Boost Your Internet Speeds

Nothing is more irritating than carefully selecting the perfect amount of bandwidth for you and your family just to experience spotty and oftentimes slow internet speeds while at home. And now more than ever, it is crucial that you have a reliable connection while many of us are working and studying at home. Check out the tips below to boosting those speeds.

Place your router in a central, open location. Your connection speed can be affected by distance, so if possible, place your router in an open area between the rooms you use your Wi-Fi most, such as the living room and office.

Avoid obstacles and interference. Top internet providers recommend placing the router off the floor above furniture and away from brick or concrete walls that can block or slow the internet from being transmitted properly. Additionally, other electronics like baby monitors, microwaves, and cordless phones can interfere with the connection.

Look into a wireless range extender. Have you noticed that your far guest room is a Wi-Fi dead spot? Although an extender won’t boost the speed of your internet overall, it will help increase the signal in the room it is placed in, extending the connection’s reach. Upgrade your router and firmware. If the router you own or rent is outdated, it is possible that is the reason your bandwidth is not reaching its full potential. It’s recommended that you upgrade every three or four years to make sure it can support the latest Wi-Fi standards. Plus, many of the new routers allow data to transmit over two radio frequencies, giving you two WiFi networks.

Is Downsizing Right For You?

Downsizing your home is not just for empty-nesters. There are numerous reasons and situations where this path could be the right one for you and your family!

Minimizing

Owning a large home and property comes with a large responsibility like multiple rooms and floors a large yard, and maybe features like a deck or pool. There is a lot of upkeep and cleaning that is required to keep a home looking and functioning at best. One common reason homeowners are looking to downsize is to reduce the time, energy, and money spent on those activities, leaving them with more to do the things they enjoy with the ones they love.

Saving Funds

When downsizing to a smaller home, you allow for an increase in your monthly budget. Not only does your mortgage and maintenance cost less, but so does your utility bills, insurance, property taxes, interest payments, and furnishings. This is a great option for those who want to put their children through college, save for retirement, or pay off existing debts, such as credit cards or car payments.

New Adventures

Whether you are single, parents whose kids have flown the coop, retirees, or an adventurous family, downsizing your home could allow you to seek new experiences. Take that long-term trip you’ve always wanted to go on. Buy a second home for the family. Or purchase that boat, RV, snowmobile, or ATV.

Reasons To Maintain A Phone-free Bedroom

In this day and age, our smartphones have become just another limb, permanently fixed to our bodies. So, the idea of keeping phones out of the bedroom seems like such a foreign concept. However, here are 5 reasons you should give it a try!

Minimize temptation. Even if you think you have strong self-control, with your phone within arm’s length, you are much more tempted to play that additional game of solitaire or scroll Twitter for just another 15 minutes. This results in staying up later and later, which can readjust your internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep.

Ease your brain. Whether you’re scrolling social media, texting your significant other, replying to emails, or skimming the news, you are using and stimulating your brain. When you finally do put down the phone, your brain is still on overdrive. Try reading a book, meditating, or doing yoga instead to put your brain in a relaxed state.

Lessen disturbed sleep. One of the most common phone activities before bed is checking social media, however, a study published in the journal of Sleep1 found that using social media within 30 minutes of going to bed has been independently associated with disturbed sleep.

Limit LED screens in bed. Blue-light emitting devices, such as phones, can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, slowing the production of melatonin which helps regulate sleep.

Reduce disruptions to your sleep. With your phone out of the bedroom, you eliminate the chances of that ding or buzz waking you in the middle of the night and disrupting your important REM sleep.

Value-boosting Renovations For Your Home

Buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. So why not maintain and grow that investment so if or when you decide to sell, you can reap maximum return? Below are a few value-boosting ideas to get you started.

Change your color scheme. Never overlook what a fresh coat of paint can do for a home, plus it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to give it a whole new look and feel before putting it on the market. You can commit to doing the job yourself or splurge just a little bit more to hire a professional.

Update your landscaping. Curb appeal is incredibly important in capturing potential buyers’ attention, so investing in your landscaping should be at the top of your list. On top of regular fertilizing and weed control consider planting a variety of plants against the house or along your driveway, mixing heights and colors. Add a focal point by creating a stone walkway or installing fountains or trellis.

Give your kitchen a facelift. To give your kitchen a more modern feel, you don’t always have to shell out the big bucks. Start by switching out your main light fixtures and sanding and repainting existing cabinets. Add a unique, eye-catching backsplash or, if you’re ready to spend a bit more, replace the countertops with granite or marble.

Increase energy efficiency. Updating your home to save energy makes it more appealing to buyers in today’s market. Use CFL light bulbs in all light fixtures, install a programmable thermostat, and find and seal cracks and leaks.

Why You Need To Work With A Buyer’s Agent

The home buying process can be exciting and fun, but also complicated, stressful, and overwhelming. Maximize your chance of success and minimize the amount of time spent trying to keep track of all the details by working with a buyer’s agent. There is a plethora of benefits to using a buyer’s agent, and here are the top four!

They can find the right properties for you. When starting your search, generally you will already have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves for your new home. Your buyer’s agent will have access to extensive search resources and all the new listings hitting the market, so they can ensure you are looking at homes that meet most, if not all, of your criteria.

They know the background. Experienced buyer’s agents have a breadth of knowledge on different neighborhoods in the area. They can let you know what similar homes in the area have recently sold for, if there are any new commercial projects on the horizon, what the nearby schools have to offer, and more.

They are in your corner during negotiations. A buyer’s agent is your advocate when it comes time to put in an offer and negotiate. They have your best interest in mind, understand what you are looking for, and can help you get the best price and terms for the home.

They provide trusted recommendations. Buyer’s agents that have been in the business for several years have likely built strong relationships with professionals in other parts of the industry. Turn to your agent when you are ready to find a home inspector, moving company, lender, and more.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT: What You Should Know About Pricing Your Home

One of the most daunting parts of selling your home is deciding what to price it at. You don’t want to price too high and get little to no traction but you don’t want to price too low and undervalue your home. There are so many things to take into consideration, so we’ve outlined the top things you should do before you list.

Enlist the help of a local expert. Local agents have years of experience in the market you are selling in, plus have a lot of industry expertise to bring to the table. They will factor in the unique offerings of your home and neighborhood and your wants and needs for the sale of the home to help you properly price.

Research homes for sale in your neighborhood. It’s always a good idea to do a little recon on homes for sale in your area. View current and past listings online to find homes that have similar features and were built around the same year as yours to get an idea of prices. Open house in your neighborhood? Take time to pop by in person and get a feel for what their home has to offer at what price.

Remove the emotion. Whether it’s your first or fourth home, it is the setting of so many amazing memories and holds a special place in your heart. Unfortunately, emotional attachment to your home can cloud your judgment when pricing it. Try to place your personal feelings about your home on the back burner and focus on tangible features of your home that add great value.

Eye-catching Ways To Decorate With Plants

Using plants as décor is a great way to add a little color and a natural, bright feel to any room. There are endless types of plants to choose from and various ways to display each one, but here are a few of our favorite combinations.

Geometric pots. Find geometric pots or planters of various sizes and plant small succulents of different styles and colors in each one. Then group a few pots together on a window sill or shelf or use them individually to adorn a side table or center of the dining room table.

Long, hanging plants. Purchase a larger, draping plant like eucalyptus, fern, or ivy and hang it from the ceiling using a macramé plant hanger or place it on a high shelf or ladder. These plants are perfect for the corner of your living room or room with a large, plain wall that is in need of a little pop of color.

Plant corner. Have a large corner in the dining or living room and need ideas on how to fill it? Consider turning it into a small plant sanctuary. Select plants of all different sizes, heights, colors, and style and purchase either matching pots or a mix of designs. Consider the use of a stool or small table to create additional levels and strategically place each one in the corner.

Air plants. Air plants are universal and can be included in DIY wall art, hung from the ceiling or on the wall inside geometric metal prisms, or placed inside beautiful glass terrariums alongside other plants and colorful rocks or sand.

Happier Hardwood Floors

Tips for cleaning your beautiful hardwood floors and keeping them looking great.

Hardwood floors make for a beautiful, stunning addition to your home. However, they can bring new cleaning and maintenance challenges that aren’t present with carpet. Here are some tips for simple, efficient, and thorough hardwood floor cleaning.

Make the job easier
Place mats on either side of your exterior doors and always remove your shoes before entering your home—and make sure your guests do the same. Protect the floors by placing felt (or similar) protectors on the feet of your furniture, and use area rugs to designate play areas for the kids. This will reduce extra dirt, dust, and floor scratches.

Weekly cleaning
Sweeping with a standard broom will remove some dirt and dust, but not as much as a mop, wipe, or broom that’s been treated with a dusting agent such as a Swiffer. You could also invest in a vacuum that is designed for hardwood floors. Just be sure that the vacuum won’t leave scratches!

Deeper cleaning
Regular sweeping will remove most dirt and dust, but occasionally you’ll need to give the floors a deeper cleaning to remove the dirt and grime that builds up in your floors’ seams. Use a wood-cleaning soap to thoroughly mop your floors, but make sure the mop isn’t sopping wet—you don’t want to leave standing water.

Spots and scuffs
Most of the marks that occasionally show up on your floors, such as scuffs from rubber soles on boots and shoes—can be wiped away with a rag or very fine steel wool.

Five Tips For Selling Your Home In A Hurry

There are a lot of factors that will determine how quickly your house is sold, and it’s important to tackle the factors you can control. If you’re still living in your home while trying to sell it, these are a few simple ideas that can help speed up the home sale process.

1. De-clutter

Buyers want to step into a prospective home and imagine the possibilities. That’s a lot easier to do when a space is airy and clutter-free. Get rid of the clutter that’s just taking up space in your home, and it can totally transform how a buyer sees the property.

2. Offer an incentive

Don’t break the bank for add-ons that don’t make financial sense in the long run, but there are some reasonable expenses you can use to entice buyers, such as offering a home warranty.

3. Focus on flow

Now that you’re working toward a new home, it’s important to position your furniture for easy movement through the space, rather than how you personally like it arranged. Position your furniture so that it’s natural to flow from one room to the next.

4. Take care of your to-do list

There’s probably a list of small repairs that you’ve been putting off for a while, like fixing a dripping faucet or touching up paint on some walls. Make those repairs so that the home is more move-in ready for buyers.

5. Commit to cleanliness

Just like removing clutter, keeping your place clean can go a long way toward appealing to buyers. It’s especially true in the kitchen—no dishes in the sink or coffee rings on the countertops!

Revamp Your At-home Workspace

Nothing ruins a workday like not having a designated, comfortable place to work from. And when you are working from home, whether it be temporarily or indefinitely, setting up a great workspace gets even tougher. However, your productivity and body will thank you if you take a few steps to upgrade your desk setup. Here are some ideas!

Seating

Purchase a chair that offers great spine support and has adjustable height, armrests, and back. If a new chair just isn’t in the budget, there are many seat pillows and cushions available that are designed to attach to an office chair and encourage you to sit properly and help support your lumbar.

Desk

Adjusting your desk height to fit your specific needs can be tricky, but necessary. If you are able to, investing in an adjustable-height standing desk is ideal because you can adjust your desk for different tasks, such as typing, writing, and reading documents. If you are unable to make that purchase, consider installing a keyboard tray to lower your keyboard or raising your chair to ensure your wrists are above your keyboard. If you are experiencing neck pain, that may be a result of your monitor height. Purchase a laptop or monitor stand or use normal household items like books or a box.

Lighting

Poor lighting can cause a lot of strain on your eyes and may decrease energy levels. If you are unable to work in an area with natural light, find a LED desk lamp that can be adjusted as needed. These come in all shapes and sizes and LEDs bulbs have a long lifespan and are energy-efficient.