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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 197

Winter Decor Ideas

by Tucker Robbins

The Christmas decorations come down, and everything looks so stark and plain, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Try some of these ideas to brighten up your home during the long winter days.  

 

  • - Change your light bulbs to those that give off a blue hue to mimic sunlight. For dark mornings, invest in a sunrise light that comes on and brightens over a period of time to simulate the sun rising. 

  • - Force the flower bulbs you were given as gifts. Their bright colors will bring Springtime early—indoors, anyway.  

  • - Use light, bright colors everywhere you can—cozy throws, pillows, slipcovers, and accent rug—the light colors reflect what natural light we have coming through the windows and help boost our mood.  

  • - Using natural items isn’t just for Christmas. A basket of pine cones with battery operated LED lights woven through them, or a simple wreath of twigs can double as decor for January.  

  • - Use snowflakes, no matter where you live, to brighten up your interior. Get the kids to cut out paper snowflakes, or make these popsicle stick snowflakes. Hang either on clear monofilament and make a mobile or garland and hang them in a window.  

  • - Cut the arms off of old sweaters and use them to wrap around candle holders and vases for a fun, cozy appearance.  

  • - Clip small branches and twigs, spray them with white spray paint, (or leave them natural), and display them in vases with artificial snow, small pine cones, or whole nuts as a filler.  

  • - Hang a mirror, or several, in a dark spot in your home. It will reflect light and brighten the space.  

  • Winter greens joined with a child’s sled, vintage ice skates, or a harness of jingle bells make great front door adornment.  

  • - Use unused scarves wrapped around a foam wreath core for a fun and unique decoration. Hang a pair of mittens in place of a bow. 

  • - Do you or any friends have flowering trees? If so, ask them for a few snipped branches, and force-bloom them with these tips from Fine Gardening.  The Springtime buds will brighten any room. 

 

Decorating for the colder months doesn’t have to scream Santa. Light colors, natural things and cozy pieces are perfect for brightening the long nights, and making your home as inviting as it was during the holidays.  

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: homebnc.com

Saving Money for Your New Home Down Payment

by Tucker Robbins

With the new year here, many people are thinking about resolutions.  If you’re seriously considering buying a new home, you’ll definitely need to be thinking about having your down payment ready when you find the perfect house.  Follow these ideas for saving as much as you possibly can. 

 

  • - First and foremost, know your house-purchasing budget, and estimate needing 20% of that budget. 

  • - Set up a hands-off down payment high-yield savings or money market account. 

  • - Start cutting out expenses, or find ways to make extra money.  Every little bit counts. 

  • - If you plan on getting an end-of-year bonus or income tax refund, set aside that money to begin your new nest’s egg. 

  • - Sign up with your employer to deposit a portion of your pay into a down payment savings account if you’re not great at putting money into savings.  Most of the time, if you don’t see it, you don’t miss it. 

  • - Receiving gifts from family members towards your down payment require documentation so your  lender, as well as the IRS, knows where the money is coming from, and that the money doesn’t require re-payment.  More information about down payment gifts are here from The Mortgage Reports website. 

  • - Start paying off your credit card debt by paying more than the minimum payment.  Lowering and/or eliminating your card balance also lowers your interest rates, so you can start taking what you’d normally pay on credit cards and depositing it towards your down payment fund. 

  • - If you have investments in stocks or bonds, plan on liquidating those assets when it’s time to purchase your house.  Make sure you document these sales. 

  • - A pay raise at work is great, but if you happen to get one, stay on your old budget, and have the extra pay direct deposited into your down payment account. 

  • - You can always borrow from your 401k or IRA, but make sure you’re not having to pay penalties.  Talk with your account holder before you make any withdrawals. 

 

A down payment, especially at twenty percent, can look daunting.  If it just looks impossible, do your research.  There are many first-time buyer programs available, as well as lower down payment options through the USDA, the VA and state-specific programs.  Zillow has a terrific guide on low down payment guidelines and opportunities. Planning ahead and keeping your eye on your goal will get you well on the way to home ownership. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: www.proptiger.com

DIY Home Staging

by Tucker Robbins

You’ve taken the plunge, and put your home on the market.  How do you stage it for potential buyers, and keep it looking great while living your day-to-day? Follow this guide for some practical ideas. 

 

  • 1. Look at your front entry closely. Paint porch rails and columns, and your front door, if necessary. Replace the door, if necessary.  
     

  • 2. Landscaping is extremely important for first impressions--clean out the flowerbeds, put down some new mulch and fresh plants, if the time of year is right. 
     

  • 3. Get rid of clutter and anything that isn’t necessary. Go ahead and pack these things for your potential move so you’ll have one less thing to do when the time comes. 
     

  • 4. Clean out closets, and throw away, give away or store anything that you’re not using or haven’t used in six months. Buyers will look in closets and cabinets to see how much storage is available. 
     

  • 5. Clean, clean, clean.  Your home needs to be spotless, but once it’s done, it’s easy to keep clean for realtor showings.  If you don’t have time, consider hiring a cleaning agency. 
     

  • 6. Using decorative containers to store things that you need while living in your staged home is a great way to hide extra clutter. Totes, benches with storage, and inexpensive shelving with baskets are great ways to hide your can’t-live-without things. 
     

  • 7. Rearranging furniture to make rooms appear larger is a huge plus--even taking out lesser-used pieces makes a big difference in how open your rooms will look.  If you’re unsure of this step, ask your realtor for the name of a decorator who specializes in rearrangement and using what you have to improve the space. 
     

  • 8. If your decor is bold and bright, go ahead and give the walls a fresh coat of neutral paint colors. 
     
     

  • 9. You don’t need to purchase new furniture once you’ve toned down the wall paint--slipcovers are an inexpensive way to make your pieces look like new. 
     

  • 10. Remove personal artwork/photos from your walls and replace with mirrors, inexpensive prints of landscapes or animals.  

 

Once you’re ready for your realtor to schedule showings, give everyone in the house a responsibility schedule, and stick to it.  Be diligent about keeping furniture dusted, floors vacuumed, countertops wiped off, and dishes stashed in the dishwasher. If you just take out an extra twenty minutes every evening or morning, your home will impress your potential buyers. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For November 2017

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle County DE listings decreased from 628 new listings in November 2016 down to 615 in November 2017. The average sales price decreased to $236,593, while days on market dropped by 10 days.

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Pets and Holiday Food

by Tucker Robbins

The time of year is upon us when we gather together and indulge in our favorite foods.  It’s so easy to slip Fido or Kitty a little scrap now and then, but it may not be such a good idea.  See this list for human foods that may or not be good for your pets. 

 

  • 1. Turkey may be an ingredien.t in some pet foods, and a bite or two of cooked, white meat is a nice treat. The skin, however, contains fat as well as spices that can cause an upset stomach, or worse, pancreatitis.  If they get turkey, remove the skin. 
     

  • 2. If you’re celebrating with prime rib, or ham, a few bites of meat without herbs or spices is a nice snack.  
     

  • 3. Bones of any kind can be a real danger because of splintering, and could cause choking as well as a perforated digestive system. 
     

  • 4. Gravy is a yummy treat poured over their regular food, but limit it to a few tablespoonsful.  Gravies are usually too salty for animals, and are high in fats. 
     

  • 5. Before you turn your baked sweet potatoes or pureed pumpkin into pies, pass a spoonful or two along as a treat.  Both are rich in vitamins and high in fiber, and are a great anytime snack. 
     

  • 6. Onions are a definite no--they contain thiosulphate, which is quite harmful to dogs and cats. 
     

  • 7. Stuffing may not only be too carb-rich, but the onions, garlic and spices that most stuffing’s contain can be toxic your pets. 
     

  • 8. Going sugar free? Make sure your artificial sweetener doesn’t contain xylitol, and if it does, make absolute certain your pet doesn’t eat anything it’s an ingredient in. 
     

  • 9. Baked goods contain too much sugar, or may have chocolate, which shouldn’t be fed to either cats or dogs in the slightest amount.  Call your vet if you think they may have eaten anything containing chocolate. 

 

We usually end up going a bit overboard on Christmas, but it doesn’t have to include our pets.  The extra people in the house and hustle and bustle in the kitchen and can be a bit much for pets, anyway.  Provide a quiet corner for them so they can get away for a while.  When you sit down for your meal, make sure guests know not to feed the four-legged beggars with the sad eyes.  If you really want to include your beloved canine in your family meal, try this little doggy casserole from The Bark, and cats will enjoy these turkey jerky nibblers that are easy to make! 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: vetstreet.com

End-Of-Year Giving

by Tucker Robbins

With a little less than a month left in the year, many begin to think about charitable donations.  Once you’ve decided on an amount to give, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

 

  • 1. Did you give last year?  Do a quick check of the organization’s website, or give them a call to see what sort of strides they’ve taken.  If you’re not satisfied, or don’t see progress, consider another charity. 
     

  • 2. As difficult as it can be to narrow your donation to one organization, a larger gift can be more beneficial as one gift, instead of spreading your donations around. 
     

  • 3. Keep in mind that there are thousands of charities who don’t have it in their budgets to advertise.  Consider giving to a local charity, or a national one that’s lesser known. 
     

  • 4. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, call the charities if you can’t find their mission statements online, and ask questions.  It’s the best way to get the information you need. 
     

  • 5. Although there’s nothing wrong with giving to your alma mater or the hospital that took such great care of a family member, find out if your local homeless or domestic violence shelter needs help.  These kinds of organizations usually struggle to make ends meet in providing services. 
     
     

  • 6. Make sure your charity is legitimate, and it’s very important to check their finances. Charity Navigator’s website will let your search a charity’s name and get feedback. 
     

  • 7. Because donations are tax-deductible, the IRS has a search tool that allows you to see what organizations are eligible for tax-deduction gifts. There are other handy options, such as seeing what organizations are no longer allowed to be considered exempt. 
     

  • 8. Avoid scams--charitable giving is at a high at the year’s end, and crooks abound.  Use the above IRS search tool to make sure your charity is legitimate charity. 
     

  • 9. Keep receipts, check stubs or letters of thanks for when you’re filing taxes.  If your donation isn’t monetary, but something valued at over $5,000, the IRS requires an appraisal for your deduction. 
     

  • 10. Do you volunteer? Any out-of-pocket directly related expenses--even mileage--are tax deductible.  
     

  • 11. Keep in mind that last-minute online donations made December 30-31 are eligible for a tax write-off.  

 

Deciding who should benefit from your generosity can be a tough or easy decision, depending on what you already know. Just look for charities that depend on your generosity to keep their doors open, or who need your physical presence to be successful.  Giving isn’t always about money.  

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Safely Decorating with Outdoor Lights

by Tucker Robbins

It’s time to get the holiday house decorating in high gear, and you may have bought new light strands, but plan on mixing them with ones you have, or adding LED lights.  Safety is important this time of year, and making the days merry and the nights bright means taking a few precautions. 

 

  • 1. Check your old lights for frayed wires, nicks or cuts along the outer cord, and broken bulbs. Broken bulbs can be replaced, but toss the frayed strands, or those with cuts. 
     

  • 2. Decorating the exterior of your house means the lights you use must be made for outdoors.  Check the packaging or tag on the string to make certain. 

  •  

  • 3. Use clips or hangers that are UL-approved--do NOT nail, tack, or staple lights to any fixture. 
     

  • 4. If you’d like to light a tree in your yard, make absolute certain no power lines run through the branches, and keep any lighting at least ten feet from power lines. 
     

  • 5. Make sure your extension cords are specifically made for outdoor use, and have a three-pronged ground plug.  Your receptacle should be a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet in case of electrical overload, it will shut off power.  Portable outdoor GFCI’s are available for very little cost at Amazon. 
     

  • 6. Read and heed all labels when it comes to connecting strings of lights.  If the label says only three can be connected to one another, start a new chain of lights after the third strand is in place.  Also keep in mind that only strands with the same number of bulbs should be connected--in other words, don’t connect a 100-strand with two 25-strands. 
     

  • 7. Keep extension cords away from high-traffic areas, and out from under welcome mats or pavers. 
     

  • 8. Many people start decorating long before Christmas, but be aware that most non-commercial light strands are only safely exposed to the elements for 90 days.  Any longer, and deterioration to the insulation will begin.   
     

  • 9. Avoid using a metal ladder if you’re having to get up high with your lights--use wooden or fiberglass instead. 
     

  • 10. Never leave lights on when you’re not at home, or asleep.   
     

  • 11. If you’re considering adding LED’s to your holiday display, make sure you don’t mix connecting with incandescent.  Going all-LED will be costlier upon start-up, but will save money on your power bill, as well as in replacement costs--LED’s can last up to twenty years. 

 

You don’t want a friendly neighborhood competition to turn into disaster, nor do you want a classic Clark Griswold power outage at home.  Know your home’s electrical limits, and use common sense and care while you’re decorating. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: laserchristmaslightshq.com/

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For October 2017

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle County DE listings decreased from 783 new listings in October 2016 down to 768 in October 2017. The average sales price decreased to $242,975, while days on market dropped by 15 days.

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Displaying Framed Pieces!

by Tucker Robbins

Moving into a new home means looking for the right touch for the blank walls.  Artwork or family photos are the perfect fillers for these spaces, and hanging them can be a task.  Let’s look at some practical rules and tips for making those plain spaces come to life. 

 

Single Frames 

  • 1. Pick your space, picture to hang, and gather measuring tool, chalk or pencil, level, hammer and nails or screwdriver and screws. Picture-hanging kits can be purchased at hardware and home stores as well. 

  • 2. If the place you’ve chosen doesn’t have a stud for a nail, it is best to use an anchor and screw hanger.  These are inexpensive, and can be found in any hardware store.  Follow the easy instructions for installation for a strong mount for the picture. 

  • 3. Measure up to approximately 57” on the wall; this is where the center of your picture should be--average eye height. The top of the frame will obviously be higher. 

  • 4. Hold the frame up to the wall and use a pencil or some chalk to mark the approximate place for the nail/anchor screw. 

  • 5. Install the hardware you’ve chosen, and hang the frame. 

  • 6. Sometimes the frame doesn’t want to hang level.  Use self-stick rubber dots on the back corners of the frame; these will hold it in place, and protect the wall from damage. 

 

Gallery Walls 

  • 1. If you’re creating a gallery wall using several pieces, and include family snapshot photos, children’s artwork, art prints, and even fine art. 

  • 2. Create a clean, modern look by using the same style and color frames, same color palette, or same theme. 

  • 3. Use the largest picture for a focal point. Hang it first, using the 57” on-center idea. 

  • 4. Make templates of your artwork with newspaper.  Lay your pictures down on the paper, and trace around the edge. Cut the templates out. 

  • 5. Place the templates on the floor, or on the wall with masking tape, in any formation you like, changing the arrangement until it looks like a well-fitted puzzle. 

  • 6. Not all large pieces need to be in the center; a pleasing arrangement would have the focal point hanging to the left of your display, with smaller frames hung on the right.  

  • 7. Once you are satisfied with your mock-up gallery, hang the pictures using the first four tips. 

 

Bonus Display Tips 

  • 1. Renters or anyone who doesn’t want to bother with hammer and nails can use removeable sticky strips for framed pieces.  3M Command Strips are perfect for this easy display idea. 

  • 2. Use an art ledge for an easy display. These can be purchased at home stores and painted or stained to suit your style.  Attach to the wall at the 57” level, or 12” above the furniture, and place your pictures and artwork on them--no other hardware needed! 

  • 3. There are a multitude of free printables--seasonal and inspirational quotes--available on the internet.  Keep one or two spaces on your walls for a quick-change whenever you feel the need. 

 

No matter your decorating style, hanging framed items has a few rules that you should follow for aesthetics’ sake, but choosing what to display and how many is a personal decision.  Make your home your own by showing off what you love most, making the statement with your framed decorations. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: www.utrdecorating.com

 

Sprucing Up with Paint!

by Tucker Robbins

If finances are tight, but you’re ready to give your home a new look, paint is the budget-friendly way to go.  Making it a DIY project is even more cost-effective, and with so many options and ways to add color to your walls, you need some guidance so it will look like it was done by a pro. 

 

Which Paint and What Finish? 

  • 1. Latex paint is best for walls, and oil paint is perfect for wood trim, because it seals stains.  2. Oil paint takes longer to dry, and has a strong odor, but if you add a tablespoon of vanilla extract per gallon, and open the windows, it helps keep the odor in check.  

  • 3. Flat paint goes on easily, but doesn’t clean easily; glossy paint is great for cleaning, and comes in semi-gloss, and satin, but doesn’t cover wall imperfections. For a nice compromise, an eggshell finish is somewhat flat, but easy to clean. 

 

Choose Your Color 

  • 1. Choose a color for the room/s you’re updating, and don’t be afraid of using a bold color.  2. This adds character and some wow factor to your home. Neutrals are great for quick-change decorating, or if you’re thinking of selling soon. 

  • 3. Using pint-can paint samples, apply a 2x2 foot area of each color on the wall you’re planning to paint, allow to dry for 24 hours, and look at them at different times of the day.  4. You’ll get a more accurate feel for the color in the different lights, and whether you can live with it or not. 

  • 5. Don’t forget the ceiling! You can change the feel of the room’s height by going a shade darker (for a lower ceiling feel), or go a shade lighter or use a lighter color to give the illusion of a higher ceiling. 

 

Painting Prep 

  • 1. Measure your room for square footage, and make sure you buy enough paint--about one gallon per 400 square feet. 

  • 2. Purchase good painter’s tape, drop cloths, putty, a good putty knife, caulking, and any tools you may need for removing hardware from any doors or walls. 

  • 3. Protect light fixtures, trim, or wall sconces with painter’s tape.  Move furniture and put down drop cloths. Use wall putty or caulking to fill and smooth any holes or other wall damage. 

  • 4. Clean, sand, and dust walls, using a vacuum to make sure all of the dust is off the walls. 

  • 5. Priming the walls is really important if you’re covering a dark color, if there are stains on the walls, or if you’re painting paneling or new sheetrock. Tint the primer with a little of your new wall color before applying. 

 

Start Painting 

  • 1. Paint mixing isn’t 100% perfect. Professionals mix all of the gallon cans together in a five-gallon bucket for color uniformity.   

  • 2. Paint in corners and close to the ceiling with a good brush before you paint the walls, working your way down to catch drips. This process is called “cutting in.” 

  • 3. Working in an overlapping W-pattern, apply paint until you need to reload the roller.  If you notice paint drying quickly, work in 3-4 foot sections of wall, but a whole wall can be accomplished in the case of a slower drying process. 

  • 4. Smoothing the paint is important and is done by using what paint is left on the roller to paint as close to the ceiling and corners as possible, where you’ve already cut in. This gives a smooth appearance to the finish. 

  • 5. Clean your equipment as soon as painting is done:  latex paint can be washed off with dish detergent and warm water, but oil paint should be cleaned off with paint thinner.  

  • 6. Once the paint is dry, after about 24 hours, move your furniture back in, but hold off hanging anything on the walls for a few days, and don't wash them until the paint has cured, usually two weeks to thirty days. 

 

A newly painted room can make your home feel fresh, and make it look as if you’ve redecorated.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, try painting a pattern on your wall.  It may take more time, but the dramatic effect it makes in the room makes the wall a focal point in itself<span class="SpellingError SCXW241503921" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; user-select: text; -webkit-user-drag: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; background-repeat: repeat-x; background-position: left bottom; background-image: url(" data:image="" gif;base64,r0lgodlhbqaeajecap="" 8aaaaaaaaaach5baeaaaialaaaaaafaaqaaaiilgaxcchrtcgaow="=&quot;);" border-bottom:="" 1px="" solid="" transparent;"="">diy Network has some great tips for a patterned accent wall here.

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins  

 

Photo credit: markspaintingblog.com

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 197

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Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)