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Your Home’s Open House: Staging Preparations Sellers Overlook

Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

An open house is your chance to show real estate agents and potential buyers your property’s best side. Staging your space is a huge part of that. A properly staged area should be clean, decluttered, and depersonalized. The depersonalization part tends to be one aspect homeowners have the most trouble with, but everyone has their own personal blind spots.

That’s why the help of a professional stager can come in handy. Stagers know what people want to see when they walk through the door of an open house, and they know how to execute that vision. Hiring a home stager can help sell your abode quicker and for more money—all for the small fee they charge.

Cleaning for an Open House

When a residence is clean, it doesn’t just look its best; it also smells its best. Scent plays a huge part in our emotions because we connect fragrances to memories. When your home smells good, open house visitors will make positive emotional associations with the property.

Hiring a housecleaner before your open house is a great idea. Professional cleaners have seen it all and know how to clean better than anyone, including yourself. Having someone else do a nice base clean makes it easier for you to see all those little details that need some extra love. Pay particular attention to the kitchen—the crown jewel of any dwelling. Clean refrigerator shelves, on top of cabinets, and appliance surfaces. Make sure there are no food stains or smudges on cabinets and drawers. Even go so far to take the trash can out to clean and deodorize. It’s the details that can make a huge difference!

Decluttering for an Open House

Believe it or not, there is also a psychological motivation behind decluttering for your open house. Clutter instigates feelings of stress and anxiety. When a person walks into a showing, the only feelings you want them to experience are joy and interest.

Decluttering should happen both inside and out. Improve your curb appeal (more on that later) by picking up any toys, decorations, and yard tools, and putting them where they belong. If you have a coat rack or hooks at the front door, put away any clothes or accessories hanging there. You also want to remove visual clutter—go ahead and pack up your hanging hooks, photographs, and other artwork on the walls. Recycle the old mail and paper that clutter up countertops. Go through your kitchen and get rid of cookware, dishes, and storage containers you won’t be needing. It’s even important to declutter storage areas like closets. These are selling points that you want to highlight, so you can’t just shove everything out of sight and out of mind.

Depersonalizing for an Open House

You want people attending your open house to walk in and picture their own family living there. If you don’t take measures to depersonalize, you’re making it that much more difficult for them to realize that vision. While putting away all those things that make the house your home can be bittersweet, just think of it as pre-packing that will cut down on the work you have to do before you actually move.

Remove your personal photos, including any family portraits or professional shots you have framed. You should also pack away any trophies, plaques, awards, and framed certificates such as diplomas. If you have personal collections out for display, go ahead and tuck them somewhere safe and out of sight. The same goes for toys, sports equipment, and exercise equipment—these all qualify as personal items. Don’t forget to remove valuables and any indications of smoking, pets, or politics. Only keep the basic things you need and decorations that highlight your home’s features.

Don’t Forget the Outdoors

As much as the interior matters, it’s the exterior that draws people in. Spend a little time sprucing up the front door, cleaning the windows, and repairing small issues that might be noticed by a keen-eyed buyer. HomeAdvisor has more ideas on how to enhance curb appeal, even if your outdoor space in minimal.


An open house is the perfect occasion to draw up interest in your property. Make sure it looks its best with a thorough and professional cleaning. Clutter is proven to cause stress and anxiety, so ensure good vibes by clearing out all the junk. Finally, make sure others can see themselves living there depersonalizing and packing away items.

Suzie Wilson
The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House coming soon!

Top 5 Upcoming Fall Activities Around NYC

New York City is an exciting place with more than enough to keep anyone occupied, tourist or resident. But while the sights like the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, or the Empire State Building are always present, some things take a bit of timing. There’s plenty to do year-round in New York, although fall tends to be the best time for the biggest and most exciting events in the city. Whether you like culture, pop or not, are looking for a party, or want to be entertained from the stage, fall in NYC is going to be where it’s at. So check out these five events happening in the city this fall, and pick out the ones you just know you can’t miss.

While the Big Apple is a diverse and varied place, there’s one thing that really binds it together: a love of coffee. It saturates the city, where there’s coffee shops on nearly every corner and nearly all of them are a unique, loving take on the beverage. Well, it goes a step farther than that: the New York Coffee Festival is a celebration of all things black, bean, and brewed. Taking place from October 12th to the 14th this year, the New York Coffee Festival is an adventure through nearly every style and taste of coffee that the city has to offer. The festival includes contests and demonstrations of things like latte art and barista skills, but also street food, live music, and coffee cocktail bars. It’s a perfect storm of things a coffee lover will love, but also plenty for everyone else to do—regardless of how you take it, cream, sugar, milk, or black.

Starting in November, New York City will turn overnight into the comedy capital of the world. From the fifth to the eleventh, the New York Comedy Festival begins with shows from some of the biggest names in comedy through twenty different venues in the city. Some of these big names include Conan O’Brien, Tracy Morgan, and Gabriel Iglesias, so you know it’s going to be an all-star cast of laughs. Even still, the shows aren’t just limited to the most famous, the festival is slated for 200 or more comics across a hundred different shows, providing more than enough for the discerning comedy fan. Naturally, with a festival of that size, you won’t be able to do it all, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying it as much as you can. It’s a week of nothing but laughs and a good time.

If you’re planning on being in the city for Halloween, don’t miss the 45th annual Village Halloween Parade. It’s a night of costumes and fun dedicated to a happy, celebratory spirit around the creativity and liveliness of everyone participating. Participation is limited to those in costume, so now’s the best time to get creative and come up with your most extravagant and interesting costume and bring it to life. There’s a costume contest for the parade, only requirement is to show up, put your best foot forward with your costume. For those not into costuming, there’s also opportunities to volunteer as a puppeteer for one of the many parade puppets and performers.

Comic Con
One of the biggest events in New York that just about anyone can get behind is the New York Comic Con, famed as the biggest pop culture event in America. At the Javits Center, thousands will show up in costume and comic t-shirts to meet their favorite superhero, Sci-Fi, fantasy, and other stars. Plenty of artists, fan and professional, arrive to show and sell their talents of capturing all the world’s favorite shows and books in ink. Comic Con is also famously where sneak peaks and announcements are made on upcoming TV shows and projects, so attending could get you on the cutting edge of the year’s most anticipated entertainment. Kids as young as 6 are allowed at NYCC so be sure to scope out local discounted group tickets online if you are planning on bringing the kids and their friends. Panels are announced in advance, so it’s easy enough to plan around hitting all the talks and events you want to keep up with.

Film Festival
While we’re on the subject of pop culture, maybe you’re a connoisseur of the silver screen. Naturally, this fall in New York has the perfect event for you: the New York Film Festival. Premiering some of the newest and best films, the New York Film Festival isn’t just limited to the United States. Several international films, including those from South Korea, China, France, and Poland, are also on the main slate for their US or worldwide premieres. Fiction isn’t the only thing being screened, too, as a good portion of the festival is dedicated specifically to documentaries, should those be your particular interest. And for those not looking for the new, the festival also has a dedicated set of revivals, screening classic films dating back to the 1950s that have been digitally remastered for modern viewing.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

Top 10 Hot Entertainment Around New York This Summer

In New York, there is a seemingly endless number of things to do. With one of the most famous cities in the world a short drive away from anywhere in the state, and plenty of festivals and events going on upstate, you will find it hard to be at a shortage of entertainment this summer.

Here are the top 10 things to do this summer in New York, from waterfalls to annual festivities to the Big Apple.

Take a Trip to Niagara Falls (or any other waterfall in the state)

Niagara Falls is known the world over for its spectacular scenery and awe-inspiring magnitude. It’s also only a few hours drive from just about anywhere in New York – while the town around Niagara Falls may be a little kitschy, if you haven’t already seen this wonder of the world, be sure to check out group deals and make a visit this summer.

Check Out the Chinese Lantern Festival in Syracuse

The Chinese Lantern Festival is an annual festival taking place over much of the summer in Syracuse organized by the local Chinese-American community.  With free admission, an abundance of foods and culture to experience, and a very unique cultural experience, there’s nothing but great things to say about the Chinese lantern festival.

SummerStage at Central Park

SummerStage is a popular seasonal outdoor venue that hosts various artists from multiple music genres. The summer line-up of artists includes over 50 shows, with a range of free and ticketed performances available. Some of the headliners for the summer music festival are Jason Mraz, O.A.R & Matt Nathanson, and Dispatch. There is a free concert just about every couple of days, so be sure to see the full line-up before you head out to the festival to see who’s who.

Experience Taste of Buffalo

Many cities hold “Taste Of” festivals every year to encourage tourism and visitors to places they might not have otherwise been to. Buffalo, being a well-known city already, holds one of the best festivals of the kind in the state. The entrance fee is minimal, and with free music, an abundance of amazing food options, and plenty of fun things to do for families, Taste of Buffalo should definitely be a destination this summer.

Manhattan Rooftop Bars/Lounges

Does anything beat a balmy summer evening overlooking the city lights? Manhattan is home to multiple world-class rooftop hangs – perfect for a romantic evening, client outings, or friendly social gatherings. Some of our favourites in and around the city include Gansevoort, Viceroy, 230 Fifth, (and so many more). Most NYC rooftops will feature live music, a pool, and an overall luxurious atmosphere. Treat yourself!

Summer in the Hamptons

Eat, drink, play and relax in the Hamptons this summer. If you’re looking for live music, the Surf Lodge is renowned for its chill outdoor summer concerts, and the tasty local seafood here comes freshly off the fishing boats of Montauk Harbour. The 3rd annual Rosé Crawl will last through the end of June, which features a self-guided, exquisite local wine tour. Snag a glass or three and catch a beautiful shoreline sunset.

Camp and Hike at the Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondack Mountains are a gorgeous, oddly circular mountain range beset in a national park. Camping, hiking, and outdoor sports are commonplace at these mountains, but what makes it extra special is the lack of disturbance. It is surprising how many people are in the park without coming across too many of them, helping to let you get lost in nature all the more.

If You Haven’t Already, go to the Great New York State Fair

The Great New York State Fair is a hotspot for upstate New Yorkers every summer. Admission is only $10 for a vast array of theme-park-style rides, amazing foods (that are all definitely bad for you), live entertainment and a myriad of other things to do at this famous fair. Starting in August, the festival goes on for about 13 days just outside Syracuse, so start planning now!

Visit One of Many Film Festivals

There are so many film festivals going on this summer in New York that the it really ought to change its nickname from The Empire State to The Film Festival State. Jokes aside, just about every suburb and neighbourhood in New York City is hosting some kind of film festival this summer, and most of the medium-large towns and cities in upstate New York have their own festivals going on. Be sure to look up all the options and find one close to you to see what local filmmakers have been working on!

See a Different Side to the City at Summer Streets

For the first three weekends in August, New York City closes off its streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park to traffic and instead dedicates the streets to sustainable means of transportation. That sounds like a bit of a bore, but with 300,000 people all riding bikes, walking, skating and running, as well as lots of local businesses coming out to the street to offer their goods, summer streets feels like a breath of fresh air in a city constantly in anxiety. Take a day to see the city without so many cars on the road – you might see it in a different way.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

Hidden Gems Around NYC

Just about everyone knows New York City for Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. But The Big Apple has so much more to offer for people looking to escape the crowds. The following are places off the beaten path for tourists or locals who want to see a new side of the city.

New York’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world, with more than 470 stations and about 5 million daily riders on weekdays. The system is also constantly expanding and experiencing upgrades. Visitors can get a taste of the old subway system with a tour of the now- closed City Hall subway station.

The Old City Hall stop dates back to the 1940s when Fiorello H. La Guardia, for whom the nearby airport is named, was mayor. Many of the city’s old movers and shakers used this stop until slow ridership led to its eventual closure in 1945. Today people can tour the stop through the New York Transit Museum. Plan this trip well in advance, as tours often fill up quickly and
visitors are required to pass a background check.

When tourists first flocked to New York in the late 1800s, their first stop was Niagara Falls and their second stop was Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This 500-acre cemetery is the final resting place for many baseball stars and New York notables. Some big names include artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, musician Leonard Bernstein and politician William “Boss” Tweed.

At its most popular time, carriages would pass through for family outings or views of the cemetery architecture. Today it is a place where people visit for a break from the busy city life. The cemetery is free, but visitors can pay $15 for a historical trolley tour.

Grand Central Station is a beautiful New York destination to visit in general. It has high vaulted ceilings, ornate chandeliers and intricate details sculpted into the walls. It also has several places to shop and dine nearby. But what most people don’t know is the station has a secret “whispering gallery.”

Located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, the whispering spot is made possible through the architecture in the archway. People standing on either side of the arch can talk into the wall
and hear each other as clear as day. Don’t be surprised to catch a marriage proposal at this location.

Eataly is a huge Italian marketplace with some of the best Italian cuisine downtown. It’s not exactly the most obscure attraction but it's a neat little atmosphere with some incredible food and is home to authentic Italian groceries and dining. Eataly is still fairly new to the city, having opened in NY back in 2010, but has locations all over the world.

South Street Seaport, the historic seaport on the East River, is one of the coolest fish markets downtown on the east side of Manhattan. The area thrives with architecture, shopping, views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city, and of course, features an upbeat fish market.

Located on the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park City is Pier A Harbor House, a beautiful restaurant right on the water. It makes for a great afternoon with tasty seafood and some neat surrounding parks to walk off the buttery lobster lunch.

An iconic American food restaurant, Tavern on the Green in Central Park, has attracted prominent people throughout the decades. This dining hot spot has even been mentioned in popular movies like Ghostbusters. Tavern on the Green was recently reopened in 2014 under new ownership.

Many people are familiar with Randall’s Island, which hosts big music festivals such as the Governor’s Ball and Panorama. But the nearby Roosevelt Island has a piece of New York history rarely seen by visitors.

The Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island was once the principal treatment center for a disease that hit the city hard in the 1700s. The building is now abandoned, but it is still worth a visit for history lovers and photographers interested in the eerie atmosphere. Expect to see 19th-century Gothic architecture hidden under moss vines. There is an ongoing project to refurbish the ruins, so it is fenced off from entry.

Accessing Roosevelt Island is a unique trip in itself. At the same price of a one-way subway fare, people can take the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram for a new view of the Manhattan skyline. The tram passes by the Queensboro Bridge at 3,100 feet, it holds up to 110 people and makes about 100 trips throughout the day. The tram takes the same MetroCard as the subway system.

After the fall of the famous Berlin Wall in 1989, pieces of it were shipped out to various locations around the world. One section is notably on display inside the Newseum in Washington D.C. Another large piece is in the heart of New York City outside 520 Madison Avenue.

This five-panel section is located around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art and it is one of the largest sections still intact. While the side that faced East Germany is blank, the other side features work by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. The wall is on display in an open plaza and it is available to the public year-round.

The Dream House is an art space few New Yorkers know about located in the heart of Tribeca. This installation is supported by the Mela Foundation and the combination of light, scents and sounds transport visitors from the stresses of city life. The space is a third-floor apartment, and it’s often identified by its neon-purple rooms. For a small donation, people can enjoy the room for as long as they want.

No place does the color “millennial pink” quite like Pietro Nolita. This 1950s-style Italian eatery has pink tables and chairs, rose-colored pots for the plants and pink plates. Their menu is centered on being environmentally friendly, as well as healthy. Dinner options include a fusilli al limone and ricotta meatballs with tomato sauce. This place is a popular Instagram brunch spot, and they offer a tasty dolcezza drink which is a mix of white peach and Prosecco.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

3 Ways to Stage Your Home if You’re a Pet Owner

A house that suggests that it’s inhabited by a pet is one of the top turnoffs for a potential buyer. So as much as you love your animals, you’ve got to remove all signs of their existence if you want to sell your home in a timely manner. But don’t take this step personally—people are turned off by pets for various reasons. For example, even if you don’t have an animal that sheds or has a lot of dander, a visual cue that a pet is present could prompt someone to think your
home is a breeding ground for allergens. There’s also smell and cleanliness factors to consider. So, before your realtor starts showing your property, make sure it’s properly staged for success.

Consider Making Advanced Arrangements for Your Pet

If possible, make arrangements for your pet to be removed from the home during the showing period. While it’s definitely an easier way to keep your home in tip-top shape, it’s also harder on you and your furry friend. If a kennel or trusted friend or family member is not an option to take in your pet, at least remove him from the home during the actual showing. Just keep in mind that you’re going to have to conduct regular cleaning, deodorizing, and decluttering in between appointments.

Depersonalize Your Space

Along with food and water bowls, cat trees, bedding, cage/carrier, leash/muzzle, and toys, you’re going to need to remove items like photographs and any memorabilia that indicate you own a pet (e.g., an “I Love Dogs” sign). Another indicator is a doggie door, so make sure you seal it up. If you own a cat and you absolutely can’t temporarily move her out, make sure you hide the litter box or invest in an incognito model that doubles as a piece of furniture. Just make sure it’s clean and odor free.

Get Rid of Pet Odors and Stains

Eliminating odors and stains is a lot more difficult that putting toys in a box, but it’s not impossible. If you opt not to get a professional cleaner to do the dirty work, implement these steps:

  • Sweep and mop all hard floors to remove hair, dander, and dust particles. Make sure you do this lightly so you don’t kick things up in the air.
  • Vacuum everywhere, from hard floors and carpets to furniture and curtains.
  • Remove stains and steam-clean the carpets with a pet-friendly cleaner and remover.

Just make sure to move your animals to another room during this process.

  • Wash all your linens, including bedding, couch cushions, and pillow cases. Anything that’s not machine washable should go to the dry cleaner.
  • Even though you’ll be storing it away, wash your pet’s bed and blankets so there aren’t any odors lurking from a storage space. If you’re concerned because you want to retain the scent so it’s easier for your pet to get adjusted to his new home, ask a friend or family member to hold on to the items for you, or keep them in the trunk of your car.
  • Open the windows and air out your home. Change all the air filters as it’s likely that they’re clogged with dust, dirt, and hair which contributes to odors.
  • Apply a couple of coats of a stain- and odor-sealing paint to areas on walls (usually near baseboards) where any urine stains may exist.
  • On the day of the showing, simmer herbs, essential oils, and fruit on the stove. Dab some essential oils on cotton balls and strategically place them in hidden areas around the house. Light a few lightly scented candles—nothing too overpowering as it can be a turnoff for buyers.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional stager to assist you. Use this experience as an opportunity to consider ways to make your next home a bit less cluttered and as fresh smelling as possible. A home that looks like it’s run by a pet instead a person isn’t the best environment, even if it’s not for sale.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Written by Seth Murphy

Seth loves hands-on DIY projects and sharing what he has learned with others. He first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work.


The Top 12 Places To See In Manhattan With Kids for Spring Break

Located in New York City, Manhattan is one of the most remarkable destinations in the world and it is the perfect place to take your family on a spring break trip. The city is full of excitement, history, and education. Manhattan is the ideal vacation for a family with a variety of interests. With so many hot spots to hit, you are sure to please each member of the family. Here is a list of the Top Twelve places to see with your family while spending your spring break in Manhattan.

1. Children’s Museum of the Arts
The Children’s Museum of the Arts strives to illustrate the importance and power art has by allowing visitors to create pieces alongside working artists. Often, family-centered events, such as art classes are hosted at CMA and the exhibitions are exciting to view.

2. 9/11 Tribute Museum
This tribute museum will walk you through the events on 9/11 and educate viewers along the way. This museum can be used as a guide for teaching your children about 9/11. In a beautiful way, the tribute museum will educate visitors on the before, during, and after of this horrific attack. This museum will be devastating but an important stop on your spring break.

3. Central Park
Take the family on a relaxing walk through one of the most beautiful and famous parks in the world. After experiencing the hustle and bustle of the city, Central park can be a calm place to lounge. If you’re looking for a fast-paced activity, explore bike rentals near Central Park.

4. Central Park Zoo
This Zoo is open year-round and encourages visitors to get close with a variety of animals. There are viewing opportunities for penguin and sea lion feedings. This is a wonderful spot to take children while on a family spring break trip.

5. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
This intriguing collection of exhibitions is fun for all ages with 500+ artifacts, and some interactive exhibits. There are events and special attractions throughout the year. Something exciting is always occurring at Ripley’s. When exploring Time’s Square, make a stop here for endless fun and intrigue.

6. The Brooklyn Bridge
Take your family to this hotspot to admire the city of New York. It is a wonderful place to snap pictures and spend time. Instead of taking a bus over this bridge, visitors must walk or ride a bicycle. This can be a relaxing stroll with the family, or a fast-paced ride.

7. Chinese Scholar Garden
This botanical garden takes you to ancient China with inspiration drawn from the paintings and poetry of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist monks and scholars. The eight pavilions are open for exploration, as well as forest paths, waterfalls, Koi ponds, and more. The garden was authentically crafted and is a wonderful spot to take your family.

8. Dylan’s Candy Bar
This iconic candy shop has three floors packed with delicious candy and treats that each member of your family will love. Hours could be spent exploring this shop and kids are sure to enjoy.

9. Liberty Cruise
Get the family onto the cruise boat for an afternoon of beautiful, iconic NYC views. This cruise will provide incredible views of the city, as well as a great opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty. The whole family is sure to enjoy the time on the water and the great sightseeing along the way.

10. Rockefeller Center
There are many tours hosted in this area that will give you a full rundown but spend some time here with the family and explore the endless amount of hotspots. NBC studios offers a tour for visitors, and for a view, visitors can travel to the top of the Rock Observation Deck.

11. DiMenna Children’s History Museum
This museum connects visitors with America’s past, present, and future. The museum focuses on the real life stories of a variety of young people living in New York City from the late 17th century through the 20th century. Getting to know these historical figures can give children a better understanding of America and NYC.

12. Children’s Museum of Manhattan
This museum features several interactive exhibits that are sure to get kids moving and enjoying themselves. At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, kids will have the chance to play with other kids and learn simultaneously. Located near Central Park, there is not a better spot to take your young children while on spring break.

Check travel sites for deals on the attractions in this list while enjoying Spring Break in Manhattan. There are plenty of restaurant dining options, from classy to family-friendly,  so be sure to correspond local meals with these awesome activities. The city is bumping with excitement and fun for you and your family to enjoy. You will never run out of places to see and things to do; start your planning with this list. Spend your break in the best city in America and head to New York City’s Manhattan.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

How New York City Real Estate Continues to Increase in Value

New York City real estate has always been a strong pillar of investment for businesses and individuals around the world. The city is home to countless industry and commercial headquarters, making it exceptionally appealing for investment. The new tax laws and strategic development tactics from real estate companies will continue to add value to these properties.

Martin Z. Braun of Bloomberg reports that “The city set a value of $1.26 trillion for its more than one million properties for the fiscal year beginning in July, an increase of 9.4 percent over the previous period that promises to boost the government’s tax collections.” But, while NYC is making property tax more pricy, the federal government has implemented policies that affect both real estate and property tax in a way that is so overwhelmingly beneficial that even when factoring in NYC and NY state increases most developers and investors won’t feel any burden. New York City real estate remains steady and continues to increase in overall value. This is mainly due to the fact that most NYC acquisitions are through “pass thru entities” such as LLCs, S-Corps, and the like, who favorably received a whopping 20% federal tax cut this year and can reinvest newly available capital into the real estate market.

“This year’s roll confirms increases in the real estate market and additional construction activity in New York City, which is not just concentrated in Manhattan,” Jacques Jiha, the city’s Commissioner for the Department of Finance, said in a statement. The outer boroughs, as well, have seen vast growth this past period. Braun writes that “Residential and commercial property value in Brooklyn rose 12 percent, the most of New York’s five boroughs, to $335.5 billion, according to the city’s Finance Department” (1). Developers are taking advantage of expanding into the outer boroughs to add value to existing properties. As more residents and businesses expand into areas other than Manhattan, the value of real estate continues to increase in these neighborhoods. This will, in turn, benefit the economy. As more individuals move to the city, new opportunities will arise, which will increase the demand for real estate development.

The value of real estate, especially in New York City, is also largely dependent on location and amenities. In a recent New York Times article, Kim Velsey explores the impact of green spaces and gardens on real estate prices. Developers are increasingly drawn to parks in all the boroughs to add value to their properties. Besides the obvious visual appeal, a park adds many health benefits like proximity to recreation and fresh air. Another benefit of developing along the border of a park is “an apartment on even a pocket park comes with more light, air and open sky than an identical unit that faces another building — and a near-guarantee that no towering new development will take those advantages away” (2). This makes for a unique investment for those looking to purchase real estate in New York City because the availability of these apartments is limited.  As developers continue to expand throughout the boroughs, these apartments will becoming increasingly rare.

Not only will facing a park guarantee unobstructed views – it may even guarantee extra square footage. Velsey of the New York Times writes that “Any analysis of prices for park-facing units comes with a caveat: developers are more likely to put the largest apartments where the best views are, and there’s also a premium for more contiguous space” (2). So when developers price an apartment with a park view and/or proximity to a park, the views have determined both the price of the apartment as well as the square footage and/or layout.

Ari Alowan Goldstein from Extell Development says that “in [his] mind, parks are one of the best parts of New York and the perfect complement to the built environment” (2). Value comes from the point of view of the investor. Developers know that when they give people what they want, they can command the price points to follow. That value comes from the current state of the economy, amenities, and location.

(1). https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/new-york-city-sees-tax-gain-as-real-estate-values-jump-9-percent

(2). https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/realestate/luxury/in-new-york-a-view-of-even-a-small-park-adds-value.html


Written by Kylie Keller

Home Improvement for Resale Value: What Areas to Focus On

You bought your home for a set price either a few months, years, or even decades ago, and a big purchase like that definitely put a significant dent in your wallet. Should you ever decide to sell, wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a little bit of a profit in return? By making some home improvements, you can raise the resale value of your home to not only make some extra cash, but also attract more buyers in the process. So…where should you start?

What’s Cooking in the Kitchen?

Many would venture to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and they’re right. Your kitchen is where everyone congregates to share a meal and socialize. Chances are it’s the first place you go to when you get home to drop off keys, bags, or grab a snack. It sets the tone for your home, so it’s a good idea to do a little reno in this room. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price to remodel your kitchen will range from $13,397 to $34,492, and take anywhere from 5 to 6 weeks. The variation in price depends on the extent of the remodel. Before you call in the tools, ask local real estate agents about the things buyers look for in a kitchen. Many buyers prefer an open kitchen, so you might put some serious thought into bringing down that wall. Other features to consider are granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, lighting, and a neutral color palette.

Revamp the Throne Room

The bathroom is yet another area of the home we spend a lot of time in to not only do our business, but relax, unwind, and maybe even escape from the kiddos from time to time. Basically, it’s an oasis that is worth improving, especially if yours is outdated. Take a look at what you’ve got in front of you, and decide if you need a total remodel or basic updates, as the average cost for a bathroom remodel according to Remodeling Magazine is around $19,000. The projects that will offer you the greatest return on investment are additional storage, a double sink/vanity, and new tile. Another option to consider, and one that will most definitely require a contractor, is adding a new bathroom altogether. Whether it is a full or a half bath, having that additional bathroom could be a great selling point for potential buyers.

Know the Difference Between Enjoyment and Resale

While there are plenty of projects that will increase your resale value, there are some that won’t. The key is to be able to recognize the difference between an improvement that will recoup the costs and one that is for your enjoyment. One such project is swimming pools; they are great for summer cool downs, outdoor lounging/meals, and exercise. However, they can be a hassle (and not to mention pricey) to maintain, and families with children might be worried about potential accidents. Yet another outdoor improvement to be wary of is extravagant landscaping such as fountains, waterfalls, and fishponds. Curb appeal is definitely important though, and minor improvements go a long way. Add some potted plants for low maintenance upkeep, keep the lawn mowed and weed-free, and stay on top of leaves and limbs. While you can certainly turn your yard into a colorful explosion of flowers and plants, some buyers will only see time and water wasted, so make sure you are doing it to appease your green thumb rather than raise your resale value.

Making a profit from your home is a lot easier than you might think. Focus on areas of the home that get the most use such as the kitchen and bathroom. However, be sure you don’t get carried away on projects that impress you more than they impress potential buyers. Your home is your happy place, but know the difference between improvements that add resale value and ones that you want just because.

Written by Seth Murphy

Seth loves hands-on DIY projects and sharing what he has learned with others. He first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work.

An Overview of the 2017 Market

It is no secret that after the election of our President of the United States Donald Trump, there have been many changes and positive impacts in the nation’s economy, including the stock market. Since his oath into office in January 2017, many of the baseline stocks have been hitting record highs all years. If this pattern keeps up, we may continue to see the stocks rise throughout the 4 years of the President’s term.

CNN reports that stocks this year, specifically the DOW has hit many milestones, the latest being 24,000 points. Matt Egan reports that “The boom in the stock market is a clear reflection of improvements in the U.S. economy. New numbers published on Wednesday show the U.S. grew at a brisk 3.3% pace between July and September, the best growth since 2014 and the second-straight quarter of 3% growth” (6). For multiple quarters, it is evident of the progressive improvement of the stock market and growth in the US economy.

Both primary and secondary markets are thriving in the US economy. This also goes hand in hand with real estate property investment and alternative investments in the secondary market. Much of how the stock market behaves is due to market speculation and press. The economy is currently boosted because of a diverse economy that puts faith in investments and in the American markets. Stephan Rabimov from The Observer writes that “The American market is one of the most resilient due to being supported by perhaps the most diverse economy in the world. People are still looking to live the American dream!” (5). The Street also reports home demand and sales being the highest in the United States in over a decade. Reporter Brian O’Connell writes “According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose by 6.2% in October, to 685,000 units. That’s the highest home sales level in a decade, with new home purchases in the U.S. Northeast leading the charge with a 30% hike in October” (7).

To follow up, John Engle of Seeking Alpha writes that “secondary markets are once again heating up” (1). Since the stock market has seen a positive trajectory since the election of President Trump, real estate market has reflected the same. In the United States and specifically New York City, the value of property has significantly increased because of the positive outlook in the stock market. Investment property as well as residential property is starting to reach an all time high.

Prior to the election of President Trump, real estate was not as popular as an alternative investment. However, a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that, at the end of 2016, alternative investments made up about 15 percent of global assets under management (4). This solidifies the fact that although real estate is less liquid than many other investments, those looking to add to their portfolio have turned to real estate as an investment choice because of its consistency and growth in the current market. Engle of Seeking Alpha also writes “In fact, according to PwC’s latest survey of industry opinion, secondary market investment interest is up 12% from where it was in 2013″ (1). The Real Estate industry has always been a healthy and wise investment, and now that stock prices have increased, it is an even better time to invest.

Since the stock market and the real estate are linked, the stocks from companies based out of the real estate industry are really soaring. Brian O’Connell from The Street writes ” Which homebuilding stocks to consider? Most, if not all, of the major builders should benefit from industry growth.Toll Brother (TOL), for example, rose from $47 per share to $48.50 immediately after the Commerce Department release….[and] Lennar Corp. (LEN), another major homebuilding company, also saw its stock price rise with the October home sales news….Over the longer term, housing market investors could move on stocks that have indirect links to the real estate sector” (7).

Real estate, like all investments, requires careful planning and integration into a current investment portfolio. Business Insider writes that “every individual should be investing according to the asset allocation that is right for them based on their goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon” (3). While there are many different options to invest, the economy thrives more when people invest wisely.

The best way to know is to determine your needs for long and short term investments. As the stock market continues to increase and improve the economy, it will be interesting to see the increase in demand for real estate as an investment as well.

(1) https://seekingalpha.com/article/4129319-growing-interest-secondary-markets-warning-sign-real-estate

(2) https://www.builtinchicago.org/2017/12/05/blockchain-cfx-markets-makes-real-estate-investments-more-buying-stock

(3) http://www.businessinsider.com/financial-planner-what-to-know-before-investing-in-real-estate-2017-11

(4) https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/04/deciding-if-alternative-investing-makes-sense-for-you.html

(5) http://observer.com/2017/12/justin-fichelson-on-the-us-real-estate-investment-trends-for-2018/

(6) http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/30/investing/dow-24000-stocks-wall-street-trump/index.html

(7) https://www.thestreet.com/story/14403381/1/with-real-sector-booming-what-housing-sector-stocks-will-pop-.html

Written by Kylie Keller

Weekend Traveler’s Guide in New York

When people typically think of New York, New York City almost always is what comes to mind. It’s totally understandable. After all, what isn’t unique and memorable about New York? The United States’ unofficial capital has some of the most iconic attractions in the world, and while a trip to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and a few rides on the New York Metro can technically count as a weekend getaway to New York, there is so much more to experience in the state. Upstate New York, also known as every single part of New York that isn’t New York City, has dozens of great cities and sites that are totally worth exploring. Even if you only have a few days to check out Upstate New York, there are still tons of getaway spots you can drive to that will make your weekend exponentially more exciting.

Poughkeepsie, New York
Approximately 85 miles north of New York City is Poughkeepsie, New York. Located in New York’s Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie is a travel destination that is popular year-round, although April to November seems to be a popular time to visit.

Walkway over the Hudson: This pedestrian and bike path was once a railroad bridge and today serves as a path that visitors can take while exploring Poughkeepsie. From the bridge, pedestrians and cyclists are granted fantastic views of the gorgeous Hudson River and the nearby Catskill Mountains.
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library: Though it is not in the city limits of Poughkeepsie, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in addition to FDR’s Presidential Library can be found in nearby Hyde Park. If you’re a history buff, taking a trip up to the former home and presidential library of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from Poughkeepsie will be quite the treat.
Locust Grove: Overlooking the Hudson River, the Locust Grove is a National Historic Landmark Estate that serves as a museum and nature preserve. This estate is known as the former home of Samuel B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph. Locust Grove is a masterful combination of nature, art, and history, all enveloped in an environment that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped out of the 21st century. The property’s grounds make a wonderful place for nature walks, where visitors can come and admire the beautiful gardens.

Albany, New York
80 miles north of Poughkeepsie is New York’s beloved capital, Albany. Officially established as the first European settlement in New York, Albany has emerged as a center of higher education and a major city of Tech Valley, New York’s own version of Silicon Valley.

  • New York State Museum: Known as the oldest and largest museum in the US, the New York State Museum is a center of art, science and history. The museum is a hodgepodge of many interesting topics, all carefully arranged into various exhibition spaces. Here, you can learn about everything from the Indigenous groups who lived in New York prior to the arrival of colonists to the minerals that are naturally found in the Empire State.
  • Schuyler Mansion: This next destination will be particularly exciting to those either interested in the Revolutionary War or the Broadway musical Hamilton. (As an aside, checking out a Hamilton show back in NYC would be a great way to spend your weekend. Good luck grabbing a ticket though!) The Schuyler Mansion is the home of General Philip Schuyler, and a fantastic example of pre-war architecture. Call to arrange a tour, where you’ll learn about the history of the mansion and all who lived there.
  • Washington Park: A walk through this park is literally a breath of fresh air. A quiet escape from the bustling city, Washington Park is a great place for a nature stroll. If you come here during the summer, make sure you stop by the Tulip festival.

Rochester, New York
Rochester, also recognized as the Flower City and the World’s Image Center, is the third largest city in New York, following New York City and Buffalo. Given its gargantuan size, there’s no shortage of things you can find to keep you busy during your weekend getaway.

  • Finger Lakes Wine Country: Take a trip out to this one of a kind attraction, where you’ll be able to admire the beautiful scenery and indulge in some world-class New York wine. With over 200 wineries and plenty of fun activities, the Finger Lakes Wine Country makes an ideal location for anyone wanting a stunning view, great company, and a nice glass of wine.
  • National Center for The History of Electronic Games: This is for all you gamers out there. The NCHEG has amassed an impressive collection of over 20,000 games and consoles, most of which are in working condition and are able to play.

Buffalo, New York
73 miles from Rochester is the second largest city in New York, Buffalo. Located all the way in western New York, this city is filled with so much personality; you won’t know where to start. From it’s gorgeous architecture to its booming art scene, there’s always something new and exciting at every corner of this behemoth of a city.<br/ >

  • Garden Walk: If you’re here during the summer, try going on America’s largest garden tour. This free, self-guided event will lead you to 400 stunning urban gardens.
  • Museum of DisABILITY History: This unique museum details the history of the disabled and is dedicated to not only sharing that history but informing guests of the struggles faced.
  • Niagara Falls: Of course, there is no way you can go to Buffalo without stopping by Niagara Falls. It’s only 20 miles away from Buffalo! This city, which is located on the Niagara River, is home to the famous Niagara Falls, the three waterfalls that straddle the border between the US and Canada. There are also a ton of related attractions for you to enjoy there as well, such as the Aquarium of Niagara and the Niagara Wax Museum of History.

New York City, New York

The hub of the east coast. The city that never sleeps. If you’re only here for a weekend, it would be tough to discover all that the Big Apple has to offer. The good news – you can’t really go wrong with anything you choose to do. It’s one of the most entertaining cities in the world and no matter the restaurant, play, sporting event, or concert you choose, you will surely be in awe of some of the most incredible craft of attractions in the world. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Per Se Restaurant: The NY Times notes this classy French-New American cuisine as a once-in-a-lifetime dining event. The restaurant offers breathtaking views of Central Park and a fabulous tasting menu, making it a dining experience you’re likely to never forget.
  • Fekkai Salon: The go-to high-end salon to fulfill all your guilty pleasures of hair. Fekkai Salons have made a huge impact on the landscape of all things beauty, particularly with hair styling, treatments, and a plethora of top-tier shampoos and conditioners. It makes for a perfect girl’s day while the boys are at the Yankees game.
  • Bergdorf Goodman: Handbags, handbags, handbags. This luxurious department store in Midtown Manhattan offers the latest designs from the world’s top brands – Prada, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, you name it. This should be your first stop to ensure you are beautified from head to toe and ready for your weekend in New York City.

Written by Jeremy Alderman