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Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for December 2016

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA single family homes saw pending sales decrease by 6.7% in December 2016 when compared to December 2015. 493 homes sold in December with a median sales price of $310,000, a 6.89% increase from December 2015.  The average sales price increased by 3.21%, and homes were on the market 5 days less.

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Working from home is the dream, isn’t it? No more long commute (or drama from your cubicle mate). It’s so much easier to be productive, right?

But then … something happens. Your Netflix queue beckons. You can’t unsee that pile of dirty laundry. Your fluffy bed seduces you into taking a two-hour siesta.

Now you’re behind and working weekends to catch up. You need help. You need an organized workspace. “It really allows you to focus on what’s important,” says Calabasas, Calif.-based organizer Lori Gersh.

Here’s how to fix your home work space to pump up your productivity:

1. Purge First

Sure, shopping for organizers is fun. They don’t call it “retail therapy” for nothing. But to create a system primed for maximum output, you first should soldier through the task of ditching paperwork and office supplies that clutter rather than help, and, most importantly, finding homes for all things unrelated to work (well, except for a sentimental photo or two — and plants; plants are good). Consider it boot camp to get your work life in shape.

Plus, the more open and organized your space is, the easier it’ll be to focus.

2. Create a Work Hub — Even if Space Is Minimal

A separate room with only one function — work — is ideal, but so is a beachfront address. Just because you don’t have a spare room doesn’t mean you can’t have an “office.” You can easily create one.

A small desk and storage ottoman for files and supplies may be all you need.

Or a small coat closet could be repurposed if you need something more substantial. Relocate the coats and jackets to hooks in your entry or move them to other closets, and convert that closet into a work nook with a built-in tabletop and floating shelves.

But if you work from a multi-purpose space like the kitchen table, or prefer to roam from table to couch, it’s a bit more of a challenge — but still solvable.

Try a rolling cart loaded with your work supplies. “It helps you focus because you have things right where you need them,” says New York City organizer Stephanie Shalofsky. (There’s a ton of sizes and configurations to choose from, and most are less than $100.) Then simply roll it out of sight when company comes.

3. Use Vertical Space to Organize

It’s surprising how often wall space is overlooked as an organizing solution. When everything you need is right there on your wall and easy to find, your productivity jumps.

Buy ready-to-hang cubbies, or create your own system, and hang them just as you would a collection of pictures. Some other ideas:

Use a pegboard to store supplies such as scissors, calendars, and notes.

Stow files in magazine holders mounted to the walls.

Hang a shoe organizer with clear sleeves to keep supplies such as pens in plain sight (this will work on a rolling cart, too, if you cut it to fit).

4. Separate Household Files From Work Files

If you do business and household duties from the same space, you need separate systems to help you stay focused, Shalofsky says. This is super easy to do. You just need to commit to do it:

Keep two different calendars and to-do lists.

Use different drawers, cabinets, shelves, or file bins.

Then keep those household files out of sight when you’re working. Just like seeing a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, seeing bills waiting to be paid can entice your mind to wander.

5. Turn Away From Temptation

For most home-based workers, the comfort of home is the prime saboteur of productivity. Is your workspace in sight of distractions, such as your TV, or the dining room you still haven’t finished painting? “If it doesn’t have to do with your business, it will clog up your space and your head,” Gersh says.

If you have to work from the kitchen table, choose a seat facing a wall or window rather than the sink or stove.

If there’s no place to set up shop other than next to the TV, sit with your back toward it. If that’s not possible, think about hiding your TV, literally. You can disguise it behind a painting or mirror. That creates a barrier, forcing you to actively choose watching TV over doing business.

Or, if space permits, position a freestanding bookshelf or screen between your work space and household distractions.

Here’s a nice little bonus: These tactics also have the added benefit of putting your work out of sight when you’re ready to relax at home.

6. Set Boundaries on Browsing

OK, this is a challenge even people stuck in the office face: A little bit of Facebook browsing here and a few minutes of online shopping there is all too tempting. But it’s even worse when you work from home because your boss can’t see you.

But it’s your home. Your castle. Where you ARE the boss.

With that mindset, think about creating some accountability for yourself. Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Create a different browser profile for work use, so your favorite bookmarks aren’t beckoning during office hours.

2. Enlist the aid of an online tool, such as Focus or Freedom, which can keep you in check by blocking access to sites that’ll suck you in (ahem, Pinterest) when you’re working.

You just might boost your productivity enough to take Friday afternoon off. So maybe you’ll get to finish painting the dining room after all, and still have the weekend off to enjoy it. How sweet is that?

7. Tidy Up Before Clocking Out

When you work from home, there’s no cleaning crew to spruce up your space after hours, and no peer pressure to maintain a somewhat-orderly space. So although it’s tempting to let it be, take just a few moments to toss unnecessary paperwork, remove trash, and make sure your work space is ready for work in the a.m. By clearing the way today, you’ll hit the ground running tomorrow.

Congratulations. You’re now living the work-at-home dream!

Home Maintenance for Winter

by Scott Darling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home maintenance may be the last thing on your mind now that the holidays are over and the days are becoming colder and colder.  Sitting in your home wrapped in your favorite blanket by the fire is likely what you are thinking about this winter.  There is some home maintenance items   you should take care of during the winter months however so that you don’t have to deal with issues caused by not doing so later.  Below is a list of a few home maintenance items you need to go ahead and take care of around your house this winter. 

  1.  As temperatures continue to plummet this winter you should do your best to protect your pipes from freezing.  You can wrap your pipes with many different things to protect them from the elements such as heat tape and insulated pipe covers.  If your pipes do freeze you can easily thaw them out by wrapping it in a heating pad or using a hairdryer.
  2. Another home maintenance  item you need to take care of this winter to avoid issues later in the year is to do an inspection of your roof, your gutters and your siding as well as your chimney.  Make sure that everything is in good working order before the winter pushes your house to its breaking point. 
  3. Winter is a good time to do some cleaning that you might not otherwise think about as well such as cleaning out your range hood, refrigerator coils, dusting off ceiling fans, and dusting off light fixtures and bulbs.  These items typically get overlooked when it is warm outside because you don’t spend as much time indoors when it’s nice out.  Being stuck inside on a cold wintery day is a great excuse or reason to clean these types of things. 
  4. Lastly you might want to take the time you have in your home this winter to de-clutter your house.  Getting rid of clutter will not only get rid of fire hazards but will also make you feel more at peace when you do have to spend a lot of time indoors. 

These are a few home maintenance ideas that will help you to keep your house in good working order for the year to come.   Why not get started now so that you can then have some time to rest before you have to do it all over again.  

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

New Year Resolutions to Help You Purchase a Home

by Scott Darling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are like the rest of us then just a few days ago you made a list of New Year resolutions.   Many of us however do not stick to our plan when it comes to these promises we make ourselves.  If you plan to purchase a home sometime in this New Year you need to make a few related resolutions that will likely help you to attain your goal and dream of home ownership.  Below these resolutions are listed for you. 

  1.  Stop opening credit cards.  It is easy these days especially when you are shopping, to open one credit card after the other.  If buying a home is on your to do list this year however, you need to steer clear of opening new credit cards. 
  2. Start paying your student loans on time every time.  Many times when folks get student loans they tend to think they can pay them as they can but that can mess up your credit in no time.  If someone who has good credit and shows they are good at paying bills on time every time puts a bid in on a house you have your eye on and you put a bid on that house as well, it’s likely due to their history that they will win the bid and not you. 
  3. Start paying your credit cards every month and on time.  Even if you can’t afford to pay more than just the minimum payment you need to make sure you pay your credit card each and every month.   This type of diligence will serve you well when you go to make an offer on a house.  
  4. Make sure you have a little bit of a cash reserve in your bank account at all times.  It won’t look good to a mortgage lender when you ask for a loan if you have a zero balance in your bank account. 
  5. Stick with the same job for as long as you can.  Jumping from one job to another during a year is a sure fire way to lose your chance at the home of your dreams.  Lenders want to see stability and staying with the same job for a few years will show them that. 

These New Year resolutions, if you do your best to keep them, will do their part towards helping you to purchase the home you have always dreamed about.  

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

What a wonderful home with a spectacular panoramic view of the valley. This home rests near the top of the development and from standing on the very oversized composite deck, you’ll be able to see for miles. Nearly everything is done and ready to move in. Enter into the foyer and you’ll quickly notice the step-down living room with a gorgeous fireplace. The large dining room has a great view thru the sliding glass doors off to the deck. The kitchen is spacious with lots of cabinets and storage. There’s also a convenient powder room and the door that leads out to the one car garage. The garage also has a set of pull down steps leading to additional storage space. Upstairs are three very good sized bedrooms. The hall bath also has its own entrance to the master bedroom making it very convenient. The walkout basement is finished with a TV/sitting/play area as well as a bar and a laundry/utility room. The sliding glass doors from the basement go right out to the lower level of the monstrous two-tiered deck. This is a great place to relax and also entertain. This home has a lot to offer and is located in the Downingtown School District. Finished basement adds an additional 348 square feet!
 

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Photo of Scott Darling Real Estate
Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275