5 reasons to landscape your property…as if you needed a reason!

Well, growing up in NYC…I was taking the subway by the time I was 12. The closest I got to nature on a regular basis was Central Park.

I learned early-on how to do things for myself but one thing I knew nothing about was greenery, much less how to keep a plant alive! So, when I was considering the purchase of my home in Westchester, I looked at the giant rock wall and only thought to myself, will my kids climb up these rocks and fall to their early deaths?!? The only thing that occurred to me was to get some helmets, not the effort or money that it might take to do something…ANYTHING! Two years later, my kids are still alive and my scraggly, looking-like-a-haunted-house, rock wall remained unchanged, until one week ago!

It has been overwhelming. With over 10,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space, it required a logical digression of thoughts…called, planning. I will reveal how unwittingly and yet, happily, my husband and I made the impromptu decision to clear the land…! [Look for my first video in my series, “One Minute Mistakes”.] However thoughtless (reckless?) our impulsive excitement may have been, starting was the hardest part!

When you approach your curb-side appeal and or landscaping, think about the time you’ll be spending to maintain it. Is that going to be your new hobby? Great! But, if not, are you going to hire someone? Or, can you create a beautiful look without breaking the bank…or your schedule?

Here are 5 suggestions from what I’ve learned so far:

1. Perennials, since they return ‘forever’, are considered a capital improvement and therefore are tax deductible! If your landscaping endeavors overlap into structure and or stone, masonry work is also a capital improvement.

2. Ground cover is a great alternative for a no-maintenance lawn or great for a sloping hill. Also, a lot of people do mulch, which is fine, but part of my sloping hill is a little bit flat and we don’t have a huge backyard. So I wanted something easy on the feet that my kids could play on in that section.

3. Figure out what zone you are in and then what types of plants are best for your zone area. Check it here. Are you on board with the kind of care it will need? It’s worth five minutes to consider this or you could be investing in either a contract with a landscape maintenance company or a lawn mower and your time.

4. Order bulk seeds online but buy plants locally. This way, you can see the plants in person and support local business. You can be confident they will do well because they are already growing. As you can tell, my standards have improved drastically from dead weeds to live plants!! 

Plan to get your seeds in the ground early but after last frost. Order twice as much as you think you need. Then you won’t be wasting your time and money and your seeds might actually grow – if they have enough light and water.

5. Curb appeal adds value and marketability period! The NAR (National Associations of Realtors) calculated that landscaping can add an additional 12% to the value of your home!

I’ll definitely share when my landscape has that certain Je ne sais quoi that I’m seeking. But, for now, I started what originally seemed like the unknown, insurmountable and daunting task of creating something easy on the eyes. Now that Ive been working out here, I’ve actually found the rock wall to be kind of forgiving and even somewhat ‘user friendly’!

6 reasons why its important that your real estate agent loves her job!

6 reasons why its important that you’re real estate agent loves her job!

Im honored to help my clients find their dream home… Buying a home is one of the most important choices in someone’s life and usually involves someone’s entire life savings. I hold that trust, as if you handed me a bubble and I carry that all the way to the end of the transaction. In other words, I consider it a big deal.

If you have any questions along the way, I’m there to provide answers. I’m there not only as an extra set of eyes and ears but to provide the right info when it’s needed. I’m there to help guide, assist and coordinate the (potentially) 10-15 industry professionals that you may encounter during this one transaction. Making sure you get the best possible deal begins when I start collecting information from each of these professionals about the house so that by the time I get to the negotiating table, I not only know the person I’m negotiating with but they also know what my client’s key concerns are.  I turn over every rock to make sure you and your attorney have all the right info prior to the contract signing and at the closing table.

A house purchase is not only one of the most important purchases of one’s lifetime but it’s a personal journey of wants and desires, hopes and dreams and, ultimately, what memories will unfold there. I consider my job a significant role in finding and realizing your dreams.

Knowing that your real estate agent truly loves her job will mean that you are getting a standard of excellence and ultimately are going to either get the best selection, price and or timeline!

  1. I will have your best interest at heart. Its my job! If I’m representing you as my client then its part of the service that I am trained and obligated to offer you. Im loyal as heck and its in your best interest to have an exclusive agreement with me. When I know you’re in it with me – I’m willing to do whatever it takes to have the biggest transaction of your life turn out well!

  2. I love looking at all kinds of houses – kind of like people, each one is unique in its own way with special features. Historic to contemporary. I love that one day I can go into a dutch colonial and another I can be showing a mid-century.

  3. Understanding what the client is looking for. Finding a home is a highly personal choice and knowing when to pause and inquire over a coffee or phone call is par for the course. If its a couple, this could translate to understanding both individuals separately and where they are overlap in their similarities and where they are willing to bend towards the other person. Discovering and navigating the desires and needs of my clients are as interesting as the houses themselves. 

  4. Uncovering (sometimes critical) mysteries.  If necessary, I will be uncovering information that will either seal the deal or continue the search! Being an agent and having the ability and access to reveal relevant information about your transaction. 

  5. I love a mission. No matter where each home search and ultimately real estate deal takes us there is a beginning, middle and end. I love the ebb and flow of this timing.

  6. Representing my clients ethically – at the end of the day, its satisfying knowing that I’ve done a great job and was a pivitol part of my client accomplishing a milestone goal in life.

A moment of transition. Whether you are upgrading and expanding a family, downsizing, or relocating – this time in one’s life is usually filled with changes that require reflection. Having that feeling that your agent is taking special care and representing you with loyalty and confidence, allows you to go through this transaction with peace of mind. I’m here to guide you through some of the more practical aspects of how to get to that ultimate vision.

So what is your ‘why’? Is it letting your dogs out into the backyard (or land) to run free? Is it having a kitchen that everyone you care about can overflow into? Is it sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and a book while your feet get toasty? Is it having your kids get off the bus and walk right to your front door? Whatever ‘it’ is, lets make it happen in a way that has you feel excited when you put the key in the front door!

A heated debate…fireplace or woodburning stove? Part 1

Seriously? Before I moved to the country I would have never in a million years considered a house with a wood burning stove not to mention actually taking a beautiful fireplace and converting it!!

We purchased an old stone house near the damn in Croton and rehabbed our practically non-existent kitchen into the main part of the house – this is a story for another day.

My point is, that in doing this necessary work we had to reconfigure the heat and remove the forced air.  Ill just say, it was not an easy task to access what type of heat was the right match for our old house.  Especially, growing up in an apartment building where heat magically appears in large amounts wafting out of radiators in every room. A little background it is an old house, a bit drafty near the windows and doesn’t have insulation in the portions that weren’t gutted.

One certain approach is to gut the entire house, re-insulate with modern and efficient insulation and go for the total HVAC heating and cooling system. After living through a 4-5 month renovation in the kitchen and adding a bath and laundry room etc etc I wasn’t keen on jumping head long into a major demo this would require. However, one thing I kept coming back to is wanting to put the heat in the basement where I could take advantage of the natural and earthly mechanics of rising force of heat. Obvious, right? But old houses are not perfect and, I’m learning, all part of the charm.  The 1/2 of the house that we wanted to put the heat system under had a ginormous granite boulder that made it impossible to get under at all. Oh well, so much for rising hot air.

Ive slowly come to the conclusion that installing a full on heating system means ignoring the chimney and fireplace as a source for heat. This also means that we are ignoring the resources (and charm) that an old house may have to offer. As my husband and I carried wood all winter long only to keep eyeing that fireplace and the fire in it…we would gaze away at the lovingness and scratch our heads at why we (I) was still freezing! So after trying to get as close as I can without crawling into it – finally submitting to it as a possible solution to our winter quandary. (to be continued…when we go check out Home & Hearth)