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Tip Jar: How to Find “the One”

THE_SOMERS1With all these Websites at your disposal, you would think it would be easier to find “The One” home online these days.

Day after day you search Craigslist and Zillow, hoping “The One” has hit the market.

It’s almost like dating!

Be patient, it will happen. While you continue to search, here are five signs you will know you found “The One”:

5 Signs A Home Might Be "The One"

1. You instantly feel possessive about the property.

When you walk into ‘The One’ no matter how long you’ve been house hunting, you’ll get an involuntary surge of energy to do whatever it takes to make that home yours.

2. You start to see its flaws as adorable quirks.

Smart buyers should be aware of a syndrome some call “Pottery Barn Psychosis,” whereby the aesthetics of a wonderfully staged home with amazing curb appeal can hypnotize a buyer. This syndrome renders buyers blind to the negative property features, which would be glaring or grave concerns if the place weren’t so stinking cute. It’s fine to make a conscious decision that the pros of a place outweigh its cons, and even to consciously re-rank your priorities in light of a particular property’s advantages.

3. You immediately envision your own family, furniture, decor, daily activities or remodeling choices in/to the home.

If you find yourself, during a property viewing, measuring the dining room with your footsteps to be sure your Grandma’s table will fit, discussing whether the wall between kitchen and dining room can be removed or your mind’s eye Photoshopping a given property to insert your bedroom set, your dining table and favorite wall hangings into place it’s entirely possible that the home you’re viewing could be “The One” for you.

4. You lose interest in seeing other homes.

When you find “The One,” your interest in seeing other homes dissipates, instantly - no matter how many homes you’ve seen or how long you’ve been house hunting.

5. The money, time and energy spent feels worth it.

Home buying is an expensive, time consuming proposition. And your years of budgeting of earned you a nice nest egg, but it didn’t come easy, there might be many a Saturday night at home and a brown bagged lunch reflected in your down payment savings. If you view a home that make all of those sacrifices suddenly feel like the best, most worthwhile decision ever? You, my friend, might have found “The One.”

Finding “The One” takes time. It can be a painful and frustrating experience.

Buying a house isn’t just about putting a roof over your head. It’s likely the largest investment you will ever make (besides maybe marriage!).

Don’t give up. Don’t settle.

If you want to look for “The One” right now, we just updated the site with some new listings. And speaking of new, you may have noticed our latest logo above, which will be fully integrated into our site later this month. We think it's "the One" for us. Happy searching!


Tip Jar: The How and Why to Staging a Home

865thompson2Today's guest post comes to us from Paul Benjamin, a District Manager at EZ Storage.

Today's selling market is rough. Though house prices are starting to rebound, the environment remains extremely competitive. Staging your home is an excellent way to help your house stand out, catch the attention of potential buyers, and ensure that it sells for a good price. Whether your house is vacant or still furnished, there are multiple ways to make your house look more attractive and inviting to as many potential buyers as possible. Read on to find out why you should stage your house and to discover some quick house staging ideas.

What are the advantages of house staging?

Staging your house helps it sell faster and at a better price. While house staging can't make your house sell at a price above its worth, it serves as a sort of insurance against the price of the house being forced below its worth.

Selling your house in the current economy means having to compete with similar houses which are likely priced lower than yours. Your house needs to be presented as attractively as possible- and to the greatest number of people.

Staging a house can be done relatively inexpensively (less than a thousand dollars!) and helps to neutralize a house. This is beneficial in eliminating quirks or specific stylistic choices that might put off some potential buyers.

Do you have an old bathroom or ugly carpeting? Home staging can also draw attention to a house's strengths while simultaneously downplaying its weaknesses. Staging a room to draw attention to a large bay window and away from old flooring is much cheaper than renovation, after all.

3 Quick and Inexpensive House Staging Ideas

1. Make sure your house is spotless from top to bottom: It sounds obvious, but many sellers underestimate the power of a de-cluttered house. Making sure that everything is organized and in its place makes a house look larger and more attractive, inevitably attracting more interest from buyers. A key to making a house less cluttered is to get rid of extra furniture; even if a house is spotless, an overcrowded room with one too many chairs or end tables in it will quickly make a house seem smaller and dirtier.

2. Re-purpose unused spaces: Taking empty or unwelcoming spaces and transforming them into usable, attractive rooms is an excellent way to add value to a home. Do you have a 'sewing room' that you barely use? Adding a well-placed book shelf or desk can instantly make a room serve dual purposes. What about a den that just seems dark and gloomy? Bring light in by adding an interesting lamp or a few brightly colored accent pillows-- or even draping bright fabrics on the wall. 

3. Lighting, lighting, and more lighting: As far as house staging ideas, this one is pretty easy. Brightly lit homes always look more welcoming and attractive. Make sure every room is carefully illuminated and potential buyers will automatically find it warmer and more livable. It's not a simple matter of making sure you have enough lamps in a room, however; increase wattage in already existing lamps and make sure the light isn't too glaring or bright; a mixture of soft and harder lighting is best.

Bottom Line: Home staging is one of the most inexpensive ways to up the selling price and appeal of your home. While it won't fix an old kitchen or outdated flooring, it can draw attention away from flaws to ensure as many potential buyers as possible find the house attractive. 

Put the house staging ideas above to practice and watch your home sell!


logoPaul Benjamin is a District Manager at EZ Storage, a self storage company serving the Philadelphia area for over 40 years.


Tip Jar: A Timeless Holiday Gift Idea For The Holiday

The holiday gift buying season is upon us in all of its commercialist splendor. I am pretty certain most of us will be spending our hard earned money on mass produced electronics, clothing, fruitcakes... you know the same old stuff you bought year in year out during the shopping season. These gift items are okay for some of the people on your gift list but you know as well as I know, these items will not last the test of time. Well, maybe the fruit cake will but in general the other gifts are short-lived.

This year I suggest you give the gift that lasts for generations. Give one special someone (or even yourself) the gift of Art. Original art. Paintings, collages, prints, drawings, glass, handcrafted furniture, sculpture, handmade jewelry, ceramics, the list goes on. Artwork is timeless and personal, and when thoughtfully placed for friends and family to admire, will actually transform a space on so many different levels.

Buying original artwork may seem difficult especially if your idea of art is  a poster of a crying unicorn or a glossy of your favorite band taped on your bedroom wall. But it’s actually very simple. In Philadelphia we are so lucky to have tons of artists and work to choose from. I just bought a large collage from a local artist Peter Quinn that I hung in my office along with two other prints by local artist Bruce Reinfeld. I am also really into local artist Chris Clark. To find art for sale check out POSTInLiquid, and the Paper Mill Studio for resources.  Local galleries are also a great place to see examples of work and if the price seems too steep, ask for something within your budget.

Remember: By purchasing art from a local artist, your money is going back into the community and supporting not only the local economy but those talented people that really lead the way in cultural development and progress. Now that’s a gift!

[image via Chris M Clark]


Tip Jar: An Eater’s Guide to Philly!

Metro's Philadelphia Eater's Guide noted some of our favorite foodie destinations beyond cheesesteak purveyors... the often overlooked Philly is full of exciting new restaurant concepts and incredible chefs and dishes that don't often get the recognition that they deserve. So this week's tip? Eat up! Here's a few more places to check out next time you're in town:

In Northern Liberties and Point Breeze:

Circles is the beloved thai BYO that opened a location in Northern Liberties earlier this year, bringing the spice to another hot neighborhood. Try the seitan satay and the best pad thai in the city, then take a stroll over to the Piazza or Liberties Walk to cool off.

In Rittenhouse Square:

Vernick Food & Drink is worth checking out for their delicious "toast" creations, such as the fromage blanc and pickled cherries or the charred spinach and leeks. This bistro knocks out some beautiful dishes and craft cocktails, all with a great view of Walnut Street. Head to Rittenhouse Square or to the Franklin for an after-dinner cocktail.

In Fishtown:

Both Frankford Hall and Loco Pez rank high on our list for excellent scene-watching in the eclectic Fishtown neighborhood. And the food and drink are swell, too! The former is a funky beer garden with enormous pretzels and even bigger beers to work those biceps. The latter pumps out super cheap tacos and margs for a lively crowd. We recommend visiting earlier or on a weekday to get a seat, as wait times can be long on weekends.  Then experience the 14 Reasons to Live in Fishtown.

So welcome! We hope you can squeeze in a visit to one of these essential Philly eateries on your visit.


Tip Jar: The Student’s Guide to Hot Apartments for Rent in Philadelphia

Don't get stuck with 6 roommates and no closet space...if you haven't found an apartment in Philly yet, get in touch with us! Our rental listings below in Northern Liberties and Old City are located incredibly close to the Market-Frankford Line to take you to Penn, Drexel, Moore, University of the Arts, and the Art Institute of Philadelphia and the Route 15 Trolley to Temple University.

Today's tip? Skip the dorms! Find your own study-friendly apartment below, in these amazing neighborhoods full of galleries, boutiques, know, for when you're not studying.

1001 N Marshall Street, Unit 2: 1 Bedroom 2nd Floor Apartment in Northern Liberties, $1,250 a month. Photo at left.

 406 W George Street: 2 Bedroom in Northern Liberties, ideal for you and roommate, $1,900 a month. Video below.

50 N Front Street, Unit 106: Studio in Old City, $1,250 a month. Video below.

Check out more rental listings and contact us today!


Tip Jar: Meet Your Nightmare Neighbor

This week, we strongly advise you to meet your nightmare neighbor.

Meet your neighbor, Eastern State Penitentiary, in the Fairmount section of the Art Museum. This historic attraction/museum is a frequented spot for tourists and local Philadelphians. Being an admitted glutton for the macabre, my tour proved to be a very stimulating experience. If you are a history buff, this place provides plenty of it and apparently Eastern State Penitentiary is believed to be haunted by the very prisoners that once walked the halls and sat in the prison cells you will see in my V-blog.  Visit Eastern State Penitentiary...if you dare, of course.

For more info about Eastern State Penitentiary, visit their website.


Tip Jar: Get Moore Creative Philly

Today's tip? Get Moore creative!

What's new and exciting in Philadelphia? Feeling like it's the same crap, different day? Don't let your daily mantra keep you shackled. Check out the galleries at Moore College of Art at 20th and Race Streets, where Logan Circle Fountain, the Science Museum, and the Franklin institute are located. Moore has several galleries with free admission. There are always several exhibits to see with diverse and emerging artists. The video compilation above features clips from the current exhibits (Summer 2012). A visit to Moore Galleries will let you see how others define the world. Many of the exhibits are interactive like the one I participated in on the attached video. Discover how to look at things in a fresh new way. There is a gift shop filed with art and jewelry and handmade items. Enjoy a stroll around the Logan Circle Fountain and take in creative Philadelphia.

Share your favorite creative spaces in Philly in the comments!


Tip Jar: Find Happiness before August 12th

This week's Tip Jar is: Find Happiness before August 12th. Seem like a lofty tip? Well perhaps it is but you can at least explore The Happy Show at ICA, the Institute of Contemporarty Art at 118 S 36th Street in University City. This art show is worth visiting during your lunch hour or when you want an excuse to stroll the rooms of this two-story air conditioned gallery space.

If you go you will see what graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister has experienced as he defines his personal journey seeking to define happiness for himself. This is a fantastic subject to explore because though we all have our own path to finding happiness, the artist's depiction is one that I believe we can all relate to on some level. The show is interactive, self reflective, relative, and delightfully honest. I enjoyed it thoroughly and highly recommend you find The Happy Show before its end on August 12th.

[Music by iTunes: Never Stop, Echo & The Bunnymen]


Tip Jar: Let Master Keep You Under Lock and Key 24/7

I admit it. I am subject to the Master. The Master provides me with extreme strength, security, and protection 24/7. The Master does not use  a safe "word" but uses numbers instead. We change our code around periodically, you know,  to mix things up a bit. The Master certainly offers me the discipline that I lack like that time I locked myself out of my condo and that other time I locked my keys in the car. Duh! I am so forgetful.

Hey...Don't knock it till you've tried it. I am talking about my Master Lock Box. Not suggesting you read Shades of Grey! You can buy the Master at any Home Depotor Lowes for $25-$30.Realtors use Master Lock Boxes all of the time. They are not new to the scene. But  for non-Realtors, these "bad boys" are perfect to store an extra set of house keys or a spare set of car keys for emergency reasons. They can be hung in your garage, office, or work place. I rarely carry keys to my yoga class or when I go out for a night on the town. Even my cleaning person uses my Master to access my condo. I never lose my keys now because I put a spare set in my Master Lock Box.

So, if you are like me and are not very disciplined with your keys, let Master keep you under lock and key 24/7. Master Lock Box, that is.


Tip Jar: Take the Stairs for a Change

Take the stairs for a change.

I cannot count how many buyers have turned their nose up at homes that feature a center staircase. That is unfortunate because in Philadelphia, particularly in the older turn-of-the-century homes found in and around Center City, a center staircase is the prevalent design. The center staircase is often situated in the middle of the home dividing it in half separating the living room, parlor, or dining area from the kitchen which is typically located in the back of the house. The current modern trend favors one large open great room with nothing but furniture to divide the room into less formal spaces.

I would like to challenge current home buyers and home owners to take the stairs for a change. Consider making the staircase the centerpiece of your home rather than avoiding or ignoring it altogether. Here are a few ideas that really make a center staircase the most delighted part of the home.

1) Open the staircase up completely for that ultra modern feel.

2) Refinish old spindles by stripping them or painting them your favorite accent colors.

3) Swap out the old-fashioned decorative wrought iron for more industrial materials like the (see photo) staircase done by local artist Leo Razzi.

4) We've all see risers painted white but what about painting them different colors?

5) If you have a closed off wall on either side of your staircase, make it a half wall or get really creative and cut and finish small openings to be used as shelving or peek through windows.

6) Try adding some built-in shelving nooks.

[image via Silver Lining Decor]


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