Happy Holiday Handhelds Top 5 Apps For Stress-Free Merrymaking

Want to make this year’s holiday season the most enjoyable and relaxed one on record? From tracking your spending to hosting a holiday party to keeping the kids entertained at Grandma’s, making your life easier requires looking no further than these handy holiday apps.

Food 52. Food 52 Party planning just got easier for iPhone users. Armed with recipes, tutorials, and event-planning tips and tricks of experts, this “Entertaining Handbook” helps you plan for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Passover, Easter and more.

Pickie Gifts. pickie GiftsWracking your bran to come up with the perfect gift for someone? Help is on the way with Pickie’s algorithm-based gift ideas culled from your friends’ Facebook Likes and other Facebook activity. Early reviews say the gift suggestions are right on the money.

Postage am. Postagram. Takes your favorite photos from Facebook, Instagram, phone, or computer and transforms them into actual postcards, then snail-mails them to family and friends! Need we say more?

Flightcaster. FlightcasterPredicts flight delays by analyzing ten years of flight data combined with real-time information up to six hours before the airline announces the delay. For iPhone and Blackberry devices.

FarFaria. FarFariaWith over 500 children’s books in the queue, and new books added each week, FarFaria is the premier story time app for kids ages four and up. Features include offline access to books, an audio “Read To Me” option where any book is read aloud by a storyteller, plus songs, games, personalized libraries for each child, and much more for a monthly subscription of $3.99.

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5 Must-haves for Young Buyers

Many people shopping for real estate today are younger than previous generations of home buyers, and they’re extremely tech savvy. They grew up with smartphones, apps, and Google searches. And they want to use technology not only in their search for a home but throughout the home itself.
A recent survey by Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate shows that 77 percent of Gen X & Gen Y home buyers want their homes “equipped with the technological capabilities they have grown accustomed to.” And it doesn’t stop there. This new generation of home buyers is “rewriting the rules to home ownership and reinterpreting traditional norms to fit their values,” says Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.
These aren’t your standard-issue young home buyers from 30 or 40 years ago, who were often married couples looking for a starter home in the suburbs to raise a family. Today, single women make up a large percentage of first-time buyers, as do gay couples and the always-connected mobile professional.
As the home buyer evolves, so does the home. Here are five major shifts in homes you can expect to see today and in the coming years.

1. Man Caves and Smart Homes

The media room or “man cave” emerged in real estate marketing a few years back. Many buyers now prefer high-tech rooms with surround sound, large-screen TV’s, and the most up-to-date A/V equipment to the coveted formal dining room of a generation’s past.
But some aren’t limiting technology to just one room. They’re transforming an entire property into a “smart home” with home automation systems.
At a recent Maple Ridge, N.J., open house, the real estate agent demonstrated the features of the home automation system to excited buyers. With one tap on a touch screen, the owner of that home could remotely lock/unlock doors to let in their kids from school, automatically turn on the A/C or heat before they leave work, or monitor the family dog via webcam.
Given how technology is only going to be more important in our lives, transforming a home into a “smart home” is likely to be a good investment.

2. Carrie Bradshaw Closets

In the first Sex and the City movie, Carrie Bradshaw excitedly tours her future Manhattan apartment with Mr. Big — and is woefully disappointed at the tiny closet space. He surprises her by dramatically remodeling the cramped space into a dream closet, with glowing, glass-enclosed sub-closets.
That 2008 movie raised the bar and set the tone for closets. Today, the walk-in closet is a must-have on many buyers’ wish list. Some homeowners are paring down a four-bedroom home to three by transforming one bedroom into an oversized walk-in closet. It’s a far cry from the Victorian era, when bedroom closets were often the size of a coat closet today.
A large closet will probably never go out of style. If you intend to expand a closet or bedroom into a grand walk-in closet, just be careful not to overly customize it. The more specific you get with your taste, the fewer people your closet will appeal to when you go to sell later.

3. Home Offices

A home office tops this buyer’s wish list. Depending on the number of bedrooms, some will create a home office with built-in desks, shelving and cabinets. The customized home office with built-ins could deter some buyers, however, who feel they’ve lost a bedroom or other space. But many prefer to have one place dedicated to their laptops, printers and work-related stuff. (A dedicated home office is better for tax purposes, too). Either way, try to make your home office as appealing to the next buyer as it is to you. And keep in mind that, provided you don’t create a built-in a desk or bookshelf, the space can easily be reverted back to a bedroom.

4. Hardwood Floors

If you walk into a home that hasn’t been on the market for decades, you’ll probably see a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting. This was common in the mid 20th century. Not only did carpeting help reduce heating bills, it was seen as physically comforting and less sterile.
Fast forward 50 years, a time when most buyers prefer gleaming hardwood floors. Hardwood floors make a space feel less confined and give it a new, clean feeling. No matter how many times the carpet has been cleaned, there’s something about stepping on someone else’s carpet with your bare feet that turns off today’s buyers.
If you see a home you love, with wall-to-wall carpeting you don’t love, ask the agent what’s underneath it. You might be surprised to find a hardwood floor that, with some sanding and polishing, will give the home that updated, lighter look you want.

5. Urban Homes With Amenities

Home buyers used to covet a three-quarter acre lot. Today’s buyers — both the Gen X and Gen Y generations as well as empty-nest retirees — see that same lot and think “maintenance.”
Instead, they’re opting for city living, in big cities like New York as well as smaller urban centers such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and San Jose. These buyers seek active lifestyles and opportunities to socialize. They want to be near transit hubs. And they’re looking for buildings with amenities. They want a full-time concierge, a full-service gym, even an in-house spa or business center. If this type of property appeals to you, make sure you’re fully aware of the homeowners’ dues and other associated costs. You might be willing and able to absorb those expenses, but future buyers might not be.

Think Long-Term

Trends in kitchen countertops, paint colors and bath fixtures come and go. They’re based on larger design or style trends and even fashion trends. However, as our society and our culture changes, the larger fixtures and features of our homes change more gradually. They don’t mirror the latest trends so much as they reflect shifts in how we live. As a result, investing in long-term home shifts will usually be a better idea than paying extra money for the latest home fad.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/05/27/5-must-haves-for-younger-home-buyers/#ixzz2ZVPf1VDt

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and one of the nation’s leading real estate experts

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4 Tips for Flooring Renovations

4 Tips for Flooring Renovations
Whether you’re remodeling to improve the functionality of a space, or just to trying to create a new look, flooring is a significant element of the design to consider. It takes time to research flooring styles, choose the right one, and prepare for your installation. If this is your first time updating the floors of your home, here are a few guidelines to help you through the process, from selection to installation.

Consider Your Goals
People may choose to update their floors as part of a bigger remodel, to increase the value of their home, or simply to create more interest. Ask yourself what your goals are. Moreover, what aspects of the flooring didn’t work in the past? Certain types of flooring are better for style and home value while others are ideal for large families and rooms with heavy traffic. Make sure you’re clear on your goals so that your new flooring is a true improvement to your home.

Learn about Styles
Different styles of flooring have different functionality. It’s important to choose the one that fits your taste and lifestyle, since the floors are a part of the décor that will last you a long time. A few of the major materials to research include hardwood, laminate, ceramic, and vinyl, although additional styles are always being developed. Also keep in mind that the look of natural materials such as stone and hardwood can be attained with synthetic styles, which may be cheaper and easier to maintain. Ask a professional flooring expert to advise you as you select the proper style for your home.

Plan the Installation
Once you’ve chosen the flooring type, make arrangements for the install. Flooring companies can provide professional installers to simplify the process. You will need to direct them to the proper room and confirm that they are installing the correct materials. If possible, choose a day and time when children aren’t in the house, and keep pets to a part of the house separate from where the installation is taking place.

Prepare Your Space
To make the entirety of the floor accessible, it’s crucial that you make sure all possessions are removed from the room. This includes furniture, small items, and art hanging on the walls. You should also clear the hallways so that installers can carry equipment in and out easily. If it’s hard to fit your things in another part of the house – and if you are remodeling more than one room – you may want to consider a storage container to keep everything safe, clean, and out of the way. You can select a storage unit to fit your possessions, even for a short amount of time.

About the Author
Larry Fisher writes about home renovations and home décor on behalf of Empire Today, which specializes in carpeting, laminate and hardwood flooring, and window treatments. Visit Empire Carpet for more flooring tips.

– See more at: http://www.zippyshell.com/moving-storage-blog/floor-renovation-tips/#sthash.CewKONcq.dpuf

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