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Renovating a Home During Inflation: How To Add Value Without Draining Your Savings Account

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Need a little help feeling good about staying put for the time being? Then perhaps, it’s time for a remodel project to turn your house into the home you’ve always dreamed about.

By Meera Pal

With inflation at a 40-year high and mortgage rates more than 2% points higher than they were six months ago (and continuing to climb), you might find that now is not the right time to buy a new home. Instead, it might be time to love the one you already own.

Before you run away screaming at the thought of renovating, hear us out.

A remodel could increase the overall value of your home, which would be beneficial if you consider selling in the future. (And maybe a home face-lift will make you want to stay put.)

“Renovation projects are a great way to retain the value of your money in a high-inflation environment,” says Rick Berres, owner of Honey-Doers, a Lakeville, MN–based company that provides residential remodeling services. “But you shouldn’t put yourself into debt doing so.”

While the prices for everything from lumber to labor might be higher, it’s still possible to embark on a home remodel project without draining your bank account. Here’s how.

Is a home improvement project worth it right now?

While the cost of renovating your home will depend on square footage, the region you live in, and what you’d like to get done, the average home remodel costs anywhere from $25,000 on the low end to $76,000 on the high end.

And the latest remodeling impact report from the National Association of Realtors® found that Americans spent about $420 billion in 2020 on home remodeling projects. The majority remodeled for the following reasons:

  • To upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials

  • To add features and improve livability

  • To simply make a change

Homeowners experienced more enjoyment in their homes after specific interior remodel projects and saw huge returns on their investments. Improvements that earned a more significant cost recovery included refinishing hardwood floors (147%) and installing new wood floors (118%).

The exterior home improvements that saw the most significant cost recovery in homeowner investments included a new roof (100%) and a new garage door (100%).

How to pay for a home renovation project during inflation

We all know that “cash is king”—however, it might not be the best option for financing a home renovation project.

If you have enough money in the bank to cover the cost of a home remodel and to maintain an emergency fund, then cash is likely the best way to finance your home improvements. After all, it means not worrying about loans or interest.

But if you don’t have enough cash for a home renovation, consider other standard options: a home equity line of credit, a home equity loan, or a credit card.

Let’s break down each financing option below.

Home equity line of credit

A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a line of credit that uses your house as collateral. The amount you’ll be able to borrow is contingent on how much equity you have in your home, your credit score, and your debt-to-income ratio.

Home equity is based on the difference between your home’s value and the amount you still owe your mortgage lender. As you make mortgage payments and continue to pay off your home loan, you are increasing the equity you have in your home.

A HELOC essentially provides a revolving line of credit—much like a credit card—over a set period of time (usually five to 20 years).

“One benefit of using HELOC to pay for your home improvement project is that, since your home equity line of credit is secured by your home, the interest rate on the loan will be lower than the rate on an unsecured loan,” says Kevin Bazazzadeh, a real estate investor and founder of Brilliant Day Homes in Houston.

Remember that interest on a HELOC or a home equity loan is tax deductible because the funds are used to renovate your home.

But there is a potentially big downside to a HELOC: Interest rates are variable, which means rates will go up or down with market conditions.

Home equity loan

A home equity loan also allows homeowners to take out a loan, borrowing the money based on the value or equity they have in their property.

But unlike a HELOC, homeowners who take out a home equity loan receive one lump sum upfront, then repay it in monthly installments with interest over a set time (usually five to 15 years).

Another upside of a home equity loan is that it tends to be fixed-rate, making it less volatile than a HELOC. And if you are solely using the funds for home improvement, you can deduct the interest paid on up to specific amounts ($750,000 for a married couple or $375,000 for an individual).

Credit card

According to a recent survey from online consumer lender LightStream, 35% of homeowners “intend to use their credit cards to pay for home improvement projects.”

But should you? The answer lies in how quickly you plan to pay off the credit card.

“If the renovation is small and can be paid off quickly, a credit card may be the best option, says Shaun Martin, the owner and CEO of Denver Real Estate Solutions. “Credit cards typically offer interest-free periods of up to 21 months, which can help minimize the renovation cost.”

If you plan to carry that balance forward for a few years while you pay it off, credit cards are not the way to go—especially now.

“Using a credit card during high inflation means you will pay a higher interest rate on the outstanding balance of your credit card if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates,” warns Bazazzadeh.

Remember, paying interest on a credit card balance will only add to the overall cost of your project.

How to add value to your home without going broke

If you’re just not up for taking on a home remodel or renovation project, there are still things you can do to add value to your home that might not involve taking out a home loan.

“Focus on low-cost and DIY home improvement projects you are capable of doing on your own is another way to increase value without draining the bank account,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, an app that helps homeowners keep track of their finances.

“Examples include installing landscape lighting or replacing old carpeting with engineered wood floors you can learn to install yourself,” he says.

Or make cosmetic improvements, such as painting the interior or exterior of your home to add value and increase its curb appeal.


Meera Pal is a Northern California-based writer with a background in journalism and books. She covers tech, real estate, and everything in between.

How To Remodel Your Bathroom Without Renovating

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It doesn’t take a master plumber’s license to make small changes that can have a major impact; you just need to put on your project manager's hat and dive in.

By Erin Flaherty

Kitchen renovations seem to get all of the glory, but a refresh of the room where you spend the most time devoted to personal care can have a majorly positive effect on your day-to-day life. Here are a few upgrades that can spruce up your space with minimal headache. 

Get a new shower curtain

A sophisticated shower curtain sets the tone for the whole room. (Society 6)

The absolute easiest fix can actually be a game changer in such a small space. Most people don’t think twice about hanging a standard plastic shower curtain in their bathroom, but it’s a lost opportunity to make a design statement with a much nicer-looking cloth hanging that can dictate the whole vibe of the room. (Just don’t forget to hang a plastic vinyl liner behind it to prevent water spillage.)

Apply fresh grout to tiles

If you’ve scrubbed your grout within an inch of its life and it still looks moldy and discolored, it’s time to replace it. Wearing a mask, use a handheld removal tool to gently scrape existing grout away. When you’re finished, wipe the area to create a clean surface. Mix your grout and apply using a spreader and finisher.

Depending on the look of your existing tiles, you may want to match the color, or use a darker shade of grout to add contrast to light tiles.

Add new hardware

Touches of black hardware elevate the whole look. (@matte_black_lifestyle/Instagram)

Replacing your existing sink or tub may be well out of the price range, but new fixtures like faucets are surprisingly inexpensive, and really catch the eye. Most sets available are standard sizes, so all you have to do is choose the design. Similarly, it’s not a huge undertaking to replace a leaky old showerhead with, say, a higher-end rainfall model. However, unless you have basic plumbing skills, we’d advise you pay a professional to install the new pieces.

Not prepared to pay a service bill? Almost anyone can replace drawer pulls, and it’s so easy to find sets in a broad range of styles, from vintage to modern.

According to Alden Fenwick of Alden Fenwick Design, based in New York City and the Hamptons, matte black is currently one of the most popular choices, especially if you want to spend less.

“Metal finishes are harder to pass off on the cheaper end,” she explains. The Home Depot has a vast array of affordable options.

Another easy fix? Buy a matching bathroom set (containing essentials like a towel holder, toilet paper roll, and door hooks) to pull a cohesive theme together.

Paint the walls white

It’s fine to get creative with the wall color in other parts of your home, but crisp white is best when it comes to making a small space seem larger. Any decorator will tell you that a fresh coat of paint is the simplest way to instantly transform a room and make it look especially fresh and clean. But for the bathroom, choose a mildew-resistant formula to help prevent mold. While you have your materials out, why not paint outdated cabinetry for a more dramatic revamp?

Reglaze the tub

A new tub will cost a few thousand—but the far more budget-friendly option is to reglaze the tub you have, which will run you around $500. It’s a relatively simple process that transforms your grimy old bathtub into a sparkling-new watering hole.

This is not a task you can easily achieve on your own, so hiring a professional to do the honors may be the way to go. Yet if you’re handy and ambitious, by all means do it yourself. Here’s more on how to reglaze a tub.

Consider a more flattering light fixture

Upgrade your standard vanity lighting. (

Statement light fixtures used to be reserved for high-end renovations, but nowadays, there are so many affordable options thanks to online shops like All Modern and Schoolhouse.

Want to add a warm, flattering cast to the room? Here’s an old Hollywood lighting trick: Swap regular old lightbulbs for ones that are slightly pink-tinged.

Add a stick-on backsplash

Adhesive tiles have come a long way. (Etsy)

Your vanity is a natural focal point of your bathroom, so why not add a little pizazz while also protecting your walls from a high moisture area? We consider actual tile application to be on the more advanced side of DIY home projects, but new adhesive backsplashes are easy to apply.

Pro tip: Use a blow-dryer to make sure it goes on smooth and fully adheres.


Erin Flaherty is a writer, editor, and real estate agent based in Woodstock, NY.


5 Water-Saving Solutions for Your Vegetable Garden

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Water is a valuable resource, so don’t waste it. Apply just enough water so vegetables thrive and are productive. Some vegetables need more water during the growing season than others, but they may not need it every day.

By Ana Durrani

It’s going to be a long, hot summer, which means water conservation is more important than ever. In fact, in states such as California, homeowners are facing strict water restrictions. But your precious cherry tomato, pepper, and cucumber plants need water to thrive. What’s a gardener to do?

When first creating your vegetable garden, experts recommend planting garden plants closer together to maximize garden space and minimize wasted water. They also recommend referring to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for more information on your plant’s water needs.

Additionally, here are a few smart ways to keep your vegetable garden thriving while also using the bare minimum amount of water.

1. Mulch the soil

Photo by Earth Design, Inc.

Mulch is any organic material that covers the soil’s surface. The most common types of mulch are wood chips, leaves, and grass clippings.

“Straw or leaves are also great solutions that are readily available for cheap or free in most places,” says Roslynn McCann, sustainable communities extension specialist at Utah State University Moab.

Many people tend to throw their leaves away, she says, but leaves provide nutrients to the soil when applied as a mulch layer.

“An inch or two of an organic mulch, straw, shredded newspaper, composted grass clippings can do a wonderful job at conserving moisture so you don’t have to water as often,” says Haynes. “Mulch also does a great job of preventing weed competition for water and nutrients so you don’t have to hand-weed as often.”

2. Build a dense layer of compost

Photo by The Gardener of Urban

Composting is a natural way of recycling organic matter—like leaves and food scraps—into fertilizer that can benefit soil and plants.

“No matter what the environment is, blending the soil with compost, natural fertilizers, and then covering with mulch will help plants thrive with minimal water usage,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes with Belgard. “The compost and mulch will break down and also foster healthy bacteria/microorganisms in the natural soil biome.”

3. Water only when needed

Photo by Jonathan Raith Inc.

“Some soils will hold on to more water than others. Therefore, you might not need to water as often,” says Haynes. “Check the soil, and if the top inch or two is dry, then it might be time to water.”

And make sure to water between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., recommends Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Watering during this time frame will minimize evaporation that will happen if you water during the day.

And be thorough with your watering technique. The key is to penetrate the soil 4 inches deep or so. Water only the roots, not the leaves, since it’s the roots that absorb water.

“Water on the leaves is often wasteful—it usually evaporates—and can help spread disease,” says Haynes. “Sometimes, this means using a soaker hose or drip irrigation to water larger areas. This could also mean just doing a better job when hand-watering the root system and avoiding getting the leaves wet.”

4. Use drip irrigation

Photo by Jackie and the Beanstalk

Drip irrigation provides small quantities of water and helps conserve soil nutrients and minimize water waste.

Chris Gorne, aka the Plant Dr. on Thumbtack, says a drip system is the best method for saving water while caring for your vegetable garden.

“These systems can help you save up to 90% of water when compared to a standard sprinkler system,” says Gorne. “A drip system waters directly to the plant’s roots, which results in overall stronger growth.”

The typical drip system puts out about 0.9 gallons of water per hour, Gorne says. That’s significantly less than a standard sprinkler system, which puts out about 30 gallons of water per hour.

“Some folks also use 1-gallon milk jugs filled with water and a few holes punched in the bottom. Kind of a minidrip system,” says Westerfield.

5. Capture rainwater

Photo by Carolle Huber Landscape Architecture

It might seem a bit old-fashioned, but collecting rainwater provides a valuable resource you can use on your crops.“Consider collecting water in a rain barrel or something similar,” says Haynes. “Then you have a great and free water resource—even if you only have enough to water vegetables in containers.”


Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.

Have You Done These 6 Summer Maintenance Tasks That Could Save You Money?

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The dog days of summer are here, are you ready? Here are some summer maintenance tasks you should tackle around your home to save you some cash.


In between barbecues and beach days, you still need to stay on top of maintenance around the house. Otherwise you might find yourself with big problems down the line—and big repair costs.

Power-wash your house

One way to bring your home back to its former glory is to power-wash it. Power-washing your home really gives the exterior a good cleaning, washing off any cobwebs, mold and mildew. It can help catch problems early on too! A dirty exterior can sometimes mask issues with the siding of your house that need to be repaired and it can extend the life of it. Power-washing your home has been known to pay off big time when it comes time to selling your house. But whether you're staying or selling, it makes a huge difference in your curb appeal. 

Tune up your air conditioner

HVAC Pros suggest bi-annual service checks. Between service visits, you can look for leaks in the hoses inside and outside and make sure you change the filter on your ac unit every three months. Also, be sure there's no debris or vegetation close to the outside compressor.

Properly close and lock windows

Before the air conditioner goes on, be sure to properly close and lock windows. Remember, weather seal isn't just for winter. Sealing your windows will help to keep the cool air in, the hot air out and keep your energy bills lower.

Changing direction of your ceiling fan can make a big difference

Flip the motor switch so the blades spin counter clockwise in summer drawing the warm air up. In the winter, let it spin clockwise forcing the warm air down.

Spruce up your home's exterior

Check your landscaping for overgrown trees and shrubs, fertilize and dethatch your lawn. This will help your greens be healthier longer saving you more green by not replacing your landscaping.

Check the gutters and roof

Finally, check your gutters and roof. Make sure the gutters are working properly so the rain doesn't lead to foundational flooding. Check that your downspouts are free flowing and that the gutters are not pulling away from the house. If you can safely do so, check to be sure there's no storm damage to the roof... look for missing, loose or damaged shingles or leaks.

Tackle this short to do list to keep your home looking and feeling cool all summer. Maintaining your home is an investment worth making!

The Key Home Features That Could Boost Your Home's Sellability in 2022

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Homeowners looking to sell in 2022 might be in for a pleasant surprise if their homes have a few key features.


By Kristine Gill

According to a study by Angi, the home services site connecting homeowners to pros, there are some features that can boost your home's sale price by as much as 3.2%, attracting buyers and encouraging them to spend a bit more on the property. A recent analysis from Angi highlights the home features—think walk-in closets, pot fillers, and kitchen islands—that could heighten buyer interest this year.

Even if these features don't boost property values, they can be the key to a quicker sale. Read on to see what real estate agents say buyers are looking for in their potential homes.

Hard-Working Home Features 

The Angi study was conducted by poring over tons of property listings to see which features in homes (and outdoors) garnered extra cash or interest for the seller.

"This study looked at features listed on various authoritative sites as well as more than 250,000 house listings on Zillow from across the U.S. We looked at their listing descriptions, rather than the photos, and the various features listed under the 'Interior Features' and 'Overview' sections," says Bailey Carson, a home care expert at Angi.

Angi's analysis zeroed in on a key feature in each of 40 metropolitan areas, assessing which offered the most value.

In California's San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley region, a swimming pool upped the house price by 11.35%. But in the New York/Newark/Jersey City region, it was a garage that topped the list, raising prices an average of 18.47%.

Elsewhere, fireplaces, high ceilings, granite countertops, and fences brought in the most for sellers. Carson says that, if you're looking to add features to your home, you can think about the features on the list in your area or take a more holistic approach to the home and the space available.

"In determining which features are a good investment for your region, think about practicality and use of space," she says. "Is it something that improves the quality of life in your home? Does it make use of previously under-utilized space? Does it fit the climate where you live? Does it fit the rest of the house? Those questions, and thoughtful conversations with your contractor and realtor, can help you determine the specific features that will give you the most return on investment."

Keep in mind too that the study stressed correlation over causation, meaning it's not guaranteed that adding or having these features is the reason the homes were listed at higher prices: The data only reveals which features were common among higher-priced homes. Still, if your home has highly sought-after features, you may get a little more buyer interest when it's time to sell.

Regional Appeal 

Certain highlights topping the list were region-specific.

"Some features are appealing regardless of location, while others will be more desirable in certain climates, like a fireplace or hot tub," Carson says. "If you live somewhere with consistently warm weather, you're likely better off investing in a more region-friendly feature like a patio, deck, or pool."

The study also took a big picture–look at which features brought in the highest prices across the country. That list highlights just 10 features, beginning with a pot filler for a 3.2% boost, followed by pendant lighting, under-cabinet lighting, and double sink vanities. The full list also included double ovens, patios, garages, and walk-in closets.

"Closet space is always a big plus," says Frank Jacovini, a Philadelphia-based real estate broker. "It's not a priority, but if there's no closets or they're very limited, that is a turn-off. [Potential home buyers] like at least one closet in each bedroom and hopefully a bigger closet in the main bedroom."

"Granite is a plus," he adds. "Some people have something more fancy, like concrete or marble, but you have to at least have granite."

And not all features will upgrade your particular home. In the Louisville, Kentucky/ Jefferson, Indiana, area for example, kitchen islands are a bonus. But as Jacovini points out, islands take up precious kitchen space in the townhomes he sells in Philadelphia, and that can be a turn-off for buyers.


Working with What You Have 

As Jacovini points out, coveted features vary by metropolitan area, so a pot filler in Philadelphia might not get you what a swanky garage would.

If you're looking at your listing (real or imagined) and wondering whether your home has what it takes to lure in buyers, don't stress, he says. Most buyers are simply looking for move-in ready homes with some modern updates.

"Years ago, a first-time buyer wouldn't mind buying a fixer-upper. It's really move-in condition now, rehabbed homes, that are selling. Homes that need updating are kind of languishing on the market," Jacovini says. "Today the millennial buyer just wants a wow-factor. They want to see hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, finished basement, sheetrock walls with nice lighting and fixtures."

If your home doesn't meet this criteria, Jacovini usually suggests fresh paint throughout the home and a freshly painted front door to boost curb appeal.

Carson says that simply inserting a key feature into your home won't necessarily increase the price on its own, either. What's most important is the overall quality of the property and the care taken to keep it updated and in good shape.

"It is important to note that, while a pot filler can be great, it won't distract prospective buyers from chipping paint, a broken HVAC system, or old, stained carpeting," she says. "It's crucial to prioritize any outstanding maintenance or repair projects first, bringing your home up to date and getting it ready for its next owners. Then you can think about the add-ons that can give your home that extra something special."

Carson suggests projects with a better return on investment, such as replacing garage doors, remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, and adding a deck or master suite to your home. You can also see returns when you replace your roof or windows.

And if your home does have these features, play them up in your listing to lure buyers.

"The list could also be useful for better understanding the current buyer and the different features they find desirable in a home," Carson says. "This can help with staging as well as developing flyers and other materials that can highlight these features for prospective buyers."


Kristine Gill is a former newspaper reporter who spent five years as a spokesperson for a law enforcement agency. She writes about homes and real estate for Better Homes & Gardens. 

7 Outdoor Updates That Can Add Major Value to Your Home

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Selling your home? The experts at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate say these projects make the best outdoor investments.

By Jessica Bennett and Kit Selzer

A home's value is highly dependent on its square footage, number of rooms, and other interior features, but what's outside counts, too. Having a well-maintained yard, an attractive exterior, and functional outdoor living spaces can all add up to a big boost in value. And it's often the small details that make the biggest difference to a potential home buyer. 

If you're looking to increase your home's sellability, tackling a few simple projects can help your home make a good impression without having to do a complete exterior overhaul. And if you're not ready to sell quite yet, investing in outdoor upgrades you can enjoy now often produces a high return on investment later. We spoke with experts from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate to determine the best outdoor updates to boost home value. Start with these projects to revamp your exterior and build equity at the same time.


1. Make your yard more functional. 

Adding function to your backyard is one of the best things you can do to boost home value, says Jessica Poulos, owner of the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Northwest Home Team in Tumwater, Washington. "Can you entertain? Can your kids play? Can you exercise? Can you tinker on hobbies or in a garden?" Use landscaping, hardscaping, outdoor furniture, and other add-ons to create zones that can accommodate various outdoor activities.


2. Clean up the exterior. 

As the first thing potential buyers see when they pull up to your home, the exterior needs to appear clean and well-maintained. "If a buyer drives up to a home and the yard is neglected, they will begin to think it's too hard to take care of," Poulos says. "First impressions are everything." Prep your home to show with simple spruce-ups like pressure-washing the driveway, cleaning the roof, mowing the lawn, and adding edging around flower beds. These easy projects can often make a big difference in your home's perceived value. 

3. Attach an outdoor living space. 

When it comes to outdoor living, easy access is key. According to a recent survey from Rocket Homes, an attached outdoor living space, such as a deck or porch, can add almost $20,000 to the value of a home. Consider your area's climate and weather patterns to determine which type of outdoor space might bring the biggest boost. For example, in the Pacific Northwest where rain is common, "a covered porch with an outdoor kitchen, dining area, or sitting area has a high return on a home's value," Poulos says. In sunnier climates, an attached deck with a pergola can offer valuable open-air living space that provides some relief from the harsh sun.


4. Simplify your landscaping. 

Most buyers want low-maintenance plantings. Hosta and daylilies are hearty perennial options for simple landscaping. Putting down mulch or groundcover also makes for easy upkeep. If you want to go with something temporary, put colorful annuals in pots. Add mulch, pull weeds, and trim hedges around the yard for a clean and effortless look.

5. Fix damaged siding. 

Residing can be a long and often pricey process. Show buyers that your siding is in good shape by repairing any cracks, missing pieces, and surface chips. For a fresh look without painting, consider a professional pressure wash. If the exterior is brick, fix thinning areas of mortar.


6. Dress up your front door. 

A new coat of paint in a color other than white or black can make the front door memorable for potential buyers. Go with a color that stands out, but also complements the style of the home. Replace the handle if it's tarnished or looks dated. Spray paint the handle if it just needs a quick update. Accessories like door numbers and knockers give a welcoming feeling, so play up the hardware.


7. Repair windows. 

Even a little damage to one window gives the impression that there could be more problems. A few quick fixes will reassure buyers that the windows are nothing to worry about. Fix caulking around frames and glazing on panes for a like-new look. Replace cracked or foggy windows to make the best impression. If there are built-in window boxes, repair them and give them a fresh coat of paint. Then fill with pretty annuals.


Courtesy Better Homes & Gardens

Jessica Bennett is the digital assistant home editor at Better Homes & Gardens. With a knack for writing and editing, she covers decorating, home improvement, cleaning, organizing, and more for

Kit Selzer is senior remodeling and projects editor for Better Homes & Gardens magazine. She has more than 30 years of experience covering building and remodeling topics, especially kitchen and bath design and do-it-yourself. 

Don't Cut Corners on These 6 Things When Renovating Your Home

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A home renovation is expensive, and it’s tempting to want to do projects yourself or hire contractors on the cheap. Or you might just want to put off the whole thing.

By Ana Durrani

A survey from Consumer Affairs found that the average homeowner waits 10 months to make a critical repair. But cutting corners on certain renovation projects—or putting them off altogether—can end up creating bigger problems and cost you even more in the long run.

Whether it’s choosing cabinets that’ll add value to your kitchen or investing in quality windows, here are the top renovation projects you should never skimp on.

1. Kitchen drawers and cabinets

Photo by Fisher Gross Kitchen & Bath Studio

Well-made kitchen cabinets will stand the test of time and impress future buyers (should you decide to sell your home down the line).

“When viewing a home, buyers often touch the kitchen drawers and cabinets,” says Michele Dugan, a real estate agent with Realty ONE Group. “They are inspecting them to see the quality the seller chose, and will gauge the rest of the renovations on that choice. If there is a high quality of cabinetry selections, chances are the rest of the house will also be of a high grade.”

2. Plumbing work

Photo by Nunley Custom Homes

Shoddy plumbing work can come back to bite you in some of the worst possible ways: mold behind walls, messed up flooring, water leaks. Always hire a licensed plumber with good references, and don’t buy cheap pipes, faucets, and fixtures.

Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, says people who don’t understand the complexities of plumbing might choose a fixture that doesn’t have the proper drain P-trap or an improperly vented fixture. Both of these mistakes could lead to a sewer gas leak or a line clog.

3. Permits

Photo by Krownlab

There’s no getting around it: Permitting your home renovations is a pain. You have to deal with county regulations and inspections that might increase your property taxes.

“They definitely delay the building process as you have to schedule the building inspector at various stages of the project, and that means holding up the build,” says Trish Morgan Tilley of Sisters Selling Vegas with Realty ONE Group.

But do not skimp on getting permits. Doing so can cause all kinds of problems in the long run. If you decide to sell your home, you will have to spend time and money to permit the work and redo improvements that aren’t up to code.

4. Electrical work

Photo by Inplace Studio

Let’s make this as clear as we can: Electrical work is not something you should try to do yourself. Got that?

“Not only is working on electrical systems dangerous, but completing the work incorrectly can have catastrophic consequences down the road,” says Ben Kolo, owner of Mr. Electric of Central Iowa.

Cutting corners on electrical work can create problems like shorting out circuits or lights that flicker and could lead to a fire or explosion.

“In many instances, work completed near or around the sale of a home is required to include documentation proving a licensed electrician completed the work,” says Kolo. “It’s best to leave electrical work to the experts.”

5. Buying and installing windows

Photo by Lucy Interior Design

Windows are a critical component when it comes to the insulation of your home.

“Homeowners should invest in quality windows that are energy-efficient and, depending on where you’re located, storm-resistant,” says Mitch Barton, director of product marketing at Leaf Home.

Older or less expensive windows can bring problems and may require investing in extra window coverings or solutions to add insulation, adds Barton.

“Windows incorrectly installed can lead to unwanted drafts and gaps and cause issues with the windows being able to operate normally,” says Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor.

Roberson recommends windows be professionally installed and be double-paned or meet Energy Star standards for energy efficiency.

6. Flooring installation

Photo by Monsen Collins Builders

Flooring is one of the things that define a home, so make sure to choose one that you can enjoy for years.

“There are budget-friendly hardwood options, like luxury vinyl flooring, that are fairly easy to install,” says DeLisa Dawkins, a real estate agent with Realty ONE Group Freedom in Greenville, SC.

But, just because you’ve opted to save on the cost of your flooring material doesn’t mean you should cut corners on the labor. Be sure to hire a licensed flooring professional for installation.

And if you decide to go with real hardwood, you definitely want to put the work in the hands of an experienced contractor. “Natural wood flooring is most pricey, especially with the cost of lumber, therefore professional installation is in order,” says Dawkins.


Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.


5 Tips for Participating in "No Mow May" to Help Bees in Spring

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What's the Buzz? Letting flowers in your lawn feed pollinators until other plants start blooming, that's what!

feeding pollinators in May


by Anne Readel

What is No Mow May? 

The idea behind No Mow May is to leave your lawn alone for the month of May. This allows lawn flowers to bloom and feed hungry native bees emerging from hibernation when other flowers are scarce. Several studies done in areas of Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Massachusetts have shown that lawn flowers can support a high diversity of bees and other pollinators.

I learned about No Mow May when I was looking for ways to make my own yard more bee-friendly. I had recently read that one in four bee species in North America is at risk of extinction, in part because of habitat loss. Neatly kept lawns typically provide little food for bees but No Mow May made me realize that it doesn't have to be this way. I helped organize No Mow May in my own community and documented its rise in Wisconsin. As part of this effort, I spoke with bee experts, city officials, and residents. Here are the most helpful tips for making No Mow May a success that I learned along the way.  

Tips for Participating in No Mow May 

For some people, going a whole month without mowing their lawn can seem like a wild idea. When participating in No Mow May, you and your neighbors will have the most positive experience by following these tips: 

  1. Educate your neighbors. 

After a few weeks of not mowing, your neighbors are going to wonder about the long grass (and perhaps if you've moved away or died!). Free, print-at-home signs are available through the Xerces Society. There's even a kids' version that can be colored in so the whole family can be involved in helping the bees. Once your neighbors understand why you're letting your lawn get "weedy", they may even want to participate in No Mow May themselves.  

  1. Check your local rules. 

Many cities and homeowner associations (HOAs) restrict grass height to eight or ten inches. If grass height rules are in effect, you might end up getting fined if your lawn gets too tall. Find out if your city or HOA has any grass height rules before you participate in No Mow May.

  1. Involve your community leaders. 

Contact your city officials or HOA board members and ask them to adopt No Mow May in your community. Communities that adopt No Mow May will suspend enforcement of grass height rules for participating residents. And even if your community doesn't have grass height rules, an official endorsement may make other residents more comfortable with participating.  

Remember, even if your neighbors, city, or HOA do not embrace No Mow May now, they may warm to the idea over time. Ana Merchak, a resident of Stevens Point, Wisconsin participated in No Mow May last year. "Our lawn probably had the most dandelions in the neighborhood but a lot of people on our street and in the surrounding residential neighborhood were participating with us," says Merchak. "Now that it's more of a commonplace type of thing to participate in No Mow May, I don't think people look at our lawn like it's eyesore anymore and I certainly don't either." 

  1. Cut back your lawn gradually

Lawns can grow pretty shaggy after a month of not mowing. When it's finally time to mow, the best strategy is to reduce the height of your grass in stages. Paul Koch, an associate professor and turf grass extension specialist at the University of Wisconsin, explains that "you never want to remove more than one-third of the green leafy tissue at any one time." Depending on how tall your grass has gotten, it could take a few weekends with the mower to get back to your usual lawn height. "As long as you're taking care to go back down at a gradual level to normal mowing height, I don't think there are any long-term effects that you're going to have on the health of the lawn," says Koch.  

  1. Consider if "No Mow April" makes more sense. 

No Mow May is a catchy phrase. However, depending on where you live, it might make more sense to practice "No Mow March" or "No Mow April" instead. The idea is the same, though: Bees emerging in spring need food. So, whatever your climate, refrain from mowing when lawn flowers start blooming. 


Create a Permanent Pollinator Garden 

No Mow May lasts one month, but there are many other ways you can help pollinators all year long.   

Manage your lawn as a "bee lawn.

Allow your lawn to flower throughout the growing season by raising your mowing height or mowing less often. "Just raising your mowing height to four or four-and-a-half inches really keeps the majority of flowering plants intact," explains Koch. One study also found that lawns mowed once every two weeks attracted more bees than lawns mowed every week.  

Another option is to reseed your lawn with a "bee lawn" seed mix, which combines turf grass with low-growing flowers, such as white clover and creeping thyme. This option may be more palatable to folks who don't like the look of dandelions or creeping Charlie. Over time, you might grow to appreciate the new wild aesthetic of your lawn and wonder why you ever did all that mowing in the first place.

Avoid pesticides and weed-killer. 

If you're trying to grow lawn flowers and feed the bees, avoid applying chemicals that will harm them. For example, "weed and feed" products will blitz your lawn flowers. And some products designed to kill grubs contain toxins that are deadly to bees and other pollinators, such as neonicotinoid insecticides.  

Grow native flowers. 

Think beyond the lawn and try some native plants in your beds and gardens. You'll be amazed at the variety and beauty of the plants from your area that bees and other pollinators love.

Even if No Mow May isn't possible for you, taking any of these steps can help both native bees and honeybees, as well as a variety of other important pollinators. If nothing else, you're sure to make a buzz!


Anne Readel is a writer and photographer with a Ph.D. in conservation biology. Her stories often highlight the incredible animals and plants that live in our own backyards. A believer in the power of stories to create change, Anne uses her writing and photography to promote conservation. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Audubon, and Better Homes & Gardens, among others.


How to Make Your House Look Expensive: 10 Sneaky Living Room Decorating Ideas

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Wondering how to make your house look expensive? Well, next to the kitchen, the living room is arguably the most important room in the home. True to its name, it’s where life happens. It’s where guests gather, where you spend lazy evenings by the fire (or basking in the soft glow of Netflix—no judgment here), and, in most floor plans, one of the first spaces you see upon entering your home.

By Holly Amaya

Don’t you want your home to look luxurious? We thought so. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend busloads of cash to make it look like you spent a lot of money. We’ve consulted with our stable of design experts to uncover the sneakiest ways to create a plush-looking living space—all without emptying out your 401(k). In some cases, you won’t need to spend a thing! You’re welcome.

How to make your home look expensive? Check out the best living room decorating ideas

1. Incorporate layered lighting

Photo by Bravo Interior Design

“Lighting is one of the most important concepts in a space, and one that’s often overlooked,” says Jessica Davis, owner of JL Design Nashville.

You want to have a variety of light sources to add depth to the room. But you don’t have to empty your wallet to go glam on lighting. Davis loves hitting up Goodwill for lamp bases and Target for lampshades.

You could also hang a great pendant light in place of a traditional table lamp, says Christina Hoffmann, owner of luxury curated goods site Epitome Home. She also loves placing candles in pretty, reflective hurricane containers.

Another cheap trick that won’t require any labor: Try plug-in sconces, says Chicago-based interior designer Clare Barnes.

“Placing these next to furniture arrangements can be an affordable way to update a space without bearing the cost of rewiring a wall,” Barnes says. “Adding dimmer switches is another way to make a room feel expensive—this lets you adjust the lighting so a space feels warm and cozy.”

2. Add in textiles

Photo by Abbe Fenimore Studio Ten 25

“One of the easiest and best ways to dress up a room is with great pillows, “Hoffmann says. “But they can be soexpensive.”

Don’t fear—there’s a workaround: Hit up your local fabric store, where you can often find beautiful scraps for a discount—usually 60% to 90% off what it would cost if you purchased yardage off a bolt on the floor. Then find a tailor on Craigslist—Hoffmann estimates you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per pillow, depending on the size. You could also sew them yourself if you’re crafty. Pick up some feather inserts (Hoffmann loves Ikea’s) and you’re set! In the end, you can get a pillow that would easily retail for $100 or more for $30 or less.

Extra credit: If you find a remnant piece of fabric that’s 2 yards or longer, get an equivalent amount of a cheap, soft backing and make a throw.

“An oversized, beautiful throw casually draped in the room will make it feel more luxurious and expensive,” Hoffmann says.

3. Make sure your curtains hit the floor

Photo by Geoff Chick & Associates

A good window treatment can add instant luxe factor to a room, which is why it’s one of the best living room decorating ideas. But there’s one cardinal rule: Never, ever buy draperies that are too short.

“They look so cheap and store-bought,” Hoffmann says.

Make sure to measure the window before you head to the store. You could also make your own on the cheap—just pick up a sheer, lightweight cotton fabric, and take it to your tailor or dry cleaner.

“You’ve got beautiful, billowy drapes for less than $35 each,” Hoffman says.

She recommends Ikea for curtain rods and brackets: “They are basic black, inexpensive, and aren’t distracting or noticeable.”

4. Invest in large-scale art

Photo by Brendan Wong Design

Another great living room decorating idea? An oversize, attention-grabbing piece of art can both spark conversation and imbue your living space with an instantly cool, luxe feel.

Resist the urge to hit up Bed Bath & Beyond for an anonymous beachscape, though—experts agree that the best art has personal significance. Check out secondhand shops and estate sales for pieces with a backstory. If you’re on a budget, get creative and do it yourself (all you need is a giant canvas from an art supply store and the medium of your choice).

5. Don’t shy away from texture

Photo by Tara Benet Design

When in doubt, mix it up. Design experts recommend incorporating a variety of woods, glass, metals, and woven materials to create a look that’s collected, not matchy-matchy.

“The tactile feel of a wool sofa, the soft hand of a silk velvet pillow, or the supple texture of a quality leather are unmistakable luxury that you not only see but any guest can feel,” says Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design in Chicago.

If you’re on a budget, toss a faux-fur blanket or sheepskin throw on your couch, jazz up leather chairs with fun pillows in chunky knit cases, or incorporate brushed brass accent pieces on a reclaimed wood coffee table.

6. Roll out a large rug


Small rugs dwarf your rooms, Hoffmann says. So if you’re wondering how to make your house look expensive, opt for a larger, less expensive rug over a smaller, expensive one—especially if you have kids and pets, both of which can wreak havoc on wool rugs.

“When your room feels bigger and airier due to a larger rug, it will feel more expensive automatically,” Hoffman says.

And just because it looks luxe doesn’t mean it can’t be durable. Jute rugs are a great option, Hoffman says, and can often be found at discount home furnishings stores.

“They offer great texture and a grounded, earthy feel,” she says.

7. Use metallics

Photo by Heather Garrett Design

It turns out a little heavy metal never hurt anyone.

“A metallic desk clock, pedestal table, or decorative accent can instantly add wattage to a room and up your fancy quotient,” Hoffmann says.

“Adding a little bit of glitz and glam can really add wow factor,” Thornton adds. In her bag of tricks: high-gloss paint, metallic wallpaper, and light fixtures with metal finishes.

8. Replace or add moldings

Photo by AM Dolce Vita

“One of the easiest ways to make a home feel more expensive and luxurious is to improve its interior architecture,” Thornton says.

You don’t have to knock down any walls, though. If you have narrow baseboards and molding, replace them with something thicker to achieve a more elegant look. (Potential buyers will love it too.)

Similarly, it doesn’t cost much to add applied moldings (wainscoting, anyone?) to any wall to create more charm and character. If the idea of cutting into baseboards and walls makes you queasy, hire a pro.

9. Paint walls and trim the same color

Photo by Rachel Reider Interiors

This one’s simple: A couple of coats of paint can dramatically change your space. And here’s a fun trick: Barnes recommends painting your walls and trim the same color.

“Avoiding contrasting trim is easy on the eyes, adds more focus to decorative accents and accessories, and simplifies the room’s architectural details,” she says. “It also allows you to use a stronger color since the deeper hues will appear softer and a bit lighter.”

Alternatively, Barnes recommends painting doors and trim a dramatic color such as black. “This can help add interest to the space and enhance those architectural details,” she says.

10. Scour thrift stores for heirloom-quality pieces

Photo by Ruth Richards, Allied ASID

True life: As I struggled to decorate my new home, I found a gorgeous crystal decanter at a local thrift store for less than $10. A comparable piece sells at department stores for many times that, plus it lacks the mystique and (imagined) backstory.

“The inlaid wood of an old dresser, the unique shape of a vintage chandelier, and the patina on an antique metal cabinet are unmistakably beautiful, timeless, and never confused with something new from a catalog,” Thornton says.

Hoffmann likes to scour consignment and thrift stores for barware, glassware, mirrors, and art.

“If you hate the art but love the frame, buy it anyway and frame an unexpected object or black and white photos you can print yourself,” she says.

Don’t be afraid of mixing your antique-looking finds with your newer store-bought pieces—it’ll all come together for a collected, luxe vibe. We promise.


Courtesy of®, Holly Amaya is a writer, lawyer, and communications strategist. She writes about real estate, legal, lifestyle, motherhood, and career issues.

8 Crucial Kitchen Improvements You Should Make Before Selling Your Home

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Preparing to list your house? If you want to get top dollar, start sprucing up your kitchen now.

By Lauren Sieben

“The kitchen is often the centerpiece in a home and the place where most of the entertaining happens,” says Tony Rodriguez-Tellaheche, owner and managing broker of Prestige Realty Group in Miami. “Sellers should not cut corners.”

A killer kitchen is one of the best ways to sell your home. Before you list your place, start making some of these improvements to help swing buyers in the right direction.

1. Refresh your cabinets

If your cabinets are looking drab and dated but are still in good shape, you don’t need to replace them. Instead, pick up some good paint and brushes or a paint sprayer.

“Sometimes a quick ‘face-lift’ to the kitchen cabinets can go a long way,” Rodriguez-Tellaheche says. “Refinishing existing cabinets is more cost-effective than replacing them completely, and can make a big difference when updating a kitchen.”

Before you start putting down the dropcloths, be mindful of your color palette—you’ll want to stick with neutrals to appeal to most buyers.

“If cabinets are darker natural wood or a polarizing color, we recommend painting either soft white or greige,” says Julie Busby, founder of the Busby Group in Chicago.

2. Upgrade to quartz countertops

Photo by Marble of the World 

Today’s buyers aren’t so keen on granite, and they’re definitely not looking for laminate. If you splurge on one upgrade in the kitchen, make it quartz countertops.

“I recommend using quartz in the kitchen,” says Brad Whittaker, an agent with Realty ONE Group Pacifica in Longview, WA. “It is always a nice, hard surface, and there are so many designs and colors to choose from.”

Plus, quartz is more durable and environmentally friendly than other materials, which is especially important in a busy kitchen.

“More sellers are incorporating quartz into their kitchens than traditional material like marble, because it is less porous and therefore less likely to stain,” Rodriguez-Tellaheche says.

3. Update the lighting

Photo by Wynne Taylor Ford

If your light fixtures are old enough to vote or order a beer in a bar, it’s time to replace them (or at least give them a very thorough dusting).

Swap in new fixtures over the island and kitchen sink, or increase your kitchen’s appeal by installing recessed lighting on a dimmer.

“Under-counter lighting also adds a nice touch,” Rodriguez-Tellaheche says.

4. Invest in a good (quiet) dishwasher

If your appliances have seen better days, replacing them with midrange stainless-steel appliances is a safe bet, Whittaker says. Top-of-the-line appliances might not be worth the splurge—you won’t always see a return on that investment.

The one appliance that’s worth spending a little more? The dishwasher.

“Always spend good money on your dishwasher—$700 plus to make sure that it is quiet,” Whittaker says.

5. Bring in a crisp, new backsplash

Photo by Jessica Risko Smith Interior Design 

Installing a neutral, clean backsplash can win you points with prospective buyers.

“Backsplashes can make a huge difference,” Busby says. “If the current one is busy or dated-looking, we recommend going with a classic white subway tile or any other neutrally colored tile.”

Plus, a new backsplash paired with upgraded countertops “can even make dated appliances look more current,” says Simon Isaacs, broker and founder of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach, FL.

6. Brighten up the color palette

“Dark kitchen cabinets with dark granite is a thing of the past and can make a home hard to sell, especially to millennial buyers,” Rodriguez-Tellaheche says.

Aside from painting dark cabinets and replacing countertops, choose a bright, neutral paint color for the walls. A light color can also help make modest-size kitchens look a little more airy and spacious.

7. Add premium touches

Photo by Studio Dearborn 

Quarantine has turned many of us into home cooks, and that means buyers are looking for luxe touches throughout the kitchen where they’re spending more time than ever.

“Most of today’s buyers are self-proclaimed foodies and expect a well-thought-out kitchen,” Isaacs says. “Sophisticated wine fridges, filtered water spouts, and pot fillers are becoming the norm nowadays.”

Busby agrees: “If you have space for a beverage or wine cooler, buyers love this added bonus.”

8. Give the kitchen a serious deep clean

Nothing turns buyers off quicker than a kitchen with the “yuck” factor: food stains, filthy fridges, and even junked-up baseboards.

“Keep it clean, bright, and shiny,” Whittaker says. “There are lots of gloss surfaces in a kitchen, and to see them dull, scratched, scuffed, or chipped is a turnoff to most buyers.”

A sparkling-clean oven is also nonnegotiable, Whittaker adds.

“No one wants to bake inside your gunky oven,” he says. “Remember, if you want top dollar for your home, you need to sell it as if you have taken top-dollar care of it.”


Lauren Sieben is a writer in Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Milwaukee Magazine, and other outlets.

The best time to list your home is only a few weeks away! Are you ready for #Listapalooza?

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Let the Countdown to® Listapalooza Begin!

With strong buyer demand, high prices, quick sales and less seller competition, April 10-16 will be the sweet spot for sellers who want to put their home on the market this year.

Home sellers on the fence waiting for that perfect moment to sell should start preparations, because the best time to list a home in 2022 is approaching quickly. The week of April 10-16 is expected to have the ideal balance of housing market conditions that favor home sellers, more so than any other week in the year.

With 2022 anticipated to be a whirlwind year for buyers, it can be hard for sellers to know when the optimal time is to put a home on the market.® crunched the numbers in its fourth annual Best Time to Sell Report and found this year's best week to list nationwide is April 10-16. Sellers who list during this week – newly named® Listapalooza – will take advantage of the Spring buying season's top lineup of strong demand, high asking prices, quick home sales and less competition from other sellers.1

"Every year, to help sellers better navigate the spring buying season, we take a look at recent market conditions to determine the optimal week to put a home on the market. And that perfect moment is just weeks away for 2022 sellers, with data indicating that home prices and demand are rising earlier than in a typical year," said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "Homeowners who are thinking about selling this Spring still have time to get ready, with the majority of recently surveyed sellers indicating that listing preparations took 2-12 weeks. A good first step when selling your home is to understand your options, such as those available via the® Seller's Marketplace, and find the best approach based on your family's needs. This way, you'll be able to immediately start your listing process as soon as you're ready. Preparation is especially important this year, since market dynamics could shift quickly along with factors like rising mortgage rates, inflation and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine."

By listing April 10-16, sellers can expect a top lineup of Spring buying competition 
With buyer interest accelerating weeks before the usual start of the Spring buying season, getting a head start on the competition will likely pay off for 2022 sellers. Mortgage rates have been rising more quickly than expected, adding fuel to the fire for buyers hoping to find the right home and lock-in relatively affordable monthly payments. While a high number of home sales are expected throughout the Spring,® found that the seasonal sweet spot to list a home in 2022, or® Listapalooza, is April 10-16, based on:

  • Surging buyer demand: With buyer activity typically rising heading into the Spring, homes added to the market during the same week in 2021 received 29% more views on® than the average week in 2021 and 18.6% more interest than the average home listed in 2018-2021. As a result, sellers who list their homes during Listapalooza may be able to expect more offers and bidding wars, which can result in higher asking prices and a faster sale than later in 2022.

  • High home prices: Home prices already broke the 2021 record in February, accelerating earlier in the Spring buying season than in previous years. As a result, sellers who list from April 10-16 could secure asking prices that are 10.9% (+$39,000) higher than at the start of the year and 1.4% (+$5,000) above the average annual listing price, based on 2021 trends.

  • Fast-moving homes: So far in 2022, homes have been flying off the market at an increasingly fast pace, reflecting early signs of Spring seasonality. In fact, the year kicked off with the fastest-moving January ever (61 days), followed by even lower time on market in February (47 days). During the week of April 10, homes sold six days more quickly than the 2021 average and nearly a month faster than in 2019 (-27 days), before the onset of COVID.

  • Less competition from other sellers: With demand outpacing supply, inventory continues to fall short of previous years, but also reflects regular seasonal patterns. From April 10-16, there were fewer sellers with homes actively listed than in the average week in 2021 (-12.9%). With the number of for-sale home options available to buyers historically rising further into the year, seller competition will increasingly be a key factor to consider.

Key trends for sellers to watch moving further into the 2022 buying season
Sellers can generally expect to hold the upper hand when the right time for them comes along this Spring, as 2022 buyers have been largely accepting of higher asking prices and quick sales. Even so, sellers' odds of success are greater if they list during Listapalooza compared to later in the year, due to a number of shifting market dynamics. Some of the factors sellers should keep an eye on are:  

  • Buyers price sensitivity rises along with mortgage rates: Mortgage rates remained historically-low throughout 2021, giving home shoppers more flexibility to meet higher asking prices. However, mortgage rates have jumped significantly since the start of this year and are expected to continue rising, particularly with the Fed planning on an interest rate hike as soon as March. As buyers grapple with higher monthly costs, some may tighten their budgets or take a break from the market, resulting in cooling price trends. For instance, by early May in 2021, the number of sellers making price adjustments2 climbed by 17.8% from the start of the year.

  • New supply gives home shoppers more negotiating power: While supply will remain historically low relative to demand in 2022, buyers are expected to have more options later in the year. Builders are accelerating production and will begin to make progress against the new home supply gap. Additionally, new listings trends are improving in line with the typical seasonality, as warmer weather and upcoming summer breaks attract more homeowners into the market. Historically, by mid-August, the number of sellers with actively-listed homes increased 17.4% over the beginning of the year, which means more options for buyers and therefore more competition among sellers.

  • Sellers also buying face trade-offs: As conditions become more favorable for sellers, those who are also buying face a cart-before-the-horse dilemma: Holding out for peak asking prices on their listing could also mean paying a premium for the home they buy. Listing prices typically reach each year's highest level in the Summer, as they did in July of 2021.® analysis indicates a similar timeline in 2022, with historical data suggesting home prices will be up double-digits over the start of the year by late May (+12.3%). However, with new sellers historically rising 48.4% over the start of the year by late May, seller-buyers who delay also face more competition from other sellers and the possibility of missing out on buying opportunities.

"We all know that homes are selling lightning fast right now. But that doesn't necessarily mean your house will sell itself," said Rachel Stults, Managing Editor at®. "Before you list your home this spring—or any other time this year—make sure you've taken steps to get ready, including cleaning and decluttering, getting cost estimates on repairs you might need to make, and talking to agents to see who would be a good fit for your needs. No matter when you decide to list, whipping your home into shape beforehand will help you sell faster and for more money."

1 In this release, the 2022 Best Time to List week and related metrics are based on historical trends vs. forecasted projections. See more details in the methodology below.
2 In this release, price adjustments are defined as home listings that had their price reduced.

Listing metrics (e.g. list prices) from 2018-2019 and 2021 were measured on a weekly basis, with each week compared against a benchmark from the first full week of the year. Averaging across the years yielded the "typical" seasonal trend for each metric. Percentile levels for each week were calculated along each metric (prices, listings, days on market, etc.), and were then averaged together across metrics to determine a Best Time to List score for each week. Rankings for each week were based on these Best Time to List scores.

Please note: The® Listapalooza described in this release is based on the national best week to list, which overlaps with 31 of the 50 largest U.S. metros (see details here).

About®® makes buying, selling, renting and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone.® pioneered the world of digital real estate more than 25 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps offers a marketplace where people can learn about their options, trust in the transparency of information provided to them, and get services and resources that are personalized to their needs. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology,® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. For professionals,® is a trusted provider of consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today's on-demand world.® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. For more information, visit®.


Media Contact 


Graphics Courtesy; Listapalooza infographic

One of the Oldest and Most Respected Real Estate Firms in the Lakes Region

Cindy Melanson, Broker, 603-651-7228

Melanson Real Estate, Inc.

34 North Main Street

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire



Put Down the Mug: Green Drinks for St. Patrick's Day That Aren't Beer

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St. Patrick's Day is the perfect excuse to party in the middle of March. There's no better time to sip a green drink. From nonalcoholic drinks like smoothies and mojito mocktails and more, here's a lineup of delicious St. Patrick's Day drink ideas.


Mint Matcha Milk Shake

Combine matcha powder with mint chip ice cream and almond milk for a slightly healthier version of your favorite seasonal mint shake. Use a shamrock cookie cutter to create the adorable matcha powder shamrock that sits on top of a dollop of whipped cream. Matcha tea has a number of health benefits, and also includes caffeine so we don't recommend making these shakes as a bedtime snack!



Ingredient Checklist



Instructions Checklist

  • Whisk together 1 tablespoon matcha powder and 1/2 cup milk or almond milk until no lumps remain.

  • In a blender combine matcha mixture, 1 pint slightly softened mint-chocolate chip ice cream, and 3 tablespoons choped fresh mint; cover and blend until combined. Top with whipped cream and, if desired, dust with additional matcha powder.

* For a shamrock on top, lightly place a 1 3/4-inch shamrock-shaped cookie cutter on top of the whipped cream. Lightly sift matcha powder inside the cutter. Gently lift cutter away.


Honeydew-Basil Nojitos

Fill sugar-rimmed glasses to the brim with fresh basil leaves, lime juice, and sweet honeydew melon. Slice into spears or use a melon baller ($11, Target) to make perfectly rounded honeydew balls for a green St. Patrick's Day drink garnish.



Ingredient Checklist



Instructions Checklist

  • In a large pitcher, combine basil leaves, lime juice, and granulated sugar. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, mash ingredients together well, making sure most of the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

  • Place about one-fourth of the melon cubes in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until smooth. Press puree through a fine-mesh sieve; discard solids. Repeat with the remaining melon cubes, one-fourth at a time (you should have 4 cups total juice). Add melon juice to the pitcher.

  • If desired, rub a lime wedge around rims of eight glasses and dip rims in superfine sugar. Fill glasses with ice. Pour juice mixture into ice-filled glasses. If desired, add a splash of carbonated water to each glass. If desired, add melon spears or balls to each glass. Serve immediately.


Minted Cucumber Nojitos

Time to pucker up! This minty St. Patrick's Day mocktail features a double dose of lip-smacking lemon: a squeeze of lemon juice and icy-cold lemonade. Slices of cucumber make a refreshing (and green!) garnish.



Ingredient Checklist



Instructions Checklist

  • In a large pitcher, combine lemon juice and lime juice; add mint leaves and Simple Syrup. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, crush leaves and stir together well. Add cucumber and ice. Pour lemonade and club soda into pitcher. Serve immediately.


Pineapple-Spinach Smoothies

Start your St. Patrick's Day with a refreshing pineapple smoothie. The drink gets its green hue from fresh spinach and its creamy texture from Greek yogurt. Top the finished drink with a sprinkle of chia seeds.



Ingredient Checklist



Instructions Checklist

  • Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses.


Melon-Basil Prosecco Sparklers

This St. Patrick's Day drink idea gets plenty of sparkle from bubbly prosecco. Top each glass with fresh mint and melon for a light and sweet green cocktail. This green goddess of a cocktail deserves all the attention it can get!



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist

  • In a food processor combine half of the melon chunks and the 1/2 cup basil. Cover and process until smooth. Set a large sieve over a large bowl. Pour pureed melon into sieve. Repeat with the remaining melon chunks; pour into sieve. Cover and place in the refrigerator about 1 hour to allow melon mixture to drain.

  • Using the back of a large spoon, press melon pulp through sieve, draining additional liquid (you should have about 3 1/2 cups liquid). Discard solids.

  • For each drink, fill a cocktail shaker three-fourths full with ice. Add 1/3 cup melon liquid. Cover and shake until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty. Strain into a chilled glass. Slowly pour in 1/3 cup Prosecco; stir gently. If desired, add a melon slice and/or additional basil.


Courtesy Better Homes & Gardens, Sarah Martens

Sarah Martens is the digital holidays and entertaining editor at Better Homes & Gardens where she has a pulse on all things worth celebrating. 

Regret Buying Your Home During the Pandemic? How To Bounce Back

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We’ve all bought things we regret, but if there’s one purchase you don’t want to get wrong, it’s a home. Once you’re in, you’re in—no return policies allowed.

(Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted thousands of Americans to move and buy a new home. You’re probably familiar with some of the forces at work: People in cities wanted to have more room, maybe even a yard. Working remotely meant many would need a home office, or could move out of commuting distance entirely. Some who lost their jobs went searching for locations with a cheaper cost of living. Others moved closer to relatives, seeking comfort via proximity to their clan.

All told, these factors conspired to put a whole lot of homebuyers in motion, some even purchasing new abodes sight unseen.

For many, this leap of faith into unknown environs turned out great. Yet as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, stories have been swirling about people who actually wished they’d stayed put and hadn’t moved at all.

Entering the valley of buyer’s remorse

Homebuyer regrets assume many shapes and forms, depending on the reason people picked up and moved in the first place. Urbanites who moved to a more rural setting may have ended up bored, missing the bustling cafes and nightlife only a city can offer. Those who moved close to family may have quickly lost enthusiasm for their in-laws “dropping by” whenever they felt like it. Folks who bought a home way out of commuting distance may be dealing with a “come back to the office” command from their employers, setting themselves up for a soul-draining commute.

Further compounding this regret could be the high price they paid for their new house, especially since many markets across the U.S. have been experiencing record highs.

“Many people have experienced some form of buyer’s remorse, especially those who paid well over asking price during the pandemic,” says Jason Gelios, a real estate agent with Community Choice Realty in Birmingham, MI, and author of “Think Like a Realtor.”

“The pandemic had many homebuyers making an emotional purchase at the drop of a hat, because the competition was so fierce, not remembering that purchasing a home is a big decision that should not be rushed into,” adds Gelios.

Desperate to persuade sellers to accept their offer over others, many buyers also failed to do their due diligence on the property, which came back to haunt them later.

“In this seller’s market, many buyers have had to waive home inspections or limit it to health and safety items only,” says Elizabeth Sugar Boese, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Boulder, CO. “Then the new homeowners are shocked by the expenses to repair or maintain their home, causing many to regret the purchase.”

Or even if they were aware of problems, many buyers just didn’t take them seriously.

“Many homeowners do not understand what mold is, what water damage is, or what termite/wood rot is before they purchase,” says Jameson Tyler Drew, president of Anubis Properties in Whittier, CA. “They end up walking into a landmine and not realizing it until four months after the purchase.”

Now what? What to do if you regret a home purchase

If you’re one of those unlucky folks mired in homebuyer remorse, chin up—you are not stuck! While leaving a property purchase behind isn’t as easy as ditching a rental, there are still ways to reverse course.

Renovate your place to your tastes: Have you seen just how astoundingly different a home can look after those makeovers on reality TV? This should give you hope that, if you like the neighborhood but have grown to hate the house, you can renovate your way to something that works for you.

Even if this home purchase has left you financially tapped out, some financial assistance in the form of a loan or grant could be hiding nearby.

“Check with your bank to see if they are offering any programs offering financial assistance,” says Chantay Bridges, senior real estate expert at EXP Realty. The programs often cater to first-time homebuyers, teachers, firefighters, and other workers who benefit the community.

“While you are on a hunt, don’t forget to speak to your tax professional,” Bridges adds. “There could be tax deductions for home renovations.”

Doing a little homework can open doors to salvaging your investment and making you much more comfortable at home.

Relist it: Even if this hot market forced you to make a home purchase you regret, the good news is that the market’s still hot. So even if you haven’t lived there for long, your home may have already appreciated in value, with plenty of buyers eager to move in there next.

“The market is still a seller’s market, and you could relist and sell for probably more than you purchased it for,” says Boese.

Even with mortgage interest rates rising, demand is still outstripping the supply of homes for sale—especially right now.

“The first half of the year will be tighter with more bidding wars than the second half,” says Tami Bonnell, co-chair of EXIT Realty Corporate International.

You can get an estimate of your home’s value through an online home value estimator. But just be sure to account for the costs of selling a house, including a listing agent’s real estate commission and closing costs. Even if you take a slight loss on the sale, it might be worth it if you really want to get out of there.

Rent it out: If you don’t like the place but aren’t ready or able to sell it, renting it out can be a solution, at least for a time.

The rental market is on overdrive in many places, just like the home-selling sector. Also, as the pandemic winds down, people are traveling more, upping the demand for short-term stays. Whether you look for a long-term tenant or take the short-term route, this path will bring in income that you can use to pay bills as you move elsewhere.

“Renting a home on Airbnb has become really popular over the last several years,” says Josh Trubow, a certified financial planner and senior financial adviser at Sensible Financial. “However, managing an Airbnb can be a full-time job, especially if you do not live in or near the property. Property managers can help handle some of the hassle, but you should then expect to give up 15% to 25% of the income.”

You will also need to carefully track income and expenses, possibly working with an accountant to make sure you are well-prepared come tax time.



Janet Siroto is a journalist, editor, and trend tracker. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and other publications.



  1. Cliff Homes on

    Home buy and sale is a perfect example of how demand in our market has soared in this high-end range with homes that have been on the market for quite some time all of the sudden being snatched up. Thank for sharing the post and information.

    Wood-Look Tile vs. Wood: Which Type of Flooring Is Better?

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    If you love the look of hardwood flooring but not the cost, then wood-look tile is a trendy alternative. Here’s more on the pros, cons, and costs.


    By Kayleigh Roberts

    What is wood-look tile? Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like: tile that looks an awful lot like wood, at least from a distance. Up close, you can tell it’s not real wood, but wood-look tile is nonetheless trending now and comes with some unique advantages.

    Here’s everything you need to know about wood-look tile to determine whether it’s the right flooring for you.

    Photo by Stonica LLC

    Wood-look tile vs. wood: How much does each cost?

    Wood-look tile (which can also go on walls, like in bathrooms) comes in ceramic and porcelain. According to online estimates from, ceramic tile runs between $2 and $8 per square foot on average, while porcelain averages anywhere from $4 to $12, with installation averaging around $5 per square foot.

    In comparison, real hardwood flooring costs an average $5 to 10 per square foot with installation running an additional $4 to $8 per square foot.

    Photo by Mary Cook 

    Pros of wood-look tile

    The biggest and most obvious advantage of wood-look tile for most homeowners is the cost. In most cases, tile is significantly cheaper than a traditional hardwood floor. But there are other advantages, too. Homeowners looking to refurbish a property in a humid climate, for example, should consider wood-look tile.

    Photo by Synergy Design & Construction 

    “In Florida, we saw this trend starting in 2014,” explains Kurt M. Westfield, managing partner at WC Equity Group. “Florida features moist, humid climates and pests that can wreak havoc on improperly installed natural wood or laminate. Tile is simple to install, waterproof, and gives the appearance that many are seeking, without the cost and care associated with wood.”

    Wood-look tile may also be a good option for people with allergies, since tile doesn’t harbor allergens the way carpets and even hardwood can. It’s also great for pet owners. Hardwood is more durable in many ways, but tile stands up to scratches from the paws of furry friends better than wood.

    Photo buy Johnson + McLeod Design Consultants 

    Cons of wood-look tile

    Like any other tile, wood-look tile will have grout lines, which require special care if you want to keep them looking clean and pristine.

    “As a builder, we encourage homeowners to seal the grout after they move in,” explains Amy Cooper, marketing manager for Highland Homes in Lakeland, FL. Generally wood-look tile can be swept and vacuumed prior to wet mopping, although you should avoid cleaners with acid, bleach, or harsh scouring aids.

    Other downsides include issues that come with any kind of tile, like its tendencies to feel cold on bare feet and get slippery when wet. And while wood-look tile is durable and will last a long time—typically decades—hardwood could last a lifetime if well-kept.

    “Real hardwood will always be a highly desired amenity, not only for appearance but for longevity—it can be sanded down, regraded, stained, and even covered in tile or carpet,” Westfield explains.

    Another consideration is that wood-look tile may be cheaper, but typically does not add resale value to a home. Westfield agrees that real hardwood will always win in terms of long-term value, but if you want to cut costs upfront, wood-look tile is your ticket.

    Photo by Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc.



    Kayleigh Roberts is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Marie Claire, and Elle, among other publications.


    A Transparent Look at Energy-Efficient Windows: Cost, Effectiveness, and More

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    Energy-efficient windows have been touted as a way to reduce your home’s energy loss. After all, your average pane of glass doesn’t do much to keep heat or cold inside your home, depending on what’s desired for the season. So energy-efficient windows are well worth considering for homeowners who want to control their costs.

    (Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

    By Terri Williams

    “Homeowners should know that including energy-efficient windows will not only keep your home comfortable and your residential heating and cooling costs down, but they will also raise the resale value of your home,” says Brian Gow, president of Scheel Window & Door.

    In fact, 25% to 30% of cool air and heat escape through windows, according to, which can force your system to work harder and your bill to shoot up.

    But is it actually worth investing in energy-efficient windows? Here’s what you need to know.

    What are energy-efficient windows?

    So, what differentiates an energy-efficient window from a regular window? A low emissivity (or “low E”) window coating made from nearly invisible metallic oxides on the glass pane suppresses the radiant heat flow throughout the window, according to Robert Himmaugh, manager at Acadian Windows and Siding. Such windows can range from $100 to over $1,000 depending on the size, he says.

    But buying energy-efficient windows is not as simple as going to the store and asking for them; you need to know which type of windows would be best for your situation.

    “Choosing the right energy-efficient windows depends on the region you live in, the severity of your weather, and if your house is exposed to extreme weather events,” says Anne Fairfax, co-founder of architectural firm Fairfax, Sammons & Partners, which has offices in New York City and Palm Beach, FL.

    “We favor custom wood windows, with true divided light panes, double-glazed, for our high-end projects,” Fairfax says. “For our more budget-minded projects, we like to use Brosco windows, which is a traditional, well-priced wood window, which has optional interior storm panels.”

    Understanding efficiency ratings

    Double-glazed. U factor. What do all of these terms mean, and how do they affect the efficiency of your windows? Here are the key indicators of energy performance for windows:

    • U-factor: The lower the number, the more energy-efficient the window is. Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling, says you always want to look for a U-factor of 0.30 or lower.

    • Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC): This measures how well a window blocks heat from sunlight. Again, a lower rating is the sign of a more efficient window.

    • Air leakage: This rating measures how much air passes through the joints of a window. A lower rating means less leakage occurs.

    • Visible transmittance: Sometimes, a higher number is important. Visible transmittance measures how much light a window lets through, and it’s ideal to get as much as you can.

    • Condensation resistance: This measures how well the window resists water buildup. Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Ply Gem Windows, says homeowners should look for a higher rating in this case, as that marks a window that allows for less buildup.

    • R-value: This indicates the material’s resistance to heat flow, so the higher the better. Fairfax explains that a window with single glazing will have a lower R-value than a triple-glazed window.

    • Energy rating: This is a measure of the balance between the U-factor, SHGC, and air leakage.

    Alternatives to replacing your windows

    Energy-efficient windows can help you save money, but completely replacing your windows might not be in the cards right now.

    Applying a low-E coating on your existing windows (on the interior or the exterior) can improve their energy efficiency, according to Himmaugh.

    There are other ways to improve energy efficiency. For example, Fairfax says, your window treatments can make a difference.

    “Insulated curtains can help increase energy efficiency by keeping out the cold,” she says. “For dealing with heat gain, inexpensive natural blinds can be installed on the exterior of the windows.”


    Terri Williams is a journalist who has written for USA Today, Yahoo, the Economist, U.S. News and World Report, and the Houston Chronicle.

    Is the Housing Market Stuck? Why Buyers Are in a Rush and Sellers Just Won't Budge

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    The tough housing market just keeps on getting tougher.

    By Margaret Heidenry

    The number of homes listed for sale took a nosedive in January, falling 28.4% compared with a year earlier, according to a recent® report. And if that sounds bad, consider that two years ago—in pre-COVID-19 times—the number of active listings was a whopping 60% higher than it is today.

    Granted, December and January are traditionally slow months, with many sellers waiting for spring’s warmer weather to put their property on the market. But so far, early 2022 is looking significantly worse than the usual winter slump, with the number of new listings dipping 9.1% from a year earlier and down a full 16.8% compared with pre-pandemic years spanning 2017 to 2020. 

    Why home sellers aren’t selling

    So why aren’t home sellers selling, given those that do stand to make a tidy profit today? Nationwide, the median home price has climbed to an eye-watering $375,000, a price hike of 25% from a year earlier. 

    Nonetheless, the fact that home sellers today can make a killing isn’t persuading many to budge, perhaps because once they sell, the question remains: Where will they live? Most sellers, after all, are also buyers. 

    “In a recent survey we conducted, more than 1 in 4 potential sellers who were choosing not to sell in the near term said it was because they couldn’t find a home they wanted in their price range,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “With housing costs rising, as home prices and mortgage rates both increase, affordability is more important than ever to households. Data suggests that this may be as true for sellers, many of whom will also purchase a new home, as it is for homebuyers.” 

    Why homebuyers are rushing to close the deal

    Despite a limited selection, homebuyers are snapping up whatever they can find—and they’re doing it fast. In January, homes sold in an average of 61 days, down 10 days from last year and 24 days from January 2020. 

    One reason home shoppers are closing deals nearly an entire month faster may be the rush to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates before the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, which could happen as early as March. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate loan were 3.55% on Friday, according to Freddie Mac.  

    Facing a shortage of available homes for sale, some homebuyers are also resorting to paying more money for less house. In January, the median listing price per square foot shot up by 13.5% year over year, with the median cost of a 2,000-square-foot, single-family home rising 18.6%. 

    Cities where homes are selling fast

    Some cities and their surrounding suburbs are feeling the housing crunch more than others. Florida led the charge, with homes getting snapped up in 29 fewer days in Miami and 24 fewer days in Orlando, both compared with a year earlier. Raleigh, NC, came in third, with homes spending 17 fewer days on the market. 

    “In Raleigh, all signs point to a growing market where the supply of housing isn’t keeping up with demand,” says Hale. “Data suggests that Raleigh has attracted a lot of interest from big-city households looking for affordability who are able to relocate … thanks to workplace flexibility that has outlasted the pandemic.” 

    Indeed, a growing number of homebuyers are on the move. In the fourth quarter of 2021, more than 50% of the views on homes for sale in Raleigh; Nashville, TN; and Virginia Beach, VA, came from people living somewhere else, says Hale. 

    “Each of these areas is growing and seeing a lot of interest from incoming home shoppers,” adds Hale. “All of this interest can lead to fast-growing prices that sometimes paradoxically cause existing owners to hesitate to sell.” 


    Courtesy Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.

    How Homeowners Can Make the Most of Their Yards—Even in Winter

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    After almost two years of pandemic life, homeowners understand the significant value of having a yard. Here are 8 ideas for getting creative with outdoor space.

    ©Trevor Tinker - Getty Images

    by Barbara Ballinger

    Spending time outdoors at the height of the pandemic was a way to get fresh air, exercise safely, and expand living quarters. Now, nearing two years later, an outdoor retreat has become even more sought after, causing homeowners and design professionals to get creative in maximizing square footage.

    Whether homeowners have a big suburban yard, rural acreage, or a small urban balcony, there are multiple ways to take advantage of the space, even in winter. They can pile on layers or follow the Swedish mantra of Friluftsliv, which translates to “open-air living and the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical well-being.”

    The key isn’t the size of their space, or which activities homeowners do, but taking advantage of Mother Nature’s gifts—air, sky, clouds, sun, and greenery.

    Millennials and other new homeowners have become particularly adept at using their yards for almost everything—from camping out with a tent and fire pit to organizing a staycation, or setting up an alternative office when they need a break from their indoor space, says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of TurfMutt Foundation, the education arm of the Alexandria, Va.-based Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, which encourage enjoyment of nature.

    Kiser says there’s even a new term for this trend, which doesn’t need translation: Backyarding!

    ©AleksandarNakic - Getty Images

    Here are eight ideas to help make the right investments in furnishings, landscaping, appliances, and more for your yard.

    1. Link the indoors and outdoors by blurring lines. The most common way to do this is to add more windows and doors to connect the spaces and make the glazing bigger to achieve better views. It can also be done by using more colors and textures found in nature inside the home and bringing in plants. Homeowners can also decorate outdoors as they do inside, according to the online design resource, Houzz. The company’s search data shows that people want their backyards to be relaxing extensions of their interiors, which can be handled with stylish, durable materials, as well as by adding a fireplace or fire pit, outdoor TV, sound system, and comfortable seating, pillows, and rugs.

    2. Set up an outdoor office. Many people made do with cramped makeshift offices during the pandemic. Others created separate indoor spaces but working outdoors can literally offer a breath of fresh air to ramp up creativity. Flowers, bushes, and trees can become the living backdrop on conference calls instead of the kitchen counters or office bookcases. Essentials to make it work include strong Wi-Fi, an electrical outlet or two for equipment that’s not wireless, a sturdy table for a laptop, a comfortable chair, lighting for night-time work, and a rug to add warmth underfoot. Some may want a small portable generator to keep power running, Kiser says.

    3. Dine al fresco. Homeowners shouldn’t limit themselves to only eating dinner outdoors. Any meal—breakfast, brunch, lunch, cocktails, and snacks—can be enjoyed plein air. They should have a nice flat area, whether a balcony, terrace, or deck, to set up a table and chairs with enough space to navigate around them. Homeowners also should choose a material that won’t need frequent repainting—many closely resemble real wood and stone and are sustainable. Add the right equipment—a grill, pizza oven, running water from a spigot that won’t freeze (or a sink), and firepit—to make the experience more enjoyable. They can hang some lights, maybe a curtain, and if there’s room and funds, construct a pergola for an overhead cover. If the homeowners like the sound of running water, they can add a recirculating fountain so the water won’t freeze in the winter.

    4. Add entertainment. All work and no play isn’t fun, and the outdoors is a perfect place for classic games like croquet and badminton, and board games such as Monopoly and Clue, or jigsaw puzzles. Many families are also investing in large-screen outdoor TVs and movie projectors. And then there are all the pools being built. If there is no room or funds, they might consider a less costly above-ground pool or smaller hot tub. Suggest they position it close enough to the house so they’re not trekking far in the cold or snow.

    5. Establish a wildlife habitat. Attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds by planting the right flowers and plants. Add a greenhouse if there’s room, which will allow homeowners to garden all year. A birdhouse and feeder or two, are great additions; even a chicken coop is becoming more commonplace.

    6. Make a yard pet friendly. Dog owners could add a fence of some type, maybe a sandpile for digging, a doghouse that’s large enough so Fido doesn’t feel cramped, and perhaps an agility course so he or she gets good exercise. Hardscape like bricks, concrete pavers, or stone can be an alternative spot to urinate that won't ruin your lawn. Also, homeowners can consider some faux lawn choices—many look authentic—and avoid planting things that are toxic to dogs and people, according to The Spruce.

    7. Store neatly. Even outdoor spaces can become cluttered. A shed or closet in a garage can be set up with shelves, bins, and hooks to hang rakes, bicycles, helmets, and more. This will also keep tools out of reach of young children, and provide a place to store fuel safely, too, says Kiser.

    8. Create some privacy. While homeowners may want to have a friendly relationship with their neighbors, they may also want some privacy at times, especially when working from home or throwing parties. Fences work well, but so can living screens of greenery—rows of trees, bushes, or vines. They should choose native materials that don’t require a lot of watering and consider materials that provide color or texture year-round. Start small with plantings that will grow over time, which is less costly than investing in big, mature plants.

    While many of the tips on this list can be undertaken by a skilled DIYer, homeowners should also consider contacting a contractor, landscape designer, or architect sooner rather than later since many are booked far in advance.


    Courtesy Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling


    Home sales slow in January, but median price still hovers near $400k

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    January is a slow time for real estate sales, but things were really slow last month. Only 870 homes were sold in New Hampshire, a 15.5 percent fewer Granite State homes were sold than January 2021, according to the latest data from the NH Realtors Association.

    by Bob Sanders

    Yet, prices rose 14.2 percent from a year ago, although the median price of a single-family home dipped to $399,700 from December 2021, only the second time since last May that the median has dipped below $400,000.

    Condos? Pretty much the same thing. Sales went down 17.2 percent, but the median unit price rose 18.8 percent, to $300,000.

    As usual, the problem was not the lack of buyers but a lack of sellers. Those homes that do go on sale are on the market for an average of 33 days. There were only 931 homes for sale in January, a 35.4 percent decrease from the previous year, and there were 706 new listings, a 25.3 percent decrease.

    Homes were selling for 1.4 percent more than the asking price, the Realtors said.

    Homes in Carrol County appreciated the most, at a median price of $445,000, a 33.9 percent increase from a year ago.  Rockingham County homes sold for a median $540,000, a 17.4 percent increase.  The biggest slowdown in sales came in Sullivan, where 28 homes were sold, – a 47.2 percent decrease from 2021.


    As inventory continues to sink, what next?

    Housing remains scarce, and it continues to hit new lows. 

    “In terms of inventory, it has been the lowest and it certainly feels that way,” said Adam Gaudet, president of the New Hampshire Association of Realtors board of directors and founder of 603 Birch Realty in Concord.

    No crystal ball

    Observers and stakeholders say the end of New Hampshire’s housing market spike is impossible to predict. 

    The Realtors Association uses one metric above others when assessing the health of the housing market, Director of Communications Dave Cummings said. That measurement is the time it would take to sell all of New Hampshire’s housing inventory if no new houses came on the market. The hypothetical number – which factors in both inventory and demand – can speak volumes, Cummings said. A healthy market would take six months to sell all houses. Currently, New Hampshire sellers would take only 26 days. 

    But Cummings argued it was only a matter of time before the pattern must reverse, if only because the state’s housing stock can’t get much lower.

    “You know, we’re still just seeing it level, level, level out,” he said. “It can’t get too much lower, because essentially you’d have zero inventory.”

    Contributor Ethan Dewitt , New Hampshire Bulletin


    Attention Sellers!!!

    When you list your property with our team of agents, you are provided with professional, courteous service from beginning to end. These services include, but are not limited to:

    A free current market analysis: Determining the value of your property based on other properties, similar in nature that have sold or are currently on the market.

    Listing your property: Entering the property in our MLS system, marketing through window displays, local and regional advertisements and various online media sources.

    Representing your property personally: Having an agent from our office present at ALL showings.

    Negotiating and closing the deal: Representing your requirements in the purchase and sale, while maintaining courteous representation throughout the closing.


    So, if you're thinking about selling your home, give us a call at


    At Melanson Real Estate, we'll be happy to assist you with all your real estate needs.





    How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost, and Is It Worth It?

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    You might be thinking about getting your house’s air ducts cleaned after watching a TV commercial that flashes pictures of dusty, moldy, dirty vents. It’s definitely enough to make you wonder what’s lurking in your ductwork. But is it worth it?

    Picture Windows

    Photo: Nataliia / Adobe Stock

    Written by Dawn M. Smith

    The average amount to clean your air ducts is $370 

    The typical cost to get air ducts cleaned is between $270 and $490.  But, depending on the duct’s condition, fees can climb to $1,000.

    Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth It?

    When you search the pros and cons of hiring a local air duct cleaners, you’ll find conflicting advice. 

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that from their studies, standard duct cleaning does not prevent health problems or reduce dust levels in your home. But they do recommend professional cleaning if there is visible (and confirmed by a lab) mold growth inside the vents or within the heating and cooling system. Wet insulation is a typical cause of a mold outbreak.

    They also recommend cleaning your ducts if they’re infested with rodents and insects or clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris that hampers your HVAC system and blows nasty particles through your home. If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, you might breathe better with clean ducts. You’ll have to think about your health situation to decide if you need air duct cleaning and if it's worth your money.

    How Much Does It Cost To Clean Air Ducts?

    Air duct cleaning costs an average of $400. But the price is affected by several factors like the size of the house, the total number of ducts, and how complicated the ducting system is. You could pay between $700 and $1,000 for a large home. 

    The good news is you only need to have your ductwork cleaned every two to seven years unless you notice an issue with pests, allergenic mold reactions, or have breathing problems that improve after a cleaning.

    Correct Air Duct Cleaning Costs More 

    The air duct cleaning company you hire should spend between three and four hours inspecting and cleaning all system parts, including the heat exchanger, blower, drain pan, plenum, and coils. Be cautious of companies that finish fast, especially if you chose a discount special. They may only clean some of the vents for a low price. 

    Be sure to ask if they use outdoor vented equipment. Most top air duct cleaning companies use this equipment, so all of the debris they capture is vented and contained outside the house. Inferior techniques used by cost-cutting companies could worsen the situation by damaging the ductwork or setting off more dust and dirt into the air inside your home. 

    Don’t be surprised if your vetted professional suggests repairs or upgrades to your furnace or blower motor. It’s common to find other issues during the cleaning process. 

    Here’s an idea of the costs of common repairs.

    • Furnace repairs: $130–$500

    • AC repairs: $160–$550


    What Factors Influence The Cost to Clean Your Air Ducts? 

    Don’t expect your costs to add up exactly like your neighbor's, even if they let you use their coupon. In addition to the size of the house and the number of vents, several other factors impact your final invoice.

    The Number of Vents 

    Vent cleaning costs can be broken down in various ways by your service provider. If the contractor charges per vent, expect to pay about $25 to $50 per vent. Other companies charge a flat fee in addition to the cost per vent. 

    To total the average amount, count your vents, grab your calculator, and multiply by $35. This figure takes into account that each vent connects to the central system through each room and the amount of work it takes to clean.

    The Appearance of Rodents 

    There’s not much you can do to avoid air duct cleaning fees if you have rodents. This is one scenario where the EPA says to seek help from professionals because droppings in the ductwork can cause breathing problems. Note, you’ll probably have to hire an exterminator first. Extermination costs run between $150 to $500. No doubt, it’s money well spent for a peaceful night’s sleep. 

    Vent and Duct Accessibility

    If your home has hard-to-reach crawl spaces and attics to access your central HVAC system, you could pay more for the extra work involved. Your cleaning crew will let you know of their additional fees. 

    Mold and Mildew Removal

    Another situation where the EPA recommends duct cleaning is after you’ve verified mold growth. Although mold removal in your ductwork costs more money, likely between $600 and $2,000, it could save you thousands if you stop the mold before it spreads further. Depending on the level of contamination, there’s a good chance your contractor will suggest a mold specialist do the cleanup if it's out of their realm of expertise. 

    Custom Designed Ducts

    Cleaning and repairing custom ductwork is typically more expensive because the specific sizing is challenging to work with, and it’s harder to find replacement parts. After the initial inspection, your air duct cleaning contractor will tell you to either clean or replace the air ducts. If your pro has to work longer or hire a bigger crew to do custom work, expect to pay 25% to 30% more.  


    The Middle Class Feels the Sting of the Housing Shortage and High Prices

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    The turbocharged housing market is hurting middle-class homebuyers stymied by a double whammy of fast-rising prices and a dearth of properties for sale.

    (Getty Images)

    By Clare Trapasso 

    The analysis looked at how affordable homes listed for sale are for prospective buyers with different household incomes. It also looked at the number of homes for sale.

    “In a highly competitive real estate market, the best areas for buyers are areas that have relatively more home available. But in order to truly be available, the home has to be for sale and affordable,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “A homebuyer needs to ask themselves: ‘With my income and what’s on the market right now, where do I have the best shot from an availability perspective?'”

    Buyers with a household income between $75,000 and $100,000 could afford only about 51% of the homes listed for sale. (Households include all adults living together, such as spouses and partners, extended families, and roommates.) That was compared with 58% in 2019. Those buyers are competing for just 245,300 homes nationally that are within their budgets.

    Meanwhile, there were just 165,280 homes across the country that buyers could afford with household incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

    Even in the few places where housing became cheaper during the pandemic—such as the bigger, more expensive cities that became less desirable over the Past few years—the lack of homes for sale has made it harder for buyers to get an edge.

    “Due to rising home prices and the ongoing inventory shortage, homeownership attainment will become especially challenging for middle-class buyers unless significantly more entry-level housing units become available,” Nadia Evangelou, NAR’s senior economist and director of forecasting, said in a statement. “Otherwise, the wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income households may grow even further.”

    The 10 best metropolitan areas for buyers with household incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 were mostly in the South in less expensive areas that have had more new construction. These places all had more homes for sale at the right price for these buyers.

    Deltona, FL, topped the list, followed by Des Moines, IA; Augusta, GA; Atlanta; McAllen, TX; Baton Rouge, LA; Miami; Virginia Beach, VA; Youngstown, OH; and Scranton, PA. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

    “Homes are priced a bit lower so that your housing dollars stretch further,” says Hale. Also, “construction has done a better job of keeping up with demand.”


    Clare Trapasso is the deputy news editor of where she writes and edits news and data stories. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication, the New York Daily News, and the Associated Press. She also taught journalism courses at several New York City colleges.

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