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Jason O'Neil


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Warm and Cozy Home

by Deirdre Sullivan via Houselogic

The dark days of winter can really do a number on your well-being. Shorter days trigger the blahs; freezing temps spark the sniffles. So we put together a list of ideas that’ll turn your home into a comfy haven.

Cozy and Clever Energy Savers
Here’s how to create a brighter and warmer home without using more energy or cranking up the thermostat.

Clean dirty light fixtures and dusty bulbs to make your home appear 30% brighter without turning on more lights.

Seal sneaky air leaks. It’s not just window and door leaks killing your cozy vibe. Don’t forget to plug stealthy gaps around recessed lights, electrical boxes, and wall outlets. Use a lit incense stick or scented candle to hunt down drafty spots while leaving behind a cozy scent.

Replace your traditional gas or wood fireplace. Why? Both suck out heated indoor air and send it up the chimney. A gel fireplace insert is an eco-friendly option that produces a burning fire without gas, wood, electricity, or even a chimney. It’s also smoke-free and emits fewer allergens than a wood fireplace; some options crackle like the real thing. A basic model costs between $100 to $210; custom models go up exponentially from there. A case of gel fuel comes with 12 cans that burn for three hours each (about $35).

Tip: Use a slow cooker to infuse your home with a warm and cozy aroma. Even better, slow cookers are more energy efficient than electric ovens, typically using less energy than a light bulb. 

Immunity Boosters
You’ll feel coziest in a healthy indoor environment that keeps allergies at bay and reduces your chances of getting sick.

Get plants. Some indoor plants, like golden pothos and gerbera daisies, are particularly adept at sucking up nasty VOCs — the vapors emitted from household cleaners, paints, and dry cleaning. And since plants increase humidity levels, they help decrease household dust.

Vacuum while your thermostat is set to “fan on.” This helps filter dust that gets kicked-up while cleaning. Just leave the fan on for about 15 minutes after you finish vacuuming and switch it back to “auto” afterward. HVAC blowers aren’t intended to run all the time.

Change your HVAC filter every couple months (monthly if you have pets) to prevent excess dust from circulating.

Tip: Combat superbugs with copper. If you’re planning to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom fixtures, consider classic and homey-looking copper or a copper alloy like brass. A three-hospital study in 2011 found that bacteria can only survive on copper for a few minutes, but germs can live on stainless steel for weeks. 

Sun Worshippers
Lack of natural light can trigger a mean case of the winter doldrums — or worse, mood-altering seasonal affective disorder. Maximize daylight and make rooms feel warmer by adding the following to your yearly fall maintenance checklist.

Make your windows pane-fully clear. Clean glass not only lets more natural light into your home, it’s a feel-good task, according to a survey by the American Clean Institute. When ACI asked consumers what clean surfaces make them happy, “gleaming windows” made the top five above a “spotless sink.”

Ditch your window screens in the fall and winter. They trap dirt and can make your home appear darker inside and out. It’s a good curb appeal booster, too.

Add an interior window to a room next to a sun-drenched space to take advantage of natural light.

Tip: Paint chilly rooms, especially north-facing walls that don’t typically get sunlight, in reds, oranges, or yellows — cozy colors that can actually help the room feel warmer, according to a Michigan State University study. 

Why Being Organized Saves You Money

by Jennifer Nelson via HouseLogic
Why Being Organized Saves You Money
Image: Burcu Avsar/ 
If you've ever accrued a late fee after losing a bill, thrown away spoiled peaches you forgot to eat, or bought yet another pair of sunglasses because you couldn't find yours, then you know being disorganized can cost you money. 

At best, clutter in the home causes mistakes, late fees, overdue payments, and missed deadlines. At worst. a house in chaos can eat away at your finances, mar your credit, and reduce your productivity. That's a whopping price to pay for being disorganized. 

According to an Ikea "Life at Home" survey, 43% of Americans admit to being disorganized, and the average American wastes 55 minutes per day looking for stuff they've lost or misplaced. 
"Do you think organizing is just for appearances?" asks Lisa Gessert, president of, a professional organizing service in Staten Island, N.Y. "Organizing your home is financially beneficial." Gessert stresses to clients the need to sort, purge, assign things a home, and containerize. "This process saves people tons of money."

Here's why being organized saves you money, and how to get your home into shape: 

Disorganization in the Home Office Costs You: 
  • Lost papers = time spent looking for them, money wasted on duplicates
  • Misplaced bills = late fees, bad credit causes higher interest rates 
  • Missed tax deadlines = penalties 

Image: Cate St. Hill
If any of these sound familiar, you'll need a home office system for dealing with important papers, bills, and personal correspondence. The Ikea survey found 23% of people pay bills late because they lost them. Wall-mounted bill organizers can help you stay organized. Look for ones with two or more compartments to categorize by due date. 
"Having your papers organized will save time, help you pay bills on time, and allow you to be more productive," says Alison Kero, owner of ACK Organizing, based in New York City. 
Mount shelving and create a file system for important papers, such as insurance policies and tax receipts. Look for under-utilized space, such as converting a standard closet into a built-in storage with shelves and cabinets for your papers, files, and office equipment. If you need to use stackable bins, don't stack them around equipment that needs air ventilation, such as scanners and Wi-Fi receivers, since they could overheat and malfunction - costing you money. 

Disorganization in Your Closets Costs You: 
  • Missing clothes = money spent on duplicates
  • Hidden items = wasted time since you can't see what you own
  • Accessory mess = wasted money on items you don't wear, can't find 

Image: Libby Walker for HouseLogic
"Organizing often reduces duplication of possessions," says Lauren Williams, owner of Casual Uncluttering LLC, in Woodinville, Wash. "No more buying an item for the second, third, fourth time because someone can't find it." 
If closets are crammed, paring down in a must. First, take everything out. Rid yourself of multiples, anything you no longer wear, and assess your shoe collection. Create piles: purge, throw out, or donate. 
For what's left, you'll need a better closet system. You can choose a ready-made system that simply needs installation, or create your own. PVC pipe can be used to create additional hanging rods, and you may also want to add shelving, solid wood shelves, or an all-in-one closet shelving system depending on space. Large and small hooks can be wall-mounted to hold belts, accessories, and scarves. 

Disorganization in the Kitchen Costs You: 
  • Expired food = wasted money
  • Overflowing pantry = can't see what ingredients you have and duplicate them
  • Crammed cabinets = overspending on multiple dishes and gadgets
Since the kitchen is often the hub of the home, it has a tendency to clutter. No wonder the Ikea survey found 50% of the world's kitchens have junk drawers. Categorize yours by adding small plastic or wooden drawer organizers for things like thumbtacks, rubber bands, scissors, and tape. 
To avoid buying your third jar of oregano or second potato ricer, buyer or build an organizational system for your pantry. Built-in lazy Susans work great. Use pull-out mini shelving to corral items like dressings, hot sauces, and vinegars. Tackle cabinets and counters by mounting behind-the-cabinet-door racks to hold items like pot lids or cutting boards. 
Add pull-out drawers in your bottom cupboards to make everything easily accessible and easy to see. You'll thank yourself when you get older, too. 

Disorganization in Your Living Areas Costs You: 
  • Lost keys, missing wallet = late for work, lost productivity
  • Not being able to fully enjoy your home = you spend money elsewhere for fun
  • Blocked ventilation = utility costs rise
Image: Jennifer Kathryn Photography for The Everygirl
Your living space is where you want to get the most enjoyment out of your home. If you can't relax and enjoy yourself there, you'll constantly be seeking out others places to find solace and fun - and that can add up to a lot of money spent on entertainment and recreational venues. 

And, meanwhile, you could be paying more than you should for the living space you're not enjoying. 
"I run into people whose homes are unorganized to the point of papers, boxes and 'stuff' blocking air vents that supply heat and air conditioning to their homes," says Gessert. This costs a fortune in utility bills. Likewise, a jumble of electrical wires around TVs and home entertainment systems can be sucking energy from always being plugged in. Connect them all to smart power strips that can turn everything off with one switch. 
Once you're living with organization, you'll start to see the benefits everywhere. No more dealing with late fees on bills, having to buy replacement earrings or bread knives when items go missing, and - perhaps best of all - no more having to leave your home in order to find relaxation and entertainment. After all, saving on bills can be a big boost to your monthly budget, but there's no greater value than getting more enjoyment out of your home.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

by John Riha via houselogic

7 Ideas to Help You Use Your Outdoor Space More

by Deidre Sullivan via houselogic

These ideas will transform your outdoor space into an oasis you may never want to leave.

Day or night, this deck is the cozy place to be. Plush furniture and an outdoor rug maximize comfort, and string lights cast a warm glow. Image: Summer Hogan

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for our mental and physical well-being.

As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are "essential" or "desirable," according to the "What Buyers Really Want" survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 

So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?

An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book, "Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century," blames our fascination with digital devices - tablets, computers, televisions, games - for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians. 

So this summer let's make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer. 

1. Go Overboard on Comfy

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be 'ahhh.' If you're not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies: 

Make sure your outdoor seating is as cushy as your indoor furniture. Today's outdoor cushions aren't the plastic-y, sweat-inducing pillows of the past. Plus, they can handle a downpour and spring back once they dry. 

Lay down outdoor rugs so you're just as comfortable barefoot as you are inside. 

Give yourself some privacy. Create neutral screens with shrubs, bushes, or even bamboo reeds. Or install prefab screens from your local home improvement store. 

2. Create a Broadband Paradise

Our devised and electronics have conspired to keep us on lockdown. Since we're not about to chuck our digital toys, boot up your outdoor space so you can keep texting, posting to Instagram, and watching cat videos. 

Wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antennaes provide an extra boost so you can stay connected. 

A solar USB charging station keeps your gizmos powered. 

Wireless speakers make it easy to bring your music outdoors, and mask a noisy neighborhood. 

An all-weather outdoor TV lets your stay outside for the big game. 

3. Blur the Line Between Indoors and Out

Creating a seamless transition between your home's interior and exterior isn't as simple or low cost as adding comfort, but its the most dramatic and effective way to enhance your enjoyment of the space. Plus, it can increase your home's value. 

The most straightforward, cost-effective solution: Replace a standard door opening with sliding or glass French doors. 

Use the same weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scoured concrete, outside as well as in the room leading to your backyard oasis. 

4. Light the Way

                                               Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When the sun goes down, don't be left groping for your wine glass. Outdoor lighting dresses up your home's marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is a buyers' most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and let you spend time outside. 

Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points. 

Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier. 

Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights. 

Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone. 

5. Make Your Mark 

                                               Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Let your style dominate your backyard space. 

Paint a faux rug with your favorite colors. 

Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials. 

Craft a one-of-a-kind outdoor chandelier. 

Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave. 

Add personal decor that makes you happy. 

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills. 

6. Don't Give Anyone an Excuse to Stay Inside

                                               Image: Tasya Demers from My House and Home

Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing. 

A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time. 

Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking in an outdoor playhouse. 

Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both the kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.

Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run area may even boost your home's value. FYI: It's been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses. 

7. Rebuff the Elements


Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs are the archenemy of good times. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature: 

Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. It'll make it easier to read your Kindle or iPad and keep yu dry during a summer shower. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays, too. 

Rig glass fence windscreens to keep the BBQ fires burning. 

Screen your porch or deck against bugs. But screening will be for naught if you forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards. 

Indianapolis July 2014 Housing Report

by Jason O'Neil

Although low supply and tight credit standards are still hurdles to a robust recovery, prices continue to rise in most local areas. Buoyed by stable and continuously lower interest rates, affordability is still historically high yet below its all-time peak. Rising inventory levels will lead to more choices for qualified
buyers. In fact, New Listings in central Indiana rose in July by 2.2 percent and 2.5 percent for the quarter ending in July.
Pending Sales were down 3.6 percent in July and 4.4 percent in the three months ending in July. Inventory levels rose 2.7 percent, bringing Months Supply of Inventory up 4.8 percent to 5.9 months.
Prices were stable. The Median Sales Price increased 0.1 percent to $145,000 in July. For the quarter ending in July, Median Sales Price rose 2.1 percent to $145,000 compared to the same quarter a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that GDP grew at a 4.0 percent annual rate in the second quarter and that the first quarter was less negative than previously thought. Consumer spending in the first quarter rose 2.5 percent, which is encouragingly in tandem with savings rates. Increased consumer spending means more demand for goods and labor; increased savings rates means more resources for down payments. With interest rates still low, prices stable and more inventory making its way to market, local buyers and sellers have ample housing opportunities.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#6. Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A UCLA study examined the sales prices of 1.6 million California homes from 2007 to 2012 and found that homes with Energy Star, LEED, or GreenPoint certification had, on average, a 9% higher price.

That finding is echoed in NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2% to 3% less.

One energy-saving home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. If you like to crunch energy numbers, gas fireplaces have energy-efficient ratings as high as 77%, compared with wood-burning fireplaces that convert only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat.

In fact, 39% of homebuyers say a gas fireplace is an essential or desirable feature of the next home they purchase. So when it comes time to sell your home, more than one-third of potential buyers will be looking for a gas fireplace.

In the meantime, it’ll be paying for itself in reduced heating costs.

Some tips for converting to gas:

  • A direct-vent gas insert most closely replicates the wood-burning experience at a cost of about $3,000 to $4,000, installed.
  • If you don’t have an existing fireplace, you can install a direct-vent (vents directly outside so you don’t need a chimney) gas fireplace for about $5,000 (installed and finished).

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more:

Portrait of An Affluent American Consumer - Part 2

by Jason O'Neil

When affluent American consumers were asked where they plan to purchase their next property, a majority said North America and followed in a distant second by Europe. It's true that home truly is where the heart is.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#5. Pump Up Your Home Security

The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless.

In reality, price varies. You can buy and install it yourself for $50 to $300, or a security company can sell and install a system from $0 to $1,500. The “zero” is the hook companies use to lure you into signing a multi-year monitoring contract that ranges from $95 to $480 per year.

If a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance. Most companies will discount your annual rate 15% to 20% if you have a security service.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50% of homebuyers (in the NAHB survey) say a home security system — particularly security cameras — tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

You can go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks and a laser trip wire. Or you can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.


  • If you do decide to go with a monitoring system, choose a company with a 10-year track record to ensure reliability.
  • Don’t rely on any system as your sole means of security. Locking doors and windows is still your best first-line of defense.


Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

Indianapolis June 2014 Housing Report

by Jason O'Neil

Housing in central Indiana over the last six months has seen growth in a lot of key indicators but it has continued to move slower than the month over month movement we saw in 2013. Central Indiana has all of the right ingredients including a diversity of housing stock and prices. Builders are active again for the first time in a few years and that adds new product to our market every month.

New Listings in central Indiana increased 6.5 percent in June and 2.1 percent in the last quarter. Months of Inventory decreased 0.1 percent percent in June to place the current availability of properties at 5.6 months. Pending and Closed Sales were down 2.5 and 1.4 percent respectively in June.

Prices forged onward. Median Sales Price for the quarter ending in May grew 3.9 percent to $142,900 compared to the same quarter last year. Average Sales Price grew 4.9 percent for the quarter ending in June 2014 compared to 2013.

Housing experts say sales are inching up, price growth is becoming more sustainable and housing inventory is increasing slowly. The market continues to stabilize overall, but a need for more people participating on both the buyer and the seller side is evident.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#4. Install a Patio

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

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