Moving with Kids: Tips on Making a Smooth Transition

This post comes from the fabulous Alexis Hall of A single mom, she recently moved with her 3 kids to be closer to her parents. Here’s what Alexis had to say about her experience:

The homebuying process with three kids was challenging and fun. From a treehouse to a dance studio to an indoor slide, everyone had their request for what our new place should have. And, of course, I had a very strict budget to stick to!

Now a pro, Alexis has been kind enough to share some tips on making a move with kids as easy and stress-free as possible. Read on for her insights!

Photo via PixaBay by Vik Varga

Moving into a new home is often a time-consuming, stressful process that requires a lot of planning and careful thought. Not only is it difficult to navigate through the move itself, but when you’re done, you and your family are left with figuring out how to get comfortable and situated in a new, unfamiliar home. For some kids, this stage of the process can be tricky or even traumatic, so it’s important to find the best ways to help them feel safe and settled.

One of the best ways to do this is to involve your kids in every stage of the move, from looking at potential homes to choosing decor for their bedrooms. Allowing them a little control over what’s happening — even if it’s as small as picking out new bedding — will help tremendously when it’s time to call the new place home.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to make a move with your kiddos.

Do Some Research

Doing some research on the best homes and neighborhoods in your area will keep you informed and will give you a little space to include your children. Even if they don’t get a final say in which home you buy, they’ll enjoy the excitement of checking out different houses, so make it a family outing and talk about what everyone liked and disliked about each house afterward. Talk about a budget with your spouse or partner, and while you do so, keep in mind that the average sale price in Portland, Oregon, is $430,000, though prices vary by locale.

Downsize Thoughtfully

It’s a good idea to declutter and downsize a bit before you start packing; this way, you won’t be taking unwanted items with you to the new place. Just keep in mind that it’s never advisable to do this in your child’s room without him present. It may be tempting to finally have a chance to throw out that box of broken crayon pieces or to donate all those stuffed animals, but doing so could create anxiety for your little one at the worst possible time. Instead, go through his room with him and encourage him to make piles of things he would like to donate or throw away. If you’ll be having a garage sale before the move, let him know that he could earn some extra cash by selling his unwanted toys.

Make a Scrapbook

Especially if you’ve lived in the same home for a long time, your kids may be feeling sad about leaving their bedrooms and neighborhood friends behind. Help them create a scrapbook full of pictures and memories from your time in the house so they’ll always remember the good times they had.

Make a Quick Sale

One of the most difficult things about a move is waiting for your house to sell. It can be nerve-wracking, so it’s important to try to make a quick sale, especially since trying to sell a home with children means attempting to keep their bedrooms spotless for buyer walk-throughs and open houses. One of the best ways to do this is to boost your home’s curb appeal by adding a pop of color with some flowers, repainting the front door and/or mailbox, and replacing old light fixtures near the door.

Making your move with kids a smooth transition can seem like an overwhelming and stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be. With some good planning, smart packing, and a little patience, you and your family can turn a new house into a home in no time.

Posted on November 7, 2018 at 12:01 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Time To Introduce Smart Showers

The Smart Shower

Hey there readers! So I’m going to be introducing something a little out there today that some people have never heard of, let alone even thought was possible.

So we already have smart TVs, smart phones, and smart watches….. But what about smart showers?? Well…. They’re real! Two brands already adapting to this trend but in different ways are Moen with their U, and Grohe with their SmartControl. Both in the form of rainfall showers.


Ok? And…

Well, now you may be asking “ok smart showers are a thing… but what do they actually do?” Let me open the flood gates of information for you. Are you ready to have your life changes? Well; smart showers, being more so the control interface than the actual shower head, greatly enhance your showering experience & allow you to interact with your shower in a myriad of new ways. Being fully touch capable – the interface allows you turn on, turn off, and adjust temperature – amongst other things – with the simple touch of a button or turn of an integrated nob system.


Smart Showers and Presets

Taking this otherworldly introduction a step further: the smart shower system also allows you to create and save custom presets of your favorite experience to be used over again every time you hop in and wash up. From flow speed, water temperature, water pressure, LED color, and even a timer to shut the water off at a certain point in case you like saving money or for those days you’re running late and need to get a quick shower in. Forcing you to get everything washed up within the time frame you allocated. Oh, and did we mention all of this doesn’t have to be done through the interface? Just like the interface communicates with the shower through Bluetooth – your phone can be used as an interface substitute by the means of an app to be able to control everything about your shower experience to the same degree the wall interface could have.

Long ago are the days where our showers had one simple hot and cold / on and off nob, button. Or for the lucky – a couple extra buttons to control water flow. Now is the time where we can control our entire bathroom experience. And aren’t forced to look at a mundane turn nob. The age of the showers of tomorrow; amazing right? Welcome to the future.


Posted on May 16, 2018 at 4:51 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

What You Need to Know About Selling Your Property

Selling your house is an exciting time, but it’s also bound with a lot of red tape. This handy guide will take you through all the ins and outs of property contracts, so you know what to expect from the outset.

“The legal process begins as soon as you accept an offer. This includes arranging for the drawing up of contracts, arranging appropriate payments and making sure that the property is legally transferred to the new owner.” Says Central London estate agent, LDG.

Both you and your buyer will need to instruct solicitors and/or conveyancers to do all the legal work on your behalf and ensure that everything is above board.

The legal process of exchanging and completing contracts with your buyer generally takes the following steps:

  1. Terms are agreed between seller and buyer and you both instruct legal parties to do the conveyancing work on your behalf.
  2. Your lawyer obtains the title deeds and prepare draft contracts for your buyer’s lawyer to approve.

  3. Your lawyer sends the draft across to the other lawyer, along with the other documentation required to form the contract.

  4. The buyer’s lawyer reviews the documents and does the appropriate searches and reviews. They will then confirm that there is a mortgage offer in place and check the progress of any dependent sale in order to proceed.

  5. Contracts are then signed by both parties and exchanged. At this stage a completion date is agreed.

  6. The buyer’s lawyer will prepare the Transfer Deed, which will then be sent to yours for approval and signing.

  7. Your buyer will obtain the necessary funds for purchase, either directly, via a lender or through the sale of their own property.

  8. On the completion date your buyer’s lawyer will send the required funds to yours. As soon as these are received the purchase is deemed complete.

Finally, the buyer’s lawyer will pay any stamp duty that is due on the property and register the buyer as the new owner with the Land Registry.

“The time the whole process takes depends on various factors, like whether there is a chain or the property is subject to any planning permissions, but on average you can expect it to take between six and eight weeks” explains Andrew Reeves.

To make things move as quickly as possible from your end it’s advisable to instruct your lawyer to start working on the paperwork before you find a buyer. This may seem like false economy but it can save a huge amount of time further down the line and make the whole transition much smoother.

Things they can do in advance include calling for information regarding title deeds and other important documents that can take a while to get hold of. You can also complete other documents in advance, such as the “Sellers Property Information” form and “Fixture Fittings and Contents” declaration.

“If you do as much as you possibly can now, you’ll be thankful in the long run” says Wimbledon estate agent, Robert Holmes.

Posted on April 16, 2018 at 2:57 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged ,

Creating a Pet Evacuation Plan

An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home. No matter where you live, you’ll have some natural disaster that you’ll need to be prepared for, whether it’s earthquakes, fires, or hurricanes. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids (if you don’t have an evacuation plan yet, take some time to put one in place. has some great resources to help!), but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan, and you’ll ensure that everyone stays safe, including the furrier family members!

(Like in some of my previous pet-related posts, I’ll use this opportunity to pepper in a bunch of pictures of Briggs!)

Assign Pet Evacuation to an Adult


In your evacuation plan, everyone should have defined responsibilities, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other members of the household to focus on their parts of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence. When everyone is on the same page about who will take care of what, there will be a lot less panic, and the entire evacuation will move more smoothly.


Keep Evacuation Maps and Pet Carriers Readily Accessible


When you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. Many homes have a “go bag” with essentials that are readily accessible in the event of an emergency. You should have something similar for your pets. A spare leash, collapsible food and water bowls, and some treats or food in a bag near the door can save precious minutes while you’re getting out.  If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily.


Practice Your Plan

13394031_10153397680491525_7968616016004885247_n (1)

Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think! Just like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it will be when it comes time to act. And in an emergency situation, being able to react quickly is paramount.


Be Prepared in Case You Get Separated From Your Pets


No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area. If you have your pet chipped, make sure the contact information is up to date. Otherwise, if someone does bring your pet to the vet, they won’t be able to get in touch with you to know that he has been found safe. While it may be difficult to get your pet on a leash during the evacuation, if you can get them leashed as soon as you are safely outside, it will go a long way into ensuring that they stay safe and by your side.


Do any of you have a pet evacuation plan? What other tips do you have?

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 12:39 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Must-Have Tools for Homeowners

When you own your home, things are going to break and there’s no landlord to call. Unless you want to get to know your local handyman REALLY well, you’ll have to fix at least some of the basics on your own. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. A simple toolbox with a few staples will go a long way, and may even release your inner DIY-er!  These five tools will cover most of your basic projects:

Cordless drill


A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. You can get a small drill at any hardware store, and a good set of drill bits means you’ll always have the right size drill for the job. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month. My drill is a lifesaver when it comes time to clean out my Cadet heaters. With one in every room, taking them apart and putting them back together can be done in a snap!

Drain Cleaners


Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they can get expensive, and it’s more cost-effective to prevent clogged drains in the first place. Instead, you can pick up some drain hair catchers for your shower/tub. If you do get a clog, a plastic drain clog removal tool is great to have in your arsenal. It’s a little plastic stick that pulls up the hair and clog in one easy step. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.



No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum. Shop vacs can be found at any home improvement store in a variety of sizes. A small one should suffice for most homes and can be purchased pretty cheaply.



Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard. Any sort of clippers are good to have, but I find that a strong set of loppers can tackle a variety of jobs, and even decent quality ones will cut through branches much more easily. I have a huge yard to tackle, and having solid yard tools turns gardening from a chore into a nice afternoon outside!



You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your phone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace! Aside from that, it’s a good idea to have a few bright flashlights around the house and even a lantern or two in case of a power outage. Make sure you’ve got some extra batteries as well!

What other tools have you found essential as a homeowner? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on February 21, 2018 at 2:03 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Happy Valentine's Day!

Parmesan Cheese.png

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 11:03 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Negotiation Tactics That Can Kill a Sale

Negotiations in a real estate transactions can be tricky. Here are some pitfalls to avoid that might kill your deal.

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 12:19 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Hire a Concrete Contractor Instead of Going DIY

As a rule of thumb, whenever there’s a need for concrete construction, you should think twice about taking the matters into your own hands. Sure, turning it into a DIY project is always a possibility, but think about it; you don’t construct/reconstruct using concrete every day, and you probably don’t have the required experience anyway, so hiring a contractor is probably a good idea. Still thinking you can go DIY here? Well, read on, and after you’re done, if you still want to take matters into your own hands, by all means, do it!

Skills, knowledge and experience

Unless you’re an expert or experienced in concrete work, your knowledge and skills probably don’t meet the requirements. Concrete work is complicated: you need to possess solid knowledge of the best practices, all the necessary procedures, measurements, tools and techniques, which goes to say that this profession can’t be performed by just about anyone.

Okay, fine, so you’ll have to do some research; no biggie, right? Unfortunately, even though you can gain significant knowledge through research, it will not only take a lot of time, but it will also give you zero experience – a factor that is absolutely essential in concrete work. So, you need to ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend on preparations, tools, and whether or not you’re okay with messing things up here and there, because it will inevitably happen.


Speaking of messing things up, you need to realize how much dedication lies in mixing concrete – much, much more than you might think. Even the most inexperienced concrete contractor has worked with concrete more than a couple of times, which means experience – something that you probably don’t have; and even if you do, it is probably incomparable to that of a pro.

So, what happens if the process of concrete mixing isn’t done correctly? Well, the concrete becomes susceptible to cracking, and cracking is not something that can be effectively patched up. So, unless you don’t mind potentially doing things over in a couple of years, make sure that you stick to experts in the concrete department.


Every true professional has all the necessary equipment by their side, or is perfectly fine with cashing out for a necessary piece if needed, because it’s probably going to come in handy for another job further down the line. The equipment in question isn’t something as mundane as a hammer or a paint roller. Essential and quality concrete tools include stuff like scouring machines, drill stands, drilling machines, magnetic drill rigs; stuff that you probably don’t have stored away in your garage.

This is another reason why contractors are a way better solution for concrete work than turning it into a DIY project!

Saving money

If none of the previous factors have deterred you from taking concrete matters into your own inexperienced hands, the financial factor just might. If you’ve ever taken on a DIY project, you know that learning along the way is unavoidable here, and this is exactly what will have you hemorrhaging money that you could’ve easily put in your pocket.

As mentioned, someone who goes DIY on their concrete project is bound to make mistakes, and fixing these up is another thing that will doubtlessly set you back. Add the cost of purchasing all the necessary tools and machinery, and you’ll see how much of a waste you’d be making by taking on this task by yourself.

If none of these factors have deterred you from turning your concrete renovations/construction into a DIY project, nothing will! Think about your lack of skills, knowledge, experience, precision and equipment and about how much money you’d be wasting, and hire a concrete contractor who will do an amazing job.


Posted on January 18, 2018 at 11:12 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

4 Priority Tasks for Your New Home

You just bought a new house…congrats! Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first. This will hopefully be the last time your home is totally empty until you sell, so it’ll be easier to get this stuff out of the way!

Change the Locks


Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Plus, if you’re not thrilled about the hardware on your front door, now’s a great time to switch it out! We have a keypad lock that I’m a huge fan of. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam Clean the Carpets

kaboompics_Black dog on a light blue carpet.jpg

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available. For a little extra, you can hire a professional steam cleaner and really get them looking like new again!

Call an Exterminator


Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home. You don’t want to find out in 6 months that you have some furry tenants living in your crawlspace!

Clean Out the Kitchen


If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances. Again, this is probably the best time to get your home as clean as possible, as you can reach areas that will later be covered by small appliances, groceries, etc.

After you’ve taken care of these items, it’s time to make the space yours; you’ve earned it! Paint those walls (maybe an accent wall in Pantone’s color of the year?), buy an awesome new couch, and bask in the glory that is your new home! What’s the first thing you do when you move in to a new home? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 1:36 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

6 Signs That You Found the Perfect Home

Many realtors will tell you that there is no such thing as the perfect home. The more realistic and savvy the buyers are, the easier it is to come to a compromise. However, you didn’t sell your old place to purchase a compromise. Emotions may be running high, especially if you are purchasing your first home, so it’s important not to be swayed by the small stuff and overlook the big things. Here’s a list of signs that you’ve come to the right address.

stocksnap_5f7649370bYou like the neighbourhood

While this is really a vast category, the location is one of the few things you cannot change. You can remodel and extend, but you cannot move the house. Some will appreciate great schools districts and shopping centres, while others will fall in love with a nearby recreation area and wooded walking trails. Whatever amenities and conveniences you are looking for in the new neighbourhood, keep in mind that this is a decision you make only once.

Looks great after dark, too

If you like the house and the neighbourhood, make sure you pay it a couple of night visits as well. This will tell you right away if the neighbours are getting noisy, or if that cosy pub on the corner becomes a rowdy mead hall after dark. Ask about the bin collection day and see if the locals leave out neatly tied-up recycling sacks or pile up black bags for possums to feast on. Again, you can do wonders to your home, but the neighbourhood you cannot change.

Leaves room to grow

Look for a home that can easily adapt to your needs as your family grows or your life changes. A new baby or a kid moving back in after college may call for extensions such as attic remodelling or building an adjacent structure at the expense of the plot. So, if you can’t afford a place large enough to cater to your future needs, at least choose one that allows building on later on. Now, before you fall in love with one of these extensions, ask about the local zoning laws concerning home extensions and modifications.

img_20160907_171801856The structure is sound

Aside from the ‘soft’ features, a home that is perfect for you needs to meet certain building standards and technical properties. If the water in a glass on the dining room table seems to be angling towards a ‘strange gravity field’ under the house, the house might have a slab issue. An experienced builder will easily tell if it rains both inside and outside, as well as recognize a roof that needs replacing. If your budget is already stretched to the limits, technical issues like these should be deal killers for you.

Not looking at other homes anymore

When all the other homes you’ve seen after it don’t appeal to you, when the ones you’ve seen so far move down to number 8 and below, you know that that’s the house you’ve been looking for. Sometimes it’s the inner gut instinct that tells you that’s the place. You can see yourself decorating it, rearranging it, living in it. However, even if you trust your gut 99.99%, ask the good people from White Square Properties to confirm that you are truly buying a dream.

It can sell one day

Although you shouldn’t think of your new home as an investment, purchasing a white elephant doesn’t make sense, either. While you may be enthralled by the 200-litre saltwater aquarium or a glass home elevator, the next potential buyer may not find use for such extravagancies, even less pay more for them. If a home is very much unlike other nearby homes in size, style, amenities, price, etc., you may end up with a burden that would be hard to sell.

You want the perfect home for you and your family. On the other hand, you need to realistically consider both positive and negative features, regardless of the price range. While the ideal home is hard to find, some aspects like location, adaptability, and structural condition are equally important as your gut feeling.

Posted on January 12, 2018 at 12:51 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged