July 22 2021

Four Things Every Kid-Friendly Neighborhood Should Have

by Erin

family taking dog on a walk

One of the most significant decisions you can make as a parent is where you raise your children. The community you live in determines what schools they attend, the friends they meet, what their interests are, and eventually, who they become as adults. For those with children of any age or couples planning for a future that includes little ones, the neighborhood you call home should be kid-friendly. The exciting experience of finding the right new home for your family can quickly become stressful when considering the underlying factors that should be considered. So, how do you know if your new community is great for kids? We’ve gathered a short list of four things every kid-friendly neighborhood should have when searching for the right new home. 

 

School Ratings

 

Every parent desires for their kids to have the absolute best in education no matter the age. Selecting the right daycare, elementary school, and especially college are incredibly important. When searching for your dream house, make sure to research the school systems surrounding the communities you’re looking to move to so you can see how well they perform. Check for academic ratings, retention rates, graduation rates, and available extracurricular activities. Will your daughter receive the same intellectual stimulation in her honors and AP classes in the new school? And will your son continue to thrive playing for the school soccer team? It is vital to make sure that your children have a comfortable transition wherever you decide to move. It would also be helpful to read reviews from other parents with children attending the neighboring schools to get a different perspective on the pros and cons of the school district.

 

Convenience

 

A new home with convenience to your everyday needs is a must-have for families. Living in a rural area may be ideal for some, but who wants to drive an hour away for a gallon of milk? Take into consideration the availability of grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and gas stations. Hospitals and medical offices like the family dentist and pediatrician should also be a short distance away in an emergency. Does your new home allow for ease of access to local highways and freeways, making commuting to and from work easier? These are all great things to consider about when making this long time investment.

 

Community Amenities

 

Children of all ages always need something to do other than play video games or make Tik Tok videos. You’ll want to look into what your neighborhood has to offer both onsite and offsite. Several newly built communities feature amenities like clubhouses and community centers with swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, parks, playgrounds, and picnic areas. You can also look out for fun community events in your new town, such as music festivals, movies at the park, holiday events, and more. These are great ways to get better acquainted with your new neighbors as well.

 

Attractions and Recreation

 

Along with being close to community amenities, living in a new home with access to places like movie theaters, museums, skating rinks, and amusement parks are also a must-have. You can search for nearby national parks where your family can enjoy camping, hiking, and fishing. Many communities are near local beaches, perfect for soaking up the sun’s rays, building sandcastles, and splashing in the salty waves. Create unforgettable memories filled with fresh buttery popcorn and steamy hot dogs with all of the fixings at a local baseball game, or spend your afternoons touring the city while visiting its national monuments. 

 

Moving to a new city or town is an adjustment and takes work, but it’s always helpful to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. You can start by surfing through NewHomesDirectory.com and explore new home neighborhoods that may appeal to you. You can search the local event calendars, read the local news and reviews, and even plan a visit in person to see if a community is a right fit for you and your family. If the area of your choice meets this criterion, then you’ve found yourself the perfect kid-friendly neighborhood!

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May 28 2021

7 Inexpensive Ways to Spruce Up Your Outdoor Living Space This Summer

by Erin

Inexpensive Outdoor Living Space

With the Spring season coming to a close, summer is just around the corner. The warm weather is the perfect time to spruce up your outdoor living space and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In this article, we’re sharing a few great inexpensive ways to revive up your backyard in your new home so you can show it off this summer!

 

Build an Outdoor Firepitome

 

Imagine cozying up with family and friends after the sun sets near a beautiful flame in your backyard. You can make it happen by building your own outdoor fire pit with a bit of elbow grease. This can become an easy DIY project that you’ll be proud of. You can roast marshmallows and tells scary stories with the kids or simply relax next to your new fire pit with a good book in hand.

 

Paint Your Fence

 

One of the easiest ways to make a difference in any space, whether outdoors or indoors, is by adding a little color. Take that old brown fence from drab to fab with your choice of paint color this summer to make a statement and refresh your outdoor living space. 

 

Revive Old Patio Furniture

 

If you haven’t used your patio furniture all year, it’s probably time to dust it off and give it a good deep clean in preparation for all of your backyard shindigs coming up this summer. Not everyone can purchase brand new future, but a couple of cans of spray paint may do just the thing. Restore those rusted metal chairs with a few coats of spray paint, and no one will ever notice. This method works great for wicker as well.

 

Plant Flowers

 

You can plant inexpensive flowers that are in season to brighten up and heighten the look of your backyard. Perennials are a great flower to start with, and they come back each year which makes them a fantastic investment. Your neighbors will envy you and your pockets with thank you.

 

Set the Mood with Lighting

 

Adding outdoor lighting provides the perfect touch to your backyard living space. You can wrap your trees, tables, and even fences with affordable string lights to add a romantic feel. Outdoor lights are perfect for eating dinner after dark and enjoying a fantastic summer evening with the ones you love.

 

Purchase an Outdoor Rug

 

Outdoor rugs are a great affordable way to elevate your outdoor living space! Adding an outdoor rug to your backyard provides your space with more color and personality with little to no effort.

 

Create an Outdoor Dining Space

 

Who doesn’t love to eat outside during the summer? You can bring your favorite meals outdoors with a table and few chairs that complement the space, and voila! Savor your first cup of brew with your morning paper or fire up the grill and dig into some tasty barbeque at your outdoor dining space. 

 

However you decide to revamp your backyard living space, get creative and have fun with it. Once your work is complete, it will quickly become your favorite outdoor hangout spot. After a long day’s work, retreating to your outdoor living space to relax is the perfect way to end your day. 

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April 8 2021

April REALTOR® of the Month: JoAnn Callaway

by Erin

JoAnn Callaway Headshot

Our February REALTOR® of the month is JoAnn Callaway, Senior Agent at Those Callaways Real Estate. JoAnn provides the monthly real estate market update for Phoenix and Paradise Valley, Arizona.

 

JoAnn Callaway has served Arizona real estate with her husband, Joseph, for 25 years. Together, they’ve sold over two billion dollars worth of homes. As new agents in 1996, JoAnn and Joseph began their journey with John Hall & Associates, eventually building a full team of licensed professionals to help them best serve clients. In 2011, they created their own brokerage as “Those Callaways Real Estate”, a team of REALTORS® with a two-word mission statement of Clients First. 

 

Their path to success in real estate began with each other, “When we met, it was love at first sight.”, and they’ve been working side by side ever since. In 2012, they wrote their first book to share the unique reason for their success. Clients First: The Two World Miracle became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2013, they joined with The Salvation Army to create the holiday bell-ringing initiative Real Estate Wednesdays. The next year, they partnered with The Army again to spearhead Real Estate for Rehabilitation. Their second book, Super Agent: Real Estate Success at the Highest Level, came that same year to serve as a real estate agent’s bible, written by agents for agents.

 

JoAnn’s service to her community has been honored with accolades from the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, NRBA, HAREP, REALTOR® Magazine, Phoenix Magazine, and more. She and her team specialize in residential resale throughout AZ’s Maricopa County, focused on Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the Magic 85254 Zip Code. They help sellers sell with ease and buyers find their dream homes. Each team member is highly experienced in a specific aspect of the real estate transaction to ensure that clients’ needs are met every step of the way. If you're in search of a new home for sale in Phoenix, JoAnn Callaway is the one to call!

 

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March 27 2021

Four Ways to Increase Your Credit Score Before Buying a New Home

by Erin

Woman Viewing Credit Score on a Tablet

Purchasing a new home can be an exhilarating moment in your life, but the process can be complicated when there are obstacles in the way, like a low credit score. Having a low credit score is nothing to be ashamed of and is not the end of the world. Many accumulate debt for several reasons like the loss of employment, a medical emergency, and other financial hardships that you have no control over. No matter where your credit score is on the scale, there are some sure-fire ways to make improvements and finally purchase the new home of your dreams.  Here are four ways to increase your credit score before buying your new home.

 

Pay Your Bills on Time

 

Your payment history is one of the most significant factors that will affect your credit score and your ability to receive a home loan. Lenders want to know that you are reliable that you will pay them back on time. If you are not already doing so, ensure that your bills are all paid on time or early. You can schedule your payments through automatic bill pay with your banking institution or set up autopay through your account, so you never have to worry about a missed payment.

 

Dispute Credit Report Errors

 

Looking at your credit report may be a daunting experience, especially when that golden number isn’t looking very shiny. Sign up on websites like annualcreditreport.com or creditkarma.com to take a good look at your detailed credit report and make sure that everything looks the way that it should. If you come across any mistakes, you can dispute the errors. The credit bureaus have thirty days to look into it and respond. Once confirmed, the disputed mistake will be removed from your credit report, which will improve your credit score.

 

Use a Secured Credit Card

 

A secured credit card is a credit card funded by an upfront cash deposit, and the credit limit is the same as the amount of your deposit. So if you deposit $300 on your secured credit card, your credit limit will be $300. This is an excellent option for someone who may not qualify for a traditional credit card and needs to boost their credit. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you apply for a secured credit card that reports to all three credit bureaus when choosing this option.

 

Negotiate Your Debt

 

If you have bills in collections and receive letters in the mail and those annoying phone calls, you may want to pick up the phone and try negotiating your debt to a lower amount. You can also discuss creating a payment plan that works for your budget. Ask the debt collector to remove the negative information from your credit records. When doing this, make sure to always get your payment agreement in writing before proceeding. 

 

Taking these steps will take your credit score from zero to hero and help propel you into homeownership in no time!

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March 5 2021

5 Ways to Give Your Home an Instant Refresh This Spring

by Erin

Blue couch next to table and lamp

It’s that time of year! Spring is making its way around, and you know what that means. It’s time for a home refresh. Say goodbye to the dark days of winter and get ready for warm and bright sunny days ahead. Each year our homes quickly begin to collect dust and unwanted clutter and or just need a little bit of change to make the space enjoyable again. Now is the time to give your home an instant refresh this spring.

 

Declutter

 

Decluttering your space may seem like a tall task, but when the job is complete, you may not even recognize the appearance of your home. Make a shortlist of areas in your home that need the most attention, and start working your way down the list. Start with the smaller, less time-consuming tasks first, like decluttering your tubberware cabinet before you take on big jobs like cleaning out the garage. 

 

Rearrange Your Furniture

 

Rearranging the furniture in your home costs absolutely nothing and just takes a little elbow grease. You can add or remove furniture from room to room. Maybe move your bed toward the window for more sunlight in the morning. Switch the position of your living room furniture and remove pieces that may overcrowd a room. You can grab a lamp and a small table from one room and an accent chair from another to create a cute reading nook or even rearrange the pictures on the walls. The possibilities are endless when you get creative with what you have.

 

Switch Out Your Decor

 

One of the easiest ways to give your home a quick makeover is to switch out your decor. You can get a couple of new throw pillows and a throw blanket in your living room. You can swap your duvet covers in the bedrooms and the shower curtains and bath rugs in your bathrooms. Switch to a new set of kitchen towels, throw rugs, and curtains to give a fresh look to your home. 

 

Change out your lighting

 

Replacing your lightbulbs can give your home an instant makeover by brightening up the place within minutes. If you want to add some light to your living space, try opting for LED lightbulbs

 

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

 

Add a pop of color in a room that needs a little more spice. Whether you decide to paint one wall or all four, it’s up to you.

 

Refreshing your home this spring doesn’t have to be a difficult task at all. Some of the smallest changes can make the biggest impact. 

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February 8 2021

February Realtor of the Month: Steve Appel

by Erin

February Tampa Bay Realtor of the Month Steve Appel

Our February Realtor of the month is Steve Appel, Real Estate Agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. Steve provides the monthly real estate market update for Tampa Bay, Florida.

 

Originally from Maryland, Steve and his family relocated to the Tampa Bay area in 1993. He is well versed in the process of relocating as it is his personal experience and can assist with finding a suitable community, an outstanding school system, and close proximity to employment that will fit your family’s specific needs. Steve Appel became a Real Estate Agent in 2003 after a career as a CPA which also comes in handy when explaining the in-depth financial details of buying or selling a home. 

 

Steve has sold homes in Sarasota, Homosassa, Manatee Beach, and Lakeland to name a few. Whether you are looking to purchase for the first time, selling, or relocating, you can contact Steve Appel to help guide you through the process of navigating Tampa Bay Real Estate.  

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February 6 2021

4 Must-Have Kitchen Appliances You Need to Make Family Meals a Breeze

by Erin

Woman cutting an onion in her kitchen

With all of the family indoors during the pandemic, whipping up family meals has quickly become a strain on most household chefs. Warm meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner have been less likely from the kitchen and more often dropped off at the doorstep with delivery services like Doordash, Ubereats, and Grubhub. While most of the world is busy stocking up on toilet paper, there are a few other items you may want to grab that can make preparing home-cooked meals easy again. We’ve compiled a shortlist of the kitchen appliances every at-home chef needs to whip up family meals in a breeze. 

 

Air Fryer

 

The Air Fryer has been everyone’s favorite kitchen appliance because the possibilities are simply endless. It cooks up your favorite foods in less time with the same great taste. You can whip up a plate of chicken nuggets and french fries for your little ones in minutes without preheating the oven. You can make crispy chicken wings without the use of oil, making them healthier to eat. You can also throw in a few hamburger patties, cook up some juicy salmon, or create your own fresh kale chips. As we said, the possibilities are endless.

 

Instant Pot

 

The Instant Pot is another kitchen favorite we’re sure you’ll love too! Cut your cooking time in half with one-pot meals like spaghetti and meat sauce. Saute’ your meat, add your noodles and your sauce all in one pot and let the Instant Pot do all of the work for you while you enjoy your family. The Instant Pot is also great for preparing oatmeal, yogurt, cooking a whole chicken, or your famous chili recipe in a fraction of the time. 

 

Crock-Pot

 

The crock pot has been around for centuries, and for a good reason. With this appliance, you get more of a low and slow approach, but every bite is worth the wait! It may not cook up a meal in minutes like the Instant Pot, but it does allow you to dump ingredients and forget about it until dinner time. All you have to do is the prep work, and the crockpot does the rest. Throw in ingredients for your favorite meals like soups, stews, pot roast, and so much more right before starting your day. The home fills with an enticing aroma to let you know that dinner is served just a few hours later. 

 

Blender

 

How do you prepare meals in a blender? Well, not every meal has to be cooked. An excellent professional-grade blender is perfect for a fresh smoothie to hold the kids over in-between meals. Add all of their favorite fruit like a banana, frozen strawberries, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and your choice of milk. Don’t forget to sneak in a small handful of spinach to ensure they get a serving of veggies in their smoothie. Blenders are also great to quickly make your own fresh salad dressings, salsa, baby food, and prep soups. 

 

These four must-have kitchen appliances are sure to help win over hearts and stomachs at the dinner table. A small investment will help you save time and money on family meals, so you get back to creating memories with the ones you love. 

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January 12 2021

January Realtor of the Month: Doris Howard

by Erin

Doris Howard Realtor of the Month January

Our January Realtor of the month is Doris Howard, Realtor at Wagner Realty. Doris provides the monthly Real Estate market update for Sarasota, Florida.

 

Doris relocated from her home state of New Jersey in 1999 to Port Charlotte, FL, and then to Bradenton in 2005. After a 25-year career working for a Fortune 500 company, she transitioned into the Real Estate field. Doris specializes in new construction resales and works with buyers and sellers within the Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte Counties. 

 

Select a Realtor who takes pride in creating happy customers and contact Doris Howard of The Melnick Collection today to assist you with choosing your new Tampa Bay home

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December 17 2020

December Realtor of the Month: Lynda Melnick

by Erin

Lynda Melnick December Realtor of the Month

Our December realtor of the month is Lynda Melnick, Realtor of The Melnick Collection. Lynda provides the monthly real estate market update for Bradenton, Florida

 

Lynda Melnick has over 24 years of experience in Residential Sales and Real Estate while specializing in waterfront luxury homes, single-family residences, and income properties in Manatee County. She also has extensive familiarity when it comes to the current transactions, school districts, and neighborhoods within the area. Lynda has been the Top Residential Agent with Wagner Realty for more than 12 years and has also earned several acknowledgments including the Platinum Club Top Agent Award.

 

As one of the World’s leading Real Estate companies, The Melnick Collection is the perfect place to start if you are in the market for a new single-family home in Tampa Bay.

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August 29 2020

7 Ways to Heat Proof Your Home in the Warmer Months

by Erin

new construction home

Although the Fall season is approaching, the summer heat is still lingering. The warm weather has been anything but bearable for many while staying inside these last few months. Of course, you can always blast your air conditioning all hours of the day, but there are more efficient ways to help cool your home off without making your electric bill skyrocket in the process. Here are a few ways to heatproof your home during the warmer months.

 

Focus on your windows

 

You can install energy-efficient windows to help make a difference in the temperature in your home. You can also install Low-E film to reduce the amount of solar heat gain or try out some blackout curtains to keep the sunlight to a minimum. Closing your blinds between peak hours is also beneficial. Keeping your blinds closed when the sun is out the most helps to reduce the amount of heat that enters your home.

 

Set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise

 

Rotating your ceiling fans counterclockwise will allow the blades of your ceiling fan to push the cooler air downward. It also makes the air feel cooler when your air conditioning is on and allows you to turn your thermostat up a notch.

 

Let the air in at night

 

Take advantage of the cool evenings during the summer and give your a/c a break once the sun goes down. The cooler air will circulate throughout your home without having to use your air conditioning all hours of the night. 

 

Start grilling dinner outdoors

 

Using your stove during the warmer months can cause your home to heat up quite a bit. Consider pulling our your trusty grill to prepare family meals outdoors. Give your evening meals a change of scenery and spend some time with the family on the deck as you watch the sunset all while saving energy. 

 

Use a programmable thermostat

 

A programmable thermostat can help you to save on your energy costs and lessen the amount of heat you feel in your home. You can program your thermostat to specific temperatures and times so that your home is just right when you come home at the end of the day.

 

Add foliage to around your home

 

It may be a good idea to add a few shade trees and bushes around your home to not only add curb appeal but also to assist in keep the smoldering heat from entering through your windows and roof.

 

Make sure your home is insulated

 

A well-insulated home can reduce the amount of heat that comes through surfaces like your roof, attic, and walls. This is beneficial during both the warmer months and cooler months to keep the home warm.

 

By applying a few of these tips before and during the warmer months, you’ll be able to enjoy the summer with a lot less hassle. 

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