The Power of Gray in Staging Your Virginia Beach Home

Gray is a subtle color that can bring sophistication to interiors while also the neutrality that Virginia Beach home buyers crave.

“It’s the hot new neutral, a sleek and sophisticated color option that adds refinement to almost any room,” says Debbie Zimmer, a paint and color expert with the Paint Quality Institute. “Walls that are painted gray are great backdrops for almost any style of décor, and gray is such a dignified color that it can elevate the appearance of even the most modest furnishings.”

Zimmer says that gray can be a great color choice for embellishments throughout interiors, such as a gray wash on wood furniture or the fabric in seating.

In her 2014 color forecast, she expects grey to be used more in Virginia Beach homes. “We will even see gray’s flashier cousin, silver, used as an important accent color,” says Zimmer.

Zimmer also predicts “white” to stage a comeback in 2014, with white and off-white back in vogue.

“As with gray, the ease of coordinating furnishings with a neutral hue like white is appealing to almost everyone,” she says. “Those who are downsizing will favor white or very light-colored walls to make their new, smaller interiors look more spacious; and for those who may soon put up a ‘For Sale’ sign, white is the wise paint color to apply before listing a home.”

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Virginia Beach Snow Day? 15 Things to Do When the Kids are Stuck at Home in Bad Weather

We are expected to get 4-10 inches of snow starting today and going into tomorrow morning in Virginia Beach.

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So here’s a list of 15 things to do on a snowy day without leaving the driveway:

  • Bake or cook. Bathing suit season isn’t for a few months, so your New Year’s resolutions can wait as you indulge in sweet treats or comfort foods that warm up the house (and your belly).
  • Get an early start on upcoming birthday or holiday cards. Christmas has already passed, but you can make notes and cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandma’s 76th, Administrative Professionals’ Day, and so on…
  • Fashion shoot. Play dress up with old Halloween costumes, take photos, crank up the dance music and have fun on the hallway runway.
  • Arts and crafts. Besides cards, you could make a birdfeeder (add peanut butter and seeds to any pine cone), paint a masterpiece, make your own Play-Dough or try other crafty ideas.
  • Clean the house. Putting away all those empty boxes, unplayed-with-toys, and dirty laundry will invigorate you and (if you’re lucky) exhaust the little ones to go down for nap time.
  • Play in the snow. You don’t have to stay inside just because the roads are bad. Get creative in the yard like “Calvin & Hobbes” with your snowman art or go sledding — but dress warmly (check syracuse.com/weather for the latest updates) and make sure s’mores and hot chocolate are ready to go after! Also, older kids looking to make a little extra money, can shovel the sidewalk at your or your neighbors’ house.
  • Make snow ice cream. Her View From Home suggests putting 4 cups of clean snow (or shaved ice) in waffle cones or cups and adding 1/2 cups of half & half or whole milk, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Blend the milk, sugar and vanilla together until the sugar dissolves, then mix it all together until it looks like ice cream. Add chocolate syrup, whipped cream and leftover holiday candy as toppings.
  • Puzzles. Going to pieces? Put them together.
  • Board games. Bored? Games like Monopoly, Life, Risk and chess can help with that.
  • Build a fort. Whether you want to build a fortress for an epic pillow fight or have tea inside a princess castle made out of blankets, a fort will keep the kids occupied and make you want to play along.
  • Computer games. Discovery Kids has lots of fun ones, including one where you can build a virtual roller coaster, PBS Kids lets younger ones play with Curious George and Daniel Tiger, and Nick Games has everything from Spongebob and the Power Rangers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Video games. Between the Wii, Playstation Move and interactive games like Rock Band there’s plenty of arcade options at home to keep your kids moving.
  • Smartphone and tablet games. Check iTunes for free apps for your iPhone or iPad, or try Google Play for fun stuff to play on your Android mobile devices.
  • Make your own game. Play “Calvinball” with your own rules, or get creative online at AddictingGames.com, where you can build a robot, mix beats like a DJ or race cars.
  • Story time. Get cozy on the couch, by the fireplace if you’ve got one, and read to your kids.

3 Tips for Allowing More Sunlight Through Your Windows

Some people think that cleaning just the outside of your windows is sufficient for a clear view, but cleaning the inside is beneficial as well, says Guenther. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Michael F. of Dallas)

There are generally two times a year that most people do a deep cleaning of their house: in spring and in the fall. For myself, as a residential window washer, those are the two busiest times of the year.

In the spring, everyone is launching into a deep clean for the beginning of outdoor weather and in the fall everyone is getting ready for being inside for the winter. Below are three tips to help keep your windows clean and allow for more sun in the winter months.

1. Leave your screens off for the winter months.

Most of us don’t open our windows in the winter months and taking your screens off will let more light in. If you want to see the difference this can make, try it out, take one of your screens off and compare that with a window that still has it on.

Once you remove the screens, you’ll want to make sure you store them correctly for easy installation in the spring. Make sure to label each screen and store them with the weight of the screens leaning on the screen frames and not the mesh itself. Also, wait to clean them until spring, since they may acquire dust and dirt while in storage.

2. Clean both inside and outside the windows.

Some people think that cleaning just the outside of your windows is sufficient to have a clear view. Sometimes that is true, but what we have found over the years is that there is a hazy film build up on the inside that often holds back a clear view as well.

One way to find out if you should clean the inside of your windows is to take a paper towel and wipe a small line on the window after you have cleaned the outside. Take a look at different angles to see if you have a film build up.

3. Raise your blinds all the way up instead of just twisting them open.

This may seem obvious, but take at least part of the day to raise your blinds completely and let the sunlight shine into your home. This is best done during times of the day when the sun is shining brightest and can help add warmth to your home during the cold winter months.

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Smartphone Photography Gets an Upgrade

Many real estate professionals like the convenience of snapping photos of homes from their smartphones, but sometimes the quality of the photographs can suffer. At the International Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, several manufacturers are introducing ways to upgrade your mobile photographs with attachable lenses, cameras with more megapixels, and portable printers.

Some companies are looking at transforming your smartphone into a higher quality camera by adding the ability to just clip on a lens. For example, Sony’s QX10 is the first-ever lens-only camera that can clip onto your smartphone to take photos. You can also take photos from it when it’s detached and later upload it to your smartphone for sharing and editing. The camera boasts a 10x optical zoom. The lens-only camera is compatible with iOS and Android smartphones and retails for $250, and a QX100 version is also available with greater zoom capability.

The Olloclip is another snap-on lens product, made for the iPhone. You can snap one of four lenses onto your smartphone, allowing you to be able to capture wide-angle and fish-eye photos of spaces in a home too.

Smartphone cameras have been getting continuous upgrades in recent years with higher megapixel cameras that rival many point-and-shoots. Sony debuted its Xperia Z1s smartphone at CES, which was touted for being waterproof and able to be submerged in nearly five feet of water, but the smartphone also boasts a 20.7-megapixel camera.

Several manufacturers are also debuting portable printers to instantly print your smartphone photos from anywhere you are. For example, Fujifilm Instax SHARE Smartphone Printer is a wireless, portable printer that can instantly print pocket-sized photos from your smartphone. An app on your smartphone can be used to edit the photos, such as resizing, cropping, or applying filters. LG also debuted its Pocket Photo 2.0 that can turn your smartphone photos into 2-by-3-inch prints – a perfect way to help clients document the listings they’ve viewed.

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Buying a New Home Checklist: Three Things to Keep in Mind

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Did you know that, right now, first time home buyers account for 31% of the U.S. home buying market? The process for purchasing your new home can sometimes be a confusing one. There are many factors to consider, and you need to juggle everything from understanding your finance options, to knowing how long the commute will be from each potential location.

Feeling a little stressed? Here are three first time home buyer tips to help you out.

1. What to Look for in Your Home

It can be difficult to sort through all the information that real estate agents are going to be telling you. Does it matter that the appliances are stainless steel? Do you really need to worry about the local schools if you don’t have kids? One thing you want to evaluate is how well your home suits your daily needs, and how likely it is to have good return.

If you go to work every day, then distance to your work and the condition of local traffic are important things to know. Having updated appliances can be important; otherwise, you might have to buy a new one three years down the line. Even if you don’t have kids, nearby schools can affect both property value and how quickly the house will sell once you’re ready to move, so it isn’t something you should necessarily ignore.

2. First Time Home Buyer Tips: Understand First Time Buyer Loans

Most financial experts recommend spending around 28% of your income on your mortgage. This should give you an approximate range of house prices to look at. Before you start seriously hunting, make sure you have loan options lined up and ready to go. If you don’t have much money for a down payment, there are several federal mortgage first time home buyer programs that can help you cover the initial costs.

You’ll have the option of several different mortgage types, including adjustable rate mortgages, 10 year mortgages, and 30-year mortgages; most people want a 30 year mortgage. Beware of adjustable rate mortgages. The low minimum payments might seem tempting, but they often hide an incredibly high payment schedule once the loan resets itself.

3. Buying a New Home Checklist

Once you’ve decided on a home, you should keep a checklist of things to check out and check up on. Make sure you get a home inspection so that there are no unpleasant surprises once you’ve signed on the dotted line. Ask to see utility bills in order to ascertain whether the yearly price estimates for energy are accurate. Has your real estate agent told you what the average home selling price is for the local area? If the homeowner is already underselling, you don’t want to lose the house on a low bid. If they’re overshooting it, however, now’s the time to come in with your best offer.

Do you have any first time home buyer tips for people planning to buy a new home? Let us know in the comments.

Virginia Beach/Norfolk Listed in Top 20 Places to Live In the U.S. in 2014!

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If you are considering buying a house in 2014, it is a good time for an individual to make a purchase. Investors made their moves in the recent past when home prices were at their lowest point. Now that the prices are creeping back up, investors are backing off and it’s a good time to make your purchase. Forbes magazine has gathered the data to point you in the right directions for considering your home purchase.

Joining Local Market Monitor – a firm which analyzes cities’ economic factors and home prices in some-300 locales – Forbes has come up with a list of the 20 best housing markets in 2014.

  1. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
  2. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas
  3. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, North Carolina-South Carolina
  4. Nashville-Davison—Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tennessee
  5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas
  6. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia
  7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  8. Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida
  9. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada
  10. Boise City-Nampa, Idaho
  11. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan
  12. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
  13. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Florida
  14. Salt Lake City, Utah
  15. Boston, Massachusetts
  16. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington
  17. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin
  18. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia-North Carolina
  19. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
  20. Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana