Judy Rivard - Sawicki Real Estate


Are you a minimalist? If you’ve heard this question recently, you may be wondering just what it means and how does it affect you. It is NOT a set of rules.It is NOT about how much you own.

It is NOT about how much money you earn. 
It is NOT about buying specific items or giving up certain things.
It is NOT about being frugal.
It is NOT throwing out all your belongings and sleeping in a yurt (unless that makes you happy).
It is NOT about living in a tiny house (although it can be for you).
It IS about quality over quantity; peace over disorder; satisfaction over extravagance.

Minimalism is a mindset about what we require to be happy and what only clutters up our homes and our lives. It is about getting rid of the unnecessary things that take up space, consume time, and contribute to frustration and exhaustion. You can be a true minimalist in a mansion, a townhome, an apartment, or a houseboat as long as what fills your space contributes to contentment and order rather than stress and chaos.

When it comes to buying a home, minimalists look for spaces that reflect their personality rather than the latest trend. A minimalist is a different type of homebuyer. Becoming minimalist might be right up your alley if you hate the over-stuffed closet or messy junk drawer, find yourself irritated by clutter and uncomfortable with a hodgepodge of decorative items you subconsciously think of as “dust collectors.”

While a form of minimalism is an architectural style commonly seen in Japanese design with an aesthetic toward simplicity and clean lines, most homes do not fit into this category. Does that mean you can’t have a minimalist lifestyle? Of course not. Just adopt minimalist concepts to fit into any living space.

One way to accomplish this is to reduce the amount of furniture you have in each room. Opt for the pieces that everyone uses and give away ones that only fill up space. Reduce window coverings to a minimum rather than the multi-layered blind-sheer-drape-valance style. Organize the items that you keep so that each has a home. Reduce clutter by highlighting one or two items of a collection and rotating special pieces instead of displaying them all at once.

Simplify in other ways by installing native grasses and plants, thereby reducing the need for lawn care and gardening. Add interest to your yard with hardscaping: rock gardens or paver stones in decorative patterns.

When seeking a new home visualize what makes you most happy as you walk through model homes and open houses letting your imagination discard what doesn’t fit. Help your real estate professional know about your aesthetic to have the best chance of finding your minimalist home.


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Whether you’re buying a house or selling a home, the smartest move you can make is to hire a real estate agent to represent your interests. But before you do, take these important steps so you can be best prepared for the next stages.

Have An Idea Of What Kind Of House You Want To Buy

If planning to purchase a new house, prepare for your real estate agent interview by figuring out what kind of house you’re interested in. For this, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the various house style terms, like ranch, colonial, craftsman, Tudor, etc. Knowing these terms and knowing what you want will enable you and your agent to communicate easier, and your agent will be able to more quickly find the kind of homes you’d be interested in.

Get Your Financing In Order

Nothing’s worse than finding the house of your dreams, only to find out you can’t get approved for a mortgage. Before you do anything else, get your financing in order. Speak to a lender about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This will let you know how much you’re approved for and how much house you can afford. Your pre-approval status is also a powerful bargaining chip if for some reason you need to compete with other bidders.

Be Ready to Move

If you hire a good real estate agent to sell your house, you could be looking at a closing date just 30 days away. A good agent can have potential buyers ready to close fast. Are you ready for that? Before hiring your real estate agent, make sure you’re ready to move. Have a contingency plan in place if you need to move out quickly, including:

  • Storage facility
  • School documents for your children
  • Place to move into
  • Cleaning company
  • Know Where You Stand With Your Existing Mortgage

    You should have a very clear understanding of where you currently stand with your existing mortgage if you’re thinking of selling. You need to know the minimum of what you need to sell your house for so you can make the profit that you hope to gain. Also, go through your mortgage paperwork to ensure there will be no surprises regarding special clauses or contingencies when it comes to selling the house. Depending on the restrictions of your mortgage, there may be caveats as far as transferring title or changing terms.

    Ask About the Real Estate Agent’s Track Record

    During your interview with a prospective real estate agent, it’s fair to ask them what their track record is. Real estate agents keep tabs on how many houses they’ve bought and sold in any year, so the agent will be able to rattle off their “statistics” for you. Be sure to ask how long their houses stayed on the market, too, since that will reflect on the agent’s salesmanship skills.

    These steps will ensure that your real estate experience will be a positive one. Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll be ready to hire a real estate agent to buy or sell your home!


    Photo by Sandid via Pixabay

    Everyone loves pampering. Your home is no different. A little pre-snow cleanup gives your house that extra special attention it needs. Giving your home some special treatment will reward you with comfort, less clutter and a bright, clean environment.

    Autumn Clean Up

    During warm weather, dust, dirt, and sand sneak into corners and crevices. Attack the tight spaces between garden sheds and fences with an intense burst of water to dislodge debris. Rake decaying leaves and foliage away from your foundation. Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters during a heavy rain may put your roof at risk of water damage. Call a gutter service if it is too dangerous or difficult for you to reach. In fact, this might be an excellent time to have your roof inspected too.

    Check Your Outdoor Equipment

    If you have cold-weather equipment in the garage or other storage, now is the time to clean it. Get it serviced and check it for rust, salt or de-icing residue and prepare it for the weather to come. Clean up your gardening equipment too. Storing away your spring and summer paraphernalia gives you more space to set up outdoor decorations. Remember to schedule the reverse in the spring: clean and stow your wintertime equipment in preparation for spring.

    Take a moment to change out the contents in your car trunk. Switch out bug cleaner for anti-freeze and stow your summer beach gear. Change out that sun-shield for an ice scraper and replace your wiper blades. Add a winter survival kit (blankets, a candle, lighter, gloves, sand, and road flares) for a little added precaution.

    Clean the Outside

    Whether you have brick or stucco, vinyl siding or cedar shakes, soot, grime, mold, and mildew can build up. Clean vinyl siding using a soft cloth or brush and a mixture of 70% water with 30% white vinegar. Alternatively, use a mix of an oxygen-based bleach with a powdered household cleaner. Other biodegradable cleaners, especially if they are gentle, will work well too, but avoid harsh detergents or abrasive scrubbing. Make sure you carefully follow the advice of your siding manufacturer.

    For stone, stucco, or bricks, use a power washer, but watch the PSI since too strong a stream may dislodge the mortar or loosen stucco. Remove mold, moss stains and mildew with specially formulated chemicals for your exterior type.

    With a clean exterior, your house is ready for any hits from winter weather. As a bonus, if you’re placing your home on the market this winter, your extra efforts outdoors will make it stand out. For more winter curb appeal ideas, talk to your real estate professional.


    Buying a home represents a life-changing decision. As such, you'll want to look beyond the price of a residence as you search for your dream house.

    Ultimately, there are many factors beyond price that you should consider as you pursue your ideal residence, including:

    1. A Home's Location

    For most homebuyers, a house's location is the number one factor when they explore the real estate market, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

    Finding a home in a location that is convenient for you is priceless. And if you know how to conduct a comprehensive home search, you can quickly discover a high-quality home in a wonderful location.

    As you prepare to kick off your home search, consider whether you'd like to live in a city or town. This will enable you to narrow your home search.

    You also may want to consider homes that are located near work or school. By doing so, you can ensure that you won't have to travel too far to get to destinations that you frequently visit.

    2. A Home's Condition

    A home may look like a great investment at first, but its condition may have deteriorated over time. Thus, you'll want to take a close look at a house's condition before you finalize a home purchase.

    Typically, a homebuyer will complete a property inspection after a home seller accepts an offer on a residence. This inspection will enable a homebuyer to perform an in-depth assessment of a residence and learn about its strengths and weaknesses. Then, a homebuyer can determine whether to move forward with a home acquisition.

    If a property inspector discovers myriad issues that impact a home's condition, a homebuyer may want to reconsider his or her offer. At this point, a homebuyer can still walk away from a home purchase. Or, a homebuyer can ask the home seller to complete various home improvements as well.

    On the other hand, a homebuyer who falls in love with a house may choose to proceed with a home purchase, regardless of the residence's condition. If you choose this option, however, it is important to consider the potential long-term ramifications of your decision.

    3. Your Future

    It is paramount for a homebuyer to find a house that he or she can enjoy for years to come. Therefore, a homebuyer should consider his or her future before finalizing a home purchase.

    For example, if you plan to settle down and start a family, you may want to evaluate houses that are close to schools. Conversely, if you eventually want to work in the big city, you may want to consider homes that will make it easy to commute into the city day after day.

    Don't forget to hire a real estate agent to help you during the homebuying journey too. With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble examining a broad range of top-notch houses that won't force you to break your budget.


    Buying a home is a very detail-oriented process, and there's a lot of important things you can overlook if you're not organized.

    Home buyers generally have the opportunity to do a last-minute inspection of the premises to make sure everything's up to standards prior to closing on the property.

    A real estate buyer's agent can accompany you on the final inspection or provide you with advice on what to look for.

    If you've already visited the home a couple times and had the house professionally inspected, you're probably well-acquainted with any major malfunctions, flaws, or repair issues. In many cases, home buyers may reach an agreement with the seller to fix, replace, or make allowances for mechanical or cosmetic problems. While real estate negotiations and sales agreements are as varied as the people and properties involved, there are typically dozens of things buyers need to check on before they sign the final documents and accept ownership of the property.

    Final Walkthrough Tips

    As you're doing the final walk-through of the house, it's necessary to remember or have notes on the condition of the home when you last looked at it. You'll also want to have a clear idea of what appliances, fixtures, and window treatments are supposed to be remain in the house after it's been vacated by the seller. Depending on how close your final walk-through is to the actual closing, that has probably already happened.

    If there's anything missing that the seller agreed to include in the sale, then that's an issue you'll want to discuss with your real estate agent or attorney. Any property damage that may have resulted from moving furniture and other belongings should also be discussed before final papers are signed. The same thing would apply to landscaping changes that appear to be inconsistent with the sales agreement. Your buyer's agent and/or lawyer can serve as intermediary in getting these issues clarified and ironed out.

    To make sure your final inspection is thorough, it's a good idea to have a "final walk-through checklist" to help keep you organized and focused. You'll want to take a last-minute inventory of items that are supposed to be included with the property sale, such as appliances, lighting fixtures, furnishings, window treatments, children's play structures, hot tubs, and anything else that was agreed to in the sales contract.

    Other items you'll need access to may include garage door openers, manuals for appliances and mechanical systems, warranties, invoices for repairs made, and remote control devices for things like ceiling fans, alarms, and other systems.

    Your checklist and final walkthrough should focus on a variety of items, including the working condition of appliances, the electrical system, plumbing fixtures, and the condition of walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, and landscaping features. For a complete checklist, look online or consult your real estate agent.




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