College Students Swapping Dorms for Homes Purchased by Mom and Dad

UW-Madison campus

Do you ever secretly wish you could head back to college and re-live the good old days, maybe for just one semester? If it seems like college life is only getting sweeter, you may be right. On more and more college campuses, a few lucky students are ditching the crammed dorm life and tiny off-campus apartments for bigger digs – courtesy of mom and dad of course.

In a recent informal survey of its sales associates, Coldwell Banker found that more than one-third of agents across the country are seeing more buyers looking to purchase properties for their children now than in previous years. The reasons for the investment are varied – some are taking advantage of low prices and interest rates, while others are anticipating inventory may be scarce when their child enters school.

Ed Feijo, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Cambridge, Mass., has seen international buyers purchase homes for children as young as 14! No, these child prodigies are not yet at Harvard or MIT. But their parents certainly have high hopes, so they are determined to snatch up a desirable property while they can.

Whether you’re a parent looking to make an investment, or a student who wants to persuade mom and dad, here are some listings within a two mile radius of a few iconic college towns:

 

Cover image via wikimedia.org

The post College Students Swapping Dorms for Homes Purchased by Mom and Dad appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

The Complete List of Important Questions to Ask A Contractor Before Hiring Them

When you set out to do a remodel, addition or other major home renovation, you will need a general contractor to oversee the work that needs to be done. Hiring a general contractor means getting the best person, and while there are many general contractors in your area, you will need to screen them.

Part of that screening process is asking the right questions and getting a sense of their work history and ethics. There are a lot of questions you could ask, but here are some of the essential ones:

What’s your business history?

Asking a contractor’s business history is one of most important steps to finding out more about the work they’ve done, how well they did it and if their past clients were satisfied. If they are unwilling to give you references or talk about their history, it’s a good indication you might look elsewhere.

Some follow-up questions to ask around this question include:

  • How many years have you been doing contractor work?
  • How many projects have you completed like mine in the last year?
  • Do you have a list of references I could call?
  • What kind of insurance do you have?
  • Are you licensed?
  • Do you carry worker’s compensation for your employees?
  • Do you have insurance in case something in my home is broken during the remodel or addition?
  • Will you sign a “time and materials” contract?
  • Do you often finish a project within the allotted time frame?

Who will be at the site and how will it be supervised?

Knowing who will be at your house every day during the renovation is important. You should know who they are, if the contractor will be there and any details about the team working on your home. For example, there might be a construction manager hired, which can cost between $3,200 and $4,400. It will depend on the extent of the project, and if the general contractor isn’t going to be the manager.

Some additional questions to ask:

  • Can I meet the job foreman or project manager, if there will be one for my project?
  • Will you be using any subcontractors on this project?
  • Who will be on the site every day during the project?
  • Will you be onsite every day or stopping by, and if the latter, how often?

Can you give me a timeline?

There should be a timeline for the project, so you know what to expect and when. Having a timeline will keep you aware of whether they’re behind or ahead of schedule. It will also let you know when you might need to be out of the house or specific rooms during the renovation.

You should ask the contractor:

  • What is our schedule?
  • Will this require a permit and who needs to pull them?
  • When will you start and finish?
  • What will be the start time and finish time every day?
  • Will you work seven days a week?
  • How will you communicate with me after hours?
  • How will I know when I need to make decisions?
  • What documents will I receive when the project is complete?

What guarantees can you give me?

Guarantees may or may not be part of the contract you sign with the general contractor. You want to have everything worked out before signing anything, so questions you might ask include:

  • Is there any part of my project that worries you? If so, what is it and how do we work it out?
  • Will you provide me with updates on a daily basis?
  • Do you offer a guarantee on your work, and if so, what is it?
  • Do you have any legal disputes pending from previous work that I need to be aware of?

Can I get that in writing?

Once you get everything worked out, it’s time put it all down in writing. What you need to have in the contract will depend on the project, so some questions you might ask include:

  • Would you itemize the bid?
  • Is the bid just an estimate or your fixed price for the project?
  • Will you agree to a termination clause?
  • Will your contract include the job details, timeframe, materials, cost, “time and materials” and termination clause?

If you think you need to ask any additional questions not covered here, you might want to consult friends and neighbors who have done similar renovations. Some other questions to consider asking when you decide whether to hire a general contractor include:

  • What do I have to put down?
  • What’s the bottom line?
  • What’s your work routine like?
  • Who are your main suppliers?

Remember, you want the right man or woman for the job and don’t want to go back for extensive repairs later.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover image via wikimedia.org

 

The post The Complete List of Important Questions to Ask A Contractor Before Hiring Them appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Tips and Tricks To Make You Fall in Love With Your Small Bathroom

As the social media manager for Coldwell Banker I get to see some of the most incredible and luxurious bathrooms from around the world. From bathrooms with a view to a shower that is bigger than some of my rooms, I have seen it all. Of course, this make me feel less than in love with my small bathroom. In an effort to maximize my space I have found some interesting ways to give bathrooms an upgrade without breaking the bank…

Feeling Confined? Lighten Up with Brighter Shades of Color

Bright Bathroom 1

Listed with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Boulder, CO

Dark shades of paint may make a bold statement but they can also make a room feel confined. Consider opting for a lighter shade of paint to make a room appear larger than it actually is.

Bathroom Boring? Add Some Character

Adding a wall to wall mirror or wainscoting are affordable and elegant upgrades that can completely change the look of a small bathroom.

Declutter! Less is More in a Small Bathroom

Beautiful Half Bathroom

Listed with Coldwell Banker BAIN Seattle, WA

A cluttered counter space can drive a person crazy. When possible, utilize cabinets and your linen closet so the room feels clean and organized.

Shower Space Tight? Hang Another Shower Rod

Via Reddit

Showerhead racks are bulky and can make a shower feel overcrowded. Adding another shower rod will allow you to hang baskets.

Go With Glass

Listed with Coldwell Banker BAIN in Seattle, WA

An opaque shower door may add privacy but it also cuts off the space in your bathroom. A glass shower door will open the space back up.

Short on Storage? Consider Mounting Drawers

via Shelterness

If you need more storage you can always consider ways to use wall space. Another great spot to add storage is above the bathroom door.

The post Tips and Tricks To Make You Fall in Love With Your Small Bathroom appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

7 Super Cool Super Hero Themed Kids Bedrooms

Holy Cuteness Batman! These super hero themed kids rooms, from Houzz, take the prize for the most awesome and adorable.  Which is your favorite?

The post 7 Super Cool Super Hero Themed Kids Bedrooms appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Forget Backyard Volleyball and Horseshoes…Human Foosball Is The New Trend

Foosball is quite possibly one of the most frustrating bar games to ever be created. The ball is always just out of reach and you know your opponent is totally spinning his or her players but you are too busy dodging the sliding sticks to avoid hip bruises to be certain he or she is in fact cheating. You know what isn’t frustrating? Human Foosball. Yes, it’s a real thing and it looks totally fun, maybe a little weird and 100% awesome.

Want to build your own “Human Foosball” field in your yard? Here are instructions from badgeofawesome.com.  

The post Forget Backyard Volleyball and Horseshoes…Human Foosball Is The New Trend appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

10 Real Estate Road Trip Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know

Summer time often means long road trips away from home.  While the freedom to travel wherever you please makes for great summer vacations, the trips themselves can sometimes hit entertainment road bumps.

Keep your road trip companions on their toes and be the Jeopardy champion of factoids with these quirky and intriguing real estate facts:

  1. India’s richest man built a 27 story home.  With 6 floors dedicated to parking and 400,000 square feet of living space, it requires 600 staff members to maintain it.
  2. The day you list your home matters.  Homes listed on Thursday and Friday get more buyer tours, sell faster, and for higher prices.  Homes listed on Sunday get more online views.
  3. The smallest home in Great Britain measures just 10 feet by 6 feet.  It was once inhabited by a 6-foot, 3-inch fisherman.
  4. A FROG is actually a room.  The Finished Room Over Garage is a term used often in the Southeast U.S. (and there’s even an unFROG when unfinished).  Other parts of the country refer to it as a bonus room or great room.
  5. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front door red when they pay off their mortgage.
  6. In the Pacific Northwest, bathrooms can disappear before your eyes.  A house with two powder rooms (1/2 bath + 1/2 bath) and two more baths with standup showers (3/4 bath + 3/4 bath) actually has 2.5 bathrooms total.
  7. Brass hardware actually disinfects itself.  There’s an ionic effect in the metal that is toxic to all kinds of germs and pathogens.
  8. Dead bodies heat homes.  In Sweden and Denmark, crematoriums pass the heat from their incinerators on to the local utilities for residential use.
  9. It’s not just the home.  8 out of 10 buyers would give up square footage for the right neighborhood, and 6 out of 10 would give up yard space for a shorter commute.
  10. Real estate listings with the words “beautiful” or “gorgeous” in their listing descriptions sell 15% faster than other listings.  They also sell for 5% higher prices.  Is that just correlation or some great marketing causation?  Ask your Realtor.

 Cover image via RoxysKitchen

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and a state director for Washington Realtors. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

The post 10 Real Estate Road Trip Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Expert Advice on How to Choose a Fence for Your Home

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

Want to make your suburban home feel safe and secure while still maintaining it’s beauty? You might want to consider adding a fence.

Fences have been part of the home landscape since colonial days when they kept livestock like chickens and cows on the property. Now they accent homes, outline property boundaries and keep family lives private.

Why does your home need a fence? What kind of fence best suits your needs? Once you answers these questions, you can contact a fencing professional and start installing your dream fence.

3 Benefits of Fences

There are many benefits to installing a fence, but here are some of the most important ones to consider as you move forward with the installation:

  1. Privacy. A fence is one of the best deterrents against prying and intrusion. They are also great for home security, so people can’t easily break in.
  2. Keeping wild animals out and children and pets in. Foxes, raccoons and other animals will not be able to get in. At the same time, your children will be able to safely play in the yard without wandering out, and dogs won’t easily escape onto the road where they could be injured.
  3. Accentuating the landscape and your home. If you install a short fence in the front yard or a tall fence in the back, they add to the value of the property.

Types to Install

As you decide what kind of fence you want, one of the most important factors to keep in mind is your budget. As such, the cost to install a fence often varies by the kind of material you choose. Here are some of the most popular for you to consider, along with their benefits and drawbacks:

1. Chain Link

Pros: Chain link fences will not warp, split or crack. They require little to no maintenance and can be coated in vinyl paint to match their surroundings.

Cons: While there are privacy slats available, chain link is not the most optimal for privacy. They are good for home protection, as they make an audible noise when people try to climb over them.

2. Wood

Pros: Wood fences are durable and naturally resistant to rotting and decay when they’re stained and painted. They can be any color and will last 15 to 20 years. They’re nice for privacy, unless they’re installed as picket instead of boards. Wood is biodegradable, so you can recycle boards as compost in your garden when they wear out.

Cons: Wood tends to show its age because of climate conditions. It will need paint and stain touch-ups over the life of the fence. Pieces might also need to be replaced if any are broken or eaten away by termites.

3. Vinyl

Pros: Vinyl fences are durable, weather-resistant and not susceptible to mold. It’s very unlikely that vinyl will ever warp, split or crack due to climate conditions. It’s very low maintenance, requiring infrequent cleaning with water from a hose and some soap. It can be good for privacy if vinyl boards are installed, not pickets (like wood).

Cons: It is only available in neutral colors, and it is not biodegradable.

4. Aluminum

Pros: Aluminum is a type of metal that will not rust, making it very durable. It can be many different colors and designs, and you have a choice in the quality of aluminum that you want.

Cons: It is not good for privacy, only protection like chain link fences. It is also difficult to install and very prone to damage depending on the quality of material installed.

5. Brick

Pros: Brick fences require almost no maintenance, as they won’t burn, are energy-efficient and great for resale. You can blend the fence with your home or contrast it. It only needs to be washed occasionally.

Cons: It is expensive to repair and difficult to change its appearance–no painting or staining. The foundation on which you build the wall has to be very strong and invulnerable to any kind of shifting, or the whole wall could fall.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover image via FLICKR

The post Expert Advice on How to Choose a Fence for Your Home appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

The 10 Commandments of Throwing a Great House Party

One of the greatest joys of owning a home is sharing it with others. Follow these commandments and become the ultimate party host.

1) Thou Shalt Not Drive Yourself Crazy Cleaning Beforehand

Now I am in no way saying your house should be a mess but it is easy to get carried away cleaning before guests come. Focus on the areas you know your guests will be spending time in and tidy up the rest of your home.

2) Thou Shalt Not Run Out of Food

This is one of the most important rules you must follow. Seriously, is there anything worse than showing up to a party and leaving with a growling stomach? Avoid your guests having to stop at a McDonalds after your party by ensuring you have the right amount of food. Check out this simple chart that tells you how much food and drink to have at your dinner party.

3) Thou Shalt Be a Responsible Party Host

If cocktails are on the menu then please be sure you keep an eye on your guests. Also, don’t forget to have a variety of non-alcoholic beverage on hand like water and various juices and soda.

4) Thou Shalt Have A Plan For Your Pets

If Fido isn’t the friendliest perhaps he should remain separated from the group. Also, if your indoor cat is an escape artist you may want to alert your party goers to ensure they always shut the door behind themselves.

5)  Thou Shalt Give Your Neighbors a Heads Up

If your neighbors aren’t invited to your party then it might be a good idea to give them the courtesy of letting them know you will be having a party, especially if it will be outdoors and/or if you plan on having it go late into the night.

6) Thou Shalt Plan A Few Activities

First things first, make sure you introduce everyone to each other if they aren’t already acquaintances. Next, having a 3 page itinerary filled with activities for your party goers isn’t necessary but you should have a few activities planned that you can pull out of your hat if you see people getting bored. For smaller crowds, board and card games are always great ways to pass time. If your party is outdoors you can consider volleyball, horseshoes or cornhole.

7) Thou Shalt Not Forget About the Kids

If you have guest coming with children it is important to give them something to do. Here are 116 awesome ideas.

8) Thou Shalt Use Paper Goods (When Possible)

Unless you are having a formal dinner party it is always best to go with paper goods. (recycled if possible!) By doing this you avoid a sink full of dishes, time away from your guests (cleaning them) and the possibility of having your good plates, cups and cutlery thrown away or broken.

9) Thou Shalt Play Music

Having music at your party is a must. Depending on the type of party you have it may even lead to a dance party! Here is a great playlist you can use.

10) Thou Shalt Remember To Have Fun!

Sometimes being a host can feel more like work than play. Make sure your guests are well taken care of but don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

The post The 10 Commandments of Throwing a Great House Party appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

10 Ways to Change Up Your Home Decor With Washi Tape

If you have spent anytime at all on Pinterest you have probably noticed some seriously impressive washi tape projects. From incredible wall art to unique ideas for kids rooms, the ways you can have fun with this tape are endless.

Never heard of it?  Washi Tape is decorative Japanese tape that is colorful and great to use for scrapbooking, decorating and more. “Just like masking tape it does come off…unlike duct tape it does not leave a sticky mess.” (wishywashi.com) This type of tape has recently gained popularity, much in part to Pinterest, with apartment renters who want to spruce up their home without damaging walls.

Want to buy some? I like to buy mine from Amazon, WishyWashi.com and Etsy.

Here are some of the cool patterns you can buy from Wishy Washy:

Ready to get decorating? Here are some ideas to get you started.

 

#1 Add a Stunning Accent Wall

thediyhomegirl.com

#2 Give Your Fridge a Fresh Look

http://theeverygirl.com

#3 Spruce Up Your Laundry Room With Fun Designs

abeautifulmess.com

#4 Add Some Color to A Kid’s Room

Pinterest User Lady V

#5 Add Some Subtle but Stylish Accents to Doors

remodelaholic.com

#6 Turn Archways into Art

herumbrella.com

#7 A Cool and Colorful Idea for Ceiling Fans

craftideas.bitchinrants.com

#8 Add a Washi Tape Border Instead of Nailing Pictures and Art

designsponge.com

#9 Wow Your Guests With a Cool Entry

apartmenttherapy.com

#10 An Interesting Way to Make Your Door Standout

Ayça Demirci

The post 10 Ways to Change Up Your Home Decor With Washi Tape appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Drop the Watering Can and Enjoy These Low Maintenance Outdoor Plants

Gardening is just one of the many joys that come with homeownership. However, watering can often feel like a labor of love we could do without. This is the first year I have had a garden and I can already say I am kind of over lugging heavy watering cans and fighting with a hose that seems to kink with every step I take. Next year I plan on planting a few less plants that require so much water and thought I would share some of my favorite finds with you.

Do you have any low-maintenance beauties to share? Please let me know about them in the comments section below.

Butterfly Bush

These small, fragrant blossoms grow in spikelike clusters and attract butterflies to your garden. Learn more from sunset.com.

Purple Coneflower

A beautiful perennial that was described as “We’re talking the lowest maintenance possible,” by Chip Tynan at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

Blue Eyed Grass

 laspilitas.com

Blue Eyed Grass has small, iris-like leaves and is drought tolerant . Learn more here.

Bee Balm

 homedepot.com

Sounds kind of like a chapstick right? This brilliant addition to your garden only requires water if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week

 

Salvia

gardeningknowhow.com

According to gardeningknowhow.com, growing salvia is something every gardener should try. This plant is not only beautiful but it can also withstand extreme weather conditions.

 

The post Drop the Watering Can and Enjoy These Low Maintenance Outdoor Plants appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.