How to Live in a House for Sale

ForSale_SibcyCline.jpgYou’re excited. You’re finally ready to move. Maybe it’s because your family got bigger. Maybe it’s because you want to shorten your commute. Maybe, you’re just ready to upgrade in general. Whatever the reason, it’s time.

There’s only one problem. You’re waiting for someone to buy your house.

In the words of the immortal philosopher Homer (Simpson) – “D’oh!”

So here are 5 tips to help you live with a house that’s for sale:

1. Declutter

If “location, location, location” is the real estate mantra, then “declutter, declutter, declutter” is the seller’s mantra. Few things hide the value of a home like closets filled with unnecessary goods, out of place items, or just junk. It’s hard to see the value of your home when all a buyer can see is your collection of National Geographic magazines from the 1980’s.

So how do you live in a cleaned house? By thinking “simple.” If we’re honest with ourselves we rarely use everything we own, even over the span of a few months. Most closets can be emptied of everything that is non-seasonal. And if your co-worker asks why you keep wearing the same shirt to work, just tell them that you’re a cartoon character. The same can be said of kitchen cupboards, basements, and most kid toys. You may even find that the less stuff you have, the better you like it!

2. Stay Clean

This will be your biggest challenge. Especially if you have kids or pets. Both tend to forget that “cleanliness is next to sold-li-ness”. Or something. But staying clean is one of the most important things you can do. You went to all the effort of decluttering your house, why waste that effort now? Clean spaces always feel more inviting. They also allow potential buyers to project their own visions onto the space.

Unfortunately this may be the hardest one to live with. It’s hard work keeping your house clean. Especially if you have a job, kids, volunteering, sports etc… So the best advice here is to stay focused on your goal: selling your house. You may need to remind yourself daily that keeping your house picked up is one of the best ways to increase the selling price. (Some days you may need to do this several times….)

3. Fix the Little Things

Little details add up. Sure the wobbly knoll post doesn’t seem like an issue by itself. But combine it with a bad paint job, some scratches on the floor, and creaking door – and suddenly you’re telling the buyer that you didn’t really take care of the house. “Who knows what lurks in this house?” is the message you’re sending. By taking care of the little things you’re reinforcing the first two points of a clean, comfortable, well-maintained home.

This is actually a great way to involve the kids (if you have them) or as a possible “date night” with a spouse. Yes, my idea of a date might be a bit different than yours! But the idea is to change these projects from work to something you can do as a family or with friends. Invite people over for a painting party. Let the kids spread mulch or plant flowers. If you have to do it anyway, you might as well have some fun!

4. Know When to Stop

The flip side is knowing when to stop. Yes the little things matter. But you can always find something new to replace, repair, repaint, or re-purpose. That’s both the excitement and curse of home ownership! Don’t let it overwhelm you. Know when to make that break. (This is when your Realtor’s knowledge of the local market will come in handy.)


5. Get Out of the House!

Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply get out of the house. You’ll need to do this during showings anyway. So you might as well start looking for things to do away from home. The upside is the more time you spend outside of the house, the less time you’ll need to spend cleaning up the house.

What can you do in your neighborhood? What local restaurants do you want to go to for “the last time”? What playgrounds can you take your kids to? Do you know where you’re moving? Go visit the local stores. Not sure yet? Check out what different neighborhoods have to offer. You might even find your dream home while you’re trying to stay out of your current home!

It can be demanding, stressful, and frustrating to live in a house that you’re trying to sell. But think of the rewards of finally getting it sold. And really, at the end of the day, that’s your primary goal. In the meantime, good luck!

Red Bike: A New Way to Explore Downtown Cincinnati

If you’ve been looking for a new way to get around Downtown Cincinnati, then your wait is finally over. On September 15th a new bike-sharing service opened up at 30 different locations.

What is bike-sharing exactly? Well in Cincinnati it works like this: You buy a pass (either for a day, or for a year), you go to one of 30 different bike locations and “check out” a bike. From there you’re on the clock. If you return it within the next 60 minutes (again to any one of the 30 locations) you’re good to go. You can do this as many times as you want in the day, or through the year if you bought a yearly pass. The only catch is that you’re charge additional fees if you don’t return a bike before the 60 minute timer is up.

So if you’re looking for a leisurely bike ride around town, this is probably not for you. But if you’re wanting to get across downtown without much hassle, the expense of a cab, or simply to see the town from a new angle, this might be a win.

While the bike-sharing program is probably not for everyone, it does offer two advantages. It’s good exercise, and provides a more scenic view of downtown than you might otherwise get. Something that we might need after we’ve eaten from all those great local donut shops!

But in my mind, the best benefit is that it gives you one more reason to head downtown.


The Tri-State: A Thriving Region for Donuts?

“My kingdom for a donut!”

I’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote from William Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Or maybe it’s just my personal life motto. Either way, I think it’s good advice to live by.

And based on our eating habits around the Cincinnati region, I may not be alone! We happen to live in a region that’s great for donuts. Whether your favorite comes from Busken, Graeters, Bill’s Donut Shop (in Centerville), Servatii’s, or Holtman’s. There are tons of delicious choices to make. Which is why we can celebrate one local bakery that’s going to be featured on an upcoming television show: Donut Showdown.

Donut Showdown is (surprise!) a donut-based competition that focuses on using unique elements in donut recipes. In the episode featuring the local Holtman’s Bakery (located in Over-the-Rhine with locations in both Loveland and Williamsburg), the featured ingredient was pink peppercorns. Probably not the donut flavor I’m going for, but hey, welcome to Hollywood.

If you want to find out who wins, tune into the show airing at 9pm on October 9th. In the meantime, you can explore all the great donut options that our region has to offer. And as the old saying goes, a donut a day, keeps the doctor away. Or something.

Get Your Lederhosen Ready, Cincinnati!

Mark your calendars. The first US-based store for clothing manufacturer Wiesnkoenig has opened up in Over-the-Rhine. What? You’re not familiar with the official lederhosen manufacturer for the Munich Oktoberfest? Well my friend, that’s about to change! A change you may see coming to some pants near you!

Wiesnkoenig has decided to expand their locations outside of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, choosing Cincinnati as its next target.

Now you may be wondering, why choose Cincinnati as the place for your first US-based store. And that would be a good question. But the answer’s obvious when we turn to another Cincinnati classic: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.

From September 19-21, Tri-State residents will revel in all things German. As long as we confine “all things” to mean food, drink, music, and (now) lederhosen. More than 500,000 people will attend this year, and according to Cinci Magazine local residents will consume more than 23,000 soft pretzels, 80,500 Bratwurst, and 3,604 lbs of Sauerkraut during Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. To put those numbers into context, let’s break them down a bit:

  • 23,000 soft pretzels would be enough to fill about 4 “average” sized in-ground swimming pools. (You don’t want to know how many soft pretzels I had to bake to figure that out…)
  • If we took all the Bratwurst we’ll eat during Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, and laid it end to end, we’d have enough Bratwurst to cover 6.8 miles of I-71.
  • And we’ll eat enough sauerkraut to equal just under the weight of the typical American car (4,000 lbs).

Both Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and the opening of Wiesnkoenig’s newest store are just one more link in Cincinnati’s long history with German culture and traditions. Which is also why our region was the first to receive an authentic Hofbrauhaus outside of Munich.

Pam and Rob Sibcy, Robin Sheakley, Bill Borek, Jim Stofko and Bob Mahoney were looking quite stylish in lederhosen and dirndls.

Pam and Rob Sibcy, Robin Sheakley, Bill Borek, Jim Stofko and Bob Mahoney are looking very stylish in lederhosen and dirndls.

So in the coming days, let’s make sure to embrace our German traditions that Cincinnati (or in some cases Northern Kentucky) has. So before heading out this weekend, grab your favorite pair of lederhosen. And according to Wiesnkoenig, you don’t need the suspenders to rock out the lederhosen. But if you’re not going to do that, at least eat your fair share of sauerkraut.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County Library 6th Busiest in Nation

Have you ever read a book, only to feel a little sad, maybe a little depressed after it was over?

If you live in the Cincinnati area you’re probably not alone. Why? Because the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of the busiest libraries in the country. In 2013 it was ranked 6th in the nation for use. Apparently living in Hamilton County and reading go hand-in-hand.

In fact, over the course of last year, 17.4 million items were checked out of the library.

One key to the Library’s success is by embracing new technology. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County offers a large collection of digital books for your Kindle or e-reader. It also offers movies and music. (Which until writing this, I did not know that you can download music from the Library.) By building their collection of digital reading materials, the Cincinnati library has been able to not only stay relevant, but to increase how many people use the library year over year. (Cincinnati and Hamilton County was ranked #7 in 2012).

And if that’s not exciting enough for you, modern science is confirming what your third grade teacher probably told you: reading is good for you.

Recent studies have confirmed that reading will improve your ability to take another’s perspective. Something that’s useful for both neighborhoods and businesses. It also (obviously) improves story comprehension. But perhaps what’s most interesting is that the effects of reading a good book can linger in your brain for days, or possibly weeks. Which helps explain why I still can’t get Harry Potter out of my head. And why you might be anxiously awaiting the next Game of Thrones book. In a way, good books leave a little of themselves once you’ve finished them.

Now let’s just hope that everyone remembers to turn in their library books!

Photo Image courtesy of: OZinOH Flickr.

How Some Tall Grass Might Stop Birds Hitting Planes

In the hustle of travel these days we see lots of problems. Airport security. Missing connections. Overcrowded flights. Lost luggage. Bad airport food. The list goes on. But rarely do we think about one of the bigger problems in aviation: birds.

Not in the Alfred Hitchcock sense. But birds, especially larger birds, pose a serious safety risk to both planes and passengers. Each year planes collide with birds, causing damage to the planes and posing a potential accident hazard. Up until now there weren’t a lot of ways to prevent the bird strikes short of killing the birds or making sure the planes could withstand a bird-strike. Unfortunately both solutions could be expensive, and from a bird’s perspective, not ideal!

Fortunately there is some good news to be had. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, innovation may be just what some local birds were hoping for.

The Dayton airport is experimenting with a new bird management technique: tall grass.

How does it work? Well, it turns out that most of the birds that cause damage to airplanes view tall grass as a danger. They learn to see tall grass as a place where predators might lie in wait, therefore, the birds learn to avoid the area. In other words,there’s an instinctual response that birds have to the tall grass that may end up saving them as well as preventing damages to to airplanes.

If this works, it means that airports could have a low-cost solution to a dangerous problem. It also means that both birds and planes would be safe. It might even mean I can convince my wife that I’m not neglecting the lawn, I’m just making it safer for planes to fly.