Property Designer Trends

My clients and customers know that I have little time for real estate decorating fads imposed willy-nilly on peoples’ houses without regard to the unique selling points of the property to be sold. Of course, houses and apartments need to be clean, uncluttered and welcoming. But are you selling into a lifestyle or are you selling a commodity where it needs to stand out on a value for money basis?
This weekend my reading included an article in the London Sunday Times espousing the philosophy of Ellie Rees, creative director of Brickworks, an estate agency based in north London. Her views on property decoration include “You need to think about the demographic of the person who’s likely to buy your property, and make it as appealing as possible to them. It’s not about being neutral. It’s about being quite bold and stylish, but knowing what that style should be. How grown-up? How family? How couply?”
Photography is key to getting buyers to book viewings.
“It’s that ‘property porn’ thing we have become so culturally obsessed with. Great photos mean more people click on the property on the internet, which means you’ll get more viewings and, hopefully, the best possible selling price.”
The full article can be found on https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/before-and-after-home-staging-an-insiders-guide-to-selling-your-property-tgxmgkfcr
At Weichert I have access to professionals who have their feet planted firmly on the ground. I can put you in touch with decorators and photographers whatever the real estate need.

Limits to Brussels

Recently Leicestershire Council was caught recommending that residents not eat more than six sprouts with their Christmas dinner.
Quite rightly this has provoked mocking comment across the board. Some comments embracing the spirit of the bureaucrat e.g., what size should the sprouts be? Are sprouts fungible? Can they be transferred within the family? And so on.
Others are focused on the waste of money in having this idea and thinking it worthwhile of being broadcast, when there are so many other issues requiring attention such as education, potholes etc.
Margaret Thatcher was advised the government is about the three S’s – Streets, Schools and Security.
Tweeting about Brussel sprout consumption does not comply with this template. The tweet raises questions about the spending and governing habits of Leicestershire Council. How many of these soft-focus jobs are there, which do not address the hard questions of how we get better value for money for the residents and tax payers? Who had the bright idea in the first place and what was the approval chain which permitted its publication?
There was no scientific justification for the limit suggestion and subsequent explanations suggest that the tweet was aimed at food waste. Yet, most food waste takes place in food manufacturing and its retail. That is where the tweeter should take his/herself in his/her white coat, hairnet and wellingtons and properly focus on waste.
Meanwhile the Department of You Couldn’t Make It Up continues to expand and flourish.

Winterizing the Home

With winter here, it’s never too late to start thinking of ways to keep the home toasty all season long. As the temperature drops below freezing, here is a short list of things you can do to protect your home from the winter’s chill and stop your energy bills from ballooning beyond your budget.
Is it Drafty in Here?
“Improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent air leaks is to place a draft snake at the base of your doors. You can buy one premade or make your own by simply rolling up a towel. Wrapping your windows is also an effective way to stop leaks. All it takes is some heavy-duty clear plastic, which you can buy at your local home improvement store, and a hair dryer.
Is your Furnace in Shape?
While it doesn’t have to run a marathon, it’s important that your heating system is in shape for the long haul of winter. Schedule a tune-up before the temperatures drop and replace your filter once a month.
While you’re thinking furnace, think AC as well. Shut off the air conditioning water valve to prevent excess water from collecting in the equipment.
What about the plumbing?
If you live in a cold climate, your plumbing could be at risk to freeze and thaw (perhaps more than once) during the winter, which can cause pipes to burst.
Weatherproofing your plumbing is always a good idea. To do so, turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots, sprinkler systems, swamp coolers and AC units then drain them. If your AC or swamp cooler has components outside, make sure to cover them.
Have a pleasant winter
This advice comes from 2-10 HBW which offers the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for homeowners.

Avoiding Disaster – the Message from a Stained Glass Window

I was recently idling in the Sacred Heart Church in Raleigh when I happened upon one of the stained glass windows depicting the early life of Christ.
At first sight it appears to be an idyllic happy family get together. Mary watchfully spinning, Joseph standing guard over the infant Jesus and the infant Jesus himself with a hammer and chisel in his hand working his will on a piece of wood.
But where is the Judean Department of Occupational & Safety, where is the Nazareth Child Protection Agency?
The child is not wearing safety goggles nor is he wearing protective gloves.
It’s all very well saying that the child has his own protective guardian angels, and perhaps they will stop the chisels going blunt or other damage occurring to the craftsman’s tools. And why is Joseph holding an axe and looking vaguely lost?
Overall, it’s a picture which asks more questions than it answers.
And perhaps the real message is that unless you have the angels on your side, whatever you are doing, you had better wear appropriate (protective) clothing.

Procrastination – the Thief of Time?

Recently the Harvard Business Review published an article by Chris Bailey on Research Based Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination. The premise of such articles is that procrastination is a bad idea. Whereas there is often a very good case to be made for not making decisions until an appropriate time.
Quite often the answer to many difficult situations which seem to require immediate action is to “Stand and Wait”. The problem might go away. The situation might change. The immediate answer might not be available but may appear after a night’s sleep. As always one should make haste slowly.
Innovation expert Daniel Burrus suggests that to get more done in less time, we should slow down. It may sound counter-intuitive, but doing so allows us to identify issues before they become problems, avoid tunnel vision, and embrace the bigger picture. Attention to the immediate moment can blind us to almost everything else.

Every Child’s Right

I am always coming across relatively small charities which make a big impact for what they do. I once contributed to a clothing bank for street youth who had been arrested for being idle and who were destined to receive harsher sentences compared to those who seemed respectably turned out.
I experienced a similar epiphany last week when the Diaper Bank of NC came to my attention.
There is a serious shortage of diapers and other personal sanitary items among the poor in North Carolina. Diapers can cost as much as $100 a month per child and are not covered by SNAP (also known as food stamps) or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program).
A recent study in The Journal of Pediatrics found that women in need of diapers reported more difficulty with stress management, depression, and coping with trauma—which negatively affects their child’s health.
Another study conducted by Feeding America, called In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials, found that 48% of families who cannot afford basic household necessities delay changing a child’s diaper to make their diaper supply last longer.
All across North Carolina, there are stories of families who are struggling to provide diapers for their children to keep them dry, clean, and healthy. It is not just infants who are affected. Tears come to the eyes when you hear of young girls who cannot afford personal sanitary items and so stay away from school rather than be shamed.
The Diaper Bank of NC is a 501c3 organization. No goods or services are exchanged for donations, which are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

What Happened


Hillary Clinton’s new book  promises to reveal some interesting lessons for future political campaigns.
I particularly like the analysis:
“I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans’ anger and resentment,” she wrote. “I was giving speeches laying out how to resolve the country’s problems. He was ranting on Twitter.”
We saw Hillary twice at rallies and we saw Bill Clinton once. At no time did we think that her policies were off the wall as opposed to Bernie’s which were off kilter from the moment the Democratic Party gave him air time to promote his platform right up to when he refused to concede defeat and let Hillary focus on the main target – Trump.
I look forward to reading the book which must, in the final analysis, be a memoir of one of the greatest political tragedies of this century