Budget friendly tips to re-energize your home

Clear the clutter

We all start the year with the best of intensions, to eat healthy, to use that dormant gym membership and to be the best, shiniest versions of ourselves. Rather than doing a full 180º change and thinking you will easily adjust there are a few little things that you can change, adapt or improve so that at least your home starts the year at its best.

This is the obvious one – You’ve taken down your Christmas lights and thrown away all of the packaging that surrounded your presents but why stop there. Open up your cupboards, look under your beds, peak into the storage places and sort through your garages. Pull everything out that you’ve stored safely for later use and then have a good hard look at those priceless possessions that are too good to throw away.

There are sentimental things, things that you should really find some better way of honouring than shoving into a cupboard. Separate those things and decide where to put them so you can see them or relate to them to actually remind you of whatever it is they remind you of in the first place.

Think “reduce, reuse, recycle” with the rest of your stuff. Reduce the amount of things you are keeping by being brutal. If you didn’t remember you had it or know you haven’t touched it for over a year then it needs to go. I say in over a year as there are seasonal things that get used once a year that you need to keep, but if the object doesn’t get used year on year, whether its clothes, appliances, containers, boxes, bags or whatever the belonging find a way to shed it. Some things go to recycling, some to rubbish, some to charity, but find a way to cleanse yourself of the bits and bobs that fill your home.


Look at your walls – Do you have screws or hooks hanging out of them that don’t have artwork or pictures on them? If so either find something to hang on them or remove, patch, sand and touch up the paint over them. Same goes for bangs and bumps from the the wear and tear of the last year. Head to your local hardware store and buy a rapid filler with an applicator that dries quickly.

Have a walk around your home with a screw driver and an allen key or two and just eye ball things like your bathroom accessories or wall mounted shelves – if it’s loose, tighten it up. If it needs replacing, get onto it, these things are usually really quick to fix if found early, the longer you leave them the worst they become. The same is true for everything you’ll experience in 2018 so get into the habit of noticing everything that needs a little tweak and tweak it sooner rather later.

Give your walls and ceilings a spot clean where necessary. Get some spray and wipe or a bucket of warm water and sugar soap and clean those small or medium sized marks and scuffs off of walls or ceilings. Often just a wipe of those black marks left from shoes or squashed bugs or whatever else lingers on will freshen up the look of your paintwork.

If you have some really trouble painted areas though that just don’t liven up consider giving it a new coat of paint. A wash with sugar soap of the wall and one coat is often enough to simply refresh the look of the room, it takes little prep and there’s no dust from sanding. Of course if you’re painting a room properly you need to sand, undercoat and do 2 top coats, but a simple refresh is far more straight forward – though the quality of the surface you’re painting will always dictate how long the paint adheres before pealing or flaking.

Look at the grout in your kitchen and bathroom tiles. This is also another really quick upgrade if you have cracks, gaps or greying, you can simply grout over the top or spot grout any problem areas to extend the use and look of these areas.

Shower heads that don’t deliver on the promise of a nice blast of relaxing warm water need to go. Say goodbye to spluttering, random changes of direction and generally underperformance by simply replacing the shower head. You can find replacements at Bunnings for $30-$150 that you can simply screw on in place of your old fittings. They come with thread tape and often need nothing more than a wrench to tighten up. Say hello to a better showering experience in 2018.

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Look around your home with a critical eye and see if your soft furnishings have managed to make it through the last year unscathed. If there’s mild use on cushion covers, pull them off and clean them as per the cleaning instructions on the label, generally just a good wash in the machine will bring them back to life.

Does your couch or upholstered furniture look a little sad? You can spot clean them with spray upholstery cleaners available at the supermarket or hardware store or for the pieces that were really well used throughout the year get a professional steam or drycleaner in to give them a through going over. The fabric is often just fine under all of that everyday dirt and grime and your home will look and smell better for the attention.

Look at your book shelves. Are they well ordered with a nice balance of books and decorative items? If not sort them out, stack big books, organise novels into sizes and colours if you’re so inclined, place your favourite decorative pieces throughout and bring your book shelves to life.

How to choose the best real estate agent

A property, whether it is your family home, first home, investment or something in between, is often your most valuable asset. As a real estate agent is responsible for the sale of your home, choosing the right one is a big decision.

Their connections, local market knowledge and real estate expertise play an important role in ensuring you get the sales results you desire in the shortest time possible.

To ensure you’re choosing the best agent for the job, here are some important features you should consider when choosing your real estate agent.

What features should a good real estate agent have?

Licence: In all states and territories in the US, all real estate agents have to be licensed in accordance with local legislation. The legislation also regulates such matters as trust accounting, continual education of licensees and those engaged in the business of selling, managing property and renting. In some areas this legislation also prescribes the form of agency agreement or contract to be used.

Local Agent: It’s important that the agent you choose knows the area you are selling in and that they are aware of other properties for sale and properties that have recently sold. There are over 5000 real estate agents right across US working in your local area. They are experts at knowing the local market and can give you an honest appraisal on the expected value of your property and assess how it is placed in the market alongside similar properties.

Experience: Does the agent display local knowledge of your area and do they have experience in the method of sale you are looking at using? Can they show you any comparable previous sales?

Market Knowledge: The agent should be able to give you a local market report of your area and surrounding areas. They should know about property trends, schools, transport, demographics and the sorts of buyers looking for homes in the area. Ask your local agent for the industry leading Local Market report packed with property information, trends and insights just for your neighborhood.

See them in action: An excellent way to assess an agent is to see how they perform at an open for inspection. At the inspection watch their behavior, were they on time? Do they stand at the door and welcome attendees and capture their details? Do they highlight the property’s features and could they answer any question you put to them? Did they follow up after the open for inspection offering more information? And was their marketing of the property of a good standard?

Trustworthy: Honesty and trust are key to any good relationship – especially in real estate.

Approachable: You’ll need to find an agent who you feel comfortable with, who will listen to your concerns, answer honestly your questions and who is approachable by you and prospective buyers.

References: Don’t be afraid to ask for references and referrals, as speaking with past clients can give you an idea of how the agent has performed previously.

Professional expertise: Can they clearly outline the activities and marketing they will undertake and offer a guarantee of service? Can they show you their recent results including sale prices, time on market etc?

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