Real Estate Corner



Should I use the local realtor in my neighborhood?

You want to use the Realtor that you believe can sell your house!  Real estate is not just a local business anymore.  Real estate is regional.  You want the Realtor that will work hard and make you and your situation are a priority.  You want the Realtor that will treat the sale of your house, the way they would treat the sale of THEIR own house.  You want to make sure your home is properly marketed.  You absolutely want to make sure that they will do a fantastic job of negotiating on your behalf.  Follow your instincts and you should end up with a happy, successful closing in a few months.



What is a Short Sale?

A short sale occurs when a homeowner owes more on their mortgage than they can sell their house for.  For example, a homeowner has a loan for $200,000 and the homes in the neighborhood are selling for $125,000.  If the homeowner has a true hardship, they can go to their lender and see if they are a candidate for a short sale.  The reason for the term short sale is because the homeowner is asking the lender to sell the home for an amount that is short of the full loan payoff amount.  Some first time buyers think a short sale refers to the timeframe for the approval.  This is not the case.  I have seen short sales take anywhere from 60 days up to 200+ days, for an approval.  If the buyer is patient, they can get a great home that is maintained, by the homeowner, until closing at a great price.


Why should I get a home inspection?

An inspection is your time to fully evaluate the house and to make sure everything is in proper working order. You are paying a lot of money for your home, you should spend just a little more to check out the house. I know that everything looks fine, but you never really know what is going on with a furnace, roof, the electrical or anything else. For example, the furnace could be leaking carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, poisonious gas. The time to learn about such a leak is BEFORE your purchase.
It is always best to leave the home evaluation to the experts. However, if we do find a safety hazard, we want it addressed. If you are the buyer, you want to know if there are any health or safety violations.
This is going to be your home, where you and your family are going to live for many years. You want it to be safe. If you are the seller, you want to live in and give the buyer a safe house.
Does a home inspection mean you should nitpick every small item? No way, there is no such thing as a perfect house. A house is always going to have projects. If you are the buyer, you are going to pick up the project list where the current seller left off. When you sell, the next buyer is going to pick up your
project list. There is not perfect home, there is always something. By the time you get everything right, it is time to start over!


When I want to refinance my loan, should I pay for an appraisal or ask my agent

I believe you should start with your Realtor. Just like when we pulled up the details about the properties that had recently sold, when you purchased your home, we can do the same thing again. Your lender is going to hire an appraiser and charge you several hundred dollars for a detailed appraisal. Your Realtor
with be able to give you a good price range, at no cost to you.

If you just want to refinance, to take advantage of a lower interest rate, you will need the comparable sales values to equal the amount you owe on your mortgage. For a quick example, if you owe $300,000 on your house and your neighborhood sale prices are $300,000 to $350,000. You should be ok to
refinance your loan and take advantage of a lower interest rate.
If you want to take some of your equity out of the house, you will need the comparable sales values to equal the amount of your mortgage, plus 20% of your mortgage, plus the amount that you want to take out. An example of this might be, if you owe $300,000 on your house and the neighborhood sales prices are $400,000 to $425,000. Again, you should be ok to refinance your loan and take some of the equity out of your house. In this example, the lender will probably want you to keep 20% equity or $60,000 but anything above the $360,000 you could cash out. Warning: I don’t believe taking equity out of your house is a good idea.

I meet with homeowners all the time, and almost every single one of them doesn’t even remember what they did with all of the money, and they are still paying on the loan! The equity you build in your current home is going to help you get to your next home.

Remember, every situation is unique. This is a general answer. Your lender will be able to give you more specific details for you.


Does a verbal offer ever count?

A verbal offer isn’t worth the paper it isn’t printed on. Sorry, no pun intended. In today’s world of modern technology, it is very easy to submit an offer, no matter where you are in the world. For an offer to be valid, you must be 18 or over, you must be competent, and your offer MUST be in writing.
There is no way to prove anything that isn’t in writing.

We can email purchase agreements, fax them, overnight them, and even mail them through the U. S. Post Office. We are very blessed to have so many alternatives.

If you really, really want a house, put your signature where your mouth is, on an offer to purchase. If you try a verbal offer, the house you love might be sold to the purchaser that was willing to put their offer in writing. Sellers and their Realtors don’t take verbal offers seriously. We need to see your entire
offer, your earnest money deposit, and your pre-approval letter. The entire package must be evaluated.


Organization Ideas



Whimsy Meets Function in This Pantry Redo

It’s a brand-new year — and a great time to reinvent your pantry. By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon on

The redesigned pantry from 11 Magnolia LaneSince she moves often, Christy Black wanted her pantry to be functional, reversible, and whimsical. All images in this post: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

Our first pantry transformation comes from Christy Black, a military wife who moves every couple of years. It’s a mixed blessing that forces her to constantly edit her possessions and question each purchase with: Is this something I love, need, and want to unpack?

Frequent moves also guided the way the 11 Magnolia Lane blogger added kitchen storage by making over the pantry in the 1915 colonial revival her family recently called home. The pantry project had to be:

  • Reversible, for the next resident
  • Functional to accommodate her prized bread machine
  • Whimsical to provide little touches that makes each new rental feel like home

This is what Black’s “before” pantry looked like:

Pantry before

It was a two-door, built-in cabinet with adjustable shelves. The tallest items only halfway filled the tallest shelves (waste of space). Mounds of boxes and bags tumbled out when Black opened the doors.

“The pantry was the only storage I had for big boxes and small appliances, and nothing was deep enough or tall enough for them,” Black says. “And I hate things on the counters. I hate clutter.”

Pantry pare-down

Black started her pantry project by empting its contents onto floors and countertops.

Food on floor

Next, Black moved and removed shelves to customize the space to hold that bread machine and her favorite kitchen helper — a snacks rack her kids love and her friends covet. She snagged the rack on eBay, but you can buy one for about $37 online.

To corral half-filled pasta boxes and sloppy bags of beans, Black bought inexpensive glass canisters. She admits decanting everything into jars takes time, but jars look good, save space, and let her easily see what needs reordering. Of course, her glass canisters couldn’t hold a 25-pound of rice. So she stored bulk goods in the cellar, keeping the pantry for everyday items.

Pantry pizzazz

She glue-gunned a ½-inch wide, polka dot ribbon to the face of each shelf. If the next residents don’t like polka dots, she reasoned, they can easily remove the glue with a short blast from a hot hairdryer.

Polka dot ribbon

Black looked at the inside of the raised panel pantry doors and saw space that could answer her family’s perpetual question: What’s for dinner? She bought chalkboard contact paper ($7 for 18-in. by 6-ft. roll), and cut a panel for each door. On the left she wrote weekly menus; on the right she had a surface for her kids to doodle.

Chalkboard paint, which is easy to clean, would have worked better than paper, Black says. But paint isn’t reversible, which was a requirement for the pantry makeover.

Total cost: $50 (mostly for glass canisters)

Full height pantry


Most refrigerators are designed for condiments to go in the door shelves, but you don't have to arrange your fridge that way if you don't want to. Image: Corbis Photography/Veer

How to Organize Your Refrigerator

Leftovers gobbling up space in your refrigerator? Here are some tips for keeping things organized, efficient, and tasty.

By: Courtney Craig

Dreaming of a clean refrigerator, but not sure how to organize? We’ve got some cool ideas.

Front and center

Give prime fridge space to priority items, says professional organizer Kathi Burns, founder of Add Space to Your Life.

“If you want leftovers to be eaten, keep them front and center on the middle rack, at eye level,” says Burns. “That goes for healthy snacks, too. If you have leftovers, don’t cram them in the back.”

For large food items, slice and store in several containers, says professional organizer Abbey Claire Keusch. If your refrigerator has adjustable shelves, you can move them around for specific items. Have a plan for the food you keep.

Not everything needs chillingDid you know that ketchup, vinegar, jam, and even mayonnaise and butter don’t need to be refrigerated? If you’re tight on fridge space, these items and more can go in the pantry instead.

And if you have backyard chickens, the eggs you get from them don’t need to be refrigerated, although store-bought eggs do (American regulations require eggs to be power-washed before selling, which strips eggshells of their protective coating, so store-bought eggs have to be refrigerated to stay fresh).

The only items that really need to go in the fridge are meats, dairy products, and certain vegetables (unless you’re going to eat them right away).

Items that should never go in the refrigerator include:

  • Tomatoes (they’ll get mushy faster if they’re cold).
  • Onions (they’ll soften, plus all your other food will smell like onions).
  • Honey (it’ll get too thick).
  • Potatoes (cold temperatures turn starches into sugars, giving your taters a sweet flavor when you cook them, and not in a good way).

Go against the flowToday’s refrigerators are designed to be organized a certain way — condiments in the door, vegetables in the crisper, gallon of milk on the center rack. But it doesn’t have to be that way, Burns says.

“For busy families, I recommend a ‘lunch bin’ that you can pull out,” she says. “Keep the mayo, mustard, pickles, meat, and cheese in there, so you can just pull it out and make a sandwich. It’s easy for kids. You can create a bin for healthy snacks, too, or a breakfast bin with bagels and cream cheese.”

Pulling out one bin instead of many individual items is faster, too, so your refrigerator door doesn’t stay open as long. For smaller refrigerators that don’t have drawers, long, rectangular bins can be used for easy organizing.

“Same goes for the freezer — just use a Tupperware bin for frozen veggies, so you can pull out all the bags of veggies in one fell swoop,” Burns says. “It works really well.”

Hip to be square

Refrigerators are more efficient when they’re fuller, but that doesn’t mean you should cram as much stuff in there as possible. Square or rectangular containers are the way to go for leftovers — they’re easily stackable and fit into corners neatly.

“Stay away from round containers,” says Burns. “That’s just wasted space.”

Home & Garden Articles



5 Fragrant Plants for National Houseplant Appreciation Day

Here are 5 green and fragrant houseplants that can chase the winter blues away.

By: Deirdre Sullivan

If you’re starting to feel stifled by the dark days of winter, snap out of it with a fresh whiff of spring.

January 10th is National Houseplant Day, so we rubbed our green thumbs together and came up with a list of 5 potted beauties that will brighten your mood and freshen your home with pleasing fragrances.

But that’s not all; each species we picked is also visually stunning — from eye-catching leaf textures to beautiful blossoms. All you have to do is choose the nose-pleaser that’s perfect for you.

1. Scented Geraniums — Nose Candy

There are over 200 varieties of this plant, and some have striking leaf shapes and textures that are ruffled and fuzzy, or smooth and lacey.

Nevertheless, what makes scented geraniums really stand out is the range of fragrances different varieties offer. Types include: Peppermint Lace, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Fancy, Prince of Orange, and the intriguing Pink Champagne.

I recently learned that the leaves of this plant are considered an herb. But here’s a twist: They don’t add flavor when used, just an aroma. Check out this video to learn how you can use your sugar dish to add a dash of fragrance to a room when the bowl is opened.

FYI: Most types of geraniums are pretty hardy and do well indoors, but they do need lots of sunlight. During the short days of winter you can give them a few extra hours of light using fluorescents.

2. Jasmine — Great for Chilly Rooms

If you’re not the type who cranks up the heat during the cold winter months, the Jasminum polyanthum is a houseplant that prefers cool indoor temperatures.

Also known as winter jasmine, this easy-to-grow plant is an evergreen vine. It features pink buds that blossom into fragrant white flowers from January to February. Its sweet, perfume-y scent might remind you of a spring floral garden.

In order for this beauty to thrive, it needs 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight a day in a cool place in your home. If a room is too warm, the flowers won’t open — so don’t place next to a heating source.

For additional tips, check out this video that details how to take care of a winter jasmine houseplant.

FYI: We’ve heard winter jasmine can handle temperatures as low as 20 degrees, so this is a plant that can thrive outdoors in most climates. Just make sure you have a healthy plant before transplanting, and don’t make the transition during cold weather.

3. Orchids — Here’s One that Smells Sweet

There’re oodles of beautiful orchids, but Oncidium are among the easiest to grow indoors.

Orchids can flower up to twice a year and they’re available in a wide range of colors and sizes. A favorite during winter is the fragrant Sharry Baby. It features long stems covered in tiny reddish-brown and cream blossoms.

When it comes to Sharry Baby’s fragrance, there are two camps: Some fans believe it smells like vanilla while others detect a chocolate-like fragrance.

As with all orchids, the Sharry Baby won’t bloom without plenty of light, but direct sunlight will cause the flowers to spot. So make sure you keep your plant in a warm part of your home with lots of filtered light. The amount of water this plant needs varies based on its growth; refer to your local nursery for details.

FYI: When your orchid stops flowering, don’t chuck it out — replant it. That way it will have room to grow and can bloom again. For repotting tips, check out this video.

4. Paperwhites — Just Add Water

These tall, white plants can be forced to bloom indoors any time of the year, and are popular holiday gifts.

Paperwhites are a member of the daffodil family. The bulbs can be easily planted in water and in about a month, flowers will begin to appear.

To get started, all you need is a shallow pot and some pebbles. Just make sure you cover the lower half of the bulbs in water; don’t submerge them. If you do, they won’t sprout.

Check out this video by Lowe’s that shows how quick and easy it is to grow these flowers from bulbs.

FYI: Paperwhites have a sweet, musky smell that some people love and others strongly dislike. We suggest catching a whiff first at a local garden center before growing these flowers at home.

5. Gardenia — High-Maintenance Nose-Pleaser

Gardenias are at the top of most fragrant-houseplant lists. Although they do grow beautiful flowers, it’s actually the leaves that are responsible for its pleasant scent.

Gardenias require a lot of pampering in order to thrive. Most gardenias need daytime temperatures that are between 68 and 74 degrees, with a steady 60 degrees at nighttime.

They also require frequent fertilizing, daily misting, and lots of bright sunlight.

For expert tips, refer to your local nursery about specific types of gardenias. Also, check out this video.

FYI: While gardenias need lots of misting, they’re very sensitive to overwatering and can develop root rot and other related conditions very quickly.

Home Improvement Articles



Appliance Buying Guide: Water Heaters

When it’s time to replace your water heater, you’ll find a wide array of high-efficiency models offering big energy savings.

By: Joe Bousquin

Since hot water accounts for as much as 25% of your home’s energy use, when your water heater dies, the replacement you choose will have a big impact on your monthly bills. New technologies make many of today’s models far more energy efficient than that old tank you’re getting rid of. Some of the greenest options are tankless units that heat water on demand, but even conventional water heaters — the classic metal cylinders that are by far the most popular in the U.S. — have gotten less expensive to operate.

Water heater basics

Most households need a 50-gallon tank, according to Jeff Haney, a product manager at manufacturer Rheem. That’ll cost $900 to $2,000, installed, depending on which model you choose. Your plumber will put it where the old tank was, with the cold water supply pipe attached at the bottom of the tank and a hot water outlet pipe on top.

Inside the tank, a thermostat constantly assesses the water temperature and fires up a heating mechanism when it falls below the desired setting (120 degrees is standard). When you turn on a hot water tap, heated water flows from the tank and gets replaced by more cold water from the supply line below.

To do this work, water heaters use electricity, oil, or natural gas. Choosing a new water heater that uses the same fuel type as your old unit is the easiest way to keep replacement costs down, says contractor Andy Wargo of Marcellus, N.Y.

What to look for on the label

Within each fuel type, you’ll find a range of models and price points. To compare, look for these key differences, marked right on the label:

First Hour Rating is a measure of how many gallons the unit can produce in one hour (which is more than its tank capacity since it starts making more hot water as soon as you draw some out). With the average shower using 20 gallons of water, a shave using a couple more, and washing breakfast dishes another 5 to 10, a busy family might need an FHR of 60 to 70 gallons to handle the morning rush. Your plumber can help you analyze your needs.

Energy Factor tells you how efficiently the unit operates. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit, and the less it will cost to run. Federal tax credits for highly efficient water heaters expired in 2011, but you can look for state credits and local utility rebates at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Here’s a breakdown of your basic water heater options from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:

Water Heater Type Installed Cost Yearly Energy Cost Life (years) Total Cost (over 13 Years)
Conventional gas $850 $350 13 $5,394
High-efficiency gas $1,025 $323 13 $5,220
Conventional electric $750 $463 13 $6,769
High-efficiency electric $820 $439 13 $6,528
Conventional oil $1,100 $230 8 $4,777

High-efficiency gas storage: These are just like standard gas water heaters, but with more efficient burners, better insulation, and other upgrades that make them about 7.5% more efficient, saving the average household about $30 a year. Costs for high-efficiency gas tank water heaters start around $850 (about $175 more than a conventional gas tank unit), plus around $200 for installation (the same as a conventional unit).

Gas condensing: To achieve even higher efficiency, these systems vent the exhaust from the gas burner back through a closed system of coils inside the tank, allowing the water to absorb heat that would otherwise escape up the chimney, explains Potomac, Md., contractor Jay Irwin. That makes them about a third more efficient than conventional tanks, for savings of about $100 a year for a typical household.

Gas condensing units are expensive — around $1,600. And because they produce condensation as the exhaust cools, they need a special drain to discharge the runoff, pushing installation costs up to around $400.

Electric heat pumps: Heat-pump models work like air conditioners, by pulling heat out of the surrounding air. But rather than exhausting the heat outside like an air conditioner, they concentrate it and pump it into the water tank. As a result, they use 55% less energy than traditional electric water heaters. Since these utilize ambient heat in the air, they produce the biggest year-round energy savings in hot climates.

You’ll pay around $1,400, or three times what a conventional electric unit costs, but you could save $300 a year in energy costs, meaning it will pay for itself in about three years.


How To Insulate A Garage Door

Garage door insulation cuts energy bills and street noise. Here’s how to insulate your garage door.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Garage door insulation can make your life warmer, cooler, and quieter. It lowers energy bills, acts as a barrier between you and street noise, and brightens an otherwise dreary space.

Garage door insulation is an easy DIY project; it’ll cost you about $200 to insulate two 9-foot-wide doors.

Types of insulation

Any insulation type will increase the energy efficiency of your garage door. Here are the most popular types to apply to the back of garage doors:

  • Batt insulation. This flexible insulation, often found stuffed into exterior walls, is commonly made of fiberglass. It’s usually backed by paper or foil, which act as vapor and air barriers. Insulating values are R-3 to R-4 per inch of thickness. Cost is about 30 cents per sq. ft.
  • Foam board insulation. These rigid panels, typically made from polystyrene, provide a high insulating value for relatively little thickness. Panels most often range from ½ inch thick (R-3.3) to 1 inch (R-6.5). Foam board often is faced with aluminum or vinyl. ($20 for a 4-by-8-ft. sheet that’s 1 inch thick.)
  • Reflective insulation. Rigid boards and rolls of reflective insulation have highly reflective aluminum foil applied to one or both sides of insulation materials, such as cardboard and polyethylene bubbles. This type of insulation reflects radiant heat, making it a good insulation choice for garages that heat up in summer or hot climates. Its approximate R-value is 3.5 to 6, depending on the way you apply it. (A 4-by-25-foot roll is $42).

Matching insulation to your garage door

The goal is to match your garage door to an insulation that’s easy to install and appropriate for your climate.

  • Steel garage doors. These doors can accommodate any type of insulation. Stuff the flexible insulation in the frames around the panels, with the fiberglass side touching the door. Or squeeze cut-to-fit foam board insulation into the frames.
  • Wood frame-and-panel doors. Cut and fit rigid insulation into the recesses between the door frames. For extra climate control, install two layers of foam board.
    Flat garage doors. Foam board or reflective insulation is the best fit for garage doors without panels. Glue or tape the insulation to the garage door.

    Insulation kits

    Even though buying and cutting insulation isn’t hard, garage door insulation kits make it even easier. They contain:

    • Insulation — rolls or boards — cut closer to the size of garage panels than if you bought these yourself, though you’ll still have to trim.
    • Fasteners or tape to hold insulation in place.
    • Higher-end kits throw in gloves and/or a utility knife.

    Kits to insulate a 9-ft. wide garage door cost $50-$70.

    Heads up!

    Adding insulation to a garage door adds weight. Extra weight isn’t usually a problem with 9-ft. wide doors, but can strain the opening mechanism of larger doors. Your garage door’s spring tension might have to be adjusted — a job best left to a garage door professional.


Kitchen Cabinets in Motion: Even the Jetsons Would be Impressed

By: Jan Soults Walker

Cabinets in motion obey hand signals to open doors, and touch-sensitive drawers glide out with the brush of a fingertip.

Jane Jetson pushes a few buttons and dinner pops out, but her cabinets are definitely old-school. What a great kitchen upgrade these cabinets would make for George and Jane.

Using the latest in motion-detection and touch-sensitive technology, cabinet doors and drawers glide open—and shut—in response to movement or the slightest touch. Small motors activate the doors. Motion sensors are set so that your hand must be within an inch of the sensor, which prevents doors from accidentally opening as you walk past.

Cabinets in motion integrate with other home automation technologies and can be programmed for multiple functions. For example, push a single button marked “baking” on a computer screen or wall-mounted touch pad, and doors glide open to reveal baking supplies and utensils, lights over the baking prep area brighten, and a false-front cabinet door slides away to uncover a TV screen, already set to your favorite channel.

The technology can extend to other areas of the house, such as using automated doors to create hidden storage behind paneled walls in the living room or den.

Cabinetry-in-motion features

Custom cabinet company Anvil Cabinet and Mill offers a creative approach with Anvil Motion, a luxury custom line with ultra-modern automated features that you can dress in any style.

  • Sliding doors. Motion sensors detect the wave of your hand near the cabinet you want to access and the panels comprising the door slide upward to reveal the contents. Wave your hand again and the door closes. Doors can also hide integrated top-of-the-line appliances and slide open when you need them.
  • Dynamic drawers. Simply touch the front of the drawer that you want to access, and it glides open. Touch it again and it closes.
  • Fingerprint security. You can also integrate biometric locks, which “recognize” your fingerprint and allow only authorized users access to the contents, such as prescriptions, knives, liquor, or valuables.
  • Price points. All these high-tech bells and whistles come at a cost, of course. Expect to pay 40% to 70% more for automated cabinetry than you would standard swinging door cabinets.


Get the Kitchen You Want for Less Part 2

By: Kimberly Sweet

Layered lighting

There’s more to lighting than one big overhead fixture or even multiple recessed ceiling lights. Designers like to incorporate ambient or general, task, and accent lighting. In the kitchen, this typically translates into ceiling lights (ambient), under-cabinet lighting (task), and in-cabinet or above-cabinet lighting (accent). Older homes often lack the last two layers, but you can achieve better optics simply.

Get the trend for less (in the long run):

Under-cabinet lighting options, like pucks and light strips, are plentiful, low-cost, and help you reduce the risk of chopping your fingers instead of your vegetables.

For accent lighting that adds drama, use inexpensive LED tape or strip lighting (uninstalled, it runs $10-$30 per foot) inside cabinets, says Designer Nick Lovelady. This can work equally well to illuminate a big pantry cabinet or to show off dishware in a glass-front cabinet.

If you’re willing to spend some money up front to save money in the long run, consider replacing existing can lights with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED lights. Kitchen lights account for a great deal of home energy usage, and eventually the savings cover the higher cost of LED bulbs.

Designer Judy Klein suggests looking for lamps with under 3,000 Kelvin to create a warm glow.

Space for connectivity

As the role that smartphones, tablets, and laptops play in our life grows, so too does their place in the kitchen command center — whether for doing homework, looking up a recipe, or listening to music. Some kitchens incorporate a charging center for just this reason. Heck, some appliances even come with computers: Samsung’s Wi-Fi enabled refrigerator sports a built-in 8-inch LCD touch screen tablet and plenty of cool apps.Back to reality.Get the trend for less:Install an outlet inside a cabinet to keep the countertop clear.

Switch a standard outlet to an outlet with USB ports so you can charge phones directly without an adapter.

Paint the walls. It’s much easier for you — or a potential buyer of your home — to repaint a wall than to repaint cabinets or replace a countertop.Opt for colorful vases or serve ware. Target has affordable pieces in every shade of the rainbow.Linens and fabrics make an impact, too. Klein recommends cotton, washable rugs from Dash & Albert, and Ikea also offers a large selection of attractive rugs. For placemats and table cloths, try Pier 1.


Get the Kitchen You Want for Less

By: Kimberly Sweet

1. White kitchens

White kitchens are classic and clean looking (at least in pictures). And if Pinterest is an accurate gauge, white kitchens, white cabinets, white marble counters, and white subway tile backsplashes are swooned over as much as white wedding dresses. But, there’s no need to redo the whole kitchen.

Get the trend for less:

Paint the walls white. A fresh clean coat of pristine white paint may be all you need to make your kitchen feel shiny and new. Avoid a stark “builder white” and go with a slightly warmer white instead.

Paint the cabinets white. The real question is, to DIY or not to DIY? Painting cabinets is a time-consuming job that requires a lot of prepping and priming. All the doors need to come off (where will you put them?), and you may not have the right tools or skills. Intrepid DIYers: See what’s involved in painting cabinets:

On the other hand, hiring pros can cost $100 to $200 per box, depending on the cost of labor in your area.Alabama kitchen designer Nick Lovelady, owner of Cupboards Kitchen & Bath, recommends buying new, especially with old cabinets that aren’t built well and lack interior accessories. When clients insist, though, his company does paint cabinets. Doing the job right, he says, can pay off by extending your cabinets’ finish 15 to 20 years. Lovelady recommends using a sprayer rather than a brush to avoid lines, especially on hard-grained woods.
Next: 2. Stone counters

Most show kitchens have stone counters, whether they’re made from engineered quartz, exotic granite, or a highly veined marble. But stone is expensive.

Get the trend for less:

Create a stone look by using granite tiles instead of a granite slab. At ¼ to 3/8 inch thick (instead of 2 to 3 cm), tiles cost less and make for easier carrying and installation than slabs. They can also be laid over an existing countertop. However, grout lines break up the appearance and can be tough to clean. 12 in. x 12 in. tiles roughly range from $2 to $17 per sq. ft.

Laminate counters now have more realistic patterns and patterns than before. Here’s your chance to get that white “marble” counter. (Note: They cost more than standard laminates.)

“Manufacturers are increasing their offerings and products look much better than they used to,” says Judy Klein of JK Design in Wilmette, Ill. One new option for laminate is curved edge treatments, such as bullnoses and ogees, which eliminate those telltale dark lines where edges meet, making it hard to identify a laminate counter as such.

By the way, laminate holds the U.S. countertop market share at 56%, with solid surface (12%), natural stone (9%), and engineered stone (7%) bringing up the rear, according to recent research by The Freedonia Group.

3. Minimalist kitchens

Whether driven by a desire to simplify or by simple economics, kitchens look considerably more minimalist than a decade ago. Rather than showing stuff off, we’re hiding it. In appliances, that means paneled, integrated refrigerators and dishwashers. Cabinets not only look less showy with simpler door styles and less moulding, they have more interior organization accessories to keep clutter at bay.To streamline the kitchen you already have, think low-cost kitchen storage.Get the trend for less:Rev-a Shelf offers an under-sink pullout (about $300) that makes the most of underused space.

Cookware organizers ($156 or $284) eliminate the need for a pot rack.

Modular, stackable trays make drawers manageable.

Waxhaw Information, News & Events



Tower12/11/12: Waxhaw Water Tower to be re-painted the same silver color by Utility Services from Perry, GA. This process is said to take 8-12 weeks.

1/14/13: Dog owners are being required to renew their pet license. You can submit your application at the Town Hall located at 317 N. Broome Street. Click here for your application.


SpringFest: This two day festival in May that features arts and crafts vendors selling their crafts in the downtown area.  There is many musical acts and food vendors to enjoy.  In the free Kids Zone complete there will be bouncies, entertainment and more.

Patriotic Ceremonies: Each year, locals and visitors gather at the Military Wall of Honor to take part in Memorial Day, Patriot Day, and Veterans Day ceremonies.

Fourth of July: The celebration begins with a parade downtown. Announcers cover the entire parade route to make sure that you hear all of the details surrounding the fun entries passing by.  In the afternoon, make your way to our annual beach party for delicious food, live music and more. In the evening, you can watch fireworks set to patriotic music!

Grill ‘n’ Chili Cookoff: A Friday night in October, the professional and backyard barbecue teams begin to cook. On Saturday the contestants will submit their entries to the judges then in the afternoon the public will taste and vote!

12 Days of Christmas: The celebration kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with the Festival of Lights through the historic buildings and landscapes. Santa will be in town and carolers walking around town.  On the first Friday of December the town hosts a Christmas party for the Senior Citizens with local music and food donated from local restaurants. On the second Sunday of December there is a parade that features the local school marching bands, and entries and floats by hundreds of businesses and members of the community. There are the many other events during the 12 Days of Christmas festivities including live nativity scenes, the Polar Express train, carriage rides on Friday and Saturday nights and more.


Waxhaw is a town located in Union County, home to 9,859 current residents. Waxhaw is located north of Lancaster, South Carolina and lies about 12 miles south of Charlotte.

To watch a community tour of Waxhaw click here

The Town currently has dozens of specialty shops and dining ranging from mom & pop restaurants to fine dining bistros. The Waxhaw Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes retail businesses as well as architecturally significant houses near the center of town.The Town Park is located in the downtown area, as is a Skate Park. Near Waxhaw is Cane Creek Park, a 1,050-acrepark, featuring scenic areas and recreation activities.

Local Schools:

Public Elementary Schools:

  • Kensington Elementary School
  • Sandy Ridge Elementary School
  • Waxhaw Elementary School
  • Western Union Elementary School
  • Newtown Elementary School
  • Rea View Elementary School
  • Wesley Chapel Elementary School
  • Marvin Elementary School

Public Middle Schools:

  • Marvin Ridge Middle School
  • Parkwood Middle school
  • Cuthbertson Middle School

Public High Schools:

  • Marvin Ridge High School
  • South Providence High School
  • Parkwood High School
  • Cuthbertson High School
  • Central Academy of Technology and Arts (CATA)

Explore a few Subdivisions in my new video:

Somerset Subdivision in Waxhaw

Blackstone Subdivision in Waxhaw

Uptown Charlotte Information, News & Events




2013 Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Quilt Show

The event is on Friday March 8th and Saturday March 9th from 9:00am-5:00pm. The admission fee is $6. This event, “Through the Garden Gate,”  with over 200 quilts and 40 quilters. Proceeds from the quilt show and vendor mall will help support Charlotte Quilters’ Guild operations.

Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen Exhibition

Now through March 17th, the Mint Museum Randolph will be hosting this Exhibit that focuses on the ceramic creations of Herb Cohen, a master potter and seminal figure in the museum’s own history.

And the Bead Goes On Exhibition

Also at the Mint Museum Randolph, through March 31st will be hosting this exhibit. Beads have been used to enliven fashion designs since ancient times. Originally restricted to the wardrobes of aristocrats and made of precious materials, beads indicated wealth and status in numerous cultures throughout the globe.


This famous musical will be performed at the Ovens Auditorium starting March 13th and going through the 17th with start times in the afternoon and evening. The tickets range from $30 to $150. To purchase tickets click here

17th Annual Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade

This annual parade will be on March 16th beginning at 11:00 at and the route will be from Tryon St. from 9th St. to 3rd St. The parade will feature pipe & drum bands, Irish dancers, floats, animals, acrobats and more. There is no admission, so grab your green gear and come on out!

Latta Celtic Festival

On March 16th and 17th, enjoy live music from Irish Temperance, performances by the Charlotte Scottish Country Dancing Society, and Celtic reenactors spanning from the Medieval Celts to WWII!Shop with Celtic Vendors, enjoy food from Appalachian Smoke, and grab a cold beer from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery! Admission: $7 Adults $6 Seniors $5 Students Children 5 and under and member free and is at the Historic Latta Plantation.

Charlotte’s Fine Art Show: May 10th-May 12th at the Charlotte Convention Center. The 5th Annual Charlotte Fine Art Show happens May 10-12, 2013. The event takes place 100% indoors at the Convention Center in Uptown Charlotte. For more information call (704) 339-6000.


Uptown Charlotte is the central area of Charlotte, where more than 13,000 people reside.

Uptown Charlotte is the headquarters for Bank of America and Duke Energy, as well as the headquarters for East Coast operations for Wells Fargo.

For a tour of Charlotte click here

Museums, sporting venues, shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars are heavily concentrated in the city center. More hotels are currently under construction including the 17-story Hotel Sierra, located on the same block as the Time Warner Cable Arena. New museums such as the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Mint Museum of Modern Art opened in 2010.

Uptown Charlotte employs more than 70,000 people and more than 25-million visitors come here to visit the 120 restaurants and 50 nightspots.

South Park Information, News & Events




McCormick & Schmick’s in South Park Valentine’s Day Event:

They will provide a special treat if you make a reservation:


McCormick & Schmick’s in South Park

Had a wonderful meal at McCormick & Schmick’s in South Park last night. For the rest of the weekend you can enjoy the Charlotte Restaurant Week, 3 courses for $30!


South Park opens a new Brewery, Lenny Boy Tea. Offered in original and local seasonal flavors (think sweet potatoes from Concord or ginger from Monroe), it can be purchased by the glass ($2), bottle ($3), or growler ($15). Along with the chilled kombucha, you can find games to watch on the large television and the occasional acoustic guitar performance. (Information provided by the Charlotte Observer by Sarah Crosland)


SouthPark is a large neighborhood in Charlotte. Its name is derived from the upscale SouthPark Mall. At nearly 1.8 million square feet, SouthPark Mall is the largest shopping mall in Charlotte and all of North Carolina.

The area is geographically centered at the intersection of Fairview Road and Sharon Road in the south central sector of the city, about six miles south of Uptown Charlotte. In addition to being home to the mall, SouthPark is also a residential area and one of the largest business districts in Charlotte and the state of North Carolina, with an estimated 40,000 employees.

To view a community tour of South Park click here

Residents of SouthPark attend Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including South Mecklenburg High School and Myers Park High School.

SouthPark is served by the Morrison branch of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Dilworth Information, News & Events



Dilworth Art Project Chooses an Artist: Asheville native Robert Winkler’s sculpture was chosen from among 30 submissions to commemorate the founding of Dilworth. The installation at the Dilworth Road/Romany site was completed in December, 2012. (Update provided by

Newcomers Wine and Cheese Events on Sundays:Warm and welcoming has always defined our community. Nothing says “Welcome to Dilworth” more than the Sunday wine and cheese gatherings held twice a year for our newest neighbors. Held in various homes around the neighborhood, they are a chance for new families to mingle with old. Look for dates to be published in the Dilworth Quarterly, on this website, and in the weekly DCDA Express emails. These gatherings are open to anyone in Dilworth, whether you have lived here months or years. (Update provided by


Fourth of July: July 4th brings out patriotic residents from one end of Dilworth to another. Blocks scattered throughout the neighborhood band together to close their street for block parties, picnics, popsicles, and scooter, bike, stroller and trike parades large and small. When we’re lucky the fire truck makes an appearance, delighting our youngest Dilworth patriots! Watch your weekly DCDA Express emails for the party nearest you—there is one for everyone! (Update provided by

Greek Festival: Each year for over 3 decades in early September, tents are raised, Mediterranean music fills the air, and the flavorful aroma of Greek cuisine lets Dilworthians know that it is once again time for the Greek Festival in the heart of Dilworth. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church’s, located on our own East Boulevard, is the site for the annual celebration of culture and cuisine. The festival brings thousands of visitors to Dilworth’s for cathedral tours, wine tasting, Greek folk dancing, shopping, entertainment for the kids, and authentic Greek food and pastries. (Update provided by

Thunder Road Marathon: Charity walks and runs often wind their way in and around Dilworth’s boundaries, but perhaps none is larger or more popular than the annual Thunder Road Marathon. The marathon brings hundreds of runners through Charlotte’s streets in late fall, and neighborhoods enjoy a friendly competition to see who can provide the most energetic and enthusiastic support. Dilworth residents enjoy a festive morning showing their support with music, horns, bells, and cheers, sometimes capping it off with brunches and live music at nearby restaurants. (Update provided by

Christmas Eve Luminaries: As darkness falls on Christmas Eve, a parade of cars from all over the community descends on Dilworth to enjoy the magical vision of luminaries lining the streets. A tradition since 1980, the lighting of these candles at dusk began when a Dilworth resident brought her hometown ritual to her Dilworth street and around Latta Park. The custom caught on and spread, and these candles have been put out on many streets in Dilworth ever since. (Update provided by


The streets of Dilworth feature stately, mature oak trees, sidewalks, and houses with front porches. The homes are primarily bungalows — with the occasional Queen Anne — and some larger, two-story Colonial Revivals lining Dilworth Road East and West. East Boulevard serves as the main thoroughfare through the neighborhood. East Boulevard is lined with restaurants, offices and shops, many located in renovated homes. Charlotte’s largest hospital, Carolinas Medical Center, is in Dilworth. This 861-bed teaching hospital is the region’s only Level 1 trauma center.

For a community tour of Dilworth click here

Ballantyne Information, News & Events




Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge Farmers Market: Is located at 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway every Saturday starting June 26-September 8am to noon. The Farmers Market will take place in the parking lot by the Ballantyne Commons Parkway entrance.

Ballantyne Breakfast Club:For residents, business owners and elected officials, this group meets on Saturdays to exchange information. If you would like to join this group, give Ray Eschert a call at (704) 651-1237 for more information.


Ballantyne is a neighborhood in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina occupying a 2,000-acre area of land adjacent to the South Carolina border.

To view a community tour for Ballantyne click here

Now Available; 3150 Bentley Drive, Lancaster SC 29720

This beautiful custom Frank Betz home features all of your must haves!

2 Story Foyer

From the glistening hardwood floors, to 50+ recessed lights, granite in the kitchen and all baths, to the surround sound with infared remote media closet in the great room, this home is for you.

Kitchen Kitchen1 Great Room1 Upstairs view of fireplace

The master suite is conveniently located on the first floor. The 2nd bedroom on the first floor has direct access to the full bath.

Master Bed Master Bath Master Tub Master Shower Bedroom2

Move right in! Close to Ballantyne 45 minutes, Pineville 50 minutes and 45 minutes to Fort Mill.

Bedroom3 Bedroom4 Bath Upstairs Bonus Room Rear

New To The Market!!

210 N Church Street #1314, Charlotte NC 28202


Gorgeous city & sunset views from every room in this beautiful corner unit in the heart of Charlotte.

FoyerComputer Niche Dining AreaLiv

Wonderful open floorplan, easy care hardwood flooring.

Recent Paint and Floors Floors

The kitchen features cherry cabinets, granite counters & stainless steel appliances.

Kit balcany

The master suite has a sitting area, walk in closet & a wonderful master bath w/dual sinks & granite counters.

Sitting area in master master bed Great mastermaster bed views

master bath master bath1

Bedroom 2 and Bathroom 2

2 bedroom 2 bath 2 bath1

2 deeded parking spaces. The building has a pool, fitness center, patios, fireplace & grills, 24 hour concierge.

views pool Grills grill Fitness bar