SMART KITCHEN PRODUCTS

As technology continues to evolve year over year, new products hit the market that help make our lives easier. Check out these few amazing innovations that can assist you in the kitchen!

This handy appliance is an electric pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, warmer, and more. It’s compatible with Alexa and connects to WiFi, allowing you to access more than 1,000 recipes, control cook settings, and check on your meal’s progress with their free app or voice assistant.

By pairing this smart coffee maker with an Echo Dot, your morning routine becomes a little easier. Ask your Alexa app or the smart speaker to start brewing up to 12 cups of coffee, switch between regular or bold brew, or turn the coffee maker off.

Not a coffee fan? Not to worry, we have you covered. “The customizable water Temp feature allows you to select any temperature between 68 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideal for connoisseurs who drink an assortment of hot drinks, this feature ensures that the water is the ideal temperature for your favorite.”

Combining the power of this air fryer with the Echo Dot, use the voice assistant or the VeSync app to cook your favorite meals or choose from 100 pre-programed recipes.


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Upsizing Your Home: Read this first


Before taking the plunge to go bigger, take a moment to ask yourself these important questions.

  • First of all, why are you considering an upsize?
    • What is it that your current home isn’t fulfilling for you? Know what this is, so that you can weigh the option of updating your current property or if it’s time to move on. Also look into the bigger picture, like the kind of community you want to live in, the school district, commute to work, and your lifestyle.
  • Think realistically: What are you future goals?
    • How long do you plan to stay in the home? How might your needs change?
      • Will your family size change? Do you dream of having a certain animals? etc.
      • Buy a home that fits with your lifestyle and goals. As your local Lake Norman Realtor®, I can help you find a home that’s as unique as you are. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me to talk about your goals, plans, and expectations.
  • What can you afford, what do you WANT to afford?
    • There is a difference in what you CAN afford (are qualified for) and what you WANT to afford (the lifestyle you want to live).
      • Take a moment to reflect on your current lifestyle and budget. Buying a bigger home, could mean more financial responsibility. (maintenance costs, mortgage, insurance, etc.)
      • Do you have hobbies, vacations, charities, or other things you enjoy doing that you may have to push aside if your home costs increase? If so, is it worth it? After all, life is about making memories and having life experiences. (in my opinion)
    • Know that you can afford to move up and still maintain your lifestyle. 🙂
  • How will you use the extra space?
    • Don’t let your money go to waste. Yes, that home may have more square footage than your current home. But does that mean it’s usable space for your needs?
      • Do you really need more bedrooms? What will you do with them? Do you have a vision for the “bonus room,” or will it end up as empty space? When you think of a bigger home/yard, envision what that means for you and how you’ll use the space.
  • Should you buy first, or sell first?
    • I recommend you sell your home before purchasing a new one. However, in some situations it may make sense for you to buy before you sell. If this is the case, do your best to:
      • Know what your home will likely sell for, think realistically and count on the low end of the range to be safe.
      • Get a 90 day closing on your home purchase to allow you more time to sell and avoid the stress of being in a time crunch.
      • List your home as soon as the due diligence is over for your new home purchase.
  • Know your options, should you choose to sell your home before you buy a new one:
    • I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s a HOT seller’s market right now. This means that sellers have the upper hand. Here are some options to keep in mind allowing you time to find a new home:
      • Request a seller lease-back from the buyer. It’s important you discuss this with the buyer(s) before accepting an offer. You and the buyers can negotiate the terms of the lease back (amount of time, compensation, utilities, etc.) This allows you as the seller more time to procure a new home.
      • You may also ask for a longer closing period to give you more time to get into a new home. I would suggest waiting until due diligence is over to make an offer on another home. The reason for this is:
        • 1. It allows you to give a stronger offer (showing you have a serious offer on your home, past the due diligence period and highly likely to close).
        • 2. Gives you more peace of mind that the buyer has done their due diligence and are moving forward with the purchase. Of course, in certain circumstances the buyer can still back out of the contract after due diligence, but this doesn’t usually happen. If it does, the buyer would likely be forfeiting their earnest money deposit.

In conclusion

Know your why, your motivation for a bigger home. Is it necessary to move to fulfill your desire? Know what lifestyle you want to live, can you afford (preapproved from your lender) the upsize and maintain this lifestyle? Envision yourself in this bigger home, do you have a vision for the extra space? Or do you simply just “feel” like more space would be better? Knowing your why, will help you envision how you want your home to be. If you’ve decided that it’s time to upsize, make a game plan. Are you going to sell first, or buy first?

Reach out to me to discuss your goals, strategies, and options to get you where you want to be. 🙂 You can schedule time on my calendar here. Or feel free to call, text, or email me at anytime.

(704)951-4017 or Maranda.Christensen@exprealty.com

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WHAT TO PACK IN A NATURAL DISASTER

In the event of a natural disaster, you have to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice, leaving you very little time to decide what to take. To help you prepare for an evacuation situation from a wildfire, tornado, hurricane, and more, here are 5 things to consider packing.

Special Mementos. Is there a locket handed down from generation to generation that you keep in your jewelry box? Or a sweet note from a loved one tucked away in the closet? Although you can’t take every special keepsake with you, make sure you grab the ones closest to your heart.

Important Documents. Bring identification documents for each member of your family, such as passports, birth certificates, social security cards, etc. You should also pack a copy of health insurance for each person.

Cash. Although it is rare for most people to carry cash on them these days, in the event of a natural disaster it is necessary. In most cases, there is likely to be a power outage in the area, rendering ATM machines and most registers unusable.

First Aid Kit and Medications. Create a first aid kit consisting of band aids, pain killers, gauze, cleansing towelettes, and gloves. Also, don’t forget to grab any medication your family members are required to take and the prescription script if available in case you need refills.

* Food and Water.*Pack non-perishable food items like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit. Make sure to stock enough water for everyone in your family to at least have 1 gallon a day.

CREATE A MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK


Many homeowners would love to invest in making their property more energy-efficient. Going green can save you a lot of money over time and is great for the environment, but the up-front costs can be significant. Fortunately, there are some energy-efficient changes you can make to your home without draining too much of your bank account.


Seal air leaks: As much as 20 percent of the energy used to regulate temperature in a home can be lost to air leaks. You can seal doors and windows with weather stripping and the project will usually cost less than $200. If you’re in search of a professional quote, let me know. I’ve got a book of professionals on standby and ready to help! Contact me here or simply call/text 704-951-4017.

Smart thermostats: Older thermostats are usually inefficient because they only have a few settings. A smart thermostat like Nest can be programmed to reduce heating/cooling when you’re not at home or during the hours when you’re asleep. The energy savings you will see usually equal the cost of the thermostat after a year or two.

Change your light bulbs: LED light bulbs are expensive, but require just a small percentage of the energy incandescent bulbs require. A cheap incandescent bulb uses about $15 of electricity a year (if it lasts that long). An LED bulb costs $25, but uses less than $5 worth of electricity per year and will last up to 11 years.


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TIPS FOR HIRING A MOVING COMPANY


The process of moving can seem daunting, but with a little help from a reliable moving company, a lot of stress can be relieved. Here are some tips to make sure your belongings are in safe hands.


Get references from friends and family. You should always do you research thoroughly, reading review sites and local articles and blogs, however, nothing is stronger than a good recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor.

Require them to take inventory and do a walkthrough. A strong, reputable moving company will take steps to evaluate the job ahead of time, including taking inventory of your belonging that need to be moved and doing a walkthrough to note stairways, doorways, etc.

Understand the contract you’re signing. A contract with your moving company should include the following: description and scope of services, pricing (fixed rate vs. hourly rate), date(s) of pickup, date(s) of delivery, liability and claims protection, and any additional charges.

Double check the company’s insurance and amount of protection. There are several levels of liability moving companies offer, but the most common are full value protection on items, requiring them to either repair, replace, or provide cash value for items that are lost or damaged in the move, and alternative liability coverage that requires them to be liable for up to 60 cents per pound of the item in question.

Unpack in a timely matter and report problems. Depending on your contract, you have a limited time to report any issues to the company and file a claim, so make sure to unpack and evaluate your belongings before that deadline passes.

Reach out to me for recommendations on movers or other home professionals. View my calendar below to schedule at a time that works for you. Or simply give me a call/text at 704-951-4017.

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NEED-TO-KNOWS FOR SMART-HOME TECHNOLOGY


Homeowners have the ability to automate anything from locks to lights to air conditioning and more. With new technology popping up every day, it’s hard to stay up to date on the smart-home trend.

If you are considering installing smart-home technology in your home or looking to buy a home that is equipped with some of those devices, you want to ensure you do your research so you can make educated decisions. Here are three important factors to consider!

  1. Security. Because a large percentage of smart-home devices rely on Wi-Fi, they are vulnerable to being hacked. Although this may not be much of a concern for devices controlling your lighting or sprinkler system, it may be for automated locks or garage openers.
  2. Cost vs. Value Add. The initial setup costs for some smart-home technology can be daunting for homeowners, so it’s important to thoroughly map out the upfront cost versus your savings and its value to you over time. Many of these can help you be more energy efficient, reduce monthly bills, and save you time and stress. Plus, if and when you are ready to sell, smart-home technology can help improve your home’s resale value.
  3. Compatibility. With so many companies throwing their hats into the smart-home ring, it is can be difficult to select the right devices for your home. If you are considering automating various features in your home, you may want to take a look at the big picture and try to choose devices that are compatible with one another or that can be controlled by a singular hub.

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TAKE 5: BACKYARD DIY PROJECTS


Summertime is here and it’s bringing the heat! It’s always an option to blast the air conditioner all summer long, but there are ways to keep your home cool that are better for the environment and won’t double your energy bill.


  • Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans may be an overlooked method to keep your home cool, but that’s because they are often used incorrectly. During the summer months a ceiling fan should be rotating counterclockwise to send cool air down otherwise you will be recirculating the heat in your home.
  • Blinds: If your home has windows that face the west or north, make sure to keep them covered with blinds to prevent the sun from heating up your home.
  • Mind the Gaps: Cover or repair all gaps and cracks near doors and windows to ensure your cool air stays in during the day. This paired with your home’s insulation will also prevent heat from seeping in on hot days.
  • Evening Chill: When the sun goes down and the temperature is cooler, open up your windows and doors to bring that cool air in. Just make sure to get them closed before the sun returns.
  • Box Fans: If your home has multiple windows on opposite sides of the room, you can create a cooling effect with two box fans on each side. One should be facing inward and the other outward. This will keep a constant airflow bringing in fresh air and removing the hot air.

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TOP TIPS FOR DECORATING WITH AREA RUGS


Looking for a fun way to bring an additional pop of color or design to a room with minimal time or money investment? Consider trying out an amazing area rug! Check out these tips for revamping your space with this fun décor piece.


Consider your lifestyle. Do you have two dogs and a cat? A couple of young kiddos running around? You’ll want to take these factors into consideration. Choose a dark color tone to help hid inevitable stains and make sure the material you choose is easy to clean.

Choose the right size. Expert interior designers recommend choosing a rug that is just slightly smaller than the area covered by furniture, leaving enough space between it and the walls for the flooring to still shine through.

Try these trends. Big bold patterns and rich colors are trending in the interior design space right now and rugs are no different. Try using one as the focal point of the room and select neutral-colored furniture to complement it. Build around the rug. Find a rug that makes a big statement and then builds the room around it. Select furniture placement, accent pieces, and colors based on what ties into it. Define the area.

Looking for a way to create two different areas within a single room? Rugs can help you achieve this by defining where one area begins and other starts, such as a reading nook and dining area. Layer multiple. This daring new trend has just popped up on the interior design circuit. Choose two rugs of different shapes and textures and layer them to create depth and a unique focal point.


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PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM PET DAMAGE


Pets bring so much joy to our lives, but over time they can also cause a lot of damage around the home. Even the most well-behaved pets can create some mischief every now and then, but there are many ways to diminish the damage that your furry friends can cause.


  • One of the biggest homeowner pet peeves is their cats or dogs scratching floors, doors, or furniture. Besides training your pets early in their life, one of the most efficient ways to decrease scratching around the home is to regularly trim your pet’s nails. This may be a difficult task depending on the animal, but you can always enlist the help of a groomer. You should trim your pet’s nails at least once a month. You can also protect your furniture with scratch guards.
  • If your pet has an accident in your home, the only way to really clean it up and rid yourself of the smell is by using an enzymatic cleaner. Enzyme cleaners usually come in a spray bottle and contain bacteria in the solution that feeds off the organic material of pet waste. You can usually find these cleaners at the hardware or pet store.
  • It’s important to make sure your pet stays active because they can build up a lot of anxious energy if they get bored. Dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to exercise with your pet so it can stay healthy and prevent frustration and possible mayhem around the house.

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE BUYING A ROBOT VACUUM CLEANER


Technology is most helpful when it makes daily tasks easier and more efficient, and that’s most certainly the case with robot vacuum cleaners. It’s especially true if you’re in a climate that lends itself to lots of dust on your hard-surfaced floors or in your carpet.

Robot vacuum cleaners typically retail from $100 to about $700, and if you’re interested in having your home swept and vacuumed daily with little effort on your part, it’s a great investment. Here’s what to look for if you’re shopping for a robot vacuum cleaner.


Battery life
The best robot vacuums can run for two hours or longer. That’s particularly important if you have a big place—you don’t want to have to keep recharging your vacuum between cleanings. It’s especially convenient if you have a vacuum that can automatically dock and recharge between uses.

Cleaning patterns
Simpler, more inexpensive vacuums may only clean in a random or back-and-forth pattern, while more advanced vacuums can virtually map a room for more precise cleaning. It’s also better if the vacuum is capable of making multiple passes in its pattern, as it’ll lead to a more thorough cleaning job.

Size and design
Most robot vacuum cleaners are no more than four inches tall, so they can move under furniture. Still, pay attention to the height of your vacuum and the clearance of your furniture, so that you don’t end up with a vacuum that can’t get to important spots. Also, consider your floor type—some vacuums are better-suited for hardwood floors and tile, while others are better for carpeted floors.