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Updating Your Thrift Store Finds!

by Scott Darling


No matter how you’ve acquired a piece of old furniture or other used decorative items
--a family piece, great yard sale finds, or online--there is almost always a way to update it to fit into your decor!  Here are a few tips and idea links for making your new old treasure sparkle! 

 

  • - Before you buy any used item, inspect it as well as you can for broken/missing parts or loose hardware.  With the exception that you’re certain you can repair it yourself; it might be better left for someone else with experience. 
     

  • - Laminated pieces that are in bad condition will never repair well.  Not only that, but laminate furniture is usually not made of solid wood underneath and won’t have a lot of life left in them unless they’re in perfect condition.   
     

  • - Cleaning is probably the first thing you’ll need to do. The Creek Line Home blog has some great solutions for cleaning thoroughly, as well as removing odors.  
     

  • - Does your piece need a little work?  Unless you love the look of distressed furniture, you will want to repair cracks, rings and replace missing wood.   
     

  • - Cushioned dining chairs are easily made over by removing the seat and covering the cushion with new fabric. (If the foam is very worn, you may need to replace that.) Pull it tightly and attach with a staple gun.  Painting the chair is easier without the cushion, but if you’re keeping the original finish, just re-attach the seat. 
     

  • - Decoupage is another way to bring an old wooden piece back to life.  Choose practically any kind of paper, and using a decoupage medium, cover the whole thing, or, like Miss Mustard Seed, just highlight certain parts, while leaving the rest painted. 
     

  • - Don’t pass up a good lamp! Many can be painted and outfitted with a new shade and serve you for years.  If the electrical parts are fried, lamp kits are available in-home stores and online. 

  • Spray paint is perfect for hard-to paint items such as candlesticks and decorative items, metal furniture pieces, and wicker furniture.   
     

  • - Chalk paint has become a popular choice for DIY furniture makeover enthusiasts, but there is a bit of prep work in spite of it being an “easy” way to paint. 
     

  • - Outdated art can even be made new again!  These ideas are amazing, and you’ll have what looks like commissioned pieces for just a few dollars and a little work. 

 

However, you decided to upgrade a piece, you will be getting exactly what you want for your home at a fraction of the cost of buying new.  Go online and look for ideas, and when you see an old and worn piece, you’ll be ready to give it new life! 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: roccommunitysummit.org

Go Green this Holiday Season!

by Scott Darling


We don’t need an official statistic to tell us that trash in the US increases during the holidays, but some reports say that over 1 million 
tons of extra waste are generated in the United States from Thanksgiving to the New Year!  How can we reduce that number?  It may take some effort on our part, but we can cut back on what we use and throw away during the holidays! 

 

  • - Not only will ditching store-bought gift wrap save room in the trash bin, but it will also save money! Check out these alternatives from How Stuff Works. In case you must buy something, look for inexpensive reusable tins, boxes and gift bags. 
     

  • - Besides gift cards, give presents that are about presence:  trips, a year’s pass to a museum or local amusement park, memberships to spas, or concert tickets.
     

  • - Thrift-shopping is one way to reuse items, and treasures can be found by visiting them often.  Don’t forget local social media “yard sale” groups, as well as websites that allow people to sell used items. 
     

  • - Don’t forget the batteries but make them rechargeable! This type of battery is becoming more affordable, especially in the smaller battery sizes, and it keeps nasty battery waste from going to our landfills. 
     

  • - It is irritating to get the lights up and half a strand dies as soon as they’re plugged in, but don’t throw them out!  Read about how to check them over,, as well as tools that are made specifically for repairing lights.  If they are truly burnt out, find a recycling center for them instead of sending them out with the garbage.
     

  • - Break out the “good” dishes instead of using disposables!  Ask everyone to pitch in once the meal is over, and clean-up will be a breeze. 
     

  • - Food waste is something we don’t think about often, but we can cut back on what we throw away by planning well and thinking creatively with leftovers.  Find helpful tips and recipes, as well as the Guest-Imator tool at savethefood.com. 
     

  • - Live trees are used in almost half of American homes, but they shouldn’t be sent to a landfill.  Learn about different ways to reuse the tree, or contact a conservation group to see if they can use it for wildlife. 

 

Cutting back during the holidays goes against what our society tells us about how we should spend these next few weeks, but even little things like using unconventional gift wrapping for just three gifts adds up, according to Visual.ly.  Commit to making three changes this year, and next year, add three more to your list.  Consider it a gift to the environment. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: nausetdisposal.com

Making an Offer is a Process!

by Scott Darling


While you’re on the house hunt, every property you see just might be “the one.”  It’s a good idea to learn the different aspects of buying a house before you get into them.  Many discover that after they’ve made an offer of purchase, the process isn’t exac
tly as they’d envisioned! You’ll feel confident when you get to this step by following this guide: 

 

  • - The offer itself isn’t just a price you’re willing to pay for the property; closing date, closing cost contribution, contingencies, or the earnest money deposit are all things that are normally included when the offer is submitted to the seller. 
     

  • - Talk with your agent before you come to your initial price, because you don’t want to insult the seller with a very low offer, nor do you want to pay too much for the house. 
     

  • - Although you won’t always get a complete answer, knowing why the house is on the market can give you some leverage, so ask anyway. Some sellers are in a time crunch and are eager to sell and may take your first offer. 
     

  • - Keep in mind that there are legal aspects to writing a proposal.  Your Realtor will know all the aspects of this part of the process and will take you through each step. 
     

  • - It is very likely that the seller won’t accept your price if it’s less than what they’re asking.  If they want to sell and have no higher offers, they may choose to send a counteroffer.  The counteroffer step is nothing to worry about, if the negotiations are getting you somewhere.   
     

  • - Some sellers will counteroffer with their original asking price.  If this happens, you may have to walk away, as they have shown they’re not interested in moving away from what they want for the property.
     

  • - Don’t forget that you may not be the only buyers interested in the home!  Realtor.com® offers some advice on how sellers might handle multiple offers and some ideas on how to make your offer stand out. 

 

When your offer is accepted, it’s exciting, but there is still work to do!  Hopefully, you have pre-approval for a mortgage, making the buying process a much smoother one.  There are added costs associated with buying a home, so be sure you have your finances in order.  

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: michiganfirstmortgage.com

Happy Thanksgiving

by Scott Darling

Laundry Mistakes You Could Be Making

by Scott Darling


Laundry.  For some, the word causes some dread, for others, it’s just another job, and for the rest--well, it seems as if they went to a laundry boot camp!  With so many different washers and products available, it’s easy to think that the machine will tak
e care of everything, but that’s not always the case.  Are you making any of these mistakes? 

 

  • Load size is important when you’re choosing your wash cycle and amount of detergent.  Too many clothes and they won’t get clean and adding too much detergent can cause the clothes to have more stains and residue.  The Spruce tells you how to figure out how much laundry your washer tub can hold. 
     

  • HE machines are just that--high efficiency.  They use less water and energy, but too much detergent can cause the machine to sense the extra suds and begin a second rinse cycle.  That’s not very efficient. 
     

  • Using fabric softener for all types of clothing isn’t necessary.  Athletic wear doesn’t benefit from the agents in the softener and defeats the purpose of moisture-wicking fibers.  Hang those to dry.  Towels will be just as soft without softener and dried in the dryer.   
     

  • Letting stains dry is never a good idea.  Sure, we have powerful stain-fighters easily accessible, but not every stain comes out.  The American Cleaning Institute Stain Removal Guide has a solution for almost every stain under the sun! 
     

  • Hand washing labels are there for a reason:  those items need gentle treatment. If you don’t have time to soak and swish those pieces in the sink, use a garment bag and the delicate cycle on your machine, and air or hang to dry. 
     

  • Leaving zippers down can cause distress to the zipper and break them.  On the other hand, washing a shirt left buttoned up is more likely to lose those buttons because of the pull on the fabric. 
     

  • Extra bleach sounds like a great idea when items are especially dirty, but it will cause the fabric to yellow and break down much faster.  Use the recommended amount on the bottle. 
     

  • The high heat setting should not be your default drying cycle.  Save that cycle for towels and whites.  Clothes may take longer on the low heat cycle, but the lower temperature helps save your clothes from fading and shrinkage. 

 

Don’t forget to keep your dryer running smoothly by cleaning the lint screen after every load you dry.  Change your way of thinking about doing laundry--instead of a job, it’s a process!  It may add a few minutes to this chore, but you’ll benefit in longer-lasting clothes and less energy use, saving money in the end. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: justdial.com 

Six Home-Selling Myths

by Scott Darling


When the time comes to sell your home, you get all sorts of advice from friends and family, as well as the internet.  Accepting 
all of that information as fact isn’t a good idea, because following all of this advice may end up costing you money and time. Let’s look at some of the myths you may be taking as truths about selling your home: 

 

  • “My house is worth (much more or less than you thought) according to this website!”  Online estimators are not dependable when it comes to assessing the value of your home.  They can’t see the interiors, the condition of the roof, landscaping--you get the idea.  Your REALTOR® is your best source for setting a value for your property. 
     

  • “This kitchen needs remodeling before anyone will even consider buying this place.”  A thorough cleaning, sprucing up of the cabinets with new paint and hardware and installing an inexpensive backsplash and new faucet can make your kitchen a total selling point.  Spending too much on a complete renovation can cost more if you don’t get your return on investment. 
     

  • “If I overprice the house, then negotiate an offer, the buyer will think they’re getting a steal of a deal!”  In today’s world, most homebuyers have done their research, and may overlook your home simply because of the high asking price.  Have confidence in your agent’s ability to price it right.   
     

  • “Weekends are the only days I can have the house available for viewing.”  Setting limits on when an agent can bring potential buyers to the house is like putting up a Not For Sale sign in your yard. If you want the house to sell, it must be accessible even when it’s not convenient for you. 
     

  • “I’ll wait until I get a few more offers.”  Rejecting the first offer for a wait-and-see can leave your house on the market longer, which can lead to fewer offers.  Buyers will wonder if something is wrong with the house when they see the length of time it’s been for sale, leaving your home overlooked in their house hunting. 
     

  • “Hiring a real estate agent is going to cost too much.”  When you contract with a REALTOR®, you’re getting a professional that knows the market, handles the listing, marketing, showing, knows legal aspects of selling a home, and much more.  Taking the risk of selling your house on your own could cost you much more than an agent’s commission in the end. 

 

Discuss your ideas and fears with your REALTOR® and allow them to guide you through the home-selling process.  Choosing a reputable and knowledgeable agent will help with any concerns you may have, helping you debunk the more common myths about selling a home. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: martinrealestateadvisors.com

Prepping the Fireplace

by Scott Darling


On a cool evening, there’s almost nothing better than sitting by the warmth of a fire with a cup of cocoa.  If you’re a new homeowner who is new to having a fireplace or woodstove, you may be a bit apprehensive about using it.  There are some things you sh
ould know before you fire it up, and this guide will give you the confidence to use this feature during the cold months. 

 

  • - Call a pro to inspect and clean your chimney before using it, especially if this is your first Winter in the house. 
     

  • - Check the damper to be sure it opens and closes properly, and make sure the doors are secure, as well as being certain the glass isn’t loose and has no cracks. 
     

  • - Examine a woodstove’s chimney pipe for any loose sections and clean any accumulated soot or ashes.  The door should open easily, close very tight, and the handle should lock into place once the door is shut. 
     

  • - When purchasing a mat or rug to place in front of the hearth, be certain it’s certified fireproof. 

  • Wood shouldn’t be brought inside until it’s ready for use.  Find out why you should keep it outside and other great tips about storing firewood here. 
     

  • - Gas fireplaces require a little less maintenance, but it’s important to be familiar with the operation.  If you can’t find an owner’s manual for your type of fireplace, see if online editions are available, or call the company to have one mailed to you. 
     

  • - If you see dust and cobwebs, turn off the gas off, and vacuum using the hose attachment. 

  • Ceramic logs or lava rocks inside a gas fireplace may need sprucing up as well. How to Clean Stuff.net guides us through this process in a few simple steps. 
     

  • - Soot can collect on the glass doors, and it’s best to keep them clean.  When the doors are cool, spray them with window cleaner, (have newspaper or old towels under them to catch dripping grime), and use a cleaning brush or crumpled newspaper to remove as much of the soot as possible.  Follow up with a soft cloth dampened with clean warm water to remove any film left behind.   

 

If you’re even the slightest bit unsure about prepping your fireplace, don’t hesitate to call a professional!  Many specialty stores know who you should contact and may even have a technician available.  Not only do you want to stay warm, you want your home safe. 


Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: today.com

Credit Card Mistakes You Could Be Making

by Scott Darling


There are practical
 uses for credit cards, such as rewards points, cash back on purchases, and airline miles to name a few.  Having a credit card can also have drawbacks if you’re not responsible with that piece of plastic.  Read on to see if you’re making any of these mistakes… 

 

  • Paying the minimum payment every month keeps your credit score in check, but the interest added to the balance can make a negative impact on your credit.  Pay as much as you can afford over the minimum billed amount, or, better yet, pay off the balance each month. 
     

  • Late payments not only damage your credit, but if you’re sending it late every month, the late fees and interest on the balance will max that credit card out, and it could take years to pay it off.  Set up an auto-pay plan or mail your payment a week in advance of the due date. 
     

  • Spending just to receive rewards is a good way to get you into credit trouble!  Sure, those rewards are great, but they’re usually a small percentage of your purchases.  The added interest will be far more than any rewards you’re seeking and will cost much more in the end. 
     

  • Cash advances may seem like help, but the interest on them starts as soon as that money is in your hand, and there are usually extra fees involved.  Cash advances are essentially cash loans and are treated as such.  Beware of “convenience” checks your card company offers to you because they are cash advances in disguise. 
     

  • Maxing out your balance, or worse, spending over your credit limit, is a good way to reduce your credit score.  The over-balance fees are tremendous, and not having any available credit left on the card will affect the credit utilization ratio. 
     

  • Tossing your statement without reading it can cause you to miss important announcements from the company, as well as fraudulent activity, or changes in your minimum payment due. 
     

  • Using your credit card at the grocery store or to pay utility bills will help in an urgent situation, but only if you can pay the full balance at the end of the month.  If you’re using a credit card for everyday purchases, it’s time to get your finances under control. 

 

Don’t let mistakes cost you money and a good credit rating!  Keep your balance less than 30% of your credit limit, maintain a manageable monthly payment, and your credit report will benefit.  Credit cards are good tools to use to build credit or keep your score high, but only if used wisely.   

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: mirror

Trick-or-Treat Home Safety Tips!

by Scott Darling


It won’t be long before the streets of your neighborhood are filled with children, and some parents, who will be costumed and carrying bags and buckets for Halloween treats!  Since many homeowners don’t regularly use the front entrance to their home, they may 
not think about all the little feet that will be tramping up the path to your door.  Make sure everyone has a safe trip for their candy by following these tips before October 31! 

 

  • - Do your own walk-up to your front door, and examine everything, including the driveway and front steps.  Make sure there are no loose pieces or large cracks that can cause anyone to take a tumble.  Porch railings should be secure. 
     

  • - Yard decor should be fixed securely so the wind can’t blow it over, or curious little hands cannot pull it down. 
     

  • - Battery-operated LED tea lights are inexpensive and much safer to use in place of lighted candles.  Many options are available for LED’s, including a flickering light that is perfect for your jack o’ lantern. 
     

  • - Speaking of lights, make sure that not only is your porch light switched on, but that the path you’ve created is well-lit. 
     

  • - Decor that hangs from the trees is scary and fun, so make certain they are hanging at least ten feet from the walkway, making certain they don’t obstruct anyone’s view. 
     

  • - Take an afternoon close to Halloween to be sure any shrubbery, trees or edging isn’t in the way of where trick-or-treaters must walk.  Inspect for loose branches in nearby trees and remove them. 
     

  • - If you have room in the garage, consider parking the car there.  The folks that are coming and going would likely appreciate the extra room to pass others. 
     

  • - A constantly-ringing doorbell or persistent knocking can cause your pets some distress and a lot of barking.  Confine them to a room, or even better, to their crate.  Check out these other great tips about your pets and Halloween from the ASPCA. 

  •  

​​Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: asecurelife.com

Get Your Kids Involved in DIY Home Projects!

by Scott Darling


Many people assume that children and home projects don’t go together, but why not?  Oh, sure, electric tools and saws don’t necessarily need to be handled by young ones, but there is so much more than can help you with than a major remodel!  
 

 

  • - Start simple:  cleaning is probably the easiest way to begin engaging your children in home-keeping.  Most love to sweep, dust, vacuum and help with dishes. 
     
     

  • - Little ones are naturally curious about what’s outside, so gardening can be a lot of fun, as well as being educational.  Not only can they assist with planting projects, but even preschoolers can be handy with a rake or help with weeding. 
     

  • - When you’ve decided that your walls need new paint, sit down with the color chip cards, and let them help you decide on color.  Painting the sample swatches on the wall is a great way to introduce a paintbrush or roller, and simple techniques. 
     
     

  • - Planning on purchasing a furniture kit?  Let the children help build it; learning how to follow directions that use symbols and handling simple tools is a great start to working those motor skills in a new way. 
     

  • - Any small repair--tightening drawer pulls, replacing a door handle or sink faucet--can easily involve any age child.  Give them an age-appropriate job, such as passing needed tools, shining a flashlight or using simple tools under your watchful eye. 
     

  • - Putting up new curtains or hanging decor on the walls are great ways to teach school-age kids about using a level or measuring tape.  Math skills in DIY?  Absolutely! 
     

  • - Do you perform your car maintenance?  Everyone should know how to check the oil and other fluids, as well as tire pressure.  Showing your children that keeping the family car in good running condition is as necessary as taking care of the house! 

 

Get your family excited about helping, have patience, and keep them safe while you’re working.   You’ll find that while you’re spending time with them, those DIY jobs will start them on a journey of learning how to be a good homeowner and a handy one at that! 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: plumbzebra

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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