Homeowner Tips for February 2011


Every homeowner dreams of selling their home at a price much higher than the what they paid for it, but securing a home with a high resale value takes more than desire; it takes wisdom and patience. Here is what you should be looking for if you want to find a home that is likely to appreciate more quickly than the national average.


Desirable location

Location is the one thing you can’t change. A great home in a bad location will always be limited, whereas a home needing work in a great location has a lot of untapped potential. In more affluent neighborhoods, your neighbors will be more likely to upgrade their homes, local businesses will be more likely to improve their accommodations, and local governments will have more money to invest in schools, roads, and parks—all of which improve your long-term resale value.


21st-century floor plan

A 1950s-style home may seem quaint and cozy to you, but it’s a deal-breaker for most modern families. Families of today like houses with big kitchens, lots of storage, roomy garages, and plenty of bathrooms. Avoid houses that have dated floor plans or risk repelling a huge chunk of buyers. Look at the floorplan to see if there is opportunity to open up areas by removing walls or expanding rooms.


Vibrant local economy

The most certain predictor of regional sales prices is the local economy. When the local economy grows, house prices go up. Look for signs of the area’s economic standing. Do you see a lot of empty commercial buildings with “For Lease” signs, or are you seeing lines out the door and “Help Wanted” signs everywhere you go? And keep in mind that everything in real estate is relative. Right now, while the economy is slow, half-full shopping centers might be a relatively positive indicator. Remember that years of research shows a social blight usually brings more blight. An area with numerous vacant or foreclosed homes may be cheap to buy in, but if the area is hit too hard, it very well could attract squatters, crime and further decay.



Over the past decade, the kitchen has become the most reworked, remodeled, and redesigned room in the American home. Here’s a look at the design trends taking center stage right now.


The three pillars of modern kitchen design

For the last several years, the modern kitchen has been defined by three core elements: green design, stainless steel appliances, and reclaimed wooden floors. These trends are showing no signs of losing steam this year.


Induction cooking

Induction cooking appliances are sleek, safe, and environmentally conscious. It’s no wonder that they are catching on in a big way. In the kitchen of the future, a flame might look as out of place as a rotary telephone.


Clean and neutral

As more homeowners wake up to the realization that the kitchen is the heart of the home, kitchens are being redesigned to reflect that new prioritization. Today’s kitchens feature clean lines and neutral colors in an effort to promote the kitchen as a functional, inviting, all-purpose living space.


Engineered stone

If you want the beauty, variety, and complexity of natural stone, without all the headaches that go along with maintaining and conditioning a porous surface, engineered stone is the logical choice. Today’s engineered stone countertops are as beautiful as they are functional, and many homeowners will be including them in their remodeling plans this year.



When Hoarders debuted on A&E last year, millions of American TV viewers were stunned to learn what millions of American hoarders have known for years—hoarding is a widespread problem that destroys lives and families. If you or someone you love is being slowly buried alive by their personal belongings, here are four practical steps to fight the clutter and reclaim your life.


Use the 12-month rule

Most hoarders delude themselves into believing that they will one day use all of the junk they have accumulated. In reality, if you haven’t used an item in the last year, it is extremely unlikely that you will use it in the next year, or ever again for that matter. Once a year, throw anything away that hasn’t been used in the last year. It may be helpful to enlist the support of a partner during this process if your hoarding tendencies are strong.

Get closure

Many people with hoarding tendencies feel a deep attachment to their past through their personal belongings, and almost feel as though they are betraying those items if they fail to find them a good home. In these cases, a small ritual can help to ease the transition from beloved personal item to trash or donation. For instance, you could take one last picture of the item, and save it to a digital photo album of all of your past beloved items. This will allow you to catalog the items that have been meaningful to you without letting them get in the way of new experiences.


Ask for (and accept) help

Above all else, hoarding disorders are judgment disorders—they make it difficult for the victim to distinguish between useful items and useless junk. If you find yourself unable to part with items that have not been used for several years, ask for help. Most importantly, accept that help by giving a trusted friend or family member temporary control of the cleanup effort. Remember, there are people who may be in more need of that item sitting in your garage.

Donating your unused items can change the life of less fortunate people.

There are numerous organizations that will put your unused items to good use for others. The Tumbleweed Foundation in Phoenix is just one. http://www.tumbleweed.org/


In order to beat hoarding for good, it’s important to locate and eliminate the source. Most compulsive hoarders are also compulsive shoppers. Find creative ways to short circuit your compulsive shopping tendencies. For instance, you can go to the store with only enough cash to buy the items you planned to purchase prior to your trip.


360 Group helps people reduce debt, preserve equity and save money on the typical high cost transactions.