Capture Mood and Splendor of the Season with Lighting

xmas1As decorations are hung this holiday season in preparation for entertaining family and friends, consider creating ambiance using lighting in the main social rooms of the home, including the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Beyond the trimmings, presents and other jolly adornments, it is essential to have the proper lighting to enhance the glow of the holidays and adjust the mood of a room.

Here are some tips to make sure the lighting in every room in your home is properly outfitted to create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for the holidays and beyond:

Use higher quality light

Lighting helps set a mood in a room. When choosing the type of light needed for a room, consider whether you want a soft light or crisp bright light. Use lighting that can filter out dull yellow rays and provide clean, beautiful light that brings out the vibrant colors of the holiday season – making reds appear redder and whites whiter – to make the colors in your holiday wreaths and decorations pop.

Layer the lighting

xmas2Instead of relying on one type of light source, layer your lighting by using a mix of light sources at different levels, to create a flattering ambiance. The effect of layered lighting in the living room highlights architectural details, like the festively decorated fireplace and mantel with evergreens and holly berries. Ambient lighting from recessed fixtures with dimming control in the kitchen allows flexibility to adjust as needed for cooking and baking during the day to entertaining guests in the evening, or for spending late nights wrapping presents.

Additionally, the holidays would not be complete without cozy, intimate gatherings around the dining room table with family and friends. Layered lighting applied around the dining room table can set the mood so you and your guests can comfortably enjoy the turkey dinner with all the dressings.

Keep energy efficiency in mind

xmas3Select energy-efficient lighting – such as CFLs and LEDs – for optimal energy savings. This is especially important in rooms where the most time is spent with the lights on in order to see the biggest energy savings impact. Many energy-efficient alternatives of today mirror the light quality of the traditional incandescent bulb, providing the warm glow and dimming capabilities.

Do your homework

xmas4Savvy homeowners should do a little research before purchasing light bulbs to ensure compatibility with their fixtures. Be sure to match up the bulb shape and application, choose the appropriate lumen, or brightness level, and review the light bulb packaging for dimmable options.

Make this holiday season a cheerful occasion, and don’t rely on overhead lighting alone to deck your halls and walls. With a layered approach and a little lighting know-how, you’ll create the welcoming and warm atmosphere perfect for family, friends and good cheer.

There’s No Place Like A New Home For The Holidays!

winter3

Discover the reasons why the holidays are bright for selling your home

1. The median home sales price in North Texas is up almost 13% over this time last year.

2. Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows.

3. Consumers who shop for a home during the holidays are serious, motivated buyers.

4. There are fewer homes on the market during the holiday season. With less competition, your home is likely to sell faster.

winter15. Typically, the supply of the homes for sale increases significantly in January, meaning there may be less demand for your home after holidays. Less demand means you’ll have to make your home more attractive to buyers, possibly through a price reduction.

6. Homes “show” better when decorated for the holidays.

7. Due to vacation schedules during the holidays, buyers have more time to look for a new home, specifically on weekdays.

8. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons, and they must close before December 31 to claim a homestead expemption for their taxes.

9. January is traditionally the month for employees to begin new jobs. Since many transferees are not able to wait until spring to buy, your home should be on the market now to not miss out on this significant group of buyers.

winter210. Even if your home is listed, you’ll have the option to restrict showings on days you have holiday parties and out-of-town guests.

11. If your home sells during the holidays, your agent can arrange for a delayed closing or for extended occupancy so your holiday season won’t be spent packing.

12. By selling now, you’ll have an opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer during the spring, when many more houses will be for sale, which most likely will mean lower prices. This could allow you to sell high and buy low!

7 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Condo

condo2You’ve found your dream condo, and you’re ready to relax among the oak trees or look out over the Dallas skyline. Hold everything. To keep from getting stuck with a lemon, you’ve got to do some homework. Here are the seven most important questions you need to ask before buying a condo.

1. “What’s the Beef?”
Take a look at the minutes of the condo association board meetings to see what the owners have been griping about. If everyone was complaining about the faulty plumbing or the gardener’s absence, you know that the complex is having management difficulties. Even if there aren’t any complaints, reading the minutes will reveal the sorts of projects that are under way at the complex — projects the seller may have neglected to mention.

2. “Who’s Been Naughty and Who’s Been Nice?”
Find out the delinquency rates of present owners. If people aren’t paying their association dues on time, that is either a sign of discontent or an indication that the association might be underfunded.

condo33. “How Much Is In the Repair Fund?”
Ask if the community has done a reserve-fund review in the past five years. If the complex is one to 10 years old, the reserve fund should have 10% of the cost of replaceable items (roofs, roads, tennis courts, etc.). Between 10 and 20 years old, the repair fund should be at 25% to 30%. At 20 years, that amount should be 50% or above. Residents who brag that they don’t pay much in maintenance may be in a complex that either is not being kept up well or is living beyond its means.

4. “Can You Cover Me?”
If you look at nothing else, get a copy of the certificate of insurance, which is a summary of the association’s policy. First see if the replacement costs covered by the policy are an accurate estimate of the cost of rebuilding. Then make sure that the policy has a building-ordinance clause, which means that the insurance will cover the cost of bringing the building up to code if there is any rebuilding to be done. On older buildings, there may have been many code upgrades since the time of construction. Finally, make sure that you understand exactly what the association policy covers and what you are responsible for. The smart condo owner will insure his or her personal belongings, along with any other items within the unit that are not covered by the association’s policy. If you have trouble understanding the insurance lingo, take the insurance certificate to an agent whom you trust and who understands the state laws.

condo55. “Does the Association Present Any Legal Problems?”
Buying a single-family home without a lawyer is no big deal for many people. But with a condo, there’s so much more involved. Contact a local real estate lawyer and have him or her go over the bylaws of the association. Do they make sense? Are they consistent with the state laws? Additionally, you may also want to have your lawyer screen the association at the local courthouse, to see if any owners have filed suit against it.

6. “Is the Complex Renter-Friendly?”
If the renter population is over 10%, there should be clear rental policies, either listed in the bylaws or tacked on as an amendment. Does the management company find renters for you? If so, do they get enough good renters? Ask other tenants about their experience. In addition, ask to see the association’s rental lease, and have a real estate lawyer look it over. Keep one thing in mind, though: An association can change its bylaws to prohibit or restrict renting at any time. The more owners who rent, the less chance that will happen.

condo47. “Am I My Community’s Keeper?”
Watch out for a condo whose owners manage the place themselves. Although many are operated efficiently, self-management can lead to more hassles for owners — especially those who live thousands of miles away. If the complex is professionally managed, check out the management company as thoroughly as you check out the association. Ask other owners. Ask people in nearby buildings. And be sure to interview the day-to-day manager directly. If you hook up with a bad manager, you can be sure of this: Your dream condo will keep you up at night.