Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Latest Must Have Kitchen Gadgets for Summer

Ahh, summer is almost upon us. And to me summer is all about backyard barbecues and fun. Spruce up your routine with these latest must have gadgets that will be a perfect addition to your favorite kitchen line-up of products. I think each and every one of these things is unique and can really serve a purpose as well as make your life easier. Check them out below.

1. A 3-Tier Stacked Glass Drink Dispenser

Looking for a pretty way to serve drinks at your parties this summer? Try this glass stacked beverage server. Three different sections means you can serve three different drinks without taking up a ton of space. (The Kitchn)

2. Catch That Cap!

There are several ways to open a beer bottle but where do those bottle caps end up? Flung across the floor, someone’s forehead, trapped between the couch cushions? This clever device opens the bottles and catches the caps until you decide to release the prisoners by removing the flexible base to make room for more victims. (Yanko Design)

3. 3890 Digital Scale with Measuring CupThe most accurate measuring cup measures by weight, not volume, for precise results. (Taylor)

4. Corn Griller Basket

Designed to grip four ears of corn in its steel frame, this handy basket makes it easy to maneuver and flip one of summer’s favorite vegetables. Long handle keeps hands from the heat source.

5. Breaking Bad Cutting Board

If you’re a fan of the show Breaking Bad, like I am, this amazing cutting board needs no description.

6. Chef’n

Home of the Week: A Boutique Modern Condo in Chicago

“And you say Chi City?”
Kanye West from his song, “Homecoming”

While our last ‘Home of the Week‘ featured an estate big on space and the great outdoors, this week we switch things up by taking a look at a boutique condominium in one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Listed for just $699,500, this 2 bedroom and 2 full bathroom home just steps from the ‘Magnificent Mile’ is truly a sight to behold. The ultra modern and hip apartment is located on the Southwest corner of this high-rise, which affords it panoramic views of Chicago’s beautiful skyline. What you’ll notice immediately about the 1,300 square foot condo is it features a vast amount of refreshing light due to its wrap around floor to ceiling glass walls.

The home is the embodiment of modern day penthouse living as it features ebony walnut floors, a chefs kitchen, private balcony and a host of other amenities and finishes that exude a commitment to attention to detail.

The interior of this home is absolutely stunning as is the high-rise it is located in. The building features a common deck off of the 26th floor, 24-hour door staff, a Wifi enabled business lounge and fitness center just for starters. In addition to all of this, it provides unparalleled access to some of the best entertainment Chicago has to offer – with the city’s best eateries, boutiques, museums and parks just a short stroll away.

This sophisticated recently constructed condo is perfect as a hip primary home, or as a fun second property to rest your head at when you visit “Chi-town”. Click here if you’d like to learn more about this home listed by Jennifer Ames with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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Is Glowdeck the Future of Connected Homes?

When I first came across Glowdeck it looked to me like a sophisticated wireless speaker system. But after looking into it a bit further I found that it just might change the way our homes are connected to the information grid.

Sound ominous? Maybe it is. Glowdeck is in fact a wireless speaker system. It’s also a wireless charging station. Plus it runs on a brand new operating system who’s goal is to simplify our daily stream of data that is sent to our phones.

This device is not for every home, but I could see it being a perfect companion for those with a home office. It’s a bridge between business and pleasure that may just simplify the notifications, tasks and alerts that seem to clutter our phones on a daily basis.

I could try and explain everything that Glowdeck does, but the video below does a much better job of it. Check out the video below or donate to Glowdeck on Kickstarter if you want to be one of the early recipients of what might be the future of the connected home.

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Real Estate Headlines Featuring Psychics, China, Celebrity Closets and More

April showers bring May flowers. And what to May flowers bring? Well pilgrims of course. And there you have a full serving of juvenile humor for the week and before I descend further into the depths of my elementary school joke book, here’s your weekly dose of real estate headlines:

China is planning to build 7 million new public homes to cool the recent real estate rise.

Not sure what I would do if there was a psychic at an open house. But a harpist? That’d be pretty swanky.

What’s another sign of a housing rebound? Dumpster demand is on the rise.

Is housing ringing the stock market’s bell again?

Star of Juno, Ellen Page, is selling her studio city home.

I think I’m in love with all of these super cool home office.

What will $1 million buy you in housing markets around the globe? Slate Magazine take a look.

Does staging really raise a home’s price?

Guess where real estate prices are up 40%? Hint: it’s a place with castles, beaches and home to the TV show Royal Pains.

Home staging on a budget? Here are 10 simple tips to help you get your home ready to sell.

And finally, these celebrities have some ridiculous closets.

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First Time Home Buyer? Jacksonville May Be the Place for You!

Buying a home for the first time is typically a daunting task. However, being a first time home buyer in Jacksonville may be a little easier than in other areas. In fact, Realtor.com has rated Jacksonville in the top 10 markets for first time home buyers. They based their decision for the top markets on location, affordability, inventory, days on market, and unemployment rates.

It turns out that our area fits all these criteria. Florida continues to be a location where many people are choosing to live. It seems that a lot of people like the Jacksonville area because of its proximity to the rest of the southeast. Interstate 95 and Interstate 10 both pass through Jacksonville and are thoroughfares to other major market places in the southeast.

Realtor.com states that the average home price in Jacksonville is $198,000, but in my opinion, it’s much lower for the average first time home buyer purchase. My experience is that the average first time buyer typically purchase a Jacksonville home for $125,000–$150,000. And there are usually quite a few homes to choose from in that price range. Last spring, there was a shortage of homes in that price range because a lot of investors were purchasing them. However, in recent months, that trend seems to be slowing down and thus allowing more homes to be on the market.

As many people are aware, Florida had a higher-than-normal share of foreclosures from the housing boom and subsequent crash. Those homes are still coming to light in the marketplace, giving first time home buyers a great opportunity to purchase them. Especially with Fannie Mae‘s and Freddie Mac‘s First Look programs, which allow owner occupants to make offers on these homes in the first two weeks of time on the market.

The days on market tends to be a longer time period than in many other markets. I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that most people, especially first time buyers, are taking their time to evaluate before they commit to a purchase.

Lastly, the overall unemployment rate in Jacksonville is lower than the national average, which is always good for a boost in consumer confidence. We’re lucky to have two large naval bases and a huge medical industry in the area, which help create a positive job market for Jacksonville.

In fact, I see the success of first time buyers on a weekly basis in Jacksonville. Buying a home here is often more affordable than renting. Average rent in Jacksonville is $845 for a two-bedroom apartment. At today’s average interest rate of 4.5%, you can purchase a $165,000 home and have a mortgage payment of only $835. In most of the areas around Jacksonville, you’ll be able to get a four-bedroom, upgraded home for around $165,000.

With so many great communities in and around Jacksonville, you can get a terrific home for a great price. I love helping first time home buyers find a place to call home. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that I love my job. There’s nothing like the joy and pride that a first time home buyer experiences when they find their dream home. Maybe you should see how affordable it is to live in Jacksonville.

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CDD: What Is a Community Development District, and Why Does It Affect Me?

CDD: Have you ever heard this acronym? Unless you’re from Florida, probably not. However, on a regular basis, my customers ask me the question: “What is a Community Development District, and how does it affect me?”

Created in 1980 by the Florida State Legislature under Chapter 190 of the Florida Statutes, a Community Development District is a local unit of special-purpose government, but it doesn’t have regulatory powers of a county or city. These zones provide a special-purpose bond, established by the developer, to offer a cost-effective way of financing the initial infrastructure (such as sewers, roads, water supply, grading, utilities, and amenities) and services to support the development of new communities.

Prior to the creation of CDDs, the local government would pay for the infrastructure (roads and utilities), and the developer would pay for other development costs (grading, sewer, storm water management) and the amenities (pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, etc.). However, with a CDD, the entire cost of the infrastructure is added to home ownership within the community. County officials like this option, as it keeps their costs down while helping to ensure that property values and taxes will go up for the community. Developers like CDDs because they don’t have to pay the upfront infrastructure costs out of their own pocket. Homeowners enjoy the option, too, because they get the amenities early in the development of the community, and they get the house they want with a lower initial price than they might have previously.

CDDs have many critics, however. One of the major complaints is that the developer has control of the bond for a period of time. After several years, depending on the size of the CDD, community and resident ownership gets to a minimum threshold, then residents can begin to have a vote in the Community Development District board. Another issue is that many times, the common areas are owned by the developer and later sold back to the development at inflated prices.

CDD fees are unlike typical home owner association fees and are included in the tax bill as a separate entity. Typical CDD fees range from $1000-$3000 a year, based on the amenities offered, for a period of up to 30 years. You can also opt to pay off the entire bond obligation for your property. Once this bond is paid off, the maintenance of the community is still there and will convert to a homeowner association fee.

Residents benefit from living in an attractive area with access to a variety of recreational amenities, and homes located within CDDs often achieve increased value in comparison to similar non-CDD properties.

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Eco-friendly Tips for Moving

This week my husband and I (along with our cat Mr. Jingles and betta fish Salvador) make the big move to Atlanta. For the past month we’ve been preparing for our move and along the way trying to keep in mind the 3 Rs of the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle). Here are some of the ways in which we tried to lessen our footprint in the move:

  1. Reduce. I started going through our home and thinking about what furniture pieces and home decorations I fell out of love with over the years. It ends up there were quite a few items that I had been holding onto and now was the perfect time to gather them all together for a yard sale. What didn’t sell in the yard sale was happily picked up by our local Goodwill store.
  2. Reuse. If you’re like us, we couldn’t afford to have movers come in to pack up our home, so I hit up the local liquor and grocery stores to gather all of our moving boxes. I was pleasantly surprised to find out when I called the newspaper that I could pick up old editions of the paper for our packaging material. For those items that needed extra padding, I simply used towels and sheets to provide that additional security.
  3. Recycle. Cleaning out the shed left me wondering what to do with unfriendly items like paint. Thankfully our move took place close to Earth Day this year, and we were able to bring our paint cans for recycling. If you’re community doesn’t have a way to recycle old paint, you could always find a piece of wood or cardboard to use up the leftover paint. If that’s not an option you can pour kitty litter into the can and wait until it dries up to dispose.

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What You Need to Know About the Latest Housing Numbers

Spring finally broke through at the end of last month, with the first official day of the season arriving on March 20 bringing hope of both warmer weather and a housing market heating up for the spring season.

According to the most recent existing-home sales report from the National Association of Realtors, fewer homes sold this past March than in March 2013. The report also found the price of homes that sold last month was about eight percent higher than it was for homes that sold in March 2013. Throughout the country, the median price of homes that sold in March was $198,500.

The number of homes on the market last month may have played a role in the amount and price of sales. Inventory at the end of March rose almost five percent when compared to March 2013. Even though there were more homes for sale, the report found that those homes sold about seven days faster last month than they did in March 2013. The median time on market for homes sold in March dropped to 55 days, down from 62 in March 2013. In total, more than one in three (37 percent) homes that sold in March were on the market for less than a month.

Of course, all real estate is local, so here is a breakdown of the median price of homes sold in each region of the U.S. during this past March, along with a home currently on the market at or near that price:

  • Northeast: $244,700

o 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath home in Hooksett, N.H.(1,720 sq. ft.) – Lot 36 Bell Ave

  • Midwest: $149,600

o 5 Bedroom, 2 Bath home in Wichita, Kan. (2,364 sq. ft.) – 5102 South Custer

  • South: $173,000

o 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath home in High Point, N.C. (2,150 sq. ft.) – 3934 Johnson Street

  • West: $289,300

o 4 Bedroom, 205 Bath home in Graham, Wash. (2,800 sq. ft.) – 20408 95th Ave

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Inside the Napa Home of Robin Williams

Villa Sorriso - The Vineyard

Hollywood icon, Robin Williams, is reportedly selling his unbelievable estate in Napa, CA with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage mega-agents, Cyd Greer and Joyce Rey. As first featured on Yahoo Real Estate, the star of Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfie and the CBS comedy The Crazy Ones has one of the most amazing estates in Napa that looks like it was ripped from the pages of every luxury architecture magazine.

Named Villa Sorriso (or valley of smiles), the home pulls in design elements from a variety of international styles. Not to be overshadowed by the beautiful home, it also comes with an 18 acre operating vineyard.

Safe rooms, gold plated ceilings and the most relaxing pool I’ve seen in a long time all add to both the functionality and extravagance of this amazing home.

Take a look for yourself by browsing through some of the photos below.


Villa Sorriso - Staircase
Villa Sorriso - Living Room
Villa Sorriso - The Study
Villa Sorriso - The Kitchen
Villa Sorriso - Bedroom
Villa Sorriso - Master Bathroom
Villa Sorriso - Home Theatre
Villa Sorriso - Pool
Villa Sorriso - The View

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How the Tooth Fairy Gets Into Your Home

Tooth Fairy Door

So we wanted to know…how exactly does the Tooth Fairy get in? Well, we think we found the answer…sort of. Based on our research we found a number of different ways the Tooth Fairy is getting in. Here are the most popular methods of entry:

By Door

Almost invisible to grown ups, camouflaged against skirting boards, this tiny door looks just like a plug socket from a distance. But to eagle-eyed little people it is immediately obvious that this is the entrance to the home of the Other People who come and visit the house. Learn more about this magical door available on Etsy here.

By Window

Some Tooth Fairy specialists believe the Tooth Fairy comes in by way of window. They also believe leaving a sprinkling of glitter helps to signal that a lost tooth is ready for pick up. Note: The Tooth Fairy’s magic doesn’t require the window to be open.

via Jamie Dorobek

By Bathroom Mirror

You may not know this but the Tooth Fairy checks in from time to time to make sure kids all over the world are taking good care of their teeth. She often uses the bathroom mirror to make sure those valuable teeth are getting the care and love they deserve. The bathroom mirror is another one of her magical portals that allows her to get into a home.

via ivillage

No matter how the Tooth Fairy decides to get it is important to know that every single expert told us the same thing…the Tooth Fairy will ONLY enter a home if she knows the child is sleeping. How does she know? We just can’t reveal that secret.

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