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Perfect New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when people make resolutions, goals, and life changes in an effort to better themselves. Why not take the opportunity to better your home and yourself as a homeowner as well? Here are some perfect new year’s resolutions any homeowner can make for 2019. Whether you choose to concentrate on one or two points or try to tackle the whole list, doing any of these will help you feel like an even better homeowner this year.

Make a realistic cleaning plan.

If one of your resolutions is to be better at keeping house, it’s a good idea to sit down with a pen and paper and make a realistic plan that will help you do so. Keeping things neat and clean can be a difficult job, especially if you’ve got a whole family to pick up after. Create a plan that divides up chores among your household, making one person responsible for a certain task on certain days or weeks. If it’s just you, designate a day for each chore. Monday might be laundry day, Tuesday could be the day you scrub down the bathrooms, and so forth.

Learn how to maintain something on your own.

Resolve to learn how to do maintenance and cleaning of a major part of your home. Maybe you’d like to learn more about your HVAC system. Perhaps you’d like to educate yourself on preventive maintenance on your home’s appliances. Whatever it is you’re hoping to learn about, there’s a wealth of information out there for you. Look for educational videos on YouTube, check out books from the library, ask a professional to help you out, or just scour the internet for great informational sources.

Go energy efficient.

There are so many benefits to going green and making your home more energy efficient. Of course there’s the question of doing your part to clean up our environment, but there are also immediate benefits to you. For example, investing in Energy Star appliances, windows, and doors can help you save on energy bills each month. Look into smart home features that help with energy efficiency as well, such as smart thermostats and lights that turn themselves off or down when no one’s home.

Squeeze in extra mortgage payments.

This is one of the best things homeowners can do for themselves. If you your budget supports it, add a little more money to your mortgage payment each month to pay down your principal. If you can’t manage to pay extra every month, just put a little bit toward your principal whenever you find yourself with extra cash. This will help you build equity faster, and your future self will be glad you did it.

Spruce up your landscaping.

Make this year the year you finally bump up your curb appeal. Go all out and turn your back yard into an entertainer’s paradise, or just do something as simple as edging the driveway and walkways with some pretty brick. Make sure the trees, bushes, and plants are nice and tidy, flowerbeds are weed-free, and grass is neatly trimmed at all times. If you feel so inclined, give your porch and front door a fresh coat of paint. It’ll do wonders!

Do a safety audit.

Make sure all of your home’s safety features are in good working order. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, alarms, emergency supplies, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers. If you find yourself lacking any of these, now’s the perfect time to go out and get them. It’s also a good idea to check with your home insurance agent to see if there are any other safety items you might be lacking. Did you put in a pool, for instance? Your insurance policy might require that it be fenced off to prevent any accidents.

Start a no-shoes policy.

This is a small detail that can really help out when it comes to cleaning and preventing damage to floors. Think about all the places you walk every day wearing shoes. Sure, you pick up things you can see like dirt, sand, and leaves; but you can also track in germs and general grime from animal waste and other sources you might not be aware of. Bare or socked feet are also easier on floors than shoes are, which means less wear and an extended life for your flooring of choice.

Start an emergency fund.

Open up a new savings account specifically for a home emergency fund. It’s never a good feeling when you have shallow pockets and a need for expensive emergency repairs. Homeowners insurance won’t always cover everything. You could find yourself stuck with a major bill after a natural disaster or other unforeseen problem. But if you can put a little extra cash into an emergency fund each month, you’ll have a safety net to fall back on just in case.

Review your insurance policy.

Speaking of homeowner’s insurance, now is also a great time to sit down with your insurance agent and review your policy. You might find that you need more coverage, or you might find something obsolete and unnecessary. Things change, and so should your insurance policy.

Refinance your home loan.

It’s always worth checking to see if you can get a lower rate or better terms on your mortgage. Make an appointment with your favorite lender or bank to check up on your home loan and see if there’s anything better out there for you.

5 Outdated Real Estate Tips to Leave Behind in the New Year

The real estate market is an ever-changing, rapidly evolving business. Real estate advice that was relevant five years ago is most likely out the window by now as new—or sometimes recycled—tips and trends make their way around the block. Advice and knowledge that were completely valid and useful just a few years ago can be completely obsolete now. Here are five real estate tips you should leave behind as we close the door on another year and open it up to 2019.

Set Your List Price High

Overpricing your home means you could be missing out on a whole group of buyers. Say your home is worth about $200,000, and that’s what you hope to get for it. Your gut tells you to price it at $250,000 for haggling’s sake. But setting your list price higher than your home’s actual value can do more harm than good. When buyers and their agents conduct their initial searches, they’ll set search parameters that include a certain price range. Using our above example, if their top price is $210,000, your overpriced home—which they could actually afford if it was priced appropriately—won’t even show up in their search results. A smart buyer who’s working with a savvy Realtor might also steer clear of any obviously overpriced homes because they don’t want to deal with the back-and-forth of negotiating with a greedy seller.

Always Go for a 30-Year, Fixed-Rate Mortgage

It used to be that people stayed in one job until they retired. They bought a house and raised their families there and maybe moved once. Life is wildly different these days. The truth now is that people just don’t live in one home for thirty-plus years anymore. Technology has opened the world up for more of the population, and the fact that it’s much simpler to move and/or travel has made it less common to stay in one house for three or more decades. So think about it. If the home you’re buying isn’t going to be your “forever home,” a 30-year loan with a fixed rate isn’t really necessary. If you know for a fact that you won’t be in this home for more than five to ten years, open up your options a little by looking into adjustable-rate mortgages. You could qualify for a lower rate than a traditional 30-year mortgage could give you, and by the time the fixed-rate period is over, you’ll have already moved anyway.

Sell in the Spring and Summer

While it’s true that the real estate market is typically busier during these times thanks to summer vacation and nicer weather, they’re no longer THE end-all, be-all times to sell your home. Modern marketing techniques like social media and other internet outlets make it possible to advertise and sell all year long. And since winters are typically mild here in the Lowcountry, getting buyers out to look at homes during the cooler months isn’t really a problem anyway. People who get big Christmas bonuses or early income tax returns might be looking to use them to boost their down payments. Additionally, putting your home on the market during slower times means you’ll have less competition as a seller.

Truly Interested Parties Will Buy As-Is

Unless you’re in a wildly popular neighborhood where houses get snapped up as soon as they go on the market, “as-is” condition isn’t going to be good enough for most buyers. The typical home buyer wants their new home to be as move-in ready as possible. Now, if your target buyer is a flipper or someone who’s just looking for a fixer-upper project, it’s fine to advertise it that way. But don’t expect the Average Joe buyer to show a ton of interest in your outdated home with its peeling porch paint, stained carpets, and 1980s cabinets. Make an effort to do small updates that just give the house a little facelift. Or if you don’t feel like doing any repairs or cosmetic improvements, you should reflect that in your listing price.

Don’t Forget to Advertise in Print Media

A huge majority of buyers begin their home searches online. There aren’t many people who go to the newspaper or local real estate print guide to see what’s available anymore. Internet marketing is so much more interactive, not to mention faster and easier. Why waste money on a tiny picture and a few words when you can take advantage of free marketing on social media and other websites? Spend that money on hiring a professional photographer or videographer instead. Virtual walkthroughs are a great way to show buyers exactly what they’ll get out of a home without wasting any of their time or yours.

Friday Five // December 28th, 2018

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for our very last Friday Five of this year! Participate in some family-friendly activities, “wine down” at a local vineyard, or just meet up and watch a little football with friends. Whatever you choose to do for this last weekend of 2018, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend…and a very Happy New Year!

With the kids on winter break, you might be looking for a fun family activity that will get you outdoors for a while. Look no further than Caw Caw Interpretive Center County Park, where the park’s resident fairies and gnomes are in need of new housing! Come help out by constructing Fairy Houses & Gnome Homes from found natural items. Check in with staff upon your arrival to get your “housing permit” for this free activity, then pick the perfect spot for building the best tiny fairy house ever.

Join the folks at Deep Water Vineyard on Saturday for the last Weekend Wine-Down of 2018. Live music and food trucks are the highlight of this event. Enjoy food from Jonny Poppers and music on the patio with Dallas Baker. There will be tastings of all the offerings from Deep Water Vineyard and Firefly Distillery all day along with wine-a-ritas and hot spiced wine. Explore the vineyard’s 48 acres, play cornhole, watch college football, or just relax with your beverage of choice under the beautiful live oaks.

If college football is your jam, The Alley is the perfect hangout for your this weekend. With more than ten high-def flat screen TVs, 2 massive 160” projection screens, Hoop Fever, Skee Ball, ping pong, and bowling, The Alley is the place to be for all the big games. Make The Alley your official College Football Playoff Headquarters and enjoy a special tailgating menu and drinks specials available during all three big games this Saturday.

Fans of ABC’s popular show Dancing with the Stars will want to be at the North Charleston Coliseum this Sunday for Dancing with the Stars: Live! The show’s live tour features fan favorite professional and troupe dancers in a brand-new production. Join the DWTS pros and stars the likes of Mary Lou Retton, Bobby Bones, Milo Manheim, John Schneider, and Juan Pablo De Pace for a night of every type of dance style style seen on the hit show, ranging from ballroom and jazz to modern and hip-hop.


Looking for a family-friendly way to celebrate the new year? For some family fun and games, head down to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry on Monday, December 31st, for Noon Year’s Eve! Bid goodbye to 2018 and ring in 2019 through play, sparkling art projects, a glitzy countdown, and a ball drop at noon. This event is included with regular admission or membership to the Children’s Museum.

11 Hacks for Organizing and Storing Holiday Decorations

The gifts have all been opened, the Christmas cakes and cookies eaten, and the stockings taken down from their seasonal perches. When it comes to the post-Christmas slowdown, there are generally two types of people. There are the ones who can’t wait to get their holiday decor put away and get the house back to normal; and then there are the ones who want to stretch the season out as long as possible and keep their decorations up through early January. No matter which category you fall into, keeping holiday decorations organized can be a struggle, especially when you just want to get everything put away quickly. Instead of tossing it all in the attic or closet to be dealt with next year, use these storage and organization hacks to make future setup and breakdown of holiday decorations super quick and easy.

1. If you have the space, designate one closet or a specific corner of the attic for holiday decor storage. This keeps everything together and easy to access when you need it next year. Use clear bins to organize the space, making it easier to see where certain pieces are at a glance.

2. Wrap valuables and breakables in your fluffy Christmas stockings. This cuts down on the need for disposable packing material like tissue or bubble wrap and ensures yours breakables have a soft, safe spot to live in until it’s time to take them out again next year.

3. Wrap strands of lights or garlands around a clothes hanger, a paper towel or gift wrap roll, or a flat piece of cardboard cut from a Christmas present box.

4. Take this opportunity to get your wrapping paper and supplies organized. That way they’ll be easily accessible throughout the year, and you won’t be scrambling to find wrapping paper or gift bags for the various gifts you give throughout the year. Use pants hangers to organize sheets of wrapping paper and tissue. If you have rolls of paper, snag one of those long plastic containers that can fit under a bed to store your gift wrap. Over-the-door shoe holders and clear garment bags are other great tools for organizing gift wrap and supplies.

5. Use clean egg cartons to store small Christmas tree ornaments and other breakables. Apple cartons are good for keeping larger ornaments safe. If you can’t find apple cartons, try using small plastic or paper cups inside a storage bin to keep ornaments divided and organized. Beverage trays (like the ones you get in coffee shops or drive-thrus) work well as ornament dividers too. Or check out the end-of-year sales and grab a few organizing containers meant specifically for storing ornaments.

6. Label everything! 2019 You will be thanking 2018 You when the decorations get pulled out all tidy and labeled next year. Labeling your decor will save time next year by telling you exactly where everything goes. No more measuring and wondering which strand of lights goes on the front porch and which one gets wrapped around the banister.

7. Protect your holiday wreath with a trash bag. No need to purchase a wreath bag or any other manufactures storage solution. Just hang your wreath on a hanger, wrap a cinching trash bag around it, and label it so you’ll know exactly where it is next year.

8. Use that fancy Christmas gift packaging to store decorations. Holiday-themed boxes and bags are perfect for seasonal storage. You’ll know with just one glance which items in the attic are related to the holidays without having to peek inside boxes or search for a label.

9. If your garlands seem to always get tangled, tied, and squished when stored in boxes and bags, try using an empty outdoor trash can for garland storage. Roll each garland up nicely and secure them with zip ties, twist ties, etc, then place in the trash can so they’re all kept in one neat, tidy, squish-free place.

10. Don’t have a box or bag for storing your artificial Christmas tree? Shrink wrap it! Just fold the branches up without taking the tree apart and wrap it with heavy duty plastic wrap.

11. Create a holiday baking cart to store all the ingredients for those Christmas goodies. IKEA’s iconic Raskog rolling cart (or its many imitations available at spots like Target and Michael’s) is perfect for storing your stand mixer, holiday recipe books, cookie cutters, and jars of sugar, flour, and sprinkles. Keeping everything together makes baking even more fun with everything in reaching distance. Roll out the cart anytime you’re in a baking mood, not just during the holiday season!

 

Friday Five // December 21st, 2018

It’s the final countdown to Christmas (just four more days!), and there’s lots going on in the Lowcountry this weekend to get you into the Christmas spirit. Finish that last-minute shopping, sing along to some beloved holiday tunes, see a Christmas lights spectacular, and more. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend, and a very merry Christmas!

Make your way to Marion Square downtown on Saturday and Sunday for the Holiday Market. Finish up your last-minute Christmas shopping with some of your favorite local vendors along with special holiday vendors to spread Christmas cheer. Enjoy brunch from some of the Lowcountry’s best food trucks and vendors, dance and sing along with some live music, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus!

If you haven’t made time to visit James Island County Park yet for the 29th annual Holiday Festival of Lights, now’s the perfect time to go. Drive through this beautiful holiday lights spectacular as many times as you’d like. Park the car when you’re halfway through and visit Santa’s Village and Winter Wonderland. See the magnificent sand sculpture made from 50 tons of sand; roast some marshmallows over the fire and make s’mores; ride the Victorian carousel; admire giant greeting cards created by local schools; visit with Santa Claus himself; and much, much more. The festival is open every evening, rain or shine, through New Year’s Day. Hours are 5:30pm-10pm Sunday through Thursday, and 5:30pm-11pm Friday and Saturday.

Come Sea the Magic at the South Carolina Aquarium this weekend! Celebrate the holidays with a list of festivities included in your regular aquarium admission. Watch favorite North Pole friends swim with the fishes in the Great Ocean Tank during daily Holiday Dive Shows. Santa (aka “Scuba Claus”) or one of his elves will make a special appearance in the tank at 11am and 3pm each day. The animals that call the SC Aquarium home will also be celebrating the season with festive enrichment activities daily. Watch Liberty the Eagle chip away at a snowflake-shaped fish pop, or see the octopus use its problem-solving skills to remove fish from an icy treat. Then join aquarium staff for Holiday BricksALIVE, a collection of more than a dozen animal sculptures all decked out in seasonal garb.

Chamber Music Charleston hosts The Night Before Christmas—a Classical Kids Concert this Saturday at the Sottile Theatre. Sing along to your favorite holiday songs and listen as beloved stories come to life through classical music. Musicians from Chamber Music Charleston will perform a variety of holiday music as actors from the Actors’ Theatre of South Carolina retell classic Christmas stories like “Snowman at Christmas” and “The Night Before Christmas.” The audience will become part of the performance as well as they join in singing such classics as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Jingle Bells.” Watch carefully, as there may even be a special visit from Elsa, who’ll perform a brand new arrangement of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. She might even bring a little bit of snow with her from Arendelle! Performances begin at 11am and 1pm.

Treat the whole family to a pre-Christmas Rockin’ Holiday Pajama Brunch at Triangle Char & Bar in West Ashley on Sunday. Wear your favorite Christmas pajamas and rock out to your favorite holiday music while enjoying food and drink specials. Brunch runs from 10am until 2pm and $1.50 mimosas or $7 carafes.

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