create shelves for storing different boxes. These can be made at home or ordered from a store. They are quite easy to install and provide many benefits over stacked storage.

#3. Rafter Hangers

If you have some items that can be easily stored using hangers, consider the option of using rafter hangers. You may also use hooks for efficient and easy hanging. 

   #4Attic Deck Flooring

This type of flooring comes in many sizes and can be effectively used to increase floor space. It is specifically designed for attics and offers a great solution for increasing storage space in the attic for decluttering and organizing.

These decks are able to hold up to 250 pounds of weight, which allows for convenient storage. Check out the above-mentioned solutions for fast and effective storage when you’re decluttering the entire house.

#5. Decluttering the Attic

The attic is one place in every home where so many things are just dumped, whether they are needed or not. Some homebuyers may wish to see your attic, so it’s time you sort out the storage for things that are required and things that are not.

But first, it’s a good idea to buy some plastic storage boxes with lids, baskets and trash bags. Once you have a number of storage boxes ready, label them with the type or category of things they would hold. For example, one of the boxes may read “toys”, the other one “books and magazines”, and so on.

When you’re going through the items stored, or more precisely “dumped” in the attic, categorize them and then start placing them in boxes accordingly.

If you’re piling up boxes one over another, make sure you don’t place the one containing the most-used-items at the bottom. It will be very difficult to take things out when you need them. Some of these boxes may even qualify for charity, but we will discuss this at the end of this chapter.

If you think there is some outgrown baby stuff including walkers, strollers, baby car seats, booster seats, and so on, simply get rid of them or make a point to give them away to friends or relatives.      

#6. Storing Non-Essentials till You Move

Decluttering can be a daunting task since there is no guarantee when your home will be sold off and how long you will have to stay in the same house. You are going to need the stuff that you’re packing away or putting in the attic.

But at the same time you should get rid of the clutter in order to make your home look neat and clean to the visitors. So, what’s the solution? The best way is to store the things you don’t need on a daily basis in storage boxes or cartons, and put them in a place where they will not be noticed.

Even if you do require some of that stuff, you can easily take the box out and use the things you need. This method is going to save you time in the long run, when you finally get your home sold and it’s time to move. Since the clutter is already packed up, you will only have to move the cartons. Non-essentials can also be stored using containers described in the above section.


Staging the home is a necessary step to make the buyers imagine your home as theirs. You should make all the required changes to make it appear more inviting, cozy, and neat.

If they think it is thoroughly cleaned up, spacious enough, and has been decorated according to the latest trends in home décor, they will make a decision.

After all, this is what we all look in homes that we see with an intention to buy. So, declutter the entire house to achieve these goals and use as many tools and solutions available on the market to perform this step quickly and effortlessly.

Any money you pay for these products is going to be investment because you want to sell your home for more. Your efforts are only going to help you achieve this objective. 


John Blake Team

Posted in Selling Tips
Feb. 15, 2019

Neutralizing Your Home

Neutralizing Your Home

Neutralizing Your Home by John Blake Team #1 Luxury Homes Team #1 New Homes Team


When you’re looking to sell your home quickly and as painless as possible, you’ll have to go through a process of removing your (or your tenants’) presence from the house. This process is known in the real estate industry as neutralization.

A better name for neutralization, is called depersonalizing. Essentially, your goal is to remove the identity of the home so that potential homebuyers can picture their future in the home without have the “thumbprints” from previous occupants.

How does one go about neutralizing their home? Easier said than done. There are even limits to neutralizing your home.

If you go too far, your home may appear cold and foreign to potential homebuyers, as they’ll have difficulty imagining just what each room’s purpose was (or could be).

Let’s take a look at the topics and particular nuances that can influence buyers to say “yes” to your house and close as soon as possible.

Home Renovations

Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you may use your uncluttered home to finally make some renovations to your home, to make it more attractive to buyers.

This might seem like a smart strategy, but be sure to make reasonable limits to the time and money you invest on new flooring, new carpets, and updating old appliances.

The idea to keep in mind is that the improvements you’re making—say, new blue carpeting—might be immediately removed by the new homeowner, or might even be turn-off potential buyers.

Conversely, if you don’t take necessary steps to repair minor repairs, you can turn-off buyers. Look at your home with a buyer’s mindset.

Those nicks, dents, and scrapes on walls and flooring might be invisible to you because you’ve become accustomed to them. But to someone just stepping foot into your home, a loose doorknob, burned out bulbs, or stains on the patio could lead potential homebuyers to believe that these are just the beginning of the problems that you home holds.

A little bit of sanding and spackle can go a long way to getting your house sold.

Photographs, Awards, and Certificates

While you may still be a resident in the home that you’re trying to sell, you must remove most of the traces that allude to the personality that you’ve “carved” into your home. This includes family photographs, awards, and certificates. Why?

The reason is that photographs, either of marriages, children, and other friends/family, tend to give them impression of a “claimed” territory.

It’s harder for a person to picture themselves in a space having their own unique experiences for years to come when they’re confronted with the same patio they envision you using with your family. Nothing speaks more to personality (and eccentricity) than collections.

They have a tendency to overwhelm the senses and create a clutter, diminishing the size of the room—both of which you don’t want to put on display. Similarly, there’s a psychological angle to consider. Suppose you have certificates that indicate you were a doctor or a lawyer.

Would a person who deems themselves beneath that occupational status feel comfortable living in the same house?

Conversely, if persons of those aforementioned occupations were selling a home for cheap, it might suggest that this home has something wrong with that you may be hiding.

Your goal is to help depersonalize your home so that house hunters can psychologically move into the home. Of course, you should leave a few pictures on the wall just so the space doesn’t look empty, but even generic paintings and photographs serve the same function as that family reunion picture in Cancun.

Neutralizing Your Book Collection

Books can be a way of subconsciously conveying to potential homebuyer’s type of person that would thrive in the home. However, when selling your home, you should choose these books carefully.

The rule of thumb is to choose “coffee table books.” Books on architecture, travel, and cuisine are all encouraged. Who is not a fan of any of those topics?

However, some topics can be divisive. Religious books, books on esoteric/niche topics, or books that are controversial. And related to the previous topic, keep your photo albums packed away.

If you’re having trouble keeping these books hidden and packed away, an easy trick is to turn the spines inward to make them truly neutral.

Taking Down Artwork and Collections

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. While you may have made it a focus of your home to showcase your personality through your possessions, including artwork and items you collect, your goal is to appeal to the widest array of people to purchase your home.

Just as you have to hide your books for fear of offending someone, you should take down all artwork that could even be considered remotely offensive. This includes artwork with political messages, nudity, sports teams, religious imagery, and so forth.

Other accents, like family heirlooms, should be taken down as well. While you may be proud of that mounted moose head from your grandfather, potential homebuyers may be put off by hunting wild game.

Getting Rid of Religious Items

While it is certainly fine to be proud of your religious beliefs, affiliations, and convictions, not all homebuyers will appreciate religious items on display.

Some buyers may not be religious at all, while others may carry deep convictions that may find such displays offensive. Buyers that see these particular types of displays may also make inferences about the types of neighbors that you have (which may or may not be true).

Getting Rid of Odors

Our sense of smell can immediately conjure up both good and bad memories.

While some agents have used the lure of a fresh baked apple pie to entice homebuyers’ olfactory recall, bad smells can have a similarly off-putting effect. What’s worse is that homeowners can become acclimated to the scent of a house, leaving them “noseblind” to potential smells.

For instance, cigar and cigarette smokers typically view the smell of smoke as “familiar,” whereas a non-smoker may look down upon the same house.

The same goes for mold smells, especially in basements, where it can seem like the house may be at risk for flooding from sewers or catastrophes (i.e. hurricanes, in proximity to flood plains, etc.).

However, trying to mask these odors with a bottle of Febreze and air fresheners can work against you, as it seems to potential homebuyers (rightfully so) that you’re trying to cover up these odors.

Homeowners should actively work on eliminating the common sources of the smell, including pet odors (see below), mold, cooking odors, spilt chemicals, and so forth.

Be sure to have an agent or someone unfamiliar to your home give you an honest analysis of where particular odors may be lingering.

While it may be somewhat embarrassing to realize that your bathroom smells less than pleasant, it can be even worse to have your home unsold on the market because you didn’t want to replace the carpeting.

Removing Your Pet's Presence

Simply put, pets are messy. Of all the elements in a home that can cause damages, pets are near the top. While they may be adorable, they also don’t have any qualms about relieving any of their bodily functions around your house.

If you’ve taken the necessary steps of cleaning and removing pet dander, you may also want to consider removing the pet entirely by leaving them with relatives/neighbors, or boarding them during an open house.

Animals can present liability risks while showing your home, not only for bites and personal harm, but an unknowing homebuyer might let your animal out, which can cause you to miss out on displaying what’s really important: your house for sale.

Also, remember to remove food bowls, water bowls, and pet toys/accessories from the home, as some homebuyers may equate this with lower standards of cleanliness.

Not everyone loves reptiles or spiders, so keep cold-blooded animals away during the open house.

No one wants to deal with finding a dead snake wrapped around the radiator, nor do they want to deal with a large spider when they’re in the shower. However, fish kept in clean fish tanks are acceptable, just be sure to scoop out any dead fish ahead of time.

Finally, remember that some homebuyers will preface their decision solely on their pet allergies. You should do your best to cater to them, but know that fully eradicating your home to a person with acute sensitivities may be beyond your reach.

Keep It Clean

One challenge to keeping your house on the market is that you still have to live in it. However, for selling your house, you must remove traces of your daily life. Little messes that are part of living (i.e. cooking, piles of mail, kids’ toys, etc.) can be perceived as distracting and dirty.

It can be difficult to keep it in pristine condition each time a buyer wants to view it, so you may have to change your cleanliness habits until an offer is made. Don’t underestimate how a stack of laundry can negate all of the effort you’ve made to present a neutralized home.

For items of everyday use (i.e. toothbrushes, shampoo bottles), keep them to a minimum and keep boxes hand to store them when needed. Clothing, especially out-of-season clothing, should be packed away, or at the very least, stored beneath beds.


Related to neutralizing your home is staging. Essentially, staging is setting up your home to reflect its purpose. While it may be apparent to you, the person who’s lived in the home for years, a new person may not be able to envision the purpose of each room without some leading.

Don’t Use Shoddy Furniture

Just as you want to make sure your home is spotless and tidy, you want your furniture to also reflect this mindset. Having beat-up furniture, especially furniture that is torn-up by age, usage, or pets will reflect poorly on your home’s appeal, even though the furniture won’t be coming with the house.

There are professional staging companies that can lend furniture for your open house, so be sure to ask your agent for references.

Too Much Furniture

An abundance of furniture can make your room feel much smaller than it really is. Stage your house sparingly, using 1/3 of the furniture that you’ve normally had displayed. This helps accentuate your home’s nature architecture and provides an illusion of spaciousness.

Empty Rooms Should Be Staged

It is in your best interest to stage rooms to give potential buyers an idea of what the room’s purpose is. If you’ve completely cleared out a room that once was your study, leave a simple display of a desk, table, and a lamp. This will communicate a “feature” of the room.

Bare rooms simply aren’t that inviting, as they seem unfinished. Also, the natural feel of empty rooms can create an “echo chamber” effect that may be unappealing to most people (barring musically-oriented homebuyers).

Emphasize Focal Points and Minimize Distractions

It’s not unusual for expertly-staged homes to emphasize a home’s natural amenities. By staging a home with some of the activities that the home can feature, you can entice homebuyers.

For example, a nice view of the sunrise can have reclining patio chairs and a breakfast table, a well-stocked fireplace complete with pokers and a footstool.

On the other hand, you should avoid having distractions and clashes. Having a beach scene for the master bedroom, with sand and beach balls, for a home in Alaska can be off-putting. The same goes for a NY-themed den for a Chicago metropolitan condo.


Color plays a large role in the neutralization process. Essentially, the colors you choose for the interior of your home should appeal to as many potential homebuyers as possible. Let’s take a look at few points to consider when coloring your home for sale:

      Remove wallpaper. It can be a rigorous process to remove this and may turn off homebuyers if it’s not neutral.


      Avoid bright colors. These tend to be an acquired taste and will remind homebuyers of the work they may have to do before finally settling into the home.


      Avoid dark color. Darker colors create an optical illusion that makes a space appear smaller.


      Neutral colors for staging your home are best, as they make rooms appear larger than they are. Adding accents of color, like photographs or paintings, against a neutral background can make a room seem modern and appealing (think of art galleries).


      They also are easier to change in the future, which homebuyers will appreciate when it comes time to move in.


      With carpeting and accessories, think of using complementary colors (i.e. blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green), following the rule the 80% of the predominate color should be a neutral, with 20% being the appealing complementary color.


      Avoid using too many colors when neutralizing the home. Instead, focus on 3-5 colors to avoid jarring color combinations or a feeling of “separateness.”


      Bear in mind that lighting changes the color you’ve selected, you can use the same hue for incandescent lights and natural lighting, only to get different results. This can help save money and emphasize your home’s lighting variations.


      Make sure that your colors flow from one another. Earth tones and neutrals work best, as we’re accustomed to these colors from nature. Having a hot pink go to a beige is off-putting.


Affordable Solutions

There’s usually no one-way solution to properly stage a house. Those who prefer the DIY method will usually have to do their research beforehand, especially for keeping the process of neutralization within budget. Here’s a few tips to keep it cheap:

      Consult your real estate agent. Chances are that this person has had experience successfully closing homes, so they intuitively know what works and what doesn’t.

Remember that agents are commission-based, so they have the same goal in mind as you, to sell your home as quickly and at the highest price possible.

In addition, they can recommend you to have a consultation with a professional home stager. These people specialize in neutralization and can give you honest tips to sell your home immediately.

      Ask your friends to do a walk-around. Request that they give you an honest opinion, whether it’s odors, color schemes, or any other feature that could be jarring to the eye. Don’t take their criticism personal. The goal is to sell the home, not save face!

     Look at other homes in your area that are for sale. Take notes on how the homes are arranged and what the owners have down to make the home seem inviting. Very often, homes in your local area may have been built in the same style, so you can steal some of their ideas.


John Blake Team

Posted in Selling Tips
Feb. 15, 2019

Using Curb Appeal to Sell Your Home for More

Using Curb Appeal to Sell Your Home for More

Using Curb Appeal to Sell Your Home for More by John Blake Team #1 Luxury Homes Team

Curb appeal, the overall attractiveness of your home when standing on the street, is incredibly important when selling your home.

Your landscaping, physical exterior, and the facade of your home are all important aspects that need to be greatly considered, and are vital if you want to sell your home for more.

Why Does Curb Appeal Affect the Sale So Much?

A potential buyer is looking for signs indicating how well the home has been kept over long periods of time, as well as signs that could show what type of person is currently living there.

If the exterior has a lawn that is manicured well and the exterior shows that maintenance is kept up to an appealing standard, it will give proof that the current homeowner takes pride in their property's aesthetics.

If a buyer sees that your curb appeal is a complete mess, there is a very good chance that they will take that sole impression and go elsewhere.

The majority of buyers will want to look online first to see some general photos of the interior and the exterior.

Having good curb appeal and attractive photos posted within your ad will ensure that you hook them straight away, so they will make an appointment with you or your real estate agent to come out and see your home.

Always keep in mind that even if the interior of your home is kept up to date with repairs, has perfect plumbing and electrical work, and is decorated nicely for appeal, the exterior and curb appeal of your home will have a big impact on a buyer's decision within the first minute or two.

Have a Welcoming Walkway

The pathway to your front door serves as an ambassador for your home, so why not make it beautiful and pleasant to look at?

Your walkway serves as the path to your home, and ensuring that it's just as beautiful as the rest of your home, both inside and outside, will definitely gain you some points with buyers.

The pathway, landing, and your front door should all blend together to provide an appealing journey from your street or driveway up to your house.

If your home's style is Georgian, Greek Revival, or Colonial, a straight path that goes from the sidewalk straight to your door is recommended.

With a straight path, you can avoid a mass of boring concrete by decorating the lane with landscaping, such as flower pots or beds.

You have a better opportunity for charming buyers if you add curious boulders, interesting trees, plant groupings in vibrant colors, or even a fountain.

If you're looking for something that's more unique, a wood walkway will do the trick.

Cedar, redwood, cypress, and teak are all weather-resistant wood that are absolutely perfect to create a beautiful walkway, and are easy to work with.

For a wooden walkway you will also need pea gravel or stone to work as a base. Wooden walkways have minimal upkeep, as you only need to stain and seal once every year.

Whatever you decide to do with your walkway, always ensure that there is no overgrowth anywhere, especially around the concrete or wood itself.

Keep in mind that incorporating too much will make your walkway look cluttered and disorganized, so remember to keep a decent balance, keep it elegant, and don't go overboard.

If you're going to decorate your walkway, regardless of what it's made of, go easy on the decorations and lawn ornaments.

Though having a couple of them is definitely a cute, fun idea that helps to make gardens and walkways pop, it's a terrible idea to bring in an entire army of them. Instead keep a limit of about 4 or 5, depending on how big your walkway is, and how full of flowers, rocks, trees, and other aesthetics it already is.

The Importance of Your Front Door

Painting your front door in a color that's both pretty and matching the overall style of the exterior is also a great way to add curb appeal in order to sell your home for more.

Having a contrast between the overall facade of your home and the front door will ensure that your curb appeal is amped up.

For example, if your house is white or gray and has black shutters, painting your front door red will create a more mysterious essence to it, and bring more beauty to your home.

Adding a wreath on your door, a potted plant by the entrance, or having boxed planters lined up on your porch near the front door, will help bring in a more positive, free flowing atmosphere, therefore making your home look like an absolute dream home to buyers.

Ensure that your front door has a fresh coat of paint, that the knob is polished, and that any pieces that need replacing, are replaced before your home is put onto the market.

Your back door also needs attention as well. For example, if you have a sliding screen door for your backyard, check if it needs a new screen, or if it needs to be repositioned on the tracks.

There is literally nothing worse than having something fall apart or not function properly when there is a buyer in your home, especially when it comes to the doors, both front and back.

Having a Well-Manicured Lawn Makes All of the Difference

If your lawn is withering, dead grass, or an overgrown mess riddled with weeds, buyers are definitely not going to be attracted to your home. Therefore, it's extremely important to have a lawn that is well manicured, and shows off just as much beauty as the rest of your home.

A lawn that appears to be too high maintenance can be a turn off, so it's best to go for a look that is neat and attractive. You don't need to go overboard with the lawn care, but instead have the grass trimmed nicely and ensure that it's healthy.

Having a simple garden somewhere around the perimeter of your home is also a great idea. You can plant flowers with bright colors, to really lighten up and bring a joyous feeling to your lawn area.

If you have a garden or want to add a special touch to the landscape, throw down some mulch that is in a darker color, such as a solid, dark wood brown. Mulch helps to neaten things up and gives the area a "clean" feeling to it. Not to mention mulch always looks good in any setting when set down the proper way. You literally cannot go wrong with it, as it adds some great curb appeal.

One thing to avoid when it comes to this area of curb appeal, is too many lawn ornaments. It's perfectly okay to have one or two in your garden, but if you have trinkets and other ornaments all over the place, especially garden gnomes, it's going to look tacky, cluttered, and just wrong.

Even though the buyer obviously knows that the lawn ornaments don't come with the house and the lawn, they could still hesitate and most likely walk away, based on pure tackiness.

The Backyard Appeal is Just as Important as the Curb

By the time a buyer gets to the backyard their decision will already be well influenced, but that does not mean you should skimp on the backyard appeal.

Your backyard should be just as beautiful as your front yard, considering your backyard appeal matters just as much as the front.

Once a buyer reaches the backyard, they will envision themselves relaxing in the sun, having family and friends over, and playing with their children or their pets there. Making a good impression with your backyard is incredibly important.

To ensure your lawn looks good, go over it with the lawn mower, add grass seed and fertilizer, then give it a good drink of water. If you have a pool or a hot tub, ensure that the cover is off and that the water is sparkling clean.

It also does not hurt to add a few last minute flowers if you do not currently have any. But don't go overboard and clutter the yard with them, as it'll end up looking messy instead of pretty and elegant.

Patio furniture also helps to make your backyard feel much more welcoming, and will help the buyer envision themselves sitting outside with friends or family on a hot day, having cold drinks, and enjoying a conversation.

You'll want your backyard appeal to give the buyer a vision that speaks positive volumes.

You want the buyer to see themselves in the backyard every summer enjoying the weather and all that life has to offer, so ensure that your backyard is in top condition, not just your curb.

Your Drive by Appeal

Potential buyers will quickly drive by your home, or park out front and see it for the first time. To ensure that your home has a good drive by appeal, keep your windows and front door in top condition. You'll also need to touch up your garage.

This means that the exterior will need to be neatened up, like painting the door. When taking a quick drive by to check out a home, minor details of the house itself stick out a lot more than you would think.

If your home is currently on the market, always ensure that the exterior of your home has fresh paint, the lawn is well manicured without looking too high maintenance, your windows are washed, and that you do not have any dead flowers in your garden.

This is also a good time to trim or prune your trees.

The Roof is Just as Important

When it comes to your roof, don't get up on a ladder and inspect it yourself, because you are probably going to miss something. Instead bring in a professional who can tell you exactly what needs to be done on your roof. Like Re-shingling, for example.

They can also make the improvements for you before you put your home on the market. Be prepared for the repair funds, which you should be paying up front.

Any buyer who is savvy will know to have the house inspected for any faults, so making all necessary repairs beforehand will ensure that the process of selling will go a lot faster.

Although you can always have your roof checked out, if there are any problems that need to be fixed you can obtain a quote from a reputable roofing company.

Further subtract the cost of the repairs from the overall selling price during the process of closing the home.

Doing so is generally convenient for both the buyer and the seller, considering the buyer will be at ease knowing that they can have things repaired and upgraded should they wish to do so.

Important and Inexpensive Repairs to be Made

When redoing your front door, it's also important to improve all of your hardware. Use metal polish on the fixtures of the doors, on the knob itself, and for all of the metal components on it.

Even though these may seem like pointless details, a large difference will definitely be made in how the buyer looks at your home. Even though this will also seem like a minor detail, get a welcome mat and a wreath that matches the overall interior style of the home.

Though the buyer obviously may not stick with your style of choice, it will help them to get a more home-like feel of the house and ensure that they can properly envision themselves living here for decades to come.

Replacing your light fixtures is also incredibly important when it comes time to sell your home. If you have outdated light fixtures, that's exactly what the lights are going to be reflected as on the exterior of your home.

Buyers want to see that everything is fresh and up to date with the times, and not light fixtures that look like they have just come out of the 80's. You don't have to install the latest light fixtures to make them look better.

You can look for fixtures that match the current mounting system you currently have installed on the exterior of your home so it will only be a replacement job, instead of a completely new installation that will get rather pricey.

You can bring in more light, should your home still be too dark. This helps make a huge impact when it comes to curb appeal, and also provide better security.

Solar stake lights are incredibly cheap when bought from home improvement stores. No one is going to want to break into a home that has a well-lit exterior.

What You Should Not Do

Even though landscaping really pertains to the ground cover and plants that are around the outdoor area of your home, the exterior paint of your home plays a large role within the entire look of the place.

Skimping on the paint on the exterior of your home is a great way to chase the buyers away. Getting a new paint job well before you plan on putting your home on the market is the best thing you'll ever do. This way the paint does not look so fresh and new, but like you've been keeping up with it for years.

The fall is the best time for repainting homes, as well as repairing siding and retouching chipped paint, because you landscape will have the best light to show in.

Most homeowners who are selling usually assume that they should only have to pay attention to soft landscaping, being the lawn and the garden but that is incorrect. Hardscaping refers to the driveway, rocks, sidewalks, and any paved areas around the home.

Power wash your driveway throughout the fall and into the winter months, just to ensure that it gets a good clean all year around and that you won't have to bring in professionals to give it a good clean for you.

Just because it's fall, doesn't mean you can skimp on pool maintenance. As previously stated earlier, pool maintenance is incredibly important when it comes to showing off your pool.

No buyer wants to see a dirty pool that's full of leaves, twigs, and dead bugs. How are they supposed to envision themselves and their family and friends enjoying a hot summer day in the pool if it's full of disgusting debris?

Pools still need to have a chemical level that is fully balanced during the fall, with any and all debris cleaned out on a weekly basis.

Just because the leaves in the fall look pretty, does not mean you should not be raking them up. Excess fallen leaves are known to hide walkways and sidewalks, and can actually be dangerous.

For example, should the leaves get wet, a pedestrian could slip and get hurt on your property. It could very well be a buyer. Therefore, rake up the leaves and avoid accidents at all costs.

Using Curb Appeal to Sell Your Home for More

When it comes time to sell your home, why skimp on the smaller details when you could use curb appeal to your advantage and get more out of the closing price? By having a beautiful home, inside and out, a buyer would be crazy not to love, you'll be closing the deal and raking in the cash in no time.

Always remember that when selling your home, image is literally everything and that the exterior of the home matters just as much as the interior.

Curb appeal will do wonders for your selling price, and will ensure that your home does not stay on the market for very long. 


John Blake Team

Posted in Selling Tips