Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
winter

A Gift Guide for Your Home This Upcoming Year

winter

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Christmas is in less than week! Which means you’re either finished with your Christmas shopping or close to it. You’ve got your friends and family checked off, but what about your house? Freshen up your home with any of these ideas, or if you’ve been thinking about selling this upcoming year, these can also help increase your return on investment!

 

A fresh coat of paint

One of the more affordable ways to give your house a new look is by painting. Freshen up the interior walls with a new layer of paint – stick with the same color as before or go with a brand-new color! Brighten up a room with a light neutral color, or make a tight room feel larger with a cool-toned color. Looking for inspiration? Check out the colors of 2022 here.

New Windows

Sometimes you can get away with repairing or resealing your windows to stop a draft, but other times, it’s worth it to go ahead and get new windows installed. Opt for style and bolster curb appeal with some black window frames that are trending in homes today. Help keep your cooled and heated air from escaping your home by having energy-efficient windows installed. New windows not only update your homes exterior look, but also yield a high rate for return on investment!

A New Sofa

Couches get used a lot. While they typically last anywhere from 7 to 15 years, sometimes they can start to show signs of wear and tear by fading, fraying, and creaking. Revamp your living room with minimal effort by purchasing a new sofa! Furniture stores often have holiday sales going on, so you’re bound to find a good deal. If you’re thinking about selling your home, you won’t have to sell the couch along with it, but it’ll help with staging!

New Floors

Floors are first thing people see when they enter your home, and they’re the most used thing in your house. After a while, your carpets can start to look dingy and dirty, and your wood floors can start to get dinks in them. This year, get some new flooring installed! If you’ve been wanting to get new carpet or those sought-after hardwood floors that run throughout the entire house, go for it! If hardwood flooring is out of your price range, there are still tons of options available that will give you the look of hardwood without breaking the bank.

Doorbell Camera

Who doesn’t want their home to feel sale? Technology has made it easy to make sure your home is secure. With a doorbell camera installed, you can keep an eye on your front porch; you’ll be able to see who’s ringing your doorbell without being home, if your significant other has been online shopping again, and have some peace of mind knowing what’s always going on around your home. See which doorbell camera the New York Times thinks is the best here.

IMG_20201017_115258

Things to Love About Delaware

It's Fall!

We’ll say it: We’re thankful for Delaware. We may be small, but we’re mighty. Every state has its own perks, but the First State has some pretty amazing things about it. We asked some fellow Delawareans what they love about Delaware, and here are just a few of the things they said!

🍁 Small Town Feel. Delaware lets you live at a slower pace, but still have easy access to the city life. You can let your kids stay out late until the streetlights come on or run around in the corn fields without having to worry too much, but still easily get to several major cities. New York City is only three hours away, Washington D.C. is an hour and a half away, and Philadelphia is about an hour.

🍁 Tax-Free Shopping. Only five states in the U.S. offer tax-free shopping, and Delaware (along with Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon) is one of them. Shop for name brand items down south in Rehoboth Beach at the Tanger Outlets, check out the motorcycles at the Harley Davidson store in Smyrna, or meander your way through Christiana Mall up in northern Delaware all with the peace of mind knowing that what you see on the price tag is what you pay.

🍁 Low Property Taxes. On top of the tax-free shopping, Delaware also has the sixth lowest property tax rate in the country, with an average rate of just 0.57%. There’s also no vehicle property tax!

🍁 Beaches. What’s better? A sunrise on the east coast or a sunset on the west coast? There’s something innately peaceful about being able to drive a quick 20 minutes in the early morning to sit on one of the beaches that line our coast and watch the sun come up. The more popular ones, like Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach, host both tons of local and out of state visitors for their boardwalks and beaches, but here’s a list of more Delaware beaches and what you can do while visiting them!

🍁 Farm Freshness. Nearly half of Delaware’s land is used for farming, and that means you’ll have access to fresh produce and local, organic meat all the time. Stop by any one of the many roadside stands on your way home from work to pick up some vegetables for dinner that night. We’ve got garden centers, Christmas tree farms, farmers markets, butchers, and family run stores. Some local favorite farms are Fifers Orchards in Camden Wyoming, Willey Farms in Townsend, and Adams Fruit Market in Greenwood.

🍁 Nature. Delaware has 16 state parks and dozens of county parks scattered across the state, all ranging from ocean parks to urban parks, historic parks, and more. We love seeing all the wildlife here; there are a lot of deer, but it’s still exciting to see a family of deer on the side of the road or in your backyard! Sometimes you can even see a bald eagle flying overhead from one of their several nests in the area. Delaware’s Division of Parks and Recreation recently won the 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, so it’s nice to know 1) we’re on the map and 2) our parks are better taken care of! See a list of parks here.

What do you love about Delaware?

It's Fall!

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Fall

It's Fall!

 

Each season brings different home maintenance challenges. Work done in the fall will help prepare your home for colder weather, and possibly save you money!

 

  1. Clean the gutters: Gutters will divert more than 1,000 gallons of water away from your home, but if left uncleaned and clogged, can lead to extensive damage. Carefully clean out all leaves and debris and inspect for any damage – especially after all the leaves have fallen!

 

  1. Check for drafts: Inspect the seals on your doors and windows periodically, as they weaken over time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing a drafty house can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills. Install weather-stripping or caulking around windows or doors that aren’t properly sealed.
    • How to test a seal: Close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, your weather-stripping isn’t properly sealing the opening.

 

  1. Check your chimney: As the weather gets cooler, fireplaces are used more often. To avoid an unnecessary house fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned – and if needed, repaired by licensed professional.
    • You should also get any gas fireplaces inspected as well. There could be blocked vent or malfunctioning and damaged components. Any of these could result in a fire, explosion, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

  1. Check smoke detectors: With the increased usage of fireplaces and other heating appliances for the colder weather, you’ll want to check that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are operating correctly. Put fresh batteries in to ensure they’ll be good all season long.
    • Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher as well and replace if needed!

 

  1. Check your roof: Prevent any leaks by inspecting your roof from top to bottom. Remove any debris and look for any damaged, missing, or curled shingles. These can lead to expensive problems down the road!

 

Process for Purchasing

It's Fall!

Purchasing a home can be overwhelming for any person. Many questions can cross your mind: Is now a good time to buy a house? How do I decide what to offer for a home? Do I need a home inspection? What are my closing costs likely to be?

The right real estate agent will answer all your questions, guide you, and alleviate any problems you can have during the transaction.

Let’s answer a big question: What’s the process for purchasing a home? There are many steps when it comes to buying a home.

 

  1. Consult with Realtor
    • First things first, you’ll need to find an agent. Ask your friends and family for a trusted real estate agent. The best kind of referral is from a trusted member of your circle.
    • Once you have found an agent you’d like to work with, schedule an in-person meeting with them. Get to know who you will be working with. Our agents will want to go over the purchase contract with you – the Delaware Agreement of Sale that is most commonly used by Realtors is a lengthy document with many terms and contingencies. The will help to answer most questions you may have about the process. By reviewing it in advance of touring homes you will be more fully prepared when you find the right home.
    • Going into this appointment, have an idea of what you’re looking for in a house. Your agent can help guide you to figure out what you your options are within your budget, and will help narrow down your search.
  2. Mortgage Pre-Approval
    • Now that you’ve met with your real estate agent, contact a mortgage company to get a pre-approval letter. If you’re not sure who to use, your agent can refer you to a trusted local loan officer.
    • Your loan officer will need to review your credit history and your financial documents to get the process started:
      1. Tax returns
      2. Pay stubs, w-2s, or other proof of income
      3. Bank statements and other assets
    • Once they have reviewed your documentation, they will be able to go over your budget and help you determine the best type of loan that fits your needs. Each type of loan (FHA, VA, USDA or Conventional are most common) have different qualifying criteria for the home itself and your finances. They will also give you an estimate of what your closing costs will be (varies with each type of loan).
    • Once you have a pre-approval letter, this will be your foot in the door to look at more houses and get a higher chance of getting an offer accepted. Feel free to “shop around” for other mortgage companies to see if there are any better interest rates or loans that you think would work better for you.
  3. View Homes!
    • You and your agent will look at homes that fit within your budget and criteria. Often times, homes will get sent to your email for you to view first. If you like the house, your agent can schedule a showing for you both to view it.
    • After viewing the house, think about what you liked and disliked in the house.
    • It may take a while to find a home you want to purchase! Don’t be dismayed that houses will go under contract or there are none that you like. The perfect house for you will go on the market when the time is right.
  4. Make an Offer!
    • You found a house that you love!
    • Your agent will draft a contract for you and send the offer to the listing agent. Your agent will help you determine the best terms – including offer price, any contingencies and a timeline for closing.
    • Your pre-approval letter will be sent along with the contract. Listing agents and sellers need to know what the loan terms are they are agreeing to before they accept an offer!
  5. Negotiate Offer
    • Once your offer is submitted to the listing agent and seller, they can either accept, reject or counter. Your agent will begin negotiating at your direction & on your behalf with your best interests in mind.
    • Your offer will be accepted once an agreement is reached on all terms for both parties. Within the next few days (defined in contract) after the offer is accepted, you will need to pay an escrow deposit (the first initial payment) to solidify the agreement.
  6. Apply for a Loan
    • Once the contract is signed by all parties (ratified), you will have to formally apply with the mortgage company of your choice for the particular home you are contracted to purchase. This can be the initial lender you received your pre-approval letter from in the first place, or another company you found afterwards. They may need to update your financial documents to get the process started and will require additional documents:
      1. Updated Pay stubs & a formal employment verification
      2. Updated Bank statements and other assets
      3. Gift letters & possibly other letters of explanation for credit items
      4. Address verifications & Renting history
      5. Details on any long term debts, such as car or student loans
  7. Home Inspection
    • Your real estate agent will schedule any applicable inspections for you through your choice of company. Typically, we use Delmarva Inspection Group and AmeriSpec.
    • There are many types of inspections:
      1. Home: a visual inspection of all parts of the property that are readily accessible. This includes the floors, wall, ceilings, stairs, decks, porches, roof, plumbing, heating and A/C, fireplaces, windows, and much more
      2. Radon: typically a 48-hour test that measures the amount of radon, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause lung cancer.
      3. Wood-Destroying Insect: ensures the home does not already have termite or other insect damage
      4. Septic: makes sure the sewage system is functioning properly without need for repairs.
      5. Well/Water Test: The Water will be sent to a lab to be checked for hazardous substances and potability
      6. Structural: an engineer will make sure the foundation, basement/crawl space, framing, roof, and more are all up to code and structurally sound.
    • Once all inspection reports come to you & your agent, you will both go over what repairs may be deemed as major defects, safety concerns or minor maintenance items. Your agent will negotiate, on your behalf, with the Seller’s Agent to have these repairs completed prior to closing.
  8. Survey
    • Your mortgage lender will order a land survey of the property. This will confirm the property’s boundary lines and legal description, as well as any other restrictions and easements.
    • An easement is a situation in which you may have to share access to some part of your property, like a utility company who has the right to install electrical wires on your land, or a private road or beach that needs to be shared with your neighbors.
    • This cost will be paid at closing.
  9. Title Search
    • You will get to choose your attorney for settlement. Your Agent will have recommendations for high quality Real Estate attorneys.
    • The attorney will do a title search of the property to examine public records for various things including to confirm the seller has full legal right to convey the property to a new owner.
    • This will also reveal if there are any other claims or liens on the property that could affect the purchase.
      • There could be unpaid property taxes, homeowner’s association fees, and bills that might become your responsibility if a title search is not completed.
  10. Homeowners Insurance
    • Your agent will give you a referral to a Homeowners Insurance company or contact your current insurance carrier for a quote.
    • Compare different policies to find the one that suits you best. Be sure to look at the terms, rates, and deductibles for all policies.
    • Once you have selected the best option for you, the policy information will get sent to your lender, they will need to accept that the coverage is sufficient.
  11. Closing Details
    • As you approach settlement, the date, time, and place will be confirmed with all parties involved.
    • Your agent will assist your mortgage company and attorney for the final preparation for settlement.
    • A few weeks before closing, you will contact all utilities to make sure they are put in your name the day of settlement.
  12. Final Closing Costs
    • At least three days before settlement, your loan officer will provide your Closing Disclosure. This document will include all costs associated with your home purchase.
    • You and your agent will go over the details to ensure everything is correct before settlement.
  13. Final Walkthrough
    • Within 48 hours before closing, you will complete one final walkthrough of the property to ensure everything looks good. You want to make sure all items included in the contract are still present and there is no damage to the home.
  14. Last but not least… Settlement!
    • You made it!
    • Make sure you bring your photo ID to closing and verify any funds you still need to bring to closing.
    • You will go to the place of settlement to sign all documents. The attorney will go over everything with you.
    • The seller receives the funds, and you receive the deed and keys to your new home!

Use this PDF as a guide to help you through the transaction: Process for Purchasing PDF

explore de spring no text

Explore Delaware This Spring

explore de spring.1

The sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming here in Delaware – it’s Spring! Time to get outside and explore what Delaware has to offer across the state. There’s plenty to do and see! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

New Castle County:

 

Like sports? Check out the best athletes to come from Delaware at the Delaware Sports Museum. Every year, new athletes are being added to the Delaware Hall of Fame.

 

The du Ponts, who were a prominent family of Delaware, were devoted patrons of the arts and dedicated conservationists.

  1. Winterthur: Take in the vast acreage of the beautiful gardens and what is considered the most influential museum of American decorative arts, completely amassed by Henry Francis du Pont.
  2. Nemours: The home of Henry’s cousin, Alfred I. du Pont. 222 acres of garden and home stand next to the internationally known pediatric hospital, A.I. DuPont.

 

Local parks in the area: Lums Pond & White Clay Creek. $4 daily to get in, but annual park passes are available!*

EVENT! Wildflower Weekend

Where? Mt. Cuba Center              When? Friday, April 23-25

Experience a magnificent display of spring blooms at the peak of their glory. There will be food and entertainment available!

 

Kent County:

An integral part of Delaware is the Air Force base located in Dover. If you like planes, history, and FREE things to do, the Air Mobility Command Museum has over 30 aircraft that you can tour.

 

Need entertainment for the kids? Take them to The Children’s Theatre, a local group who performs kid-friendly shows.

EVENT! Disney’s The Lion King Jr. Musical

Where? Schwartz Center for the Arts                       When? May 8th & May 9th

The African savannah comes to life on your stage with Simba, Rafiki, and an unforgettable cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock. $10 per person.

 

Tour historical buildings and learn about farm life in Delaware at the Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village.

 

Get a taste of wine locally fermented at the Harvest Ridge Winery. They host tons of events, such as live bands and crafts, which can be found on their website.

 

Local parks in the area: Killens Pond & Brecknock Park. Hiking trails, playgrounds, and even a waterpark (at Killens Pond)! $4 for in-state cars to get in, but annual park passes are available!*

 

Sussex County:

Learn about the Native Americans who inhabited the Delmarva area at the Nanticoke Indian Museum. You’ll see different types of Native American tools, pottery, arrowheads, and spears.

 

Discover the history of Lewes at the Zwaanendael Museum, a museum centered around Delaware’s first European colony that also serves as a showcase for the area’s maritime, military, and social history.

 

EVENT! Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend

Where? All over Delmarva            When? April 21-25

Follow the migration of warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and other birds that call

Delaware home year-round. Travel by foot and boat with an expert tour guide.

EVENT! Haiku Garden at the Freeman Arts Pavilion

Where? Freeman Arts Pavilion                   When? Now-May 2

It’s National Poetry Month! Learn about the art of haiku and enjoy the fresh air all month

long.

 

Local parks in the area: Head to the coastal state park Cape Henlopen for some fun at the beach & hike and camp at Trap Pond. $4 for in-state cars to enter.*

 

*Active-Duty Military are able to get annual park passes for half the price!

It's Fall! (2)

Halloween Activities

It's Fall! (2)

 

Halloween is quickly approaching! Are you ready? Whether you are a parent of little ones, or just want to have a good time, how should you celebrate? This year is a little different due to Covid-19, but we have compiled a list of some ideas to help you keep the spirit of the Great Pumpkin alive while social distancing.

  1. The first and most obvious activity you can still do is trick or treating. Be sure to check that your local area is allowed to participate. It’s on for Kent County!
    • The CDC recommends that you avoid participating in the traditional trick or treating where treats are handed to kids at the door. While you can still hand out candy, here are some ways to help limit exposure for both yourself and the kids:
      • Keep it simple and leave a bowl of candy out on your front porch or down by your driveway for the kids to grab themselves.slide
      • Take the bowl of candy a step further and prepare individual bags for each trick or treater. You can even consider having a small hand sanitizer station set up for them (they may not use it, but it’s the thought that counts, right?).
      • Construct a candy chute like this one pictured! Check out this easy tutorial to make one yourself. The cool thing is that it’s easily customizable to fit your needs and style.
      • Set up a fun scene in your yard with candy all over for the kids to pick themselves. It helps you social distance and gives the kids a fun experience!
    • Check out this cool website that’s been put together for this year. It gives you an idea of who in your neighborhood will take part in trick or treating, and how they will be participating.
    • If you’re looking for a safe trick or treating event, stop by our complex on Friday, October 30th anytime from 9:00am-5:00pm as we hand out candy with C&M Custom Homes and Diamond State Pole Builders (7344 S Dupont Hwy, Felton, DE 19943).
  2. Complete a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Walk around the neighborhood with a list and see how many you can check off. You can easily do this while trick or treating, or if you want a take an evening walk with your family. To make things even easier for you, check out this list we made for you!
  3. Stay indoors and have yourself a Halloween movie marathon. Here is a list of some classic Halloween films to watch while you eat your way through popcorn and hot cider. Plus, let us face it: You cannot ever go wrong with Hocus Pocus!
  4. With coronavirus still affecting our communities, pump up the Halloween flare by decorating your home! We are not just talking about some pumpkins on your front porch – deck the halls with spooky décor. Nothing is wrong with having a little too many ghosts or spider webs here and there. Here are some ideas to give you some inspiration.
  5. Carve pumpkins! Make a day out of it – head over to your local pumpkin patch, eat some apple cider doughnuts, drink some cider. Get creative with your pumpkin carvings. Below are some ideas on what you can create!

pumpkin2pumpkinpumpkin3

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just a few ideas on how to celebrate Halloween this year! Take photos and post them on our wall! We’d love to see what you come up with!

It's Fall!

Fall Activities in Kent County

It's Fall!

It’s the first day of Fall! Are you ready for fallen leaves, apple picking, hayrides, bonfires, pumpkin carving, and everything else Fall has to offer? I know I am! With coronavirus still impacting our communities, and events getting canceled, we thought it’d be a good idea to fill you in on some fun things still happening in Kent County!

 

Fifer Orchards is continuing to offer their yearly Fall activities, but with social distancing in mind! Here’s what they’ll have:

  • 6-acre Corn Maze (September 21-October 31 | Monday-Saturday): Think you can find your way through this Pac-Man themed corn maze? Reserve your spot online to find out!
  • Apple Picking (now until mid-October | Thursday-Saturday): Online reservations are required!
  • U-Pick Pumpkin Patch (late September-October 31 | Monday-Saturday): What kind of crazy pumpkin can you carve with the pumpkin you pick out? No reservations are needed!
    • Check out these recipes for some delicious pumpkin seeds afterwards!

Killens Pond: Be sure to call (302) 284-4299 to find out more information and register!

  • Private Wagon Rides (now until end of October | Weekends): For a minimum of $25 or $5 per person, you can book your own wagon ride for you and your friends and family!
  • Spooky Spiders Tour (October 3rd & 4th): Think you can handle eight legged creepy crawlers? Delve into the world of spiders and learn all about them!
  • Local Legends: Supernatural Thrills (October 10th & 11th): Learn all about the supernatural side of Kent County at this family friendly event!
  • Homeschool: Fall Colors (November 10th & 12th): This fun educational program will teach kids (ages 6-12) why some leaves change color and even takes them on a walk to see it in action. Pre-registration ($5 per child) is required.

Downtown Dover

  • Biggs Kids Workshop: Scary Portraits (October 3rd): In this virtual workshop, kids get to learn how to make their own spooky portraits inspired by the portraits found in the Biggs art collection.
  • Adult Flashlight Tour (October 9th): Using only flashlights, explore the Biggs Art Museum and discover the darker side of the art world. Dress up in your favorite art inspired costume to get a free drink too!
  • Children’s Flashlight Tour (October 10th): Recommended for ages 8 and younger, kids get to explore the Biggs Museum at night in their PJs.

 

We hope you get to enjoy some of these activities, but more importantly, we hope you stay safe doing them!

6

Grand Opening!

6

Come Join Us at our Grand Opening, Ribbon Cutting, and Happy Hour on Thursday May 23rd, 2019 from 4:00pm-7:00pm! Attend our ribbon cutting at 5:00pm while you enjoy cocktails and horderves!

Come see our new office located at 7344 S Dupont Hwy, Suite 4, Felton, DE 19943