The Ho-Ho-Holidays are upon us, a season that puts our homes to the test. More than the usual amount of company, meals for multitudes, holiday baking and decorating can all strain the confines of a house. Perhaps this is a good time to think about if your home still works for you. Have you outgrown the space, or find it larger than needed?
But more than anything, this is the time to USE your home. I know, I know…the recent rains have made mud which gets tracked onto floors. The wrapping of presents leaves little bits of paper and ribbon trailing about. Cookies made a mess in the kitchen in the making, and strew crumbs about in the eating. And as usual, Uncle Eustace knocked over his red wine at Thanksgiving (Note to self: Only white wine next year!).
But really, what is a home but the heartbeat of the season? Celebrate the clutter and the bustle. Worry about cleaning in the New Year. Here are some suggestions to make the job easier.
The Internet is such an amazing tool. This year I found a great way to wash windows. You spray the windows down (obviously this is for external use only!) and then you mop the windows with a mixture of dish soap and a sheeting product like Finish. Finally, you hose the windows down again. Voila! Are they perfect? No. But they are really good and cost only pennies to do with little elbow grease. (Email me if you want the soap recipe and I’ll shoot it off to you.)
The question of carpet cleaning often comes up. Do It Yourself or have a professional come in? While it is possible to clean carpet reasonably well with a machine you rent from the grocery store, a good professional probably can do a better job. If you anticipate doing it on your own carpets on a regular basis, you might be better off purchasing a deep-cleaning machine. I really think the main question is, “Do you want to move the furniture by yourself?”
There are other great cleaning tips on the Internet as well. You can use a search engine, or utilize the ones I have found to be helpful. For a great overview of tips for making cleaning more effective and efficient, try http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/10-pro-tips-to-get-cleaning-done-fast/index.html
For a compilation of tricks of the trade from professional cleaners to handle the nastiest problems, go to http://www.familyhandyman.com/cleaning/top-10-household-cleaning-tips-the-tough-problems/view-all and see what the pros do. Some of them may surprise you.
You have to take all the information on the Internet with a grain of salt. I came across an article which said mixing milk with vinegar makes a bath in which you can dip silver and remove all the tarnish. “Great!” I thought. I bought several gallons of milk, stirred in the required amount of vinegar and dipped my silver pitcher. Nothing. I left it to soak overnight. The milk curdled and it stunk to high heaven, but the tarnish remained. What a mess! I later came across an article which claimed you could use banana peels, but I think I’ll stick to Wright’s silver polish, thank you very much.
Another way the Internet can help you get your house clean is if you use a search engine to look for professional cleaning ervices! But if you want a recommendation (and for something like this, who doesn’t want one?) you should call your local Realtor. He or she will have a network of tradespeople they deal with on a regular basis who provide great value and quality service.
And speaking of Realtors, let’s look at the marketplace they are working in this week. As of Dec. 1, 2014 there were 121 homes on the market still ranging from $159,000 to $5.75 million. In the month of November, 33 homes closed escrow. Of these, over half were in the $400,000 range. That is the most popular market segment right now.
If you do the math, you will see that if 33 homes were sold each month, the current inventory of 121 homes would be depleted in about four months. A “normal” market usually has six months inventory available, so the market is very slightly favoring sellers. However, there are definitely some beautiful homes on the market right now for buyers. The good thing about listing your home over the holidays is the people who look at it are serious buyers, or they wouldn’t be out looking when they could be walking in a winter wonderland.
So in closing, let me urge you again to use your home. I had an aunt who covered all her furniture (white upholstery, of course) with plastic covers. She never took them off, even when company was coming. She died last year, and I asked myself, “What was she saving it for?” So get out the crystal, burn the good candles, take a bath with those special bath salts. Eat every dinner on the good dishes. So what if one breaks? Enjoy life while you can.
Because it really is a good life.
Nants Foley is a Broker Associate at Flora Real Estate Group in Hollister. You may contact her at [email protected] or 831-801-5110.