Back-to-School Helpful Hints

Back-to-School Helpful Hints

Make Life Easier!

  • Pack lunches the night before and refrigerate!
  • Make sure backpacks are packed and ready to go the night before.
  • Create a homework center. Stock with extra crayons and supplies needed to complete homework. Make sure it’s not near a TV.
  • Lay out clothes the night before.
  • Remember kids need to make as many decisions as possible. Avoid power struggles by letting them make small decisions.
  • Create a special hamper in the laundry room for uniforms and other rush items.
  • Fold T-shirts so that the design is recognizable without unfolding.
  • Each evening have a 30-minute family clean up time to get everything back in place.

Back To School Shopping!

  • Buy smaller glue and crayons. Space is limited and teachers stress children sometimes lose these items easily.
  • Remember school dress rules when buying clothing. Some schools have rules about the verbiage appearing on t-shirts.
  • Don’t buy plastic scissors for your school aged children as they just don’t perform up to standards.
  • Consider the Velcro straps for books as some schools require backpacks be stored upon arrival at school.
  • Buy socks that are all the same for easy matching at laundry time.
  • Again when possible let kids choose their own items or at least the color or design.
  • Buy a good backpack and lunch box as these are probably the most abused. Save on the trendy stuff.
  • Make sure you buy a lunch box or backpack that your small child can open easily.
  • When buying shoes buy extra shoe-strings and polish if necessary.
  • If you have trouble telling your kid’s socks and underwear apart; Buy different brands as they usually have a different colored stripe, or band on them.

Getting Psyched For Back To School!

  • Before school starts, begin going to bed and getting up on a school schedule.
  • The weekend before school starts: Don’t make any stressful plans for big events or trips.
  • Don’t forget to check out that bus schedule!
  • Call your school or organization and get the facts about fall sports teams and social clubs. Don’t be late or miss something!
  • Make sure to get all immunizations and physicals completed.
  • Make a master list of Mom and Dads phone numbers along with doctors and emergency numbers. You are sure to need these several times.
  • If you have medical concerns make sure to meet with the school nurse prior to the first day, especially if medicine must be given at school.
  • Get a couple of rolls of quarters and dimes. Put them in the cabinet so you don’t have to hunt for change at the last minute.
  • Make a check list of items easily forgotten at the last minute and hang it in an obvious place.
  • Put up several hooks for backpacks, jackets, and lunch boxes. Don’t hang them too high!
  • Make up some freezable lunch and breakfast items for those crazy days. Thaw and nuke!
  • Label, Label, Label; All items that will be taken to school or worn and taken off at school!
  • Make a list of rules and adjustments for school days: Homework schedule, TV schedule, bath time, bed time etc…
  • Make sure to arrange after school daycare!
  • Try to set up a time to meet the teacher; some schools provide this occasion.
  • Go over school rules with your child.
  • Make a calendar to place in a visible spot; fill in events and school vacation days.
  • Make a special box for your children to place forms from school that need special attention.
Smart Technology and Millennials Setting New Home Standards

Smart Technology and Millennials Setting New Home Standards


The millennial generation is defined by their ability to quickly adapt to technology, and to access just about any service they could possibly need with just a click of a button. In fact, 87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis — it makes sense that these technology trends are creeping their way into the realm of real estate. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the millennial generation is specifically looking for homes that cater to their advanced technological needs. Because millennials are leading the way in implementing smart home technology into their daily life, homes on the market are now being held to new standards.

Internet connectivity and smartphones are two of the driving forces in the development of smart home devices.  Millennial consumers value a device based on its ability to sync with multiple electronics. Smart home systems boast advanced technology with lighting systems, integrated security, blinds automation, home cinema and digital door locking technology;  all accessible on the go thanks to smart phones. One in four Millennialshave already installed at least one of these smart home devices in their home, compared to only 12% of the total population. Not only do millennials appreciate smart technology for it’s usability, but they love how it benefits the environment by saving buyers as much as thirty minutes worth of energy a day.

This growing demand for smart homes from this younger generation is quickly changing the state of the  housing market.  Along with other typical factors that determine a home’s value, so will the presence of smart technology in a property. In a 2016 survey by Coldwell Banker, 72% of millennials said they would pay $1,500 or more for properties with smart home systems, while 44% said they would pay up to $3,000 more.


Flat design style modern vector illustration concept of smart house technology system with centralized control of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security locks and video surveillance, energy savings and efficiency. Isolated on white background.

As a seller trying to appease to millennial buyers, you may want to consider making environmentally friendly upgrades to your home before putting it on the market.  Upgrades like installing a Smart Thermostat, or even motorized window shades that can be controlled by a smartphone app are very appealing to millennial home buyers.

This customization though, is not reserved just for homeowners– millennial renters also look for these smart advancements in their rental properties. If you are planning to rent out a property, chances are you’ll attract more renters by adjusting the property to be more technology friendly.

As more and more millennials become homeowners, the more you will have to stay on top of technology trends as a seller. Before you put your home on the market, consider making necessary upgrades to your home in all contexts.  As smart technology is getting implemented more and more into homes on the market, it will prove to be instrumental in the ushering of the next generation of connected consumers and future homeowners.

What are some smart technology that you’ve implemented in your home? If you haven’t what would you consider?


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4 Pet Tips for Buying and Selling Your Home

4 Pet Tips for Buying and Selling Your Home

With 56% of American homes housing furry family members, many pets go through the moving process at least once in their life-time. Buying or selling a home while taking care of your pet can easily become overwhelming. Consider the following tips to ease your stress as well as theirs.

Remove your pet while showing your home.

First off, removing pets from the home is likely to get your home sold faster.  If people looking at your home see that a dog or cat lives there, they may assume there’s damage to the home or that it’s unclean.  Take the time to put away any toys, cages and even food bowls during the time potential buyers are going through your home. It’s also wise to give your home a deep cleaning to get rid of any lingering odors and pet dander your pet has left behind.

Secondly, removing your furry friend from the home temporarily during open houses and private showings is a good idea due to the fact that it can really stress them out. Seeing new faces coming in and out of their territory can make them feel defensive and scared. The last thing you want is a pet to attack a child visiting because they’re frightened. If you have a dog consider taking the dog to a family member’s house, a trip to the park, or a dog-sitter.

Pay attention to pets during the packing process.

Even before you make the big move, cats -and especially dogs- will sense that something off is about to happen. They see you packing boxes, letting strangers into the home and may even sense that you’re stressed. If dogs feel anxious or scared, they will appear lethargic and may even become destructive. If you notice your dog is being affected by the move make sure to do the following:

  • keep meal times the same as normal
  • take an hour to play with your pet and give them undivided attention
  • if they’re used to going to the park or on car rides, take them on outings once in a while to get them away from the chaos at home

Establish rules the second you move to your new place.

No matter what, an animal is going to be somewhat confused upon moving to a new home. In order to prevent them from having an accident or getting sick in the house, it’s important to be mindful and cautious of their behavior. During the first couple days in a new home, your pet may be more skittish than usual– which could be a form of anxiety that can make them more likely to run away.  For this reason, keep them on a leash or in a cage until they get used to the new space. Be sure to set up their food bowls, bed and toys right way so that they have something familiar to comfort them.

As weeks progress in your new home, continue to keep an eye on them and get them back into a familiar routine.  Avoid any housewarming parties right away, as it can be overwhelming for them in a new environment.

When in doubt, talk to your vet.

Pets can’t tell you when they’re anxious, depressed or uncomfortable. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before your family does anything that could put any stress on your pet. If you have a senior dog or cat, find out how they’re expected to react to change and what you can do to help ease the process.


Open House: The Kitchen Inspection That Everyone Needs to Know About

Open House: The Kitchen Inspection That Everyone Needs to Know About


Open House: The Kitchen Inspection That Everyone Needs to Know About


Attending an open house gives you the perfect opportunity to take a close look at every room in the house–especially the kitchen– to determine right off the bat if the home would be a good investment or not, because generally speaking, the kitchen happens to be one of the most important rooms that is a determining factor in attracting buyers (should you want to resell the home in the future). While the design and style of a kitchen can often be subjective, logically determining its functionality is also an important step in deciding whether or not you would want to buy the home. So the next time you walk through a home for sale, consider the following when evaluating the kitchen.

Appliance Updates

When going through a kitchen in a home for sale, be sure to test every appliance. While this may sound like an obvious step, plenty of buyers fail to do so and get stuck having to make a costly repair or replacement.  Test the stove-top and oven. If the home will be coming with a refrigerator, be sure it’s keeping the food as cold as it should be. Check out the inside of the dishwasher—does anything look damaged? Does it look neglected at all? If you see any problems at all with any of the kitchen’s major appliances, be sure to communicate that to your agent and decide whether or not to bring them up when it comes time to negotiate.


Replacing counter-tops can be extremely costly– all the more reason to make sure they’re in good shape and that you’re happy with the state they’re in. Be sure to inspect for chipped tiles or badly stained grout. If the counters are laminate, take note of any scratches or stains. Again, be sure to note everything you see and make sure your real estate agent is aware of it. If you’re planning on replacing the counter-tops in a restoration project down the road, be sure the kitchen is compatible with the materials and style you have in mind.

Cabinetry and Hardware

While most buyers judge kitchen cabinets based on their particular design taste, it’s important to determine their level of functionality.  Cabinets made of man-made materials (plastic, melamine or thermofoil) are likely to have a shorter life than cabinets made of solid wood. Be sure to take note of any wear and tear or water damage that may be present. Take into account whether you like the style of the cabinets. Would a fresh coat of paint fix the problem, or would you want to replace them all together? Perhaps new handles would give the kitchen the upgrade it needs.  These are important details to factor into your decision to invest in the property or not.

Electrical and Plumbing

If you’re interested in a home, both an appraiser and an inspector will run tests to make sure the plumbing and electrical systems are safe and high-functioning.  Before putting the home through those inspections, there are a couple things you can do yourself initially at the open house to see how things are working.  Bring a night-light or phone charger with you and test the kitchen’s outlets.  This is a quick way to see if they’re connected and working or not. Take the time to check the sink’s water pressure to make sure it’s up to your standards (the same goes for the bathrooms or laundry room sink as well). Poor pressure can be a sign of plumbing issues.  Again, an inspector and appraiser will check the plumbing and electrical systems and let your agent know if there is anything to be concerned about.

What do you look for in a kitchen when shopping for a home?

Three Cheers To Norma Langston

Three Cheers To Norma Langston

Three Cheers To Norma Langston


Three Cheers is a weekly collection of upbeat letters on that inspire readers to think and act positively. Here is a shout out to Norma Langston and her team that recently appeared in the Three Cheers column of the online newspaper that gives accolades for her dedication to the communities she serves…

To Norma Langston of Keller Williams Realty in Plano — For the last several years, she has placed an American flag at every home in our neighborhood celebrating the Fourth of July.

It gives me a sense of pride driving through our neighborhood and seeing all the flags.    ~ Carol Wassenar, Plano





Hunting for your next home can be both thrilling and overwhelming. You’re bound to come across several properties that you think would be perfect for you and your family. Make your decision easier while avoiding a bad one by doing the following during your hunt:

  1. Make a must-have list

Before looking around, it’s important to nail down what you want in a home. Get the family together and make a list of features you desire, whether it’s a pool, big garage, or expansive back yard. Searching for homes while you have 3-5 things as top priority will help you stay focused on what you actually want to buy.

  1. Bring a pen and paper

Depending on how many houses you go out to look, remembering all the details can either be very easy or a challenge. To help you keep track of the small things, bring something to write with so you can jot down how much natural light there is in each room, the storage space, cost per square foot, etc. This will make all the difference when you’re still undecided and have a comparison checklist to help you.

  1. Walk through once, then a few times again.

It’s easy to get excited when exploring a gorgeous home for the first time. This is OK; house hunting should be enjoyable! But after you’ve taken in your first impression, we recommend going back out and walking through again. This time, take that pen and paper we mentioned in our last point and start inspecting the place for any details worth taking down.

  1. Don’t forget the camera

Or your smartphone, which is probably your go-to device for taking pictures. Once you’ve asked the realtor for permission, take out your phone/camera and snap all the photos you think you’ll need. These aren’t for posting on social media (you can get in trouble for doing that), they’re so you can keep a fresh idea of the home well after your memory has gone fuzzy. A video tour is also recommended.

  1. Try imagining yourself already living there.

While walking through the home, start envisioning how you and your family will utilize the space. Even if a room is set up as an office, use your imagination to see if it’d be a great place for your kids or guests. Imagining how your furniture will be arranged, especially if you bring measurements with you, can help you get an idea of how it compares to your current home in terms of space.

  1. Take the necessary peeks

Don’t be afraid to look where no one else does to really see what that particular home offers. Checking under rugs, for example, can reveal concealed damage that will cost you down the road. Open cupboards and closets while carefully inspecting windows, under the sink, the ceiling, etc. Finding one or more hidden issues can be the negative you needed to help you decide which house to consider purchasing.

  1. Visit the home later in the day

Open houses are generally done between morning and late afternoon. This gives you a good look at the property when it’s sunny out… but how are things at night? Coming back after sunset lets you get an impression of the neighborhood’s atmosphere. It’s in the evening when school is out and most people are off work that you’ll discover if the neighborhood is quiet, has a lot of young families with children playing outside, and other important factors.

Happy House Hunting!



Whether you live in a crowded city or a suburban neighborhood, dealing with small living spaces can be challenging. Luckily, there are tons of stylish solutions to even the smallest of rooms. Below are some great ways to maximize your space, proving bigger isn’t always better.

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…Why Must This Room Be So Small?

Even in the tiniest of spaces, creative placement of furniture and home decor can completely transform a room–especially when it comes to mirrors. Mirrors are a great way to make rooms appear larger than they actually are. Choose a focal point in a room and be sure to angle any hanging mirrors towards it. Mirrors are especially helpful in enlarging rooms when placed by windows. The light bounces off the mirrors helping the room to appear brighter and have more depth.

It’s All About The Storage

When dealing with a small space, clutter is the enemy! Whether it’s your kitchen, living room or closet; even a few items out of place can make the room look like a total mess. While it may seem impossible, there are some incredible storage solutions out there to help maximize any extra space you have in your home. If your family room or den is cluttered with loose items like blankets, books or the kids’ toys, consider using multi-purpose furniture. Many ottomans and coffee tables open up into stylish storage bins making your stuff practically invisible.

Another great storage solution are unconventional shelves. Being that most corner areas aren’t utilized, they’re a great place to install small shelves. Corner shelves are great for storing books, movies or decorative items, and they don’t take up tons of precious wall space.

The Power of Color

If you’re planning on painting your small dining room a cool grey hue or a shade of deep blue, you may want to reconsider. Choosing darker hues can absorb light, making the room appear stuffy and small. However, choosing to adorn your walls with lighter colors has the opposite effect. Lighter shades are reflective and help rooms to appear brighter and more spacious.

Aside from choosing lighter colors for your walls, there are also ways to make a room appear larger with contrasting color. Painting any trim or crown moldings in a slightly lighter color than your walls can make rooms seem bigger and more inviting. And if you love bold colors, choosing one or two statement pieces like a turquoise lamp or an oversized orange candle can serve as great accent pieces.

Make the Most of Your Windows

When you are decorating your home, choosing window treatments can really determine the tone of a room–and the size. If you are putting up drapes over your windows, be sure to hang the curtain rod closer to the ceiling instead of the top of the window. This is a great eye trick that completely opens up your room and makes it appear a lot more spacious. Maximizing the use of any natural light is crucial to making your room appear larger. Try to avoid any heavy blinds or thick curtains and instead opt for some sheer drapes to let the light shine through.