The Ultimate Guide to Spring Organizing
You’ve purged out the clutter, so now what? In this blog, I’m going to take you through the process of transforming your piles into an organized system that will serve YOU! So put on your favorite music, throw your hair in a bun (or not), and get ready for my favorite form of self-care: organizing! Start Small As we discussed in the purging blog, motivation comes from small wins, so start small with a linen closet or even just one drawer so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take everything out of the space Yes, everything! Spread the items out on a counter or on the floor so you can see everything at once. Separate out items into categories While everything is out of the space, separate the items into categories. If the grouping is too large, create smaller categories within the larger category. Now that you can easily see everything you have – purge! If you haven’t done so already, now is the best time to purge any clutter from the space you’re working on. See the previous blog on purging for the complete process and tips. Clean the shelves and drawers in the space This is your chance while everything is out! If it’s dusty or there are a lot of crumbs and dirt, vacuum first and then wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner. Measure your shelves and drawers for bins and dividers Measure twice, buy once. This ensures that you aren’t making additional trips to the store unnecessarily! Measure the depth, width, and height of the shelves and drawers and be sure to take into consideration any hinges that may encroach on the cabinet space you have. Purchase bins and dividers if necessary You can use bins you already have, or start fresh if you want to have a uniform aesthetic. Many stores have organization products now, but The Container Store has the widest variety of options to fit any aesthetic, budget, and size. There are storage solutions for virtually anything now! To select the best product, consider the space that you have, where the items will be stored, what items will be stored, and how you want to access them. To reduce visual clutter, choose an opaque binIf you prefer to see what’s in the bins from a glance, choose a transparent binIf you want to easily access every bin, consider adding shelves so you’re not stacking bins, or choose stacking drawersWill it be stored in the garage or basement that could flood but it’s important paperwork or mementos? I recommend a weathertight tote with a seal to keep moisture out of the bins and away from your valuables! Place each category into its own bin, divider, drawer, or area Keep like items togetherBy utilizing bins and dividers to store your items, you keep each category from growing out of their ‘zone’ and becoming a massive pile again. It gives you a visual boundary of how much of that category you have the space for. If you have extra space and want to have room to grow for a certain category, go ahead and include extra empty bins in the space so the organizational system is prepared to accept the new items. Keep frequently used items easily accessible If possible, keep these items close to the area you use them in (i.e. spices and oils close to the stove).Store less frequently used items in harder-to-reach places. Label, label, label! This makes it easy for everyone using the space to know where items belong. Pro Tips: Vertical space is commonly overlooked for storage solutions, and vertical space is vital in small spaces: The back of doorsWall space behind a doorUnder the bedAdditional shelvesCabinet shelves and shoe shelves are great non-permanent solutions to add shelving to smaller spaces File fold clothes in drawers this allows you to see everything you have at once and avoids the mess that comes from grabbing whatever is on the bottom of the stack. Store food storage lids in a bin and nest the containers by shape and size If you love a clean aesthetic - decant anything and everything possible! The more you decant, the cleaner your space will look because you won’t have 100 different colors of (sometimes empty) cardboard boxes everywhere. Food Snack bars out of the box and into a binFlour, sugar, brown sugar, etc.Tea and Coffee Bath items Hair TiesBobby PinsCotton SwabsQ-tipFlossers Keep the minimal amount of items on countertops. Too many items on countertops, desktops, etc. instantly make it look more cluttered. If it doesn’t need to be out or isn’t used every day – put it away! Have a dedicated spot in your garage, mudroom, or a closet for a donation bin and a bin for borrowed items. This will keep these items in one location easy to find and keep them from taking over your house. Utilize the open space between the open studs in your garage Utilize the open space between the open studs in your garage to store items like skis, snowboards, camping chairs, fishing poles, etc. You can do this by screwing in cup hooks into the studs and hooking a bungee cord to the cup hooks, or screw in a 2x4 across the studs to contain the items. Create a system that will work for YOU! Every organizing system should be tailored to those using the space. There are organizing systems that work perfectly for some and how they think and work, but don’t work for you. Find what works best for you! # 1 Pro Tip to Staying Organized: Put items away as soon as you’re done using them! The quickest way to ruin a beautifully organized space is to simply not put things back where they belong. Conclusion: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ really is the organizer’s mantra to live by. When items have a home, they’re happy and so are you because you always know where to find them! Bonus: you now have the time you would’ve spent looking for something to spend on what you REALLY want to be doing! Happy organizing!
Elizabeth Calender | Apr 28, 2021
The Ultimate Guide for De-Cluttering Your Home
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably become aware of the clutter in your home now more than ever. We have been spending much more time at home, and in turn have become (sometimes painfully) aware of the fact that our homes are not a peaceful place to be due to the clutter we have accumulated. By working through this guide, you will learn how to let go of items that no longer serve a purpose and be left with only those that you find to be useful or beautiful in the life you have now. When to purge Before and after a move as you’re packing and unpacking You’re already pulling everything out, so this is the perfect time to purge! Don’t spend precious time or money moving items you no longer want or need. At the change of seasons Purging at this time is easier because what you used/wore is fresh in your mind. Purge the upcoming season at this time too if you know what doesn’t fit or work anymore. Throughout the year Purging becomes a more manageable task instead of a huge project every year or several years. How long will it take? This depends on how much you have to sort through. To start off, give yourself four Saturdays or Sundays. A realistic goal is one category per day. Have these ready: Bag for trashBox for recyclingBox for donationsBox for items that belong in another room/category - Placing items in this box will help you stay focused on the task at hand, and you can address the box at the end of your purging session. Start small Choose one category to evaluate (i.e. kitchen utensils or toiletries). If you tackle too much too soon, you’ll become overwhelmed and quit halfway. Starting small brings small wins and motivation to keep going! Pull everything out This allows you to see everything you have all at once. This step can be overwhelming if the category is too large, so remember to start small! If needed, break it down into a smaller sub-category (i.e. winter coats as opposed to all clothes). If you have items in the category stored in other areas of the home, collect them all together so you can see everything you have in that category. Group items by type or function If you’re doing toiletries – all soaps together, all lotions together, etc. Evaluate each item by asking yourself these questions: Do I use this item now? If not, when is the last time I used it? If it’s been over a year and you won’t use it in the next year, toss or /donate it! Resist the temptation to tell yourself the reasons you ‘might’ find a use for it If you don’t have a concrete plan for the item in the next year, it’s time to let it go Would I buy this again today? You don’t waste money when you purge an item, the money is wasted when you buy things you don’t need - think twice before you buy something! Instead consider the value you’re adding to your life by not having the clutter. Am I not actively using it because it’s a memento that I want to keep? Store the item with mementos Is it expired? Expired medication, food, makeup, car seats, etc. should be thrown away or recycled If it’s something you’re having a hard time letting go of but you don’t use it, ask yourself why you don’t use it or wear it: Does it have bad memories attached? Was it given to me and I’m just keeping it out of guilt? Is it broken or torn? How likely am I to fix it in the next month? Is it for a project I’m planning to do in the future? Do I have a solid plan to do that project soon? Specifically for clothes: Do I feel confident when I wear this? Do I not wear it because it’s scratchy or uncomfortable? Do I not wear it because it has a tear or stain? How likely am I to fix it in the next month? Does it fit? If it did and I could wear it today, would I? Is it still my style? If you’re still finding it difficult to purge certain things that you know you don’t need or want anymore, it’s possible that it’s due to being attached to the clutter emotionally. Don’t be afraid to seek help from the pros! How will I know when I’m done purging my home? The work is never ‘really’ done - it’s like cleaning - but the more frequently you evaluate the items you have in your home and regularly purge, the easier and more manageable it is. With each category you de-clutter, you will feel a sense of peace that comes from knowing that every item serves a purpose, either functional or beautiful. It can be helpful to keep a donation bin handy in the garage or somewhere in your home where you can regularly place items that you’re ready to purge. Tip for keeping clutter out of your home: Before you purchase an item, consider how often you’ll actually use it. If you’ll only use it once or twice a year, think about renting or borrowing instead – especially if you are tight on storage space in your home! Tips for Donating, Recycling, and Trash in Colorado: You’ve purged a category and are feeling amazing about the empowering choices you have made for yourself – congratulations! Now what do you do with the donations, recycling, or any hazardous trash? Common items that cannot be donated: Opened/used food, toiletries, makeup Makeup and toiletries can expire and cause infections. Car seats - Car seats cannot be donated for safety reasons, but many counties offer recycling options Local alternatives to chain donation centers: Denver Rescue Mission - denverrescuemission.org A Precious Child - apreciouschild.org Habitat for Humanity ReStore - habitat.org/restores Dress For Success - denver.dressforsuccess.org Springs Rescue Mission - springsrescuemission.org See websites for full list of accepted items Recycling: Denver County Residents: denvergov.org provides info for the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-Off Boulder County Residents: bouldercounty.org has a map of recycling drop-off centers Visit your county’s website for recycling drop-off locations and accepted items Hazardous Material Disposal: Denver County: Offers pick-up through wmatyourdoor.com for a small fee Boulder County: Hazardous Materials Management Facility offers appointments for drop-off for a small fee Visit your county’s website for disposal locations, cost, and accepted items Bulk Trash: Most counties offer bulk/extra trash pickup every 4-8 weeks Visit your county’s website for bulk trash schedule and accepted items Purging clutter doesn’t mean getting rid of the things you love! It allows you to live the life you want by honoring where you are now, not where you were in the past. Bonus: less clutter means easier cleaning and lower stress levels!
Elizabeth Calender | Mar 26, 2021
Cash Offers Are Quickly Becoming the New Normal
Why All-Cash Offers Have Become a Crucial Part of a Winning Strategy If you didn’t catch our last blog post on the two reasons that mortgage offers with pre-approval letters aren’t winning, you can get caught up here. To quickly summarize, two main reasons that mortgage offers with pre-approval letters are struggling more than ever to compete in today’s market: a hypercompetitive seller’s market and the obstacles that arise from relying solely on the traditional mortgage process. In today’s blog, we look at the two reasons all-cash offers continue to be the most competitive way to win on a home. Cash is King If there’s one term that has always been music to sellers’ and real estate agents’ ears, it’s “all-cash”. While all-cash deals have always been the unicorn of real estate offers, they are starting to feel like the new standard as they now make up about 36% of the housing market according to a recent report from CNBC. How did we get here? In 2020, real estate took a dramatic turn in the way homes are bought and sold. The housing market was already struggling with a noticeable lack of supply. Then came the pandemic, which fueled a desire for homeownership like we haven't seen in a long time...or arguably, ever. This unprecedented demand resulted in fierce bidding wars. Multiple offers being presented on the first day of a home being listed became the new normal. These bidding wars combined with wealthy out-of-state buyers relocating from other markets set the stakes even higher for competition, triggering a flood of all-cash offers across the country. Now, as we enter 2021, sellers are positioned to be pickier than ever as they review offers. What is the cream that’s rising to the proverbial top of every seller’s consideration list? The title of this blog probably gave it away, but it’s all-cash offers. Everyone knows that cash is king in real estate, but why? Well, it all comes down to two things: speed and certainty. Sellers Want Certainty Most buyers secure financing by borrowing from a bank which brings with it several handicaps. These handicaps are known as contingencies. Sellers naturally want to deal with buyers who face the least number of contingencies. Buyers who submit traditional mortgage offers may attach a pre-approval letter to the offer as evidence they can close the deal. All-cash offers, however, attach documentation of proof of funds with today’s date. Proof of funds are exactly what they sound like. They are tangible proof that a buyer has the cash to back up an offer. Proof of funds is money in the bank, versus a pre-approval letter, which vaguely indicates “There might or might not be money in an escrow account a month from now”. While It may seem obvious, sellers will always prefer the certainty of cash at the closing table. If certainty is a desired factor in the seller’s decision-making during normal market conditions, how much more prevalent is it in a tight seller’s market? An all-cash offer is synonymous with proof of a buyer’s funds in black and white. There is no waiting and guessing with a cash offer to see if the buyer is going to qualify for a loan with the bank. Instead, cash offers give immediate certainty and peace of mind. Although nothing is completely guaranteed in real estate, an all-cash offer is the closest bridge to a done deal. Sellers Want Speed In a real estate offer, time is of the essence. Cash speeds up the closing timeline. A mortgage offer with a financing contingency can delay a transaction or even cause it to fall apart. In fact, according to Realtor.com, the average closing time for an offer with a mortgage is 50 days...and that’s the average! Cash, on the other hand, can close in as little as 72 hours. Cash gets to the closing table faster, because there is no need to wait on contingencies that need to be cleared. Mortgage contingencies must be cleared one by one to satisfy the lender’s requirements. These requirements range from appraisals to various aspects of underwriting (employment/income verification, debt-to-income ratio and more). Every one of these contingencies is, at best, an inflection point that has the potential to slow down or destroy the path ahead, adding even more potential for a deal to go sideways or collapse altogether. But an all-cash offer removes every one of those roadblocks making the road ahead clear to close. This means the seller gets to move on with life, take the money and run. When the “cash” box is checked on an offer, the conversation between the seller and the listing agent immediately changes from “are they able?” to “how soon can they close?”. P.S.. …...Buyers get a better deal when they can put their money where their mouth is Cash offers move buyers to the front of the line, while providing them more leverage in their negotiations. This upper hand can be used to negotiate a discount off the asking price or ask for other terms and conditions that are favorable or important to them. Perhaps they need certain repairs done prior to closing or would like a little extra time to close. With cash, buyers become much more empowered to creatively strategize with their agents for terms and conditions that meet their needs. Cash is a Win-Win-Win Cash is a Win-Win for sellers and buyers, but it is also a win for real estate agents. Realtors appreciate a cash deal for the same reasons sellers do: the speed and certainty. For a real estate agent, cash ensures a much faster and reliable payout of their commission. Well, if a cash offer is clearly the smoothest and most certain transaction, then why aren’t all real estate offers all-cash? Clearly, not all homebuyers have access to that kind of money or liquidity. This is why Accept.inc was founded: to give everyday people the same speed and certainty that a cash offer brings, but with the ability to pay it off over time like a mortgage. Accept.inc believes anyone who can qualify for a mortgage deserves a fighting chance at homeownership and should be able to submit a cash offer. We offer homebuyers who qualify for a mortgage the ability to make all-cash offers on a home at no extra cost. This gives sellers the speed and certainty they seek, while giving buyers the strongest chance of winning. If you want to start making the strongest offers in real estate, Get Cash Approved™ today!
Jennifer Shapiro | Feb 15, 2021
Why Pre-Approval Letters are Just Paper Promises
Why Offers with a Pre-Approval Letter are Less Competitive than Ever There are two main reasons that mortgage offers with pre-approval letters are struggling more than ever to compete in today’s market: the conditions of the current seller’s market, and issues with the traditional mortgage process. Let’s Start with the Market Conditions Never have sellers had the ability to be as picky as they are in 2021. In 2020, real estate took a dramatic turn in terms of how homes are bought and sold. The housing market was already struggling with a noticeable lack of supply. Then came the pandemic, which fueled a desire for homeownership that we haven't seen in a long time...arguably, ever. Much of the workforce began working remotely, and the word “home” took on new meaning for homebuyers as a 24/7 destination and haven. Buyers from all over the country migrated in droves to neighborhoods in the suburbs, even if it meant having to relocate out-of-state. This trend is showing no sign of slowing in 2021. Locations that weren’t previously considered a possibility for many Americans have now become a pressing reality for health, financial, and other reasons. This increase in housing demand skyrocketed as supply continued to dwindle, and mortgage rates fell to historical lows. This trifecta of factors has created a record seller’s market with no end in sight. A balanced market is usually marked by four months of inventory. This means that at the current level of demand, if new homes stopped being listed, the supply would last approximately four months. Right now, many markets nationwide barely have three weeks of inventory, which means they are dangerously close to running out listings. Given these market conditions, standard homebuyers, who typically rely on a pre-approval letter and a mortgage offer to secure a home, are increasingly being left on the sidelines waiting the game out. Now, About the Traditional Mortgage Process... When the mortgage box is checked on a real estate offer, the seller and listing agent immediately think: ok…the buyer is saying a bank will probably loan them the money…. so what? show me the money! This is because the traditional mortgage process relies on a pre-approval letter, which is simply a paper promise based off a relatively quick interview. This interview involves asking the buyer about income, debts, etc., and combined with a credit check, gives the loan officer what he or she needs to calculate debt-to income ratio. If everything lines up, then…. Voila! The borrower now has a pre-approval letter based entirely on his or her word. Notice that in this pre-approval process, nothing was done to actually verify income with hard documents. This doesn’t happen until 30 or more days after the home goes under contract, during underwriting, often the same week as the home is set to close. By this time, the home has been under contract for weeks or months, and the seller has most likely stopped marketing and showing the property. All it takes is an underwriter spotting a single red flag a few days before the closing to cause the whole deal to fall apart. According to the National Association of Realtors, mortgage contingencies have a 21% fallout rate (the rate at which deals fall through after going under contract). In a competitive seller’s market, this risk for the seller is why an offer with a mortgage contingency may never make it to the pile of offers being considered. If the buyer’s loan does not come together in time, it is back to square one for the seller and listing agent. They will have to re-list their home, causing other agents and buyers to wonder what happened. Prospective buyers may assume there was a problem with the home, never knowing the real issue was the previous buyer’s financing. Often, sellers have to reduce the list price as a result. For buyers, it can be heartbreaking to invest so much time in a home search, and pay for all the due diligence only to find out: they were never really qualified to get financing in the first place. In Summary... With all the contingencies associated with a mortgage offer (and we didn’t even get to appraisals), it is easy to see why it is the most unattractive checked box on a real estate offer. That’s why companies like Accept.inc are seeing such success and rapid growth by turning mortgage offers into all-cash offers. Thus, levelling the playing field to give buyers that qualify for a mortgage an equal chance at winning with a cash offer.
Jennifer Shapiro | Feb 1, 2021