Realty Executives Exceptional Realtors®

Karen Miglin

REALTOR® /Sales Associate (908) 347-9118

Karen Miglin


Kitchen Project for High ROI

(Published on - 3/13/2023 3:04:40 PM)

Whether it’s a minor upgrade like painting or a more significant project like installing new cabinets, your kitchen is a great place to add value to your home. In fact, even minor kitchen remodels have an 81% return on investment, according to Zillow, making it a smart place to invest money and increase the value of your home.

Before getting started, consider these tips and tricks for kitchen renovation projects to maximize your return on investment and get the most bang for your buck.

When is the right time?

Many people wonder whether it’s worth upgrading or remodeling their kitchen before listing their house. One way to decide if it’s a good financial decision is to compare your kitchen to other homes in the area that are also for sale. If you notice that many homes have been upgraded or feature new appliances and designs, it can help your home’s value to make changes to your home before listing it for sale.

Even if you have no plans to sell your home, upgrading your kitchen can still increase your home’s equity and add value to the property. Ensure you can afford any upgrades before getting started since you won’t be able to recoup the investment until you sell the home.

Improvements with the best ROI

When deciding which kitchen remodel projects to work on first, consider which ones will garner the best return on investment. Here are some popular projects that will help drive value in your property.

Adding or Upgrading Counterspace

The more counter space in the kitchen, the better. Adding additional counterspace during a kitchen remodel can increase the area needed for prepping food, and options like a sit-in island or counter-height peninsula can add convenient seating for your eat-in kitchen. While the average cost to install counters is around $3,000, according to Home Advisor, you can expect to get up to 80% of this back when you sell the house, thanks to the added functionality and increase in space.

If you don’t need to add counter space but want to install quartz or granite countertops, you can expect to recoup up to 80% of your investment.

Upgrading Appliances

If your kitchen needs a facelift, one of the easiest ways to do that is to upgrade your appliances. Since most appliances have a lifespan of at least 10 years, this enhancement will not only visually help your kitchen, but you – or the new owners of the home – will be able to enjoy the appliances for a long time.

If your kitchen appliances are due for an upgrade, you might also notice an unexpected benefit — lower energy bills. As technology and energy standards have changed over the last several decades, appliances have also become more energy efficient. To increase the ROI of your upgrades, search for appliances with an ENERGY-star sticker to see how much it will cost to operate annually and determine how much you can save. 

New Flooring

No matter the room, installing new or upgrading flooring is a popular way to increase your home’s value. This is especially true in the kitchen, one of the most trafficked rooms in the house.

While new flooring can be a major renovation project, it can dramatically modernize a kitchen and improve the home’s lifespan. Installing real hardwood can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000, but vinyl plank flooring is more affordable, with prices starting at $1,000, depending on the size of the room and materials.

Upgrading or Adding Cabinets

Cabinets are often the main focal point of a kitchen, serving as the foundation for the room’s visual identity. But, if your cabinets are outdated or there is minimal storage space, investing the money into new cabinets will deliver a high ROI, with some estimates calculating a full 100% return.

Depending on your budget, there are several ways to improve the look and functionality of your cabinets. Even adding a new coat of paint and replacing the hardware can return a high ROI and involve minimal construction or renovation. However, if you have the resources, replacing or refinishing the cabinets can transform your kitchen for decades.

Replacing Lighting Fixtures

A low-cost and easy way to freshen up your kitchen and make it more appealing to potential buyers is to focus on the lighting. Whether adding recessed lighting or upgrading the current fixtures, the lighting can play a key role in adding value to your house, with even small changes getting up to 65% of a return on investment. Some lighting projects can be DIY-ed – like swapping out one fixture for another. More intensive projects like adding under-the-counter lighting can require a contractor but will add value to your home.

Before making changes to your kitchen, it’s helpful to consider how it will impact your home’s value. While it might seem daunting to fork over thousands of dollars for a remodel, even minor updates can make a big difference when it comes time to sell your home. No matter your budget, your kitchen is a great place to invest in for a high ROI.


Realty Executives International, Alysia Heun

Soothing Tips for Anxious First Time Home Buyers

(Published on - 3/13/2023 3:01:27 PM)

A lot of practical yet stressful work needs to be done when buying a home- such as paperwork, dealing with banks, getting a mortgage approval, etc. As a result, it is easy to forget that home buying is also a significant emotional labor. There can be fear and doubt, which is expected because buying is a significant financial decision. It is also exciting and symbolic of a new beginning in someone’s life. This is especially true for people who are buying their first home.

Don’t let nerves stop you from fulfilling your goal of buying your dream home! Read on for soothing tips for anxious first-time home buyers.

Quick tips for anxious first-time home buyers

Here are a few simple yet calming tips:

  • Accept uncertainty and bumps in the road
  • Write it down
  • Surround yourself with support
  • Hire an experienced real estate agent
  • Be patient

Accept Uncertainty

Anxiety makes us overthink and imagine possible scenarios, often the worst-case ones. That can be really frightening and emotionally draining for a person. In this case, the solution is letting go. No one can tell you precisely what will happen with 100% certainty, not even the most experienced real estate agent. It’s simply impossible. The real estate market is constantly changing, and you can’t always keep up. But instead of looking at that as a problem, try to maintain a relaxed attitude. It can be freeing to stop trying to figure out every detail that is going to happen. The best thing you can do is ensure you have done everything in your control. You have taken the steps for mortgage pre-approval, hired a real estate agent, and know what you want. Rely on the real estate and mortgage experts to help facilitate the buying process.

Write Down Your Thoughts

An anxious first-time home buyer writing in a notebook.
It can be easier to stay calm and collected when you write down your thoughts about purchasing your first home.

Our anxiety can make us feel like we are doing everything wrong. In some severe cases, home buyer anxiety can be so bad that it turns people away from purchasing. But this does not need to happen to you; there is a way to combat it. The way to do this is through logic, but it can sometimes be hard to calm emotions and turn on the rational part of our brain. In this situation, it is helpful to write it down. Take a piece of paper and write why buying a home is excellent and suitable for you. Things like:

  • You are in a good place financially
  • You want to start a family
  • You have support

These affirmations are necessary because they are true, and your anxiety makes it hard for you to see them that way.

Talk to Your Family and Friends

Anxious first-time home buyers showing parents some home options online.
One of the best tips for anxious first-time home buyers is to share their excitement and fears with family and friends.

Anxiety is often directly tied to self-doubt. That is often the case when people buying their first home are very young. They get overwhelmed by the fact that home buying is a huge financial undertaking and don’t believe they know what they are doing. Overcoming self-doubt is hard, but don't let it consume you. If you don’t trust yourself, you should seek support from your friends and family. They will tell you why this is good for you and why you should do it. Your support group will calm your anxiety and make you see more realistically. Sometimes you need to hear it from someone else to believe it’s true. That is a prevalent feeling amongst first time home buyers, and many shared that the support of their families and friends helped them through it.

Hire Professionals

A couple having a discussion with their real estate agent.
A good real estate agent can guide you and ease your anxiety.

If you are feeling anxious and confused about this process, a good course of action is getting a professional to guide you. That is one of the best tips for anxious first-time home buyers. The home buying process for first timers is much easier if they have an experienced real estate agent. Real estate agents will explain all the essential details to you and answer any questions.  A good real estate agent is a skilled negotiator, knows the local real estate market, and is excellent at communicating with clients. The key is to be clear when communicating with your real estate agent. Tell them everything you are worried about and what you are looking for in your new home. Having some experience to guide you through this is helpful for calming anxiety.

Be Patient

Anxiety can also stem from the fact that you have been trying to find the perfect home but still haven’t succeeded. This is normal- just ask other people who have purchased real estate! You may not find the perfect property in the first days and weeks of your search. Some people have waited for months, depending on inventory and market conditions. Do not let your eagerness push you into settling for a property that does not match your needs. Buying a new home is a considerable investment that will last a long time, sometimes a lifetime. It is worth patience and waiting until you find the right home for you and your family.

In Conclusion

Home buying anxiety is extremely common, and you are not alone in this feeling. It is completely normal to be a little spooked when doing something as big and important as this. After all, many people only buy a house once or twice in a lifetime. Needing help is understandable for both the technical tasks and the emotional journey you are going through. Hopefully, these tips for anxious first-time home buyers were helpful to you. Just remember to be patient! You deserve to get the home of your dreams. Good luck!


Realty Executives International, Alysia Heun

8 Tips for Designing a Low Maintenance Home

(Published on - 2/10/2023 3:12:50 PM)

Realty Executives International, Alysia Heun

Having a big and beautiful property is a dream that many people have. However, few people stop to consider the upkeep required for that dream to become a reality. Smaller properties or homes with a simplified design can be just as gorgeous!

There are many benefits to living in a low-maintenance home, including spending less time and money on the property. Whether you are looking to invest in a house or a condo, consider these eight tips for designing a low-maintenance home.

1. Select a neutral color palette and tones

In the fashion of keeping it simplistic, it may be wise to choose a neutral color palette. A one-color paint job will obviously cost less and save you precious time in the long run, as it is a low-maintenance option. Use decorative accents to add pops of color in the room without having to repaint the walls.

2. Opt for artificial turf

Lately, many people are choosing artificial turf rather than natural grass for their gardens. There are many reasons why this is a good option. One of them – it’s fairly easy to maintain, as opposed to natural grass turf. Artificial turf can look just like the real one and it doesn’t even require watering! A thing to keep in mind, though, is that they are not cheap. If you are a newbie to this sort of thing, it’s best to read about it and explore different options before making a decision on the best artificial turf for your home.

3. Choose surfaces that are easy to clean

Have you ever thought about replacing painted walls with wallpapers? Wallpapers are a great option to keep in mind when designing a low-maintenance home, as they are simple to clean.  Additionally, think of hard surfaces such as countertops. For example, although natural stone countertops are beautiful, they are more prone to staining and discoloration.  Materials such as quartz, Corian, or granite offer better stain resistance. 

4. Avoid clutter and keep it minimalistic

Fewer belongings mean less time commitment for maintenance. With a minimalistic and simple home, you can minimize the time you spend on upkeep and focus on other important things.

5. Keep exterior maintenance to a minimum

Many people dream about having a picture-perfect garden, like those we often see in the movies. However, owning a breathtaking garden comes with a price. If your goal is designing a low-maintenance home, you’ll most likely need to forget about having a picturesque exterior and focus on keeping it simple. Options like rock and gravel make outdoor upkeep a breeze.

6. Downsize if possible

It goes without saying that smaller homes are much easier to clean. Less space means that you will spend a significantly shorter amount of time getting your place in order. There are many other benefits to moving to a smaller house or an apartment. Downsizing will help you avoid having clutter around, as well. Not to mention that living in a smaller place is much more convenient when it comes to money you’ll have to spend. When the right time comes, you can upsize again.

7. Get furniture that is not difficult to clean

It’s best to get furniture in a material that is easy to clean. We might think of ourselves as orderly people, but every once in a while, we might spill something over our sofa. It’s only natural. The difference– getting the stains out is much easier when the material is durable. For example, leather is perfect for these kinds of situations. Simply take a paper towel and wipe off any type of spillage.  Microfiber is also a nice option as it is typically washable.

8. Keep bathroom and kitchen designs simple

You can’t deny the hardships of cleaning your kitchen and bathroom. But when you’re planning your dream kitchen and bathroom design – keep in mind the practicality of them as well. As much as you’d like to have a beautiful, fancy kitchen with plenty of lights and utensil cabinets, refrain from it. In the long run, having a simplistic design for these rooms is beneficial for you in terms of maintenance. If at some point, you feel like you need more upgrades to your bathroom, it’ll be easy to add them on.

Final words

Keeping your home simplistic and easy to clean is a challenge. These tips for designing a low-maintenance home will surely help you in this task.

Solar Panels: What to Know

(Published on - 11/10/2022 3:54:00 PM)

Realty Executives International

If you live in the United States or Canada, you’ve probably seen many advertisements saying you can save a lot of money by installing solar panels on your home. You might have even been told that your state or provincial government will give you incentives or rebates if you sign up. But is this true? Can you significantly cut high energy costs by installing solar panels on your roof?

Renting & Owning Panels

Whether you purchase the solar panels and system or rent them will affect your results.

Private companies offer potential customers the chance to have solar panels installed on their homes for free, but the customer will not own the panels. They will be leasing the panels and paying for the electricity. And most of the time, they end up paying more to lease the panels than if they had purchased them themselves.

Let’s look at what solar panels can do for the homeowner.

What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are a collection of photovoltaic cells that are arranged in a grid on top of a panel. The cells absorb the sun’s rays and transform the light from the sun into electricity that is then used to provide power.

When you install these panels in your home, they help combat harmful emissions of greenhouse gasses and help reduce global warming. Today, they are considered a clean and renewable source of energy.

What Solar Companies Claim

This is what the companies claim: if you install solar power systems in your home, you can lower your electric bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and potentially raise the value of your home.

Some companies even claim that once you pay off the high cost of installation, you could potentially power your entire home for free.

Beware of Misleading Information

Aggressive salespeople are giving potential customers a lot of misleading information, and many people are getting scammed. Below are some of the things solar power scammers are doing.

Power Purchase Agreement Contracts

A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is a contract the company will get you to sign that will lock you into a decades-long agreement with the company. They will appear to have your best interests at heart and make everything easy for you. They will provide all the solar power equipment and install it “free of charge.” However, once the customer is locked in, they discover that the costs are higher than they were told or anticipated. And once they’re locked in, it’s nearly impossible to be released from the contract without paying an excessive amount. Some customers end up paying tens of thousands of dollars just to get out of the contract.  Be extremely cautious when committing to a long term PPA.

Bait and Switch Tax Credit Guarantees

If you search for solar power companies or even pay attention to the ads you see on YouTube, you will often hear them mention a tax credit whereby the United States federal government will reimburse up to $12,000. What they aren’t telling you is that the tax credit is for people who purchase the entire system outright.

Most of these companies are leasing solar power equipment, and the customer does not own it. Therefore, the consumer is disqualified from any federal tax credits, and the solar company gets the credit instead.

In Canada, things are slightly different. Though Canadians are also being scammed, as of June 2022, some provinces do offer incentives and rebates. You can check here to see if your province offers any rebates or incentives. Just know that these decisions change at any given time, and the website encourages you to verify with the province whether the rebate or incentive is still being offered.

The Promise of Unrealistic Savings

Many people have found themselves in financial debt because they were promised their energy bills would be decreased to nearly nothing. Or, if they go with the company’s plan, it won’t cost them a penny. This is not true.

Government Funding

Most of the ads that catch consumers’ attention are the ones claiming to be government-funded programs that will get you free solar panels for your home.

According to the website Verify, a company with the mission to stop the spread of false information, the United States federal government is not giving away free solar panels. These ads are misleading.

The FTC warns potential customers to read the contract carefully before signing it. “Most people will pay more over the lifetime of a solar lease than if they purchased and financed a system,” the Illinois Citizens Utility Board says.

Is It Better to Buy the Solar Panels Yourself?

If you are thinking about buying your own solar power system, there are a few things to consider that will aid you in making the best decision for you and your family.

  1. How much will the solar power system cost?
  2. How much energy will it produce for the system you purchase?
  3. How does that cost compare to what you already pay for the same energy use?
  4. How long will it take for your upfront investment to pay for itself in saved energy costs?
  5. Will the system pay for itself in five years?

If you already have the capital to pay upfront and are comfortable with all the answers to the five questions above, solar power could be a good option.

There is a great tool to help you get started, especially if you are new to considering solar power. Solar Reviews is a website that has a calculator that can give you representative costs and savings for a solar power system in every part of the United States. This tool is invaluable for beginners who need help understanding the basic costs.

Another website that can help you make all the calculations in order to reach the right decision is Investopedia. Their site enables you to calculate all of your initial costs as well as the approximate energy you use on a daily basis. After you’ve worked through the calculations, you should end up with the number of years it will take for your solar system to pay for itself in savings.


If you are fortunate enough to live in a very sunny part of the world and are struggling with high utility bills, you could potentially start to see the benefits of installing a solar power system within five years. On the other hand, some homeowners have had to wait 10 or 20 years before reaping the savings.

To avoid becoming a victim of a solar power scam, do your research. If you feel rushed or pressured into deciding, take caution. Dedicate the time to investigate different companies and read online reviews from customers before purchasing or leasing.


About the Author: Alexandra Christensen is a freelance writer and single mom of three adopted kids with unique abilities. She is a novice homeowner and spends a lot of time on DIY sites looking for ways to make home improvements while saving some money.

PreWinter Home Maintenance

(Published on - 11/10/2022 3:51:37 PM)

Realty Executives International, Alysia Heun

There are many things to enjoy during the first weeks of autumn- from cooler weather and the vibrant colors of fall leaves to the first light blanket of snow. However, the change in seasons is also a reminder that winter weather is around the corner, and it is time for some quick home maintenance chores. As you indulge in sweater weather, spiced drinks, and the pre-holiday season, take time to put a few home projects on your to-do list.

Clean gutters

Throughout the year, leaves, twigs, and debris build up in your gutters. Clogged gutters lead to a host of costly issues for your home such as leaks and molds. Autumn is the best time to take care of this critical home maintenance task after the leaves have dropped from the trees. Your gutters will be in perfect working order for heavy precipitation through the winter.

Paint exterior

If you’ve been avoiding big home improvement projects to avoid the summer heat, the temperate fall weather is the ideal time to check these items off your list. Fall temperatures are the best conditions for painting your home’s exterior. Plus, a fresh paint job on your front door can brighten up your home’s exterior and boost curb appeal.

Care for your perennials

Give your perennials extra care by pruning the branches and laying down fresh mulch. Pruning your perennials and removing excess foliage nurtures healthy growth.

Mulching is a landscaping project usually reserved for spring, but there are fantastic benefits to doing these tasks in the fall. Fresh mulch will also protect them from harsh winter weather conditions.

Inspect and repair roofing

Heavy winds and storms can loosen and tear away at aging shingles and expose your home to leaks and major water damage. Inspect your roof and assess any repairs, no matter how small. Look for missing, curled, or damaged shingles and exposure of the metal flashing. Replace damaged or missing shingles.  It’s easier to make small repairs before harsh weather moves in!

Upgrade insulation

Home heating costs add up quickly, and you can increase your energy efficiency by draft-proofing your home. Check doors, windows, and chimneys for openings that can cause cold water and air to leak into your home. Caulk or re-caulk windows as needed and consider replacing single pane windows that don’t provide proper insulation. It’s easy to neglect the attic and crawl spaces, so inspect those areas for air leakage and deteriorated wood and caulking. Warm air rises, so if your attic isn’t well-insulated, you’ll lose a lot of heat.

Trim foliage

Wind can loosen dead branches, and snow and ice build-up on tree limbs, causing them to break and fall. This can cause costly damage to your home, fence, power lines, or other personal property. Take initiative and hire a tree service company to trim your trees. Not only does it prevent a disaster, but it keeps trees healthy and vibrant.

Inspect and upgrade your furnace

The last thing you want is your furnace to break down during a winter storm. You’ll save yourself a major headache by checking it now or hiring a professional to inspect it. Regular maintenance improves efficiency and reduces home heating costs. But more importantly, it will increase the longevity of your furnace and ensure that it’s operating under safe conditions.

Clean your fireplace

There’s nothing like cozying up to a fire on a cold winter day, but before you build that fire and strike the match, don’t forget to inspect it first. A clogged chimney can increase the risk of fire and should be inspected and cleaned before you put it to use. Inspect your fireplace flue with a flashlight to see if the damper is working properly, and look for bird’s nests, foliage, and any other detritus. You should be able to see daylight at the top of the chimney. Finally, check for missing or broken bricks and mortar.

Winterize irrigation systems

Your irrigation systems can still freeze even if they are buried underground. Draining and removing water from your irrigation system will prevent it from bursting in cold temperatures. You can do this by shutting off valves to the outside faucets and opening them to drain the line. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out. If you don’t have shut-off valves, install foam faucet covers to insulate them from cold air and frigid temperatures.

Your home is your sanctuary, and you will spend much more time nesting during the long winter season. Big or small, fall home improvements will allow you to make the most of it!



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