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Tips for Selling Your House During the Winter Season

by The Hat Team


Selling a home during the winter months presents challenges that you don’t have other times of the year. But they are easy to overcome.  Here are some tips to help you sell your house this winter:

  • Light it Up You want your home to feel light and bright when potential buyers are checking it out.  Pull up the blinds, open the shutters and pull back the curtains at every window.  Turn on all the lights in the house, including the ones in bathrooms and closets.  If you have dark areas in rooms, consider placing spotlights behind furniture to brighten them up.
     
  • Warm it Up Before a showing, pump up the thermostat a couple of degrees higher than you normally would and then turn it down right before the buyers arrive.  That way the heat won’t kick on while they are there. Some HVACS can be loud and that is a distraction you want to avoid. When the temperature is comfortable, the buyer will stay longer, especially on a cold day.  If you have a fireplace, a roaring fire on a cold day lends a lot of charm that will entice buyers.
     
  • Create an Irresistible Ambiance Showcase your home with some lovely touches that will give potential buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Toss some soft throws across the arms of your sofa, have fresh flowers in vases throughout the house, and have pretty place settings on your dining room table. You can even give your bathroom a spa-like atmosphere with some simple touches. 7 Simple Tricks to Make Your Bathroom Feel Like a Spa
     
  • Turn on Some Music Soft music in the background creates a pleasant atmosphere in your home.  Instrumental jazz and classical music is soothing.  But don’t put on a radio station where music is interrupted by commercials.  Set up a play-list that will continuously play without ads.
     
  • Be Careful with Scents It’s only natural that you want your house to smell nice at all times, but especially when potential buyers will be visiting.  But be careful not to overdo it.  Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers, so avoid plug-in or spray air fresheners.  Same thing with burning candles.  A great way to give your house an enticing smell is to bake before a showing.  Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-baked sweets?  But if you do that, make sure you have some sweets to share with visitors so they aren’t disappointed when the smell is not followed up with the goodies!
     
  • Serve Winter Drinks Provide some yummy winter drinks for your visitors.  Hot chocolate or warm apple cider will not only warm them up, it will add to the warm, cozy feeling in the home. 9 Hot Drinks for Winter
     
  • Display Photos of Yard in Spring Outdoor areas aren’t at their best in the dead of winter, so display some photographs of your patio and yard during the spring and summer months so buyers will be able to imagine what it will be like to entertain and play outdoors during the warmer months.

If you plan to sell your home this winter, contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals and let him help you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: primetitle.net

3158 Cloverdale Road: 1920’s Farmhouse in Cloverdale

by The Hat Team

3158 Cloverdale Road, Montgomery AL 36106

MLS# 465169 

2 Bedrooms | 1 Bathroom | 1,367 sqft | Cloverdale

This 1920's farmhouse was moved to its current location in 1996. Enjoy great views of Cloverdale Bottom park across the street from your spacious screened in front porch. You will find well proportioned rooms throughout the house. House needs a little TLC (paint, floors, new HVAC) and is priced accordingly. Wonderful deep lot and lots of mature trees in the perfect location in Cloverdale! 

Embrace Minimalism This Holiday Season

by The Hat Team


Ahh…Christmas.  A time for happiness and good cheer.  And shopping. And cooking. And wrapping. And decorating. And baking.  Are you tired yet? I am…just from typing this list of things we all do during the holiday season.  Don’t despair!  It doesn’t have to be this way.  You can experience the magic of the holidays without exhausting yourself to the point that you can’t even enjoy it.  Embrace minimalism this holiday season and you will breathe a sigh of relief as you savor the joy of the season. Here are some tips to help:

  • The Three Gift Rule - If maxing out your credit cards and spending hours wrapping gifts doesn’t sound like fun, you may want to consider the “Three Gift Rule”. With the Three Gift Rule each person gets one thing they need, one thing they want, and one surprise.  Turn the focus from quantity to quality while saving yourself time, energy and a little money. The Three Gift Christmas Rule - How and Why to Do It
     
  • Keep Your Tree Simple - Unless every single ornament you own is super meaningful to you, you don’t have to use them all.  If you are overwhelmed thinking about how much time it takes to decorate your Christmas tree, then consider toning it down this year.  If you have three bins of ornaments, just use one this year.  Next year you can use another one.  When it comes to your Christmas tree, there is beauty in simplicity. If you decorate it so much that you can’t even see any of the actual tree…you are probably doing too much!
     
  • Don’t be “Extra” - You may have heard kids using this term lately.  It refers to someone trying too hard or being over the top.  We can all get caught up in trying to outdo our friends, neighbors, social media acquaintances, and/or family members during the holidays. But do you need all the additional stuff at Christmas?  Stick to the basics…a lovely Christmas tree, a few special gifts and a wreath on the door…and you can still have a magical holiday!
     
  • Give Homemade Edible Gifts - We all have SO. MUCH. STUFF.  When thinking about what gifts to give to neighbors, friends and family, consider making and/or baking edible gifts.  Not only will your time and thoughtfulness be appreciated, but the food will be enjoyed and won’t add to the collection of stuff taking up space in our homes.
     
  • Go Easy on the Stockings - If you fill a stocking so full that you can’t leave it hanging because it’s too heavy, you have put too much in it!  Use Christmas stockings to hold small items like candy, lip balm and socks.
     
  • Secret Santa - If you are part of a large extended family or a large friend group, it can be stressful and expensive trying to find the perfect gift for every person in the group.  Avoid that stress (and expense) by suggesting that you all do a “Secret Santa Gift Exchange”. This way, each of you will only have to buy for one other person. You will not only save money; you will be able to focus on finding a special gift that your chosen person will love! 38 Creative Secret Santa Gifts Under $25 That Beat Your Go-To Gift Card
     
  • Give the Gift of Experiences - When the holidays are over, many people find themselves with a bunch of things they will never use again.  But if you give the gift of a future experience…think tickets to a show or movie, gift card to a restaurant or spa experience…not only will there be less “stuff” to put away, but there will be things to look forward to as the holiday season draws to a close.
     
  • Only Decorate the Room You Spend the Most Time In - You don’t have to decorate your whole house. Skip the Christmas shower curtain in the bathroom and focus on decorating where you and your family spend the most time.  Some people enjoy decorating their entire home, but if you don’t, it’s ok.  Do what brings you joy and skip the rest!

The bottom line is that the holiday season should be a time of peace and happiness.  Do what works for you and your loved ones so that you can truly experience the joy of the season!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: lakesideohio.com

Fun for Kids This Holiday Season

by The Hat Team


Holiday break.  It sounds like fun. It should be fun. You start the break with images of snuggling up to read stories, making hot cocoa and going for adventures outdoors.  But sometimes it can be challenging for parents to figure out how to fill the hours of free time kids have over the holiday break. Before you know it, you are in survival mode – just trying to get through the break with your sanity intact.  That is why it is a prudent idea to start the break with a plan in mind. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few activities planned to fall back on to keep your kids entertained and engaged.  Here are five budget friendly ideas to keep your kids busy during the holiday break.

1. Creative Coloring 

A box of crayons and some paper can keep toddlers occupied, but as children grow, they may need a few more creative ideas for how to use those crayons to stay busy. Here are some creative coloring options:

  • Coloring wrapping paper. Who doesn’t need more wrapping paper for the holidays? This is a twofold activity. You get your wrapping paper at a low price, and you keep your kids busy awhile. Just buy rolls of cheap, plain-colored wrapping paper. (The cheap kind is thin, so darker colors work best.) Roll it out a few feet at a time on a table or a hard floor, and let the kids go to town.
     
  • Upside down coloring. Turn coloring on its head – literally – with this easy activity. Just tape coloring sheets to the bottom of a table, and turn your child into a tiny Michelangelo. This is a great way to keep them busy and build upper arm strength.
     
  • Color the windows. Kids love being able to use crayons on surfaces that are usually off-limits. Crayola makes some crayons specifically for coloring on windows. Grab a pack of these, and let kids decorate the windows for the holidays. Window Crayons
     
  • Try complex coloring sheets. Older kids may think freestyle coloring is boring. Try printing off complicated geometric coloring sheets. Kids can create gorgeous designs, and the challenge keeps them engaged longer. (Note: They may need colored pencils and a good sharpener to be able to tackle these detailed designs.) Complex Geometric Coloring Pages

2. Indoor Games

It can be especially challenging during the holidays when the weather doesn’t cooperate and kids can’t play outside. And you probably don’t have a gym like your kid’s school does where they can release their pent-up energy. Luckily, with some creativity and basic supplies, you can create your own indoor gross motor games to burn off that extra energy.

  • Obstacle courses. Obstacle courses are surprisingly easy to create, and you can customize them for kids of any age – even elementary-aged kids would love a superhero obstacle course. These can be heavy on the prep work, but one course could keep your kids busy the entire day. (Worth it!) This Indoor Obstacle Course is simple. This String Laser Maze is great for older kids, as well.
     
  • Hopscotch. What better way to burn off energy than with hopscotch? Crafty parents can put together this adorable Indoor Hopscotch Mat to use again and again, or you can just make a DIY Indoor Hopscotch Game With Tape.
     
  • Scavenger hunts. You may think scavenger hunts are just for outside play, but you’d be surprised. You can put together some fun indoor scavenger hunts. These are a great way to get kids to play independently or in teams while you get other stuff done. (Or just relax with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes!) This Indoor Bug Safari is great for little kids, or try a Christmas Themed Scavenger Hunt. You can come up with any number of scavenger hunts tailored to your kids’ ages and interests.
     
  • Tossing games. Throwing balls in the house is usually off-limits. But indoor tossing games turn that rule on its head. These Indoor Ball Games are great for practicing hand-eye coordination in a safe way.

3. Arts and Crafts 

Before the holiday break starts, plan some crafts for your kids to do. Then, hit your local craft store sans kids, and pick up the supplies you need. Stick supplies for each craft into a gallon-sized bag, and write the name of the craft and any necessary instructions on it with a marker. This may seem over the top, but when your kids are in the throes of boredom two days into break, you’ll be glad you have an activity to pull out and run with. Here are a couple of craft ideas to try:

  • Holiday gifts. Kids love to make things to give to others, and if you have a lot of people on your list, you can keep them busy all break long making DIY gifts for the holidays. Hand-painted ornaments are always a great option, and these Finger Print & Hand Print ones especially cute. Grab some canvas aprons, and let the kids decorate them with fabric paint as gifts. Older kids can also DIY No Sew Blankets & Pillows without much supervision. 45 Gorgeous Gifts Kids Can Make
     
  • Winter crafts. Kids of all ages will love to make and play with this Snow Clay, which you could use to make ornaments for gifts. This adorable Luminary Jar Ornament would be great for older kids, or try this Snowman Slam Game , which you can make and then play with. And, of course, kids of all ages love to make Paper Snowflakes!

4. Service Projects 

This is the time of year when many of us are trying to find ways to give back. Why not involve your kids in giving back this year? Some ideas include raking leaves for older neighbors or baking cookies for local police officers or firefighters. Another option is to make cozy No Sew Fleece Scarves for a local hospital or nursing home. Older kids can even plan, shop for and make a meal for ill or elderly neighbors, or the couple down the street with a new baby and no time to cook.

5. Sensory Bins

Finally, crawlers to elementary-age kids love sensory bins. (They can be surprisingly fun for parents, too!) Yes, these can get a little messy. The best trick is to set up a sensory bin on an old-fitted sheet. Weigh down the elastic corners with books, and you’ll create a little valley to catch most of the mess. Here are some sensory bin ideas for the holiday season:

  • Dried Corn Sensory Bin  - This one includes popcorn seeds, Indian corn, mini pumpkins, silk fall leaves and cookie cutters in fall shapes. You’ll want to include some cups and scoops in this and all your other sensory bins, too.
     
  • Apple Pie Bin -  This simple sensory bin is just dough (flour and oil), a pie plate and some measuring cups. You could add in cinnamon for apple pie smells, and include red gems to look like apples.
     
  • Apple Cinnamon Scented Sensory Rice Bin - Making colored, scented rice is simple. And it’s a great way to theme your sensory bins. This apple cinnamon scented rice would pair well with play apples, cookie cutters, measuring tools or fall leaves.
     
  • Cotton Ball Snow Bin -  For a less messy sensory bin, fill up a tub with cotton balls. Add in some measuring cups and winter-themed toys, and you have your very own (not-so-messy) snow-scape.
     
  • Decorate a Tree - This is a genius idea that may keep some of the sensory bin materials more contained. Instead of measuring and pouring, this decorate-a-tree activity lets kids carefully place decorations on their own tree.
     
  • Sparkly Snow Bin - This sensory bin features sparkly snow made from Epsom salt, iridescent flakes and tinsel garland. Add in some winter-themed plastic animals, and you’re good to go.

So, if your kids are bickering or complaining that they are bored, save the day with these fun, inexpensive activities and enjoy the holiday break!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: rvshare.com

Kitchen Remodel 101

by The Hat Team


Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time. So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

  1. Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability. The Best White Paint for Your Kitchen
     
  2. Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers of any age; both male and female.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo-friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.
     
  3. Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker Kitchen Cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.
     
  4. Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara marble. Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go. Carrara Marble Kitchens
     
  5. Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage.

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

3343 Allendale Place: Spacious Home on Quiet Street!

by The Hat Team

3343 Allendale Place, Montgomery, AL 36111

MLS# 464817

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 2,634 sq ft | McGehee Estates

Play VisualTour

Nestled on a quiet street in the heart of McGehee Estates you will find a lovely home awaiting it's new owner. Tastefully updated throughout, with an open kitchen that has a huge island, granite counter tops, stainless appliances with a newer Dacor cooktop and Kitchen Aid refrigerator. Plenty of room to spread out with the formal living room, formal dining room, dining area off the kitchen that opens into the family room/den with vaulted ceilings. Great entertaining space that flows out onto the brick patio and even a private screened porch perfect for watching games or relaxing in the evening. Separate yard for a playset or pets, outside storage and nice landscaping. Check it out this Midtown Montgomery home today!

 

Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Lauren Layfield, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

These Pointers Will Help You Sell Your House in Autumn

by The Hat Team


We are in the thick of Autumn, and you may think that you should wait until next spring or summer to sell your house.  While it is true that the warmer months are popular for home sales, that doesn’t mean autumn is a bad time to sell.  Some buyers, such as empty nesters and millennials, prefer shopping for a home when there is less competition from people trying to move before the beginning of the school year.  So, if you would like to sell your house before winter, here are some pointers for making it attractive to buyers during autumn:

  1. Keep the exterior of your home neat and clean.  Curb appeal matters…a lot. It doesn’t matter how pristine the interior is if prospective buyers never walk through the front door.  The first impression is made when they first see the property and if it doesn’t look good on the outside, they may not want to look inside.  There are unique challenges to keeping your yard looking nice when the weather is cooler and the days shorter. If you have a lot of trees dropping leaves, raking will be a full-time job.  You want buyers to see your grass!  Any dead or dying plants and flowers need to be removed or cut back.  Use a fall maintenance checklist to make sure you have your property in the best shape possible.  And if you really want to impress, plant some fall flowers in bold hues to add pops of color to your yard. Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
     
  2. Stage your house for the season, but don’t go overboard.  There are holidays to look forward to during the autumn season.  Potential buyers will enjoy seeing your home decorated accordingly. It will help them picture celebrating the holidays with their own families there. Keep it simple though, because you don’t want to take the focus away from the home itself.  You risk having your house look cluttered if you have too many decorations.  Embrace autumn and the warmth and coziness it exudes.  The smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the crackle of a fire in the fireplace and tasteful autumn décor might be all it takes to seal the deal on a sale! 16 Simple Home Staging Tips for Fall
     
  3. Make sure lighting is sufficient.  There will be prospective buyers who want to see your house after work and with the days being shorter, it might be dark outside when they get there.  You are not going to want them walking into a dark, unlit home.  Turn on the lights inside and out. Exterior walkways and entertainment areas, such as patios and decks, should be well lit.  If you know your house is going to be shown, leave lights on in every room.
     
  4. Price your house appropriately.  It’s important to know what homes are selling for in your area and to price yours accordingly.  Utilize the current marketing analysis to determine the value of your home.  A professional Realtor can help you set the right price for your home taking into account the season and market in which you are selling.  You don’t want to scare buyers away by overpricing your house. How to Price Your Home to Get the Highest Offer

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: homesrulz.com

3436 Wellington Road: Charming Updated Home!

by The Hat Team

3436 Wellington Road, Montgomery AL 36106

MLS# 464815

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,800 sq ft | Idlewild

This warm and inviting Cloverdale Idlewild home has been updated throughout while retaining all of the cozy charm, including high ceilings and hardwood floors, separate living and dining rooms, roomy kitchen with granite counter tops, adjacent sunny breakfast nook and attractive bathroom updates. The covered side porch off kitchen has cable to watch those games or to grill out of the weather and a nice big back yard. Check it out this MIDTOWN MONTGOMERY today!

Using the Psychology of Color to Help You Sell Your Home

by The Hat Team


Selling a home can be stressful, especially if you need to update it to sell.  But there is a way you can give your home a new look that will attract buyers without breaking the bank.  All it takes is a few cans of the right colors of paint!  By using Color Psychology you can quietly influence potential buyers’ emotions.  Think about how different colors make you feel. Using the right color combinations can make all the difference in how a room feels. For some buyers, a blank canvas is attractive.  By painting rooms neutral colors like cream or beige, people can envision the room decorated in a way that suits them.  However, you don’t want the home to look so plain that it becomes forgettable.  So, it is important to choose the right colors to sell your home. 

  • White - White seems plain, but it also represents purity and cleanliness which is certainly appealing to home buyers. Be careful though, because it can also make a room feel cold and bare.  Consider using it in rooms that have a lot going on; like your kitchen or bathrooms.  It will make them feel bigger and brighter.
     
  • Red - This color represents excitement and can give a room a “wow” factor if used properly. It is associated with energy, passion, and warmth.  But keep in mind that a little bit of red goes a long way!  A huge wall of red might be overwhelming.  Think about using it as an accent color to bring warmth to a room.
     
  • Green - Bring nature indoors for a calming effect using shades of green.  Combined with natural light, green creates a comforting, beautiful aesthetic.
     
  • Blue - Think quiet serenity.  Shades of light blue are perfect for a bedroom to create a tranquil oasis that will make house hunters want to stay!
     
  • Yellow - The friendly color.  Cheerful yellow creates a positive vibe that will influence buyers by making them feel happy in the home.  But you don’t want to overdo it.  Save it for rooms where your family gathers like the kitchen or family room.

You will be amazed by how different your house feels when you simply paint a few walls with the right colors.  Your new decorative scheme can help you sell your home faster without a lot of out-of-pocket expense. Estimated Cost to Paint Home Interior

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: simple.com

A How-To Guide to Buying a House Quickly

by The Hat Team


If you are in the market to purchase a home right now, I am sure you would like to be moved in and settled by the time the holidays arrive.  Does that sound too good to be true?  Well, no promises, but there are steps you can take to buy a home fast.

Whether you are buying a house for the first time, or you have navigated the home buying process before, chances are you know that it can be lengthy and complicated.  But there are certain strategies you can use that will speed things up. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Chose the right type of house.  There are certain types of homes you will want to avoid if you’re in a hurry.  Co-ops, for example, can be problematic because it can take six to eight weeks to get a board interview scheduled, finalized and approved.  You should also avoid bank-owned homes or foreclosures, which generally take much longer to close.  The fastest way to go is to focus on condos or new developments. Closings for condos and new developments can take as few as three to four weeks to happen.
     
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This is a strategic move that will give you a head start so that when you do find a house you want to purchase; you will already be approved for a mortgage loan and can make an offer right away.  This will also help you to stay within your budget when looking at homes because you won’t want to waste time looking at properties that cost more than what you are pre-approved for. How to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
     
  • Have your documents in order and ready to go.  Get all the paper work that you will need organized so that it is ready and waiting when you find the right home.  Generally, a home buyer will need the following: federal tax returns for the past two years, supporting information such as W-2, 1099, or other tax forms for the past two years, two months’ worth of bank statements for your checking, savings, 401K, retirement and other accounts, and pay stubs from the past month. Homebuyers: What to Bring to Your Closing
     
  • Find the right Realtor to guide you through the process.  You will want an experienced, professional Realtor like Sandra Nickel who knows the area well and can use their expertise to get you into a home quickly.
     
  • Offer to shorten contingency deadlines.  Don’t risk waiving home inspection or financing contingencies, but consider a shorter time frame to effect a faster closing.
     
  • Be prepared for your move.  Don’t wait until you have closed on your new home to start packing and preparing for your move.  Start early so that as soon as you close, you are ready to go!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: veteransunited.com

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