What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia (meaning love of nature) focuses on human’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes. It suggests that we all have a genetic connection to the natural world built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in agrarian settings.

Biophilic Design uses these ideas as principles to create a human centered approach that when applied improves many of the spaces that we live and work in today, with numerous benefits to our health and well-being. Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment have been demonstrated through research to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self reported rates of well-being.

– Office design: productivity can be increased by 8%, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced
absenteeism and presenteeism
– Hospitality design: Guests willing to pay 23% more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements
– Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced
impacts of ADHD
– Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
– Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with
customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12 % more for goods and services.
– Homes: can become more calming & restorative, with 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can
command an increase of 4-5% in property price.

Posted on November 14, 2020 at 5:54 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

It’s no secret that smart technology can increase the value of a home. Smart home tech enhances a home’s ease of use, which is a vital selling point that can command top dollar. One of the biggest selling points in smart home tech is a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat like those from Nest, Ecobee, or Honeywell, can save you money on your energy bills while making your life easier.

Save Money

By collecting temperature and humidity data, smart thermostats can detect when there are people in a room and adjust the temperature accordingly. Many popular brands need just a week to learn a household’s habits and adapt to that home’s specific temperature needs. Once it’s programmed itself, a smart thermostat can cut up to $200 off yearly energy costs. According to Nest, the average Nest Thermostat owner saved 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Learning thermostats are fairly inexpensive when compared to other smart home technology, which makes them a budget-friendly way to dip your toe into the internet of things.

Live Better

Imagine you’re lying in bed on a cold winter morning. The house is freezing—too chilly to emerge from your warm blanket cocoon. Your heater hasn’t yet kicked on, but you need to get ready for work. With a smart thermostat, warming up your home without getting out of bed is as easy as opening an app on your phone!

A learning thermostat keeps you connected to what matters… at home or on the go. The app can alert you if your HVAC system breaks down while you’re away from home, so you can schedule a service provider without missing a beat.

Protect Your Privacy

It’s important to educate yourself about smart home technology, especially if you’re concerned about privacy. Research different smart thermostats and get familiar with their features before making a purchase. Some learning thermostats have voice controls, while others are controlled with a mobile app. All smart home products should come with a privacy statement outlining how each company uses the data they collect from customers. Always read the brand’s privacy statements before purchasing any smart home product.

Posted on October 6, 2020 at 10:08 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

9 Ways to Say Thanks!

What’s the best way to show appreciation and improve relationships with family, friends and anyone your associate with each day? When someone goes above and beyond to help you out, acknowledge their efforts and show your appreciation with one of these thoughtful suggestions.

1. Give Food. Why? Everyone loves food. Find out their favorite treat and deliver it in person.
2. Write a Note. Heartfelt handwritten note card. You don’t have to be a poet or have perfect penmanship.
3. Return the Favor. If someone did something nice for you, return the favor. Offer to lend a hand.
4. Pay if Forward. When someone does something nice for us, say Thanks and pay their generosity forward.
5. Deliver Flowers or a Colorful Plant. Brighten someones day and show you appreciate them with a bouquet of flowers or easy care plants.
6. Give them Something Useful. If you know the person well, think about their interest. Personalizing the gesture is always appreciated.
7. Give a Gift Card. These are ideal for those you don’t know well, but have some ideas about their daily life.
8. Sing Their Praises on Social Media. Write a message on a connections profile. Tag them in the post, thanking them for their help.
9. Donate Money to Charity in Their Name. Donate to one of their favorite charities, in their name. Browse for favorite organization on their social media pages, or ask them directly.

Posted on September 15, 2020 at 7:08 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

Eye-Catching Ways to Decorate with Plants

Using plants as décor is a great way to add a little color and a natural, bright feel to any room. There are endless types of plants to choose from and various ways to display each one, but here are a few of our favorite combinations.

Geometric pots. Find geometric pots or planters of various sizes and plant small succulents of different styles and colors in each one. Then group a few pots together on a window sill or shelf or use them individually to adorn a side table or center of the dining room table.
Long, hanging plants. Purchase a larger, draping plant-like eucalyptus, fern, or ivy and hang it from the ceiling using a macramé plant hanger or place it on a high shelf or ladder. These plants are perfect for the corner of your living room or room with a large, plain wall that is in need of a little pop of color.
Plant corner. Have a large corner in the dining or living room and need ideas on how to fill it? Consider turning it into a small plant sanctuary. Select plants of all different sizes, heights, colors, and styles and purchase either matching pots or a mix of designs. Consider the use of a stool or small table to create additional levels and strategically place each one in the corner.
Air plants. Air plants are universal and can be included in DIY wall art, hung from the ceiling or on the wall inside geometric metal prisms, or placed inside beautiful glass terrariums alongside other plants and colorful rocks or sand.

Posted on July 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

Hidden Fees to Be Aware of When Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don’t forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase then the price of the home. Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.

Home inspection. This is a crucial step in the home buying process. The findings that come from the inspection can help you negotiate price and repairs. Generally, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 depending on the home and the location.
Title services. Title services encompass the transfer of the title from the seller and a thorough search of the property’s records to ensure to no one will pop up with a claim to the property. Additionally, you may need to buy title insurance which will protect the lender or your investment in the home.
Appraisal fee. Before getting a loan, you will likely be required to get an appraisal of the home to determine its estimated value. This will be conducted by a third-party company and the cost can land anywhere between $300 and $1,000, depending on the size of the home.
HOA fees. Many communities have a homeowners’ association that enforces monthly fees. This money is used for general maintenance and updates to areas like pools, parks, and more. Typical HOA fees are around $200 per month.
Taxes. The taxes each buyer pays at the closing table differ, but it is not uncommon for it to be up to two months’ worth of county and city property taxes. Additionally, there may be taxes for the transfer of the home title.

Posted on July 5, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

The Difference Between Home Warranty & Home Insurance

When purchasing a new home, it’s important to do in-depth research on all facets of the home buying process. Check out the information on home insurance versus home warranty below to educate yourself on your options.

Home Insurance
Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however, damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered. It also covers the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. According to American Home Shield, the average annual cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000, and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.

Home Warranty
A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fail or break due to age and wear and tear. This includes but isn’t limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer and dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year-round, even if you do not use it, and it won’t cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster.

Posted on June 14, 2020 at 4:28 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

Getting Ready for Retirement

For most people, retirement feels like a long way off. But, if you don’t start preparing as early as possible, you may find yourself in a place of financial insecurity when the time does come. To avoid this, consider implementing the following tips.

Calculate your target savings. In general, it’s recommended that you save between 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement. However, you can always use an online savings calculator to determine the amount you need to save for your specific needs and goals.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan. Does your job offer a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA? Sign up and start saving as soon as they allow you to. It’s recommended to set up automatic paycheck deductions and, once the money is in your retirement fund, don’t touch it.

Take advantage of employee benefits. Many employers offer matching which generally requires you contribute a certain percentage of each paycheck and your company will then contribute a matching amount with funds of their own. They might also offer health savings or flexible savings account. By contributing to these accounts, you reduce your amount of taxable income, allowing you to save more money.

Pay off your debts. Start by paying off any high-interest credit card debt first. Then look at other debts, such as student loans and car payments, and make a plan for paying those off incrementally.

Reduce daily spending. Although this feels like a no-brainer, spending your money thoughtfully now can make a big impact later. Seek out areas of your life where you can.

Posted on June 5, 2020 at 7:37 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

How Forbearance Can Change Your Credit Scores

How might deferred payments, missed payment allowances and other actions by credit card issuers be reflected on credit reports?

A: It’s important to remember that even one late or missed payment may impact credit scores and remain on credit reports for seven years. But generally, late payments don’t end up on credit reports for at least 30 days after you miss the payment. That means it’s possible to make up a late payment before it shows on credit reports. However, interest and late payment fees may still apply.

If you’re out of work or struggling due to the pandemic, contact your lenders and creditors to explain your situation and see if any accommodations can be made. In some situations like Covid-19, it’s possible that lenders and creditors may have special assistance available to reduce the risk of impacting your credit standing. Some creditors or lenders may waive late fees or offer short-term loans, and some may provide the opportunity to make reduced payments, interest-only payments, or no payments for some period of time — a practice known as forbearance. Keep in mind, however, that accounts in forbearance can still be reported as late or missed payments by lenders and creditors to the three nationwide credit bureaus.

If your asking for help, be sure to ask questions that protect your future.

Posted on May 31, 2020 at 6:20 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

Staging Strategies for Your Home

Staging your home is all about putting the best foot forward for potential buyers. By highlighting its most desirable features, you can draw more interest for your home and leave a lasting impression that is sure to help you sell it more quickly. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you prepare for your next open house or viewing!

Help them visualize it as their own. Make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves making your house their home by removing personal memorabilia, knick-knacks, and photos. Instead replace them with simple decor, such as paintings, nature images, and plants.
Think sleek instead of comfy. Modern-day buyers are leaning toward, crisp, clean interiors over comfy, homey looks. When staging your home, keep a minimalist mindset, and incorporate bright colors and metal accents.
Deep clean the small spaces. It’s obvious to say you should clean your home before viewing, but don’t forget to cover your bases by deep cleaning the small spots. Take time to scrub porous areas like grout that may hold on to stains and baseboards where small pet hairs and dust love to cling.
Spruce up your landscaping. The first impression your home gives to potential buyers is its exterior. Ensure you have a neat hedges and shrubbery, bright flowers, and a clean driveway.
Set the mood. A home is so much more than just the way it looks, so you need to appeal to the other senses. Prior to having potential buyers over, set the mood by burning delicious smelling candles and selecting an upbeat, happy music

Posted on May 12, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |

The Difference Between Mortgage Deferment and Forbearance

More homeowners are in search of mortgage relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and options like mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance are becoming readily available to those in need.

Mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance allow borrowers to temporarily stop making their monthly payments, but they differ in what happens afterwards. At the end of a forbearance period, the amount of payments missed are due in a lump sum, however, lenders may choose to work with borrowers to structure a payment plan.

On the other hand, deferment is allowing borrowers to repay the money over time or add it to the end of their loan period.

Technically, a mortgage forbearance agreement is when you’ve possibly been late, and the lender agrees not to foreclosure during that forbearance period.

More homeowners are in search of mortgage relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t just assume you can skip a payment. Call your lender now, let them know, and make arrangements.

Forbearance and deferment aren’t the only options. Some lenders are doing loan modifications, too. Additionally, these options may still affect your credit scores, so be sure to ask questions and that it’s right for you and your family.

The bottom line is that lenders want to remind consumers: Nothing is free. It does not necessarily pause the interest that is accruing, and it does mean that you’re going to have to make that principal and interest payment at a later date.

Posted on April 8, 2020 at 4:31 pm
Sally Melby | Posted in Uncategorized |