Yearly Archives: 2011

Real Estate For Sale by Owner

Any real property is not always sold by the real property developers or companies. Such properties are sometimes directly sold by the residential, commercial or self storage owners and they do these either themselves or through the agents they appoint. But whatever they do they must make sure that they get the maximum for the property. And there are ways to do it. It has been often seen that any such sale by the owner ends in realtors grabbing the property and the owner losing out on the price or profit. The sellers often find it difficult to find buyers for their property. So whenever there is a real estate for sale by owner , there is a chance that the owner, being an ordinary person without the experience in marketing of real property ends up the loser.

So any real estate for sale by owner is often found lucrative as a deal because of the ignorance of the owner. To see that they do not lose the owner must  take some precautions. The primary of which is fixing the price of the real property. This is a real problem and people often undervalue or overvalue. This takes much research and study to determine the correct price that an owner should demand and still find buyers. It has been seen that the first couple of weeks are crucial for any property because it remains new on the list and the interest of the buyers are the highest during this period. So the price of any real estate for sale by owner must be accurate and not deter the prospective buyers from showing interest in the property. Any corrections in price at a later stage may not yield any result at all.

Real estate for sale by owner is not very different from selling a home through an agency. Here too is a matter of salesmanship. A good approach will yield good results and a mismanaged unit will cost dearly. So like any other product the house should also be made appealing. Whenever a prospective buyer shows interest in the house, he does not expect it to be in mint condition but also does not want a dilapidated house. A shabby looking house will automatically lead to devaluation. So there is a matter called staging a house. It means that the house will be made presentable to the buyer so that the first impression makes a big impact. Also, a thorough checking must be done and money must be spent where necessary repairs are to be made. The exterior should be painted as well and presented well.

Now comes the most important part of real estate for sale by owner and that is marketing the property. A good amount should be spent on advertising the house and this should be done in the proper medium. Internet is one of the best options and this caters to a larger base than advertising in local newspapers and spreading the news through acquaintances. It should be remembered that the purpose of such advertising is to attract maximum number of buyers even if they do not buy the property. But a good exposition of the property to the appropriate buyer can compensate for the advertisement you spent on. The final job is to close the deal after the necessary evaluation of the matters agreed upon by the owner and the buyer.

This is a simplistic view of the process which might require a few other skills. Some have it while others appoint an expert for the job.

Check your checklist when home shopping.


After making a tough decision to buy real estate your problem is not solved. Now, you need to relax and make a proper planning of how to go about with the details. Friends and relatives are usually the first ones to lend a helping hand while making a selection. You will have plenty of offers and choices, plenty of homes to visit and also know about many home buying experiences. You will be more in a fix if you are a first time buyer. Being a first time buyer individuals are a bit nervous and worried if their investments are being rightly made and whether they will get a proper return on their investment. Moreover, first time buyers are usually flooded with suggestions and advices which often go to a large extent to influence them. A buyer of a home needs to first decide how many homes he will see. It may happen that he is visiting homes and housing complexes one after another, but not able to decide when to stop. This often happens when the choices are many, and we do not understand when to stop.

So next time when an individual decides to buy real estate you should first decide how many homes he should see. This is only possible when he knows what his requirements are and what he is looking for in a home. So, the best suggestion is to put down in paper all your property related requirements. If you have all the details written down, it becomes much easy to tally and know if the home is meeting all the requirements. When people buy real estate they often hire the services of an agent who helps them in the entire process of buying the home. So if you are hiring the services of any agent, he may ask you to accompany him to see the properties. In such a case, he may take you along to visit 4-5 homes in a day. Do not desire to visit more homes than this because if you visit also you will not be able to remember the details once you return home. Then in that case, it becomes difficult to make the right choice of a home. It may be physically possible to visit 20-30 homes in a day but it is not possible to make a right choice in that manner.

The next important aspect is how to rate the properties when you decide to buy real estate . The best way now is to carry a digital camera and take some close-up images of the house number and then the interiors and all facets of the house, including storage closets, laundry room and furnace room, to make it worth remembering. Do not forget to make notes of some unusual and interesting features of the homes, along with color and design elements. Buyers should not ignore the surroundings of the property and location, because no matter how the property will be used, i.e. for residential or commercial purposes location is of prime importance. If you have some special requirements about the location then it is important that before visiting the site you know about the location and whether it matches your requirement. Or else why should you waste your time and energy visiting the site?

There are many buyers who rate properties on a scale of 1 to 10 as soon as they leave the premises, so that they can shortlist the properties. So while you finalize to buy real estate  you can shortlist the properties starting from the highest graded one and if required go on for a second visit.

The “DIY” trend hits T&T!

Much like the rest of the developed world, Trinidad and  Tobago is reeling from the worldwide economic slowdown. The effect that this has had on our domestic economy is also evident and as such, resilient Trinbagonians are at it again. This time, we are adapting by going the “Do it yourself” route for all things necessary at our homes and in some cases, even our work places.

The movement is also being fueled by the upsurge in available “starter kits” for everything from home  painting kits to “make your own concrete pavers” (I actually saw that today at The Home Store and would give it a try if the need arises) So how to you fit in? Are you a do it yourself-er or more inclined to leave it to the professionals? Either way, one would imagine that there are savings to be had all round, as the diversion of spend from pros to Home Kits is bound to drive down prices and make the services providers more aggressive than before.

The Pros of this new trend of course is the cost saving of doing it yourself , but there are also a number of other benefits that can include the bonding that comes with couples or family members working together on weekend projects and seeing almost immediate results, good or maybe not so good, its still a great way to bond. Also, the availability of new kits all achieving various results means that the options and choices have also increased for the homeowner. This means that there are new opportunities to express your personal style and taste.

The Cons are also very much present too! With all these new options to choose from the choices can become overwhelming, and of course the challenge of actually getting it done is a new pressure that will be added to the homeowner that braves the chance of becoming a do-it-yourself-er!

Bundled with the fact that the professional touch that comes with having the right tools, technique and know how is sometimes what you actually pay for and not just the product being installed.

Overall, I do personally think that there are more benefits to be gained from doing it yourself rather that calling in the experts as it does add to the sense of accomplishment knowing you “did it yourself”.

Style and function: key elements of today’s kitchen

When your family comes home at the end of the day – from school, work, a play date or extracurricular activities – it’s very likely the first thing they do is dump whatever they’re carrying on the kitchen table or counter and grab a glass for a drink.

The kitchen is also where you prepare meals, entertain guests, help your children with homework and even stay up late to pay bills. Because the kitchen is the hub of the home, homeowners are always looking for ways to do more in this vital space, all while keeping it stylish. One of today’s most popular trends in new and remodeled kitchens is the use of multiple sinks which add extra functionality to the room. “Pot fillers, island faucets and even bar or convenience faucets all help to maximize the room,” says Kevin McJoynt of Danze, a manufacturer of decorative plumbing faucets and fixtures. “But convenience and functionality aren’t the only two items homeowners are looking at while upgrading their kitchens. Ambiance, decor and style are also top priorities.”

If you’re reconsidering your kitchen’s function and style, consider adding these options into your remodeling plan. These faucets are located near your stove to provide you with a convenient way to fill a pot without having to carry it to the nearest sink. This saves plenty of back-breaking work and minimizes the likelihood of spills. Pot fillers are commonly found in the restaurant industry and have quickly made their way into private kitchens across the country. They are available as a wall mount or deck mount. Find a style that matches your appliances and other faucets in the room.

Usually acting as second sinks, island faucets help avoid congestion at the main sink and are a great way to increase a kitchen’s workflow. Because island sinks are frequently used for preparation, they are sometimes referred to as prep sinks. Homeowners commonly use this workspace for cutting vegetables, chilling wine or washing hands prior to a meal. Choose a faucet style and finish that complements the room’s decor and adds an eye-catching decorative piece to an otherwise “ho-hum” island. Danze has several pull-down or pull-out faucets with three functions – spray, stream and pause – giving your island workspace additional functionality. Also referred to as a convenience sink or a beverage center, this area is typically used for entertaining purposes and is often located on a secondary counter space in the kitchen or adjacent room. Danze offers a variety of bar faucets, including high-arc options, small-scale faucets and several others. Choose a style that will make this space “functional” But remember, you don’t need to sacrifice style in the process.

Home improvement, simplified: Even small projects have a big impact

When budgeting demands cut back on life’s little extravagances, it’s a disappointing but acceptable change. Cutting things out of the budget, like home improvement projects, might seem reasonable in the short term, but it’s a bad decision in the long run. Taking on those projects might seem like an expensive proposition, but with smart solutions, like renting tools, taking proper care of your home is well within your budget.

Protect your most important investment
Your home is your largest investment and no matter how the housing market fluctuates, you don’t want to neglect maintenance and upkeep around the house. Taking the time to do projects will not only ensure the safety of your family, but it will also ensure your financial security for years to come. Investing energy and money into fixing little problems, like a crack in your home’s foundation, will prevent larger problems down the road.

Simple projects to refresh the look of your home, like a fresh coat of paint or a little landscaping work, will not only make your home feel more warm and inviting, but it will also yield a large return on investment when it comes to resale value. The “green” movement might offer ideas for other projects. By making your home more energy efficient, you can reduce bills and add value for the future, should you want to put your home on the market.

Improve your house without increasing your bills
Although many home improvement projects can be simple, they often require tools that most people don’t commonly have. This is when it makes sense to visit your local rental store. Since you will most likely only need the tools or equipment once, renting is a more cost-effective solution than buying new or hiring a handyman.

Stocked with pressure washers to clean off your siding or deck, jackhammers to tear out an uneven front walk and concrete polishers to give your garage floor a new finish, rental stores are gaining popularity and is like the ultimate workshop – filled with professional grade tools! Your local rental professionals will make sure you get the right tools for your job, and they will teach you how to properly use the equipment you need.

Don’t let your biggest investment become your biggest burden – maximize your investment while cutting your costs with rental.

How to make moving easier on your kids!

How to make moving easier on your kids
(ARA) – When adults decide to move, it’s often to pursue an exciting opportunity or discover a new place. But for children, moving can be much harder to understand, as often they’ve only known one place as home.

As you travel through adulthood, the unknown becomes more alluring, but it’s because you’ve been through major life changes before. That’s why it’s important to take some steps to make this major transition easier on your kids. Here are some tips for helping your children adapt to a new place, along with some practical moving advice for families:

* Open a line of honest communication. It can be hard to tell your kids that they’ll be moving, but making sure that they know they can talk about how they’re feeling about the move is important. Try to keep the conversation positive by telling them about all the fun things they’ll be able to do in their new home, but acknowledge that they’ll feel some sadness about leaving their old one.

* Help them say goodbye. Organize a going-away party for your children and their friends, and work with the parents of their friends to gather contact information so they can keep in touch after you move.

* Take inventory. Take a minute with each child to go through toys and clothes to see what can be donated. By letting them help with these decisions, you can eliminate any angst that might come if they realize something they wanted was left behind when you get to your new home.

* Pack a first-day box. Have each child pack a box of things that they will want the first day you move into your new home, like favorite toys, books or stuffed animals. Have the movers pack these boxes last so they are the first thing that is unloaded when you arrive. If you are moving a long distance, have each child pack another bag with items to keep them entertained during the trip.

* Form a moving team. Creating roles for your older children so they can help you move can make your move go quickly and smoothly. If possible, arrange for somebody to watch your younger children so you can focus on moving tasks. Hiring movers can also help take some of the pressure off you so you can tend to your children. Your younger children may also be thrilled by the chance to see the moving truck up close, so take the time to show them.

* Help them feel at home. Showing your children new parks and other attractions in your new community will help them feel excited about their new home. Plan ahead to get them enrolled in activities with other children so they can quickly make new friends. However, be sure to explain to them that making new friends takes time, so they aren’t discouraged if it doesn’t happen for them right away. Communicate with their teachers to see if there’s anything special you can do to help your children feel more comfortable at school.

By doing the little things to help your children cope with the tough parts of moving, you’ll put them in a position to acclimate themselves to their new home quickly and easily.

The Smart Way to go from Renting to Owning

The smart way to go from renting to owning
If you’ve paid attention to any news media over the past few years, you know that the housing market has dropped off. From a seller’s perspective, that makes life a lot harder. But for a buyer, it can mean a wider world of options and opportunities. For those want to become owners rather than renters, it’s vitally important to make smart decisions – as the markets have shown.

Many factors contribute to the real estate market’s current sluggishness, and one of them is the fact that lenders are reluctant to give loans to homebuyers. After the housing market crisis, it’s not surprising that they would be more demanding in their lending practices, but for those eager to buy, it means that you need to present a pristine financial profile.

There’s no limit to the amount of real estate browsing you can do – either online or in your ideal neighborhood – but before you get serious about purchasing a home, take these tips into consideration.

* Pay down your debt. Before you even apply for a mortgage, it’s important that you reduce your debt load. The smaller it is, the better for your debt-to-income ratio, which lenders use to determine how much they’ll allow you to borrow. Items like car loans, child support and alimony, credit card bills and student loans are all factors that the lender will consider. Paying down debt can have the added benefit of improving your credit, as well.

* Check up on your credit. Having good credit is another essential element in smart home buying – it can affect how lenders view you, and the terms of your mortgage. The better shape your credit is in, the better your potential to get the mortgage of your dreams.

* Make the biggest down payment possible. The era of zero-down is over, and for good reason. A down payment – and a sizeable one – can help ease the strain of a mortgage in coming years. A minimum of 20 percent down is a good idea, and if you can do more than that, so much the better. If you don’t think you can afford a down payment of 20 percent or more on a house you’re considering, it might be time to shop around for a less expensive home that is more budget friendly.

* Be an informed buyer. There is a seemingly endless list of things to know about buying a home, and the faster you want to buy, the faster you’ll need to learn it all. Be sure you know the ins and outs of items like closing costs, adjustable rate versus fixed rate mortgages, how your credit report affects and the documentation you’ll need to get a mortgage. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make smart decisions that will make you a happy homeowner for years to come.

Upgrade your Real Space!

For the new season, we will be offering a new feature to the Real Spaces viewer, called Upgrade your Real Space. If you have a room or space that needs upgrading, send in your home videos for a chance to win a makeover! Viewers will then be given the chance to text to vote for their favorite space to be remodeled.  Stay tuned for more info on this great new feature of Real Spaces.


How to Hang Art at the Right Height

One of my pet peeves is art hung too high on a wall and, unfortunately, it happens all too often.  I know you’ve seen it too, the wall art requiring you to tilt your head back to look up at it or the piece that floats so high above the sofa that it has no relationship to the furniture or the rest of the room.   The following photos illustrate my point:

Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.
Interesting piece of art hung way above eye level and with no relationship to the furniture.



Art should be only about 10" from the back of the sofa instead of way up on the wall.
Art should be only about 8″ from the back of the love seat instead of way up on the wall. Art on the left near the window is also above eye level. Take a look clear into the back room and you’ll see still another way-too-high piece of art.



Art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at eye level.
Look up – this art trio is almost to the ceiling instead of at viewable eye level.



Whose Eye Level?

Many of you have probably heard the rule about hanging art at “eye level.”  Hmmm, but if you’re 5’5″ tall and living with someone who is 6’4″ (hope you don’t mind my using you as an example, Terrie!), whose eye level do you use?  A simple rule of thumb for hanging art is to place the centerpoint of the art at 60″ to 63″ above the floor.  From there you can adjust accordingly for the overall height of the ceiling or height of the furniture over which the art will hang.  This measurement provides a great base-line starting point and a good foundation for staying away from the too-high syndrome.

To find the centerpoint of the art piece measure the full height of the piece (if framed include the frame in the measurement) and divide by 2.  Then measure the full width of the piece and divide by 2.  The point at which these measurements intersect is the centerpoint of the art piece.

Arranging More Than One Art Piece

If you plan to hang a grouping lay all of the items out on the floor and move them around until you find a desireable arrangement or make cut-to-size paper shapes of each item and use painter’s tape to post them on the wall.   Once you’ve figured out the format for your grouping,  find the centerpoint by measuring the height and width of the overall arrangement, treating it as if it were a single piece.   Use the centerpoint of the entire grouping as your starting point for hanging the arrangement and build out from it.


Use cut-to-size templates or your art with painter's tape to experiment with placement.  Photo
Use cut-to-size templates of your art with painter’s tape to experiment with placement. Photo



Hanging Height

After determining your art’s centerpoint you must figure out where to to place the hanger so the art’s centerpoint ends up at the correct height.  If your art has picture wire installed on the back, pull up on the center of the wire and measure how high the wire peaks from the centerpoint of your art piece.   If the wire peaks 4″ above the centerpoint of the art then add 4″ to your 60″ eye level height for a total of 64″.  On the wall where you want your art installed measure up from the floor and put a light pencil mark at 64″.  This is the point at which you place the hook portion of your picture hanger. Tip: If you have a large or heavy piece of art you may want to use two hangers instead of one for added safety and stability.  To do this hold the wire in two places (separated by about half the width of the art) to find how high the wire peaks, add the peak measurement to the 60″ eye level height and place your two hanger hooks at these points.

If your art piece has two loops or hanging bars instead of wire, measure their height and distance left or right from the art’s centerpoint.   Then mark these points up and over from the 60″ eye level mark and place the hangers accordingly.  Double check to make certain both hooks are the same height by using a level.

Measure Twice Hang Once

A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art - use it often!
A tape measure is a trusty friend when hanging art – use it often!


You’ve heard the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”  Good advice for carpenters and seamstresses – and adaptable to hanging art as “measure twice, nail once.”  A tape measure like the one pictured above helps you save your walls from endless holes by measuring before nailing:

  • Measure your art vertically and horizontally and divide each measurement by 2 in order to find its centerpoint
  • Measure 60″ from the floor up the wall for placement of your art centerpoint and lightly mark the spot with pencil or chalk
  • Measure the hanging wire peak, or the location of loops or bars on the back of your art, and mark them lightly on the wall in relation to your art centerpoint mark
  • Nail your picture hanger so the hook(s) is on the designated marks you made after measuring

Here’s to hanging your art and enjoying the view without a crick in your neck!  You’re on your way to conquering one of the biggest decorating mistakes.

Now that we’ve discussed the right height for hanging art, in tomorrow’s post I’ll continue the discussion with where to hang your art.  Be sure to check back or, better yet, sign up for a free e-mail subscription and the post will be delivered to your inbox!



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How-To Accessorize a Side Table Perfectly.

All of us enjoy accessorizing – it’s the fun part of the decorating process.  We get to shop for all those charming, shiny, silly, beautiful things that we just can’t say no to.  While the shopping may happen throughout the project, when you finally get to put them in place it generally means the project is done and that’s such a relief.  Until you actually place all your carefully chosen doodads and realize……..the room doesn’t look quite right – it doesn’t look polished and perfect.

Don’t go into a tail spin yet.  Like just about everything else in design, good accessorizing can be learned.  Follow a few simple guidelines and soon your rooms will look like you hired a professional.

A side table: BEFORE

A side table: BEFORE


Here’s an example of a typical home side table (minus the clutter of letters and newspapers…..keep the clutter put away so your tablescape shines).  You need a lamp but it’s blocking a lot of the picture; you love candles; the clock is helpful and functional and then the little round box was a gift.  Each piece on it’s own is attractive and meaningful, but as an appealing tablescape, something is definitely missing.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.


This second picture makes a few changes and a stronger statement.  The lamp is moved off center, closer to the seating and doesn’t block so much of the picture.  The fact that it slightly overlaps the frame of the picture serves to connect the art to the table.  A red vase is added to bring the color of the art down to the tabletop but more importantly to bridge the height difference between the lamp and all the shorter elements.  All the various elements are clustered together to form a more cohesive statement.

Final tablescape: After

Final tablescape: After


The final tablescape is a balance of color, size, interest and function.  I added a silk orchid for a touch of softness and life.  It was a little too short so I raised it with a couple of books.  I filled in the empty wall space created by moving the lamp with a dimensional small piece of art – again providing a connection between the tabletop and larger art.  The clock (the functional item) is still front and center so you can easily see the time, the sentimental box is readily visible and there’s still plenty of room to put a drink.


Tablescapes can evolve over time as you travel, go shopping or receive gifts, and these pictures show how that can happen.  Keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Connect the tabletop to the wall or furniture piece behind it by placing a large enough piece to connect the elements and anchor the tablescape.
  • Create interest by varying the textures (honeycomb candle against a smooth ceramic vase).
  • Vary the heights but keep them connected by generally graduating from shortest in front to tallest in back.
  • Add a touch of greenery or flowers to the tablescape to provide a softer element.
  • Leave enough empty space on the table for it to remain functional.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.  It’s certainly easy enough to move things around and rearrange.  Bring in accessories from other rooms of the house and try them on your tabletop.
  • Create a tablescape then leave it alone and live with it for a couple of days.  If it still doesn’t feel right, change the elements around.

As a designer I love to accessorize, just like you do.  I’ll scour the showrooms, stores and internet looking for the perfect “jewelry” to finish a room.  I’ll find ways to incorporate the owners’ favorite things into my plan.  You too can have that designer look with a little practice and help from me.

Have an decorating dilemma?  Contact me – I’d love to help solve it.  Did you find this article helpful?  Susbscribe and get more great tips and,



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