6 MUST Steps for Selling a Home IF YOU Have Pets

We love our pets, whether they be dogs, cats, hamsters, capybaras, hedgehogs, or pygmy goats—but that doesn’t mean that potential buyers want to see said pets (or any evidence of them) when looking at a home they’re thinking of buying.

“Pets are either an attractive distraction, so cute they distract prospective buyers from looking at the real estate, or completely the opposite—smelly, frightening, or otherwise off-putting,” says Diane Saatchi, an East Hampton, NY, real estate broker with Saunders & Associates.

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Don’t want your precious property to be known as “that dog house”? Well, you need to pet-proof your place when preparing and showing it for sale. Here’s how, in six simple steps.

1. Check your insurance
Although you know your pets would never hurt anyone, they could scratch or bite a potential buyer whom they mistake for an intruder on their territory. You could be held liable for any harm your pet causes, so make sure your homeowners insurance covers you for incidents like these.

However, some insurers will not cover anyone who owns what they deem vicious or aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls; and if they do provide coverage, it could be expensive. If you have such a dog (and even if you don’t), it’s best to keep him out of the house during a showing.

2. Prepare your yard
Buyers will walk around your yard, a stroll that will be ruined if they step in poop or turn an ankle where your dog likes to dig.

Perform a poop patrol before each showing. Double-bag the waste before disposing, so your garbage cans don’t smell when buyers walk by. Fill all holes and sprinkle grass seed on top.

Before putting your house on the market, make sure your yard is a green oasis—not a brown-and-yellow dustbowl created when pets pee on grass. You can try to aerate and seed bare spots. But if that doesn’t work fast enough, you can replace ugly patches with new sod. Then, train Travis the Titan Terrier to use an out-of-the-way spot for his business. Or take him for very long walks.

3. Remove the odors
Removing the odors pets leave behind is one of the biggest challenges. It’s easy to clean and tuck away kitty’s litter box. But it’s way harder to erase years of piddle from rugs and hardwood.

If a bacteria-eating pet odor remover doesn’t banish all traces of cat or dog urine, you might have to hire a professional service to clean carpets or rugs. (Perhaps you should consider this whether you are selling your home or not.) Often, however, the odor returns, so if a carpet continues to reek, replace it before buyers trek through.

Clean turtle, hamster, and guinea pig cages frequently, to prevent odors. And make fish tanks sparkle; a daily swipe with an eraser sponge will do the trick.

4. Clean up the hair
Not only does a layer of pet hair on floors and sofas make your home look messy, it can trigger allergies and send potential buyers sneezing and wheezing out the door.

Before each showing, vacuum and dust to remove any settled hair or dander. Or, consider buying a vacuuming robot (such as a Roomba) that you can schedule to suck up hair several times a day. They actually work.

If your pet sheds, brush him frequently outside, so the hair doesn’t fly around the house. Bathing can help minimize shedding, too.

5. Hide the evidence
Like kids, pets (or rather, their caretakers) tend to accumulate lots of stuff—leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, food, cute sweaters, and costumes for Christmas and Halloween (ladies and gentlemen: It’s canine Ken Bone!). But no matter how adorable you may think it all is, to buyers, it’s just clutter.

Make sure you stow pet paraphernalia in a cupboard or closet. Put dry food bins in a laundry or mud room. Wash pet beds to remove odors and dirt, and only display them if they’re attractive.

6. Say goodbye to your pets (just for a while!)
If you decide to leave your dogs or cats at home, either crate them or confine them to a special area of the house, and make sure your real estate agent knows where they are. Keep them busy with interactive toys or long-lasting treats, says Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus, based in Livonia, MI.

“Even purchasing a new exciting toy or treat just prior to company coming may keep them more preoccupied,” he says.

But it’s best for everyone if you can find a playdate for your pet before a showing, or to send him to Grandma’s for an extended stay. But remember that pets have emotions, too—especially when it comes to change in their routines.

When you stow their toys, move their water bowl, or put them in a crate when strangers inspect their home, some pets will feel confused and anxious. So before making any major changes in the life of a dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian, who can help you ease your pet’s transition to a temporary new home.

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Need Sense of Style? How to Find and Hire an Interior Designer

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As a residential housing developer, I felt like I could do it all—visualize a project, stand for hours on permitting lines, then run all the crews needed to build the house. But I was hiding a secret: If you put me in a room filled with backsplash tiles, or threw a book of paint chips in my lap, I froze. Interior design is simply not my thing.

So for each project, I hired an interior designer who made the choices I couldn’t. Together, we’d mix and match, discuss the pros and cons, and eventually select the elements that made my projects beautiful and unique, IMHO.

But finding the right designer for you can be daunting, especially when there are so many to choose from. (About 68,000 interior designers work in the U.S., according to the American Society of Interior Designers, or ASID.) In fact, finding a great designer involves as much alchemy as legwork.

In the end, feeling comfortable and respected is the most important ingredient in a successful partnership with a designer. Here’s what you need to know to find the right one.

1. WHAT DOES AN INTERIOR DESIGNER DO?
An interior designer does more than just select colors for walls or find a rug that ties the sofa to the drapes; that’s more the domain of a decorator. An interior designer considers how you’ll use a space—the contours, angles, and proportions of the space; the sustainability of materials; and your particular taste and style.

Designers also have a network of trusted contractors, retailers, and artisans who help turn your dreams into reality.

Of course, some clients say, “Wake me when it’s done,” and rely on interior designers to do everything so long as it stays within a budget. But most clients want a true partnership with their designer—a free exchange of ideas and the ultimate say about what goes in their home.

“Discuss your expectations upfront—work style is key,” says Olga Odeide, ASID director of industry partnerships. “Some people want to see a variety of options. And some designers are more open to input from clients than others.”

2. HOW DO INTERIOR DESIGNER CHARGES?
Ah, there’s a question for the ages, because interior designers have many different ways of charging clients. Some charge an hourly rate, from $80 to $119 on average, according to HomeWyse; some charge a flat fee for the entire project; some take a percentage of the total project even if you find a $40 throw pillow on your own; and some combine hourly fees with project percentages.

The take-home lesson is to make sure you have a contract that states clearly the scope of work and what/when/how compensation is expected, so problems don’t come up later.

3. HOW DO YOU FIND INTERIOR DESIGNERS?
Finding one is not much different from finding any subcontractor to work on your building or remodeling project. Although anyone can call himself a designer, the highest-qualified interior designers have a college degree in design and have obtained a NCIDQ Certification given by the Council for Interior Design Qualification.

Call the ASID: The association maintains a database of members who meet the group’s educational and work experience standards.

Contact design schools: Many design colleges have placement services for graduates.

Seek referrals: Ask family, friends, and co-workers for names of designers they loved working with. When you have a few names, check out their online portfolios and pay particular attention to before and after shots.

Visit decorator show houses: Usually in the fall, charities put together show houses where designers create rooms that showcase their style and talents.

Flip through magazines: While you’re binging on a Netflix show, browse Pinterest or flip through magazines, and pull out designs and accessories that make you drool. Contact the designer of record. Even if you can’t find the designer, or his price is astronomical, you’ll have visuals to explain to someone else what look you’re going for.

4. HOW DO YOU INTERVIEW A DESIGNER?
During your initial interview:

  • Ask about the designer’s education, experience, and professional affiliations such as ASID membership.
  • Discuss what other services the designer can provide. Can she manage the job if you’re away on vacation? Will he pick up and deliver items
  • What visuals will the designer provide? A style or sample board with fabric swatches, paint chips, and pictures of furniture? Scale or elevation drawings? If you’re a visual person, basic drafting drawings will suffice. But if it’s hard for you to imagine the finished product, then detailed elevation drawings will help.
  • Discuss the designer’s payment structure.
  • Talk about the best way to communicate with the designer—telephone, email, text? And ask how long she will take to return messages.

The biggest question: How will we get along? If you don’t feel the spark during the interview, you probably aren’t talking to the right designer. If the designer isn’t asking questions about your style, thoughts, and dreams for the project, she probably won’t magically learn listening skills when the project is underway.

Some people forge lifelong relationships with interior designers, using the same person for their primary residence and vacation homes. Some people can’t wait for one project to end and never lay eyes on their designer again. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person, so make sure to find one you click with, who values your ideas and responds to your concerns.

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Spacious Ranch Home with Totally Up dated Kitchen on 1.08 acre Land

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Updated four bedroom ranch home in Hazelwood, just far enough away from the city and the airport, but close to I-70 and many amenities. Totally updated kitchen, four bedrooms, hardwood floors, fireplace, two living areas, large laundry room, over an acre of land, storage shed. Lots of privacy in this scenic location with peaceful country living yet easy access to everything. Oversized 2 car garage. Home warranty in place. See this home, you will love it.

’WESTFIELD IN LIGHTS’ RETURNS THIS WEEKEND

This year’s Westfield in Lights celebration will be held December 3rd from 3 – 7 p.m. in downtown Westfield. In addition to the tree lighting ceremony, the event will feature carriage and wagon rides, train rides, a gingerbread house display and free pictures with Santa and Frosty the Snowman.

“This is a such an exciting holiday tradition that is fun for the whole family,” said Westfield Parks and Recreation Director Melody Jones. “With so much going on, there’s something for kids of all ages to enjoy.”

The lawn and parking lots of city hall will feature live reindeer as well as a Merry Marketplace where attendees can stop and grab a snack or beverage to stay warm.

Two new features have been added to this year’s event. City Hall’s north parking lot will be a dedicated retail area called Sugarplum Shoppes, where attendees can put a dent in their holiday shopping. Also, The Union will be transformed into a Princess Palace, where kids can meet the Snow Sisters.

The tree lighting will take place promptly at 7p.m., with torchbearers from this year’s Indiana Bicentennial assisting Mayor Andy Cook light the tree.

For maps, parking and a more complete schedule of events, visit www.enjoywestfieldevents.com/lights 

Westfield Communications Department from City of Westfield 

WESTFIELD RELEASES 2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

Westfield, IN- The city of Westfield has released its year-end report. The 2016 Year in Review details major accomplishments by the community since October 2015 through October 2016.

“This past year saw a lot of great progress for our community,” Mayor Andy Cook said.

“We’re excited that 2016 allowed us to add to our trails system, grow our business and residential communities and see continued success of Grand Park.”

The report covers public safety statistics, infrastructure investments, economic development information and parks and recreation data.

Top 10: Hendricks County Holiday Events in 2016

We have officially entered November, which means that the holiday season is upon us. There are many wonderful reasons to visit Hendricks County during the holidays, and I’ve picked out ten of my favorites to share with you.
In our house, the Christmas season means that the days fly by so quickly that you suddenly blink and it’s January. It’s helpful to get things down on a calendar in early November so that we don’t miss anything. So I’ll cover my Top 10 holiday events very briefly in this post so that you can get them on your calendar, and then follow this blog throughout the holiday season for more in-depth coverage of these events.

Hendricks County Flyer Holiday Craft Show

Get a jump on your holiday shopping at the 26th Annual Hendricks County Flyer Holiday Craft Show Nov. 12-13 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in Danville. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 12th and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 13th, more than 170 vendors will sell crafts, jewelry, specialty food, clothing and many other wonderful gifts for everyone on your list.

Danville Train Show

An annual Christmas tradition, the Danville Train Show returns to the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds on Nov. 19from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as huge operating layouts, displays, model judging, vendors, door prizes and clinics are sure to captivate train enthusiasts of all ages. For more information, click here
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You can’t beat the old-fashioned celebration at Beasley’s Christmas at the Orchard.

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Beasley’s Christmas at the Orchard

On Nov. 19 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, visit Beasley’s Orchard in Danville for Beasley’s Christmas at the Orchard. Experience an old-fashioned Christmas with free visits with Santa Claus, optional professional photos, games, crafts, face painting, live dulcimer music, food and great options for holiday gifts. For more information, click here.

Christmas on the Square

A favorite family tradition in my house, Danville’s Christmas on the Square takes place the day after Thanksgiving — Nov. 25 — from 4 to 6 p.m. on the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square. This free event under a beautiful canopy of lights features a live nativity scene, a trackless train, caroling, and Christmas characters strolling around. Christmas on the Square culminates with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree.

Winterland Christmas Light Show

The lighting of Danville’s Christmas tree also marks the grand opening of the Winterland Christmas Light Show just down the street at Ellis Park. Drive through the park with the family while listening to Christmas music on the radio that is synchronized with the light displays. I can’t even begin to guess how many thousands upon thousands of lights there are in this display, highlighted by a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree. The light show is open daily from Nov. 25 through Dec. 30, closed on Christmas Day.

Christmas in Coatesville

On Dec. 2, head out to western Hendricks County for Christmas in Coatesville. Downtown stores will be open for shopping, everyone can join in with local church choirs who will be caroling, and the town lights its Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m. Come back out to Coatesville on Dec. 3 for more shopping, and then fill your belly with chili with Santa beginning at 6 p.m. For more information, click here
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If you have never been before or even if you have, the Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas is a must-see event.

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Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas

An absolutely fantastic spot to do some holiday shopping is the Plainfield Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas, which takes place on Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Plainfield High School. More than 130 vendors will be on-site with unique, hand-crafted gifts, home decor, accessories, seasonal artwork, and more. This is a juried event, so you won’t find any commercial or imported items here. Just one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items. For more information, click here.

Avon Christmas Tree Lighting

The Town of Avon holds its Christmas Tree Lighting at Avon Town Hall Park on Dec. 3 beginning at 5 p.m., complete with train rides, games, crafts and fireworks!

Christmas Under the Stars Parade

How about a parade…at night…in December? It’s actually a lot of fun! Bundle the family up and line the streets of Brownsburg for the Christmas Under the Stars Parade on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. The floats are great, the candy is plentiful and Santa Claus is there! Then head to Brownsburg Town Hall immediately after the parade for more Christmas fun, including the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree.

Candy Cane Hunt

For something a little different, try visiting Natural Valley Ranch in Brownsburg for their Candy Cane Hunt on Dec. 10. Tickets are available for sessions at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m., and kids can visit with Santa Claus, enjoy a petting zoo and munch on a snack from the popcorn bar while hunting for candy canes. For more information about this event — and Natural Valley Ranch’s Cookies & Cocoa event on Dec. 3 — click here.
These ten holiday events in Hendricks County are but a tiny fraction of all of the things to do in Hendricks County over the next couple of months. Be sure to check out the Visit Hendricks County Events Calendar for even more fun!

How To Sell Your House When You Work From Home

Selling your home can be especially challenging when your home is also your office. Make the process a breeze with these hacks.

Woman-At-Desk-Working-On-Computer-091216-HERO.jpgThe number of teleworkers (who are not self-employed) has grown enormously over the past several years. And it’s no wonder: Technology has made it even easier to work from just about anywhere, anytime (even in your pajamas if you want to). One added perk? That smug feeling of satisfaction you have when other people complain about traffic in Los Angeles, CA, or their commute times on the beltway into Washington, DC.

But working from home comes with its own set of challenges, and potentially a more formidable experience when selling your home. Working from a for-sale house means constant interruptions from real estate agents, keeping everything clean at all times (yes, even your office), and the need to vacate at a moment’s notice. Here are some workarounds on how to work from home and sell your home-slash-office.

1. Set up specific open-house hours and showing times

Carve out a little sanity — and time for conference calls — by making sure you set a schedule that works for your work habits and your real estate agent. “Place restrictions for showing times,” says Michael Kelczewski, a Pennsylvania and Delaware agent. Kelczewski, who frequently works from home and is currently selling his residence, says limiting the times your agent can show your home eases stress.

But be warned: There is a risk that you’ll miss out on potential buyers by being too regimented. Kelczewski says to consider the “scarcity principle,” which could work in your favor. If you deny access on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings because those are your busiest times, for example, the scarcity principle says that because potential buyers can’t just pop in anytime, they will really make the effort to see your home when it finally becomes accessible. Nice, eh?

2. Keep your office tidy

Albert Einstein famously said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” While a messy desk might work for you, it won’t do you any good when trying to sell your home. The solution: “Have a clever way to conceal work clutter,” says Jamie Novak, professional organizer and author of Keep This Toss That. Novak often works from home and is currently selling her house. “I have a decorative basket where I can toss the stacks of paper,” she says. If that still looks messy, here’s another trick from Novak: “Cut the end off a box, wrap it in birthday gift wrap, and drop it over the stack of paperwork.”

3. Clear out to a coffee shop

There might be times when the best course of action is to show the house when a potential buyer wants to see it, even if it’s not the best time for you. Sure, you can stay holed up in your office and wave hello when your potential buyer comes through for a look, but that’s awkward. Plus, by staying, you might sabotage the showing. Remember the Boy Scout motto in this instance: Be prepared. Keep a briefcase nearby to sweep papers and your laptop into. “Have your charging cables ready to go,” says Novak. “If you need to dash out, you can continue to work from the local coffee shop.”

If working at a coffeehouse proves too distracting or noisy for you, or if there are no good local shops to dash to, you can work in your vehicle — if you have it set up right. “Set up a mini mobile office in your car,” says Novak. “Have paper, pens, important phone numbers, a flat surface for writing (like a clipboard), and anything else you commonly reach for while working … including a nonperishable snack.”

But before you head out the door, take a few minutes to run through Novak’s staging checklist.

  • Stash personal toiletries out of sight.
  • Turn on lights.
  • Open the curtains or blinds to let in natural light.
  • Empty the trash cans.
  • Put down toilet seats.
  • Make the beds.
  • Make sure the house smells nice.
  • Take a look outside and put away any trash cans, recycling bins, and newspapers.
  • Shake off the front-door welcome mat.

And don’t forget to hide important papers. “Have a way to secure any client files or confidential items,” says Kellie Tinnin, a New Mexico agent. “Make a closet or storage space available in the home that can be secured.”

4. Learn to deal with your agent’s constant interruptions

Having your real estate agent blow up your phone is usually a welcome experience for home sellers. It means buyers are interested, right? But when you’re trying to meet a work deadline, your enthusiastic agent could be an annoyance. Speak with your agent about what you want to be contacted about immediately and what can wait until later. If a potential buyer wants to come over in two hours, your agent needs to let you know, even if it means interrupting your workday. But feedback from the showings can wait until after work.

You can also speak with your agent about prescreening potential buyers, which could cut down unnecessary showings considerably. “Request that only prospective buyers who are preapproved for a loan are permitted to view the home,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. “Then task your [agent] with ensuring that criteria is met.”

5. Invest in coworking space

A coworking space, in case you aren’t familiar, is a sort of commune for freelancers, small-business owners, and telecommuters. They give anyone who doesn’t go into a regular office the chance to work alongside other professionals. They’re typically set up as offices, with private conference rooms and desk space. Most coworking spaces offer low rent, especially if you need only a desk, and most let you rent on a short-term basis — perfect if you need this option only temporarily while selling your house. Bonus: You might meet some new friends to spend happy hour with.

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