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


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

Bee Balm


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




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.

June Housing Numbers Hit Highest Level Since October

This past June, sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose for the third consecutive month, indicating that the housing marketing is continuing to gain momentum.

The most recent existing-home sales report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this rise in sales has spurred activity to an eight-month high. In fact, sales increased 2.6 percent to a 5.04 million annual rate last month, led by encouraging increases across all four U.S. regions.

While market conditions are becoming more balanced, the report still points to a shortage of homes on the market, something we will be keeping an eye on over the coming months.

Here is a breakdown of the numbers in today’s report:

• Total housing inventory rose in June by 2.2 percent, resulting in 2.3 million existing homes available for sale. This represents a 5.5-month supply with unsold inventory up 6.5 percent over a year ago.
• The median price of an existing-home increased 4.3 percent to $223,000, up from $214,000 a year ago.
• First-time home buyers accounted for 28 percent of all purchases in June, up from 27 percent in May.
• Regional data shows that existing-home sales led gains across four U.S. regions. There was a 6.2 percent gain in the Midwest, followed by a 3.2 percent increase in the Northeast. Sales rose by 2.7 percent in the West and 0.5 percent in the South.

With regional home sales on the rise, here is a look at a few listings from across the country at the June 2014 median price:

Northeast: $269,800
Westfield, MA $262,500
3 bedrooms, 2 baths

Midwest: $177,900
Mchenry, IL $177,000
3 bedrooms, 2 baths

South: $192,600
Cypress, TX $192,000
4 bedrooms, 2 baths

West: $301,000
Nine Mile Falls, WA
3 bedrooms, 2 baths

The post June Housing Numbers Hit Highest Level Since October appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Stop Losing Your Keys By Giving Them a Home


You may laugh but don’t act like this hasn’t happened to you! Running around the house looking for your keys in the morning isn’t a fun way to start the day. Give your keys a home and get out of your house on time with these unique key holder ideas.

(If this fails you can always try this route)



Flickr Jameson Gagnepain








Cover Photo via www.cih.org

The post Stop Losing Your Keys By Giving Them a Home appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

10 Design Ideas to Help Freshen Up Your Bathroom

One of our favorite boards on our Pinterest page is our gorgeous bathrooms board. This collection of bathrooms from coldwellbanker.com listings includes an interesting variety of modern, traditional and unique decor styles that inspired us to create a round up of our favorites. Whether you are looking for ways to refresh your decor or seeking remodeling ideas, this compilation has a little something for everyone.

Medina, WA 

Issaquah, WA 

Chicago, IL

Bellevue, WA 

Westport, CT 

Bellevue, WA 

Portland, OR 

Bellevue, WA 

Portland, OR 

Lake Country, BC 

To see more lovely bathrooms check out our Pinterest page.

Follow Coldwell Banker’s board Gorgeous Bathrooms on Pinterest.

The post 10 Design Ideas to Help Freshen Up Your Bathroom appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Optimizing Your Small Kitchen to Reach Its Potential

Contribution by Andrea DavisHomeAdvisor

Small kitchens can be difficult to work in, especially when you need to cook meals for families or host parties. You need everything to be accessible, and you don’t want to be squeezing past others as you’re preparing meals. You’d like a bigger space, but the cost of a complete kitchen remodel might not be in your budget. So how do you compromise?

The answer: small kitchens can be bigger if you’re willing to make adjustments and downsize in a few areas. Here are some recommendations for optimizing your small kitchen space so everyone can cook without compromise:

Create more storage space

To make sure all of your spices, herbs and dinnerware are easily accessible in a small area, optimize your cabinets by installing lazy susans and pull-out shelves. That way you can easily roll them out without having to be right in front of the cabinet, and you’ll have more room for storage than just what you can reach in the cabinet with your hands. It’s quick, efficient and doesn’t require installing new cabinets.

Install built-in cabinets

image via Guthrie Kitchen and Bath Plus, LLC

To save on space around the kitchen and avoid hitting your head, built-in cabinets are an effective storage option. They are long and tall, but they’ll be a bit thinner. A cabinet specialist can also cut out a space in the wall itself for additional shelving. That will maximize space while still optimizing for storage. Other built-in cabinet options include underneath the countertops, sink or an island. They should open up space for more storage rather than eliminate room.

Add more by decreasing sink size

Sinks are good for washing vegetables, meat, fruits and sometimes dishes. However, they don’t need to be as large as they often are when installed in kitchens, especially small ones. Consider replacing your large sink with a smaller one to save counter space. You will still have room in the sink to wash vegetables and meat, and there’s an even better appliances for washing dishes: a dishwasher.

Consider a pull-out countertop extension

image via Kopke Home Enhancement, Inc

If you need more countertop space for preparing meats, pastries or other dishes for dinner, it’s always possible to have a pull-out countertop installed underneath the edge of the counter to use when needed. That way you optimize the kitchen space while having the added luxury of more prep space. It will take a countertop professional to install this, but it won’t take them long or require being out of the kitchen like a remodel would.

Replace some appliances with their smaller counterparts

Large appliances—stoves, ovens, ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators—take up a good amount of space and can take away from other items living in a small kitchen. It might serve you better to replace some with smaller alternatives. If you don’t need to do dishes very often, it might be better to have a smaller dishwasher. If you don’t need a lot of groceries at any one time, consider a smaller refrigerator. The same applies if you don’t cook very often with stoves, ovens and ranges. One of the best options for microwaves is to install a built-in one above your range, which will save on countertop space without compromising on kitchen necessities.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

See more of the home featured in the cover photo here.

The post Optimizing Your Small Kitchen to Reach Its Potential appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

6 Strategies For Winning During Real Estate Negotiations

The following is a guest post from Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty agent, Cara Ameer, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

In today’s ultra competitive and fast moving real estate market, you have to make critical decisions on what is the single largest purchase or sale you may ever make in a matter of moments.   Emotions run high as this is not something people typically do every day. You are trying to take your situation and match that up with another buyer or seller which can be challenging –buying a home while trying to sell another one at the same time, multiple offers, back-up offers, paying cash vs. getting a mortgage -there are a myriad of situations and conditions that have to be worked through in order to achieve a successful outcome.

How do you successfully navigate through these issues? A highly skilled and resourceful real estate agent can be crucial to formulating a strategy for winning the deal while balancing your interests at the same time.

Here are six strategies agents turn to for handling some of the most common obstacles that come up in a real estate negotiation:

1. Home Sale Contingency

Buying a home subject to selling your current one is a common challenge. First, you need to determine how you can qualify to buy another home if you currently own another one. If the lender is going to require you to have that home SOLD (meaning your current mortgage paid off) before you can close on purchasing another one, than you have to structure an offer to allow for that. You can make the offer contingent upon selling and closing on your existing property, BUT you will likely need to put a timeframe on this, as sellers don’t like open ended contingencies.   This can be a difficult proposition to convince a seller to take their home off the market, particularly in a hot market. However, to offset the risk, consider coming in at a strong offer price that may make the seller want to wait out your home sale. Your agent is in the best position to advise you given the parameters involved with your specific market.

As a seller, how can you counteract a home sale contingency? Consider having your agent add a “Right of First Refusal” (ROFR) or “Continued Marketing Addendum” to the contract. This is an addendum that acts as a happy medium for both a buyer and seller. It allows the seller to continue to market and show the home, and should another offer come in, the seller has to notify the buyer and give them a certain timeframe to lift their contingency (usually anywhere between 24-72 hours) and move forward or step aside so the seller can work with the other offer. Your agent can use an existing offer with a ROFR as leverage with another buyer.

2. Multiple Offer Situation

These can always get a bit harried. It is common to doubt the legitimacy of other offers, but in today’s market they are very much a reality, particularly on foreclosures or something in a hot neighborhood where there is low inventory. A multiple offer notice disclosure is often used by agents to put parties on notice that this is in fact legitimate. First, you need to determine how serious you are about the property. If it is a throw a dart and see mission, you are better off focusing your efforts elsewhere. If it is something you really want, consider using what is called an Escalatory Addendum. This will allow you to effectively hedge your bets but set limits at the same time. You can state that you will exceed the highest offer by a certain dollar amount of your choosing at a price not to exceed a certain amount. So, for example, let’s say there are multiple offers on a home listed for $250K. You can say you will go over the highest offer by $2500 at an offer price not to exceed $255,000 which would cap the most you are willing to do vs. arbitrarily throwing a number out there and hoping it sticks.

Keep in mind that many foreclosures will no longer allow escalatory addendums, but this can work well in a resale situation.

3. Financing

Negotiating through financing –Cash vs. a mortgage? If you are able to pay cash over a mortgage, this could be the winning card to scoring the property. Cash doesn’t have all the complications nor the time involved that a mortgage does. It really depends on the property, but most sellers if given a choice would much rather work with a cash offer. Keep in mind however, that doesn’t mean that a lowball offer of cash will work vs. something higher where a mortgage is involved. If the bottom line to the seller is more money, they could be willing to wait.

4. Closing Costs

What if you need closing cost help? Just remember that this concession is that much less to the seller’s bottom line. A seller has closing costs as well, so, before you ask for this, consider if you absolutely MUST have that paid on your behalf. If you want a seller to pay for these, it will show as a credit from the seller to the buyer on the closing statement, so consider going in with a strong offer. If you are offering $300K on a $350K house and want a seller to pay 3% towards closing costs, that is really a $289K offer, so need to consider something much stronger to reflect the money the seller will be paying on your behalf.   Working with a savvy agent that thoroughly understands how to negotiate through concessions can create a win-win strategy for both parties.

5. Closing Date

Timing can be just as critical as the price in a negotiation. Matching up a buyer with a seller’s timing could be the winning key that unlocks the door to the house so to speak. Have your agent find out what is important to the seller and see how you can meet that need. It may offset price or other conditions required in the negotiation. Don’t always assume that a quick close is what a seller wants, unless they have already moved to another place. In a fast moving market, many homes are selling so fast, the sellers are concerned about where they are going next and it may not be easy to find a place to rent or buy on short notice.

6. Handling Low Offers

An offer is simply an invitation to get a conversation going. Although both parties may be at extreme ends of the spectrum in terms of price, they really have much more in common which is the property at hand. The buyer feels the same way about what the seller has. It fits a need for the stage of life they are entering and they see their life being played out in that house, where that seller has done the same. That is a powerful moment.

Cover image via listadedorinte





The post 6 Strategies For Winning During Real Estate Negotiations appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

What Really Happened on July 4, 1776?

Guest Blog by Lisa Yauch

via wcvb.com

Every year, most Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in recognition of Independence Day, when we declared our sovereignty from Great Britain and the birth of the United States of America.

But did you know…

  • Our predecessors actually began fighting for our freedom, during the American Revolution, in April 1775
  • One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, completed the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776
  • The Continental Congress decided it was in our best interest to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress finally approved wording of the Declaration of Independence after deliberating over the copy for two days following its initial submission on July 2. And so July 4 became the date included in the actual document. It also happened this was the date printed on original copies of this historic piece, which was circulated throughout the new nation.

The formal and handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence, which is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., was actually signed by our founding forefathers in August of 1776. Great Britain did not receive official notification and a copy of the document until November of 1776. Talk about snail mail!

How July 4 became an official holiday

Approximately 15-20 years after the Declaration of Independence was drafted, people did not celebrate much as you might image they would have. The idea was very new and a wave of political unrest was surfacing.

  • 1790s – The Declaration was seen as controversial and two main parties (the Democrat-Republicans, who sided with Jefferson and the other, the Federalists, who did not) were bitterly divided
  • Following the War of 1812, the Federalist Party began to unravel and new parties of the 1820/30s became more supportive of the Democrat-Republicans; printed copies of the Declaration once again began circulating throughout the nation
  • Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both uncannily died on July 4, 1826, may have helped spur the notion of an important date to be recognized and celebrated
  • The Fourth of July became more common and celebrated as the years went by
  • In 1870, (almost 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was written!) Congress declared July 4 to be an official, national holiday

While you celebrate the freedom of our great nation this coming Fourth of July, whether with ceremonies, fireworks, spending time with family and friends, just remember, you could have been celebrating it two days sooner had history dictated otherwise.

Sources – Google, constitutionfacts.com, Wikipedia

Cover image via coversfortimeline

Lisa is the Manager of Communications for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

The post What Really Happened on July 4, 1776? appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Town of Swett, South Dakota for Sale by Coldwell Banker

Bet you never thought you could own a town. But for half the price of a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, someone will be the proud owner of Swett, South Dakota.

For $399,000, you can get a three-bedroom home, tire shop, three trailer houses and your very own bar, the Swett Tavern. New York was recently ranked as the most stressful city in the country. So you’re telling me that for a mortgage of approximately $1,982 a month, I can move to South Dakota and own my own town? Sold. Well, I’ll at least consider it.

Check out the listing by Stacie Montgomery of Coldwell Banker Lewis Kirkeby Hall

Any takers?


The post Town of Swett, South Dakota for Sale by Coldwell Banker appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

10 Cats Who Totally Rule Their Home

Cats are notorious for their sneaky but funny antics. In the war against doors, drawers, windows and more, it is clear they can’t be stopped. Here is a collection of cats that are totally dominating their homes.

“Oh that’s cute a baby gate. Hold on let me just hop over this.”

“I put the cat in cat burglar”

“Is there where my human hides my treats?”

“Actually I would prefer to be an indoor cat”

“Nice try but I guess you didn’t know I have the power to make my bones disappear”

“Well what did you expect with all those treats you have been feeding me?”

“Nothing like a good midnight snack. Whatcha got in there?

“I may seem lazy but I am actually a genius”

“Proof that Cats rule and Dogs Drool”

The post 10 Cats Who Totally Rule Their Home appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

The World’s Smartest Air Conditioner

Is your AC unit dumb and ungly? Well, after seeing the Aros A/C you may believe it is. The Aros air conditioner is crazy smart and much better looking than traditional window units. According to Quirky, this smart window air conditioner, priced at $300, learns from your budget, location, schedule, and usage to automatically maintain the perfect temperature and maximize savings for your home. What’s more, it can be controlled from anywhere right from your mobile device.

Here are some of the cool product features:

You can learn more about Aros here.

The post The World’s Smartest Air Conditioner appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.