Monthly Archives: November 2014

Things to Do in Plymouth, Michigan: Welcome Home!

Plymouth, Michigan, offers the best of both urban and small-town living for people wishing to relocate to Michigan: Plymouth is 25 miles west of Detroit and 15 miles east of Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan. Yet Plymouth maintains its small-town appeal with its town square, Kellogg Park, serving as the center of activities.

Festivals

Folks in Plymouth know how to enjoy themselves!

  • The Plymouth Ice Festival — North America’s largest, oldest ice festival — draws an average of 500,000 visitors each year.
  • A recent addition to the Plymouth festival scene is the Green Street Fair, held each May. This festival draws an estimated 90,000 visitors, who attend events and meet with exhibitors featuring green-themed products.
  • Every July for 35 years, Plymouth’s Art in the Park festival has been attracting visitors to downtown Plymouth. Over 450 artists display their work and draw over 300,000 visitors.
  • Plymouth has hosted the annual Fall Festival since 1956. This small town festival includes an antique auto event, musical entertainment, crafts, and the Rotary Club chicken barbecue, among other attractions.

Concerts in the Park

Throughout the summer months, visitors can enjoy live concerts at Kellogg Park in the center of town. On Friday evenings, the music can range from jazz to rock and roll. On Thursday evenings, Kellogg Park is home to local community band concerts. Wednesday afternoons, children are entertained at the kiddie concerts. Visitors bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic (or enjoy dinner at one of the many local restaurants), sit out under the stars, and enjoy the music!

Plymouth Whalers Hockey

What better way to get to see the future stars of the NHL than by attending a Plymouth Whalers hockey game at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Michigan? The Plymouth Whalers are a top-ranked minor league hockey team that never fail to thrill the crowds!

Golf

Avid golfers can enjoy three golf courses located in Plymouth:

All three courses offer an enjoyable outing for the most discerning golfers!

Shopping and Dining

The Plymouth downtown district is centered around historic Kellogg Park. More than 75 specialty shops and restaurants combine to make downtown Plymouth a destination not to be missed. Whether looking for boutique clothing, exquisite jewelry, charming bistros, or fine dining, Plymouth is the place to be!

Old Village

Just north of downtown Plymouth, the Old Village historic area offers a variety of specialty shops and dining experiences.

We welcome you to come experience all that this beautiful town has to offer. Welcome home to Plymouth, Michigan!

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Jacksonville’s Hidden Gems

In a hot housing market with low supply and high demand, buyers may need to consider looking beyond the obvious to find a home. This may mean going in search of the “hidden gems”: homes that may not look like much on the outside (or even on the inside), but their location can’t be beat. And with some work, you could have a highly valuable property on your hands.

Where to Find Them

In Northeast Florida, hidden gems can be found in neighborhoods with older homes such as San Marco, Avondale, Riverside, Ortega, and Ponte Vedra Beach. The common denominator among them all? “Location, location, location.”

In Ponte Vedra Beach, the area known as Old Ponte Vedra is highly appealing because of its proximity to the beach and the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. Wide lots, no association fees, and a variety of housing styles create for one hot neighborhood. Homes range from older ranches to gorgeous custom homes that were built as a result of removing the previous structure that was there. The “dirt value” of this neighborhood is around the $1 million range, and fixed-up or substantially rebuilt homes are in the high $1 million to $2 million–plus range. If you can find something in this area priced at $1 million or lower, you’ve got a nice opportunity for a higher appreciation potential. Simply working with the current structure and making some simple improvements could have significant impact.

One such property can be found at 60 San Juan Drive. Situated on a huge corner lot with a two-car garage, this 1954 concrete block ranch has three bedrooms and two and a half baths, and it features a large addition. Just a five-minute walk to the beach, it’s as close as you can get to being on the ocean for a price far below that of oceanfront property. This home has gorgeous hardwood floors and newer windows, and it’s structurally well-maintained. This home is on the market for just under $1.3 million — while substantially fixed-up or newer homes surrounding this property sell for roughly $2 million. Want to learn more about what makes this home a hidden gem? See for yourself!

What to Keep in Mind

Some issues to consider when looking at these types of properties:

  • Look at the value of what more move-in-ready properties are selling for in the area.
  • What’s going on around the property — is there a lot of renovation or building in an already-established area?
  • What would it cost to change or renovate the property you’re considering? Walk through the property with a reputable contractor to get an idea of what can be done.
  • Ask yourself if you can easily find another similarly priced property in your desired area that’s more fixed up. If the answer is no, then consider the hidden gem.

Why Hidden Gems?

With hidden gems, you can get a less expensive home in a desirable area; and if there’s less competition for these than for more fixed-up homes, you might have more negotiating power, particularly if the home has been on the market for a while. Consider creative ways to work with the seller to get your offer accepted. For example, a love letter expressing what attracts you to the area and the life you envision creating in that home. Older sellers may be very taken by the idea of a younger family starting out in their home and experiencing many of the same things they did: birth of children, birthday parties — all the happy milestone events that help make a house a home.

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Texas-Themed Fall Mantel Decor for Your DFW Home

A fireplace mantel is often the focal point of a formal living room or den. According to Houzz.com, a fireplace is one of the top six focal points you can use in your interior decoration. Autumn is a great time to draw attention to your mantel decor: The air is chilly, the leaves are changing, and a crackling fire starts to be especially inviting. With just a few easy-to-swap-out decorative touches, your fireplace can pay homage to both Texas culture and the fall weather.

On Your Mantel, Size Matters

If you have high ceilings and a large mantel, you may want to find one large piece of artwork to hang on the wall right in the center. For a rustic Texas feel, a bronze Texas star or sweeping landscape painting of a Texas field that depicts the changing of the seasons is a great way to fill in a large space without distracting too much from the fireplace itself. If you decide for a large painting or rustic piece of metalwork, Better Homes and Gardens recommends that you highlight the largest piece with neutral found objects like small baskets or an antique jug. This allows you to dress up the ledge of your mantel without distracting from pieces of art or ironwork that you like.

For more asymmetrical tastes, you can overlap pieces of different sizes and textures. Better Homes and Gardens also emphasizes the importance of using pieces that have varied heights and widths to achieve a layered yet chic look. You can achieve this by placing a large rustic piece like a stained pallet or reclaimed wooden window at the back of the mantelshelf and then place smaller frames of artwork in front.

Rustic Texan and Fall Touches for Mantel Decor

You can easily keep a Texas-themed fireplace year-round, and swap out candles and other small trinkets on a seasonal basis.

  • Rustic pieces of wood can evoke a Texas theme. To add autumnal touches, consider small mason jars of cotton blooms or earthy-colored candles placed on the far ends of your mantelshelf.
  • If you choose a Texas-themed painting or piece of metalwork as a large backdrop, when fall comes, you can arrange fake or real pumpkins and gourds along your fireplace’s tile or the mantel itself.
  • Fall colors tend to be earthy, so look for candles, sconces, and trinkets that are auburn, amber, olive green, or brown.
  • You may also want to place silk leaves in fall colors along the base of your mantel’s shelf or hang a fall-themed wreath on the wall above your fireplace.

Decorating your mantel does not have to break the bank. Just a few simple additions of mantel decor can help you pay homage to both your state and the seasons. Once you figure out the size and colors of pieces you want, you can shop at your favorite craft or antique store to complete the look in your DFW home.
Image Source: Flickr

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How to Get a Vegas-Size Crowd to Your Open House

OK, so you put out a few directional signs and balloons, and you’ve made a fresh pot of coffee. Now you’re waiting for the crowds to flock to your open house, right? Boring! It’s a new era, and people want excitement, something that will make a splash on social media. If you’re a Las Vegas real-estate agent, use these open house tips to knock your next open house event out of the park:

1. Create a theme.

And once you create your theme, plan everything, right down to the smallest detail, around it. Tie the event to a holiday when possible. For example, create a fiesta theme around Cinco de Mayo, complete with Mexican flags and mock margaritas — you get the picture!

2. Skip the cheesy gifts!

Razzle-dazzle guests by entering their name in a drawing for something really fabulous! Offer an entrance ticket for every action guests complete, such as:

  • Providing their email addresses
  • Making a “check-in” on social media
  • Posting event pictures on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest
  • Tweeting about your event

Make sure you’re posting comments and pictures on social media, too! Show people, the prizes, the whole works!

3. Engage the community.

Door-knock the neighborhood with a “Choose Your Neighbor” flyer, and encourage the community to bring friends and relatives they want to live close by to your event. You can also create a “Be My Neighbor” video campaign showing neighbors making their pitch at your event!

4. Partner with like-minded businesses.

In addition to recruiting the neighbors, get local businesses to pitch in with your event — it’s a great way for them to promote themselves, too! Some ideas:

  • Invite the landscaper or pool guy to display big images of their services (hung up or on easels).
  • Have a local home accessory store, interior designer, or art gallery showcase cool pieces.

This is especially important if the house is empty, has dated furnishings or you want to show what a finished yard COULD look like!

5. Find the unique selling point (USP) of the house and invite fellow aficionados.

Does the home have a great gourmet kitchen? Use social media to invite gourmet cooks and foodies to come check it out. Ask a local chef or restaurant to do a cooking demonstration — put the grill out front, if you can, to draw attention.

Just recently, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty agents held a “Poker Tour” of five nearby homes with an open house at the same time. At each home the guest chose a card, and at the last home, if their hand beat the dealer, they won a prize. It was very creative, and it got the buyer agents excited. Be like Vegas, baby! Be innovative and create a buzz around your open house to draw a crowd that neighbors will be talking about for weeks!

Image Source: Flickr/Minh Hoang

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How to Prepare Your Home Plumbing for the Philadelphia Winter

Triangle Tube boiler

Winters in Philadelphia are sometimes harsh, and if you don’t prepare your house before the temperatures drop below zero you could find yourself faced with a number of unwanted plumbing issues. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to prepare your home plumbing for winter using basic items that you can find at your local home improvement store.

Insulate the Exposed Pipes in Your Home

There are generally three main rooms in your home where you’ll find exposed pipes: the kitchen, the bathroom, and the basement (or the garage). You can easily insulate the exposed pipes in your view with a product called pre-slit polyethylene insulation. This is a long piece of foam-like tubing that has a slit running down the side. Simply remove the adhesive and carefully wrap the insulation foam around the pipe — this keeps the cold air from freezing the metal. You may need a few pieces, depending on how many pipes you have to cover. Also, make sure you buy the right size insulation, as pipes have varying widths.

Insulate the Crawlspaces

A lot of Philadelphia homes (especially rowhomes and townhouses) were built with small crawlspaces instead of full attics. These crawlspaces are rarely heated during the winter, so if you have piping in them, it’s important to ensure they’re insulated. Fill your crawlspaces with fiberglass insulation, which will help shield the pipes from the winter’s cold.

Image Source: Flickr

Protect Water Heaters in Winter Months

Although your water heater is a source of heat for your home, it may also need a little help when icy winter days roll into Philly. You can protect your hot water tank by wrapping it in a large “blanket.” Just visit your local home improvement store and purchase a water heater insulating blanket kit. Shut off the unit first, then wrap it with the blanket provided and secure it with electrical tape. Depending on where the tank controls are, you may have to cut out holes in certain places on the insulating blanket. Carefully follow the directions on the kit you choose to ensure a safe and secure installation. Note that some modern water heaters already come manufactured with insulation — consult your unit’s manual.

Shut Off Your Outdoor Water Source

When the late fall season arrives and winter is right around the corner, you’ll no longer need to water your lawn or garden. Leaving the water on could cause any water left inside to freeze and expand. Since there will be no need to use the water, shut off the pipes that lead to your outdoor water faucet. First, turn the outside water faucet on all the way, then go inside and turn the spigot on the pipe closed until the water stops running completely. Cover the pipe nearest the faucet with a small piece of pre-slit polyethylene insulation for the winter.

Follow these simple steps to prepare the home plumbing in your Philadelphia home for the upcoming cold season, and you should be all set for the winter. If you’re unsure about certain plumbing and HVAC issues in your home, don’t hesitate to call a specialist to your home for a checkup. Keep in mind that if you’re a new homeowner with a home warranty, the visit may be covered.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Les Chatfield

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7 Hosting Tips for Throwing Thanksgiving in Your Tiny NYC Apartment

Need some holiday hosting tips? Just because you don’t have a proper dining room — or even room to put a proper dining room table — doesn’t mean you can’t invite over the family and friends. Below are seven tips for pulling off Turkey Day in your tiny NYC apartment:

1. Edit Your Guest List

This might be the most important of all hosting tips: Less is more when you’re entertaining in a small abode. Now isn’t the time to invite all of your distant cousins for dinner. Try to keep the guest list down to a number that fits easily around the table and the couch afterward, once that tryptophan starts doing its thing.

2. Accept Help

If your kitchen and its appliances are on the smallish side, you may not have room to heat up and store all parts of the holiday dinner. If friends offer to make dishes, take them up on those offers. It’ll help you avoid a meltdown.

3. Invest in a Foldable Table or One With Leaves

A gateleg table (which folds down on both sides) is a great option to have when you’re entertaining. Once the guests leave, you’ll fold it down to less than half its size. A table with leaves is also a great option.

4. Open Up The Space

Make room for your guests by moving any unnecessary furniture out of the dining/entertaining space. Use your bedroom(s) to store things like coffee tables and lounge chairs that take up precious space. If you’re desperate, use the bathtub.

5. Do It Buffet-Style

If your table is small — which we’ll assume it is — and you don’t feel like buying a new one, you may be better off lining the dishes up in the kitchen (or on a small, foldable side table like this) and allowing guests to get up and serve themselves so as not to use up precious tabletop space.

6. Find a Place to Store Outerwear

Don’t fill up your apartment with your guests’ outerwear. If your building has a coat rack (some do), ask them well in advance if you can use/rent it and place it in your hallway so that it’s out of the way. Otherwise, consider buying a cheap over-the-door hook system or use your shower rod for hanging coats (unless, of course, you’ve used your tub to hide your stuff!).

7. Don’t Annoy the Neighbors

Keep in mind that when you live in New York City, you have neighbors in proximity. Don’t be too loud or let the partying go on too late. Better yet, invite the neighbors over for dessert if you want to stay on their good sides. Also, if you’re asking people to take off their shoes or you’re expecting guests with strollers, make sure everything that’s left in the hallway is stored neatly and doesn’t become an eyesore.

Image Source: Flickr/Steve McFarland

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Real Estate Myth Buster

When it comes to real estate, there can be a lot of opinions. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. Is Spring really the only season to sell my home? Is location, location, location the number one factor in real estate?

Wondering if something is fact or fiction? Well, Ron Aiosa of the Coldwell Banker Boswell Aiosa Group is our real estate myth buster. Aiosa answers questions about curb appeal, the importance of location, and the cost of remodeling. Check out the feature below, which first appeared on LXTV Open House, to find out what is real estate fact and what is real estate myth.

Do you have a real estate myth you’d like us to bust? Tweet us your questions @coldwellbanker.

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Real Estate Headlines with Debra Messing, Gen Z and a Free Bentley

Let me be the first to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, but don’t get too excited. You have a few work days left before it’s time loosen that belt to make room for more stuffing. While you dream of pumpkin and pecan pie, here is your weekly dose of real estate headlines to start your week.

Debra Messing has a new place for $5.45 million in NYC.

The Street has a list of the 12 absolutely cheapest places to live in America.

How do you know if you can afford an investment property?

Gen Y? Pfft. That’s so last decade. Gen Z is the one with ambitions for homeownership.

Can a big house lead to the poor house when it comes to retirement?

Boston.com has a handy breakdown of real estate jargon and what they really mean.

Want a free Bentley? All you gotta do is sell this house.

Should you renovate your home before selling?

And finally, from Pilgrim Point to Wishbone Way, we’re serving up 9 homes where the Thanksgiving spirit lives on year round.

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Setting the Holiday Table with Toddlers in Tow

Thanksgiving dinner with family

I am about to let you in on a big secret: Martha Stewart is not my middle name, and Pinterest is not my friend. When I was first married, I envisioned the perfect holiday table with linens, china, sparkling candles, and all the family exclaiming over my beautifully set table and food. Then, the kids came along and reality set in. FYI, toddlers and candles do not mix. So I have now created a much easier plan to keep the little ones and the grown-ups (including me) happy and entertained for the holiday dinner.

Step 1. If it can’t go in the dishwasher, don’t use it.

I found these white plates with gold trim at Walmart a few years back. They were around $50 for eight complete place settings, and they are dishwasher safe. Bed, Bath & Beyond carries these lovely white serving dishes that are microwaveable, oven-safe, and dishwasher-safe. White makes the perfect backdrop for any food. Also, the dollar store has gold chargers that you can use for everything (see Step 2).

white with gold trim

available at bed, bath, and beyond

Step 2. The dollar store is your best friend.

Not only do dollar stores sell gold chargers to go under your white and gold plates, they have everything else you need, too! To keep my kids entertained while prepping, I let them make the napkin rings — using materials from the dollar store. Your kids can draw, color, and cut out a fun holiday-themed paper shape. To transform it into a napkin ring, all you need to do is tape their creation to a shower curtain ring ($1.00 for 12), and that’s one holiday decorating to-do item checked off your list.

The dollar store is also great for centerpieces, as they carry lots of things like mini-pumpkins, pine cones, and flameless LED candles. For example, I put three LED candles of various heights on a gold charger and surround it with pine cones. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might even sprinkle on some gold glitter!

turkeys and trees by my little cuties

Step 3. Make it simple

  • When in doubt, add butter. Butter makes everything better.
  • Use bag liners. Put your turkey in a basting bag. Use crock pot liners. I even line my baking pans with foil. It makes the clean up so much easier.

Step 4. The bird: The single most important item on the table.

Many a meal has been ruined because the turkey was thawed improperly — or gasp! — raw. If you’re cooking a turkey, here are a few things to remember:

  • Frozen turkeys take a long time to thaw. If yours is frozen, it will need 24 hours for every 4–5 pounds to thaw. So a 10-pound turkey needs two days in the refrigerator to thaw out.
  • Cooking time for a 10–12-pound bird is 4–4.5 hours. Make sure it’s done.
  • Your bird will still cook internally after you remove it from the oven. If you cut it immediately, all the juices run out and it won’t be as moist. Let it stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Step 5. Take time to laugh.

Laugh at yourself, with yourself, and with your kids. Holiday stress can take its toll on all of us. When you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your Grand Rapids home, just remember, nobody’s perfect and no one will remember if the napkin wasn’t centered precisely on the plate. But they will remember if you serve them raw turkey. So do your best, go easy on yourself, and congratulate yourself on being a great mom!

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Redding’s Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

This year on Thanksgiving morning, before many of us are out of bed, thousands of people will meet to carry out a decades-long tradition. Now in its 29th year, the annual Redding Turkey Trot, taking place on November 27 this year, has been a Thanksgiving highlight for many local people. They come from all over to join the ” race,” which is just a stroll for some and an all-out competition for others.

The crisp morning air and the effort to get to the finish line is just what the body needs before the day’s Thanksgiving feasting begins. In this race, it doesn’t matter how it’s done or how long it takes to do it, as long as you touch that finish line.

This event has something to appeal to everyone: Parents, grandparents, and children of all ages can participate in either the six-mile run or the the two-mile fun run/walk. In the two-miler, you’ll see babies in strollers or wagons pulled by older children, as well as older people in wheelchairs or with walkers. (There are many locals who don’t register for the event but still want to “trot” along anyway.) People come in silly hats and turkey costumes, or they wear their original Turkey Trot sweatshirt. Colors and dates on the shirts change each year — and at this event, wearing a very old Turkey Trot shirt gives a person status and is a conversation starter. When first arriving at the starting location, the fun is in the mingling. Some people only see each other once a year at the race, and it’s fun to see them again.

All participants meet at the historical Diestelhorst Landing. The morning begins with the opening ceremony at 7:45 a.m. Shortly after the official opening is the Diestelhorst Dash, a quarter-mile sprint just for kids 8 and under. Each child is given a treat for participating. After the Dash, the six-mile wheelchair race will begin, followed by the six-mile run. The entire event concludes with the two-mile fun run/walk. At 10 a.m., the awards ceremony is held. The prizes in past years were Marie Callender’s pies for those who finished in record time. Everyone who crosses the finish line, however, receives a participation ribbon.

So dig out your goofy warm hat, put the turkey in the oven (or wear it!), and head to the Turkey Trot. Take the challenge or meander along; either way, you’ll be glad you went. It really does feel good to start the day by participating in an activity with your family, friends, or someone you haven’t seen in a year, and you’ll feel better about eating all the turkey and trimmings later. Register at the organizers’ page (cost for registration varies). Happy trotting!

Image Source: Flickr/Chris Cast

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