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Welcome to RVA, Real Estate, and Hez

What are we talking about here??

400 years of history; a booming food and brew capital; simply a great place to live!

— WHY RVA

In this blog, we are going to explore how live in RVA, how to eat and drink in RVA, and the best ways to ensure you are living your best life in the best home you can.

I hope that as you read this blog you will be able to see why living in the Richmond-Metro area is so amazing. I also want you to leave here with valuable content about how to care for your home and manage your real estate. We will cover an array of topics, but they are come back to one universal theme. Living your best life, in the region.

If you are able to walkaway with one tidbit, one new place to eat, one new place to drink, one new experience to try explore, then I feel that I have helped you.

Cheers.

Stay At Home Improvement: Baseboard Cleaning

By now we know staying at home is not a snow day. Whether you are providing general care for your home or considering an upcoming sale of the property, use this time wisely. There are lots of home improvement activities that we often would let fall to the wayside as they can be meticulous, laborious or boring.

Baseboard video

One task I always seem to avoid is a deep cleaning of the baseboards. It takes time to complete, and I do not like crawling around on the floor. To be honest, I have never received a compliment from a house guest in relation to the cleanliness of my baseboards. With that said, consider what clean, shiney baseboards say about your home, especially to potential buyers.

Buyers notice how the home presents. Consider why people go look at homes that are on the market? The answer is simple, because of the photographs and video in the marketing material. A bright and clean baseboard will add to that listing media. It will also strengthen a buyer’s perspective that the home has been kept clean and maintained well. Both of these will strengthen your position as a homeseller.

Here are few strategies you can use to clean the baseboards:

  1. What you will need to do first, especially if you have pets and kids, is clear way the dry dirt and dust. You can use a Swiffer or one of the attachments on your vacuum. It is important to get this off first so you are not smearing it along the baseboards during the next step.
  2. Using a rag and warm, soapy water wipe the baseboards clean. Keep the water bucket fresh, and wring out your rag often to ensure your cleaning is effective. A great substitute for the soap, and my mother’s go-to, is distilled white vinegar. If your baseboards need a good scrub, replace the rag with a Magic Eraser.

That is it. There are not more steps. This is not a complicated task. Here are some other tips and tricks that may be useful.

  • Make sure everyone is involved. You are not the only one home. Hand the kids a rag, and get them to help.
  • Be sure to pay attention to all the crevices and hard to reach places. Try using a toothbrush or even cotton swabs.
  • Stay on top of the baseboards with your weekly cleaning. This will ensure you will not have to perform a deep wipe down regularly.

Once again, this is not the most exciting task to perform, but this could really add to your sparkling clean home. Which if you decide to list it for sale, this will be another task you can have checked off in the pre-listing preparation.

Homeschooling and Screen-Time

As we continue to navigate homeschooling in the Butler household, we are having ongoing discussions with how much screen-time should be allowed and when to allow it.

Like many of you, I compare notes with friends who are in the same circumstances. Everyone is finding what works for them in their unique environment, something that I have to remind myself often. My kids are different than yours. I am home during the week by myself with two kids, ages 6 and 3. My two kids have very different personalities and interests.

Amazon Fire Tablet

In our house we are using screen-time as a supplement to the homeschooling, mostly. Both kids children have a Fire tablet. We use the Freetime app that allows us to control the content and utilize age-appropriate apps. As an example, Macon (3) is able to explore books and shows that focus on content like shapes, colors, numbers, and basic pre-school style content. His favorite right now is Blippi.

Macon’s screen time

We also purchased ABCmouse for the kids to use on their tablets. The platform is a self-guided tool that provides digital education in almost all areas. Macon can practice with shapes, colors, and numbers. Charlotte continues to work on literary and math skills, while being able to explore animals and the world. Once Macon and Charlotte gave it a chance, they have really enjoyed it, and we have seen why ABCmouse is successful and popular.

Charlotte’s many screens.

Admittedly, we have not shied away from appropriate content on Netflix, Disney+, and Nick Jr. Everything from educational-based content to nature programs. Most of it is not mindless entertainment, but if it is occasionally that is okay too.

Ultimately, our focus has been to use it as support to the other educational activities we use each day. It is not a substitute for going outside, arts and crafts, and the other traditional “classroom” activities we work through. The screens do allow support for me too. I have to have the ability to focus one-on-one with Charlotte or Macon, and allowing the other to hop on the tablet while I do that is very helpful. Let us not forget that I have professional responsibilities and tasks that I have to perform daily as well, and tablet time affords me that. Lastly, we need a break from each other, me from the kids, and the kids from me.

This has not been easy for anyone. Flexibility and adaptability has been, and will continue to be essential. We have had emotional outbursts, by everyone. A break with a little Blaze and the Monster Machines or Frozen II is not going to erase their minds. We will not do it all day, or even all morning, just for a quick snap out of this new norm back to the old one.

I would love to hear what others are doing in the comments below.

RVA, Restaurants, and Real Estate: Episode 15 – Taylor Made Chocolate

This week’s episode of RVA, Restaurants, and Real Estate has us sitting down with the head chocolatier of Taylor Made Chocolates. These guys are producing incredible truffles, bars, and all sorts of confectionary from fresh and socially conscious gathered cocoa beans.

TMC head chocolatier

Steve and Kim Taylor set out a few years ago to make a difference in the world. Their cause was the fight against human trafficking. They begin by altering their daily buying habits, realizing modern slavery is alive and well across the global economy.

Eventually, they were compelled enough to find more ways to be involved with this cause. This led them to discover that about 80% of cocoa was being harvested and produced via slavery. They had found their niche and opportunity to fight the good fight.

The Taylor’s are now producing chocolates that are not only sold locally, but up and down the east coast. Be sure to check out their page for more details. This bean to bar artisan chocolate shop is certainly a hidden gem in the Southside of RVA, and one that you need to check out.

What to do in RVA, from your home-April 2020

RVA was full of activities and festivals for the Spring. Unfortunately, we are in stay at home mode. Therefore visiting all the museums, parks, restaurants, and breweries is not an option.

Social Distancing

While the new norm is to flatten the curve, we can still appreciate most that our community offers. Below are some suggestions for us to practice social distancing while still exploring and enjoying this great city. 

Museums are closed around the nation, but many have utilized their social media platforms and websites to offer virtual tours and activities.  Here is a short list of RVA museums and what they offer:

Parks are still open for now.  While many have restricted playground equipment, ball fields, and basketball courts, the trails are still open.  This is a responsible way to get out of the house and maintain social distancing recommendations.  Virginia State Parks are open for day-use, and if you visit their site you can find a local park.    

The GRID, a Greater Richmond news outlet, has recently begun hosting virtual happy hours where local musicians will be featured and connection can still occur across the community remotely.  Check out full details on the GRID site.

There are many activities that we can still experience from home. RVA is a great town to live in and around. Let us know what you are up to.

#WFH-Day 10

We are 10 days in, at least in the Butler household, being in work from home mode. And we certainly had the ante raised today when the Governor issued the official stay home order. As he said, it was a recommendation to this point now it is a directive. While it will be challenging, it is the right thing to do. It actually helped Kelsey and I, as we had decided yesterday that we were shutting Charlotte down from leaving the yard. To this point we were letting her play with a neighborhood kid or two, but we just cannot risk it anymore.

Which led us to numerous new activities to help keep them entertained. I built a raised bed for us to plant a small garden. The kids and I have already started the seedlings, and we will hopefully plant soon.

Macon was hunting for dino eggs in the new beds.
Day 10

We spent the weekend at two different parks, which wore the kids slam out. Getting outdoors is going to be one of the few outlets we have for them.

Charlotte has also been very helpful in the kitchen. She has helped me cook the last two dinners. Chicken parm and chicken noodle soup

Kelsey and I also decided to make a purchase for the kids to help with outdoor activities. You will have to tune in later this week to find out.

That was most of the our last few days. Luckily, having Kelsey home these last few days has been super helpful. I was able to take several work calls this morning and plan a few new projects. Hopefully you will see these soon too!

Learning the Lingo-Listing Agent

We are continuing Learning the Lingo this week with Listing Agent. The listing agent is the real estate agent representing the seller in any real estate transaction. The listing agent’s responsibilities are below:

  • Listing the property in the local MLS.
  • Marketing the property to potential buyers and buyers’ agents.
  • Fiduciary duties to the seller.
  • Providing knowledge and experience to support appropriate price, showing techniques, and negotiation techniques.

The listing agent will meet with the seller and provide guidance on how to prepare the property for sale. At this meeting, usually a CMA or comparative market analysis is provided as to give the seller great information on how to price the home and what to expect relative to the market.

Once the home is prepared for sale, the listing agent will facilitate marketing via photo and videos and then list the property on the local MLS. From here, showings will be scheduled and offers received. Based previous planning with the seller, the listing agent will present the offers to the seller and negotiate on their behalf with the seller’s agent.

Listing Agent-video is a little dark.

The listing agent will serve as the representative at all inspections, appraisals, and other pertinent tasks during the ratification process. They are the eyes and ears for the seller. Consistent and constant communication should be offered to the sellers.

#WFH-Day 8

Another successful day of working from home and homeschooling these crazy kids. Mostly because I had help all day and we were able to shift to man-to-man defense, as opposed to zone the whole time. A few thoughts on today that may be helpful.

  1. Let them wear what they want. Everyday, I make the kids get out of their pajamas and into school clothes. Today, Charlotte made her way down in a bathing suit and coverup. My instant reaction was “no!” Then I thought about it a little more (after a scowl from Kelsey and frown from Charlotte) and told her it was fine. Giving her that choice, not only started us off on a positive note but allowed her to trust me that we were going to make today great.
  2. Use the mood they are in. With the beach-vibe taking over, we infused into everything we were doing that morning with our lessons. We made colorful/tropical bookmarks, we had a beach-dance party, and when it came time for math Charlotte had to use her coins to make purchases from this awesome vendor selling popsicles on the beach (it was me).
  3. I am still struggling with what to do with Macon. Primrose has been great sending us ideas, just harder for him to get going with it. I am accepting that as long as we are not sitting in front the TV, we are good. We used the beach theme today to make up a fun story with pictures he and I sketched and then shared them with the rest of the family.
  4. Kelsey and the kids participated in a really cool neighborhood activity, I think it was suggested by the school. They went on a bear hunt. Everyone around the neighborhood, who was interested in participating, put a bear in their window. The kids and parents then took a walk hunting for the bears. Luckily the sun came out and weather was cooperative. If you are in a neighborhood, you should think about it!

That was our day. Helpful when it goes well. Especially as we realized that we should be heading to a cheer competition at Myrtle Beach. But, plans change and we made the most of it. You will too.

WFH-Home Office Fixes

Transitioning to work from home is likely not easy for everyone. Whether you are a business owner or forced to stay home by your company, there are likely some needs to be addressed in your house to make the work space efficient and pleasant. The kitchen table can be suitable in the temporary, but let’s make the most of this with these tips.

Home Office Tips

Right lighting: Optometrists recommend avoiding having direct light in your line of sight. Setup lamps at your desk and rely in natural light in your work space. Especially for those of us staring at screens all day, we need to protect our eyes. One extra tip is to hang a mirror to disperse light around the room.

Lighting

Natural view: If you have a great view of a landscape, make that the direction you face while you are working. What if you don’t have one? Consider a picture of a landscape.

Be comfortable: Yes, the dining room table is the easy place to plop down and get to work. But it may not be the most comfortable. There is a reason your office spends a little on those soft, wheely chairs. Keep that in mind.

Greenery: Plants elevate mood and thanks photosynthesis, improve air quality. Maybe even toss some fresh flowers in there too, they should be blooming in the next few weeks.

Home Office

Don’t sit all day: The standing desk or floating desk has become widely used across offices. Consider adding this to you work space. You can purchase adjustable stands for your laptop or devices that will help.

Color: Add a few pops of color to brighten the room. Consider painting an accent wall, adding decor, or hanging curtains

Credit to Melissa Dittmann Tracey and Styled, Staged, and Sold for many of these suggestions.

#WFH-Day 7

We had a great day today. Charlotte was much more cooperative and supportive of our efforts with school work. The way I presented it to her today was simply do it all up front and then the back end of the day was hers. That seemed to sink and we rolled through math, reading, writing, social studies, and she even did some music.

As many of you are feeling, I do feel like it is not quite enough relative to the time spent in school, but I guess when you pare to down to a 1:1 student-teacher ratio, we can be more productive.

Day 7

I think what will be interesting is what comes the next few weeks now that school is closed for the year. We will have to find ways to ensure kids are developing and progressing enough to advance to the next level. This is going to be an interesting challenge to say the least.

My productivity was solid today as well. I was able to touch base with several folks to check on them and let them know I was thinking about them. I am excited for a video happy hour tonight with the boys. And I even added a significant number of games to our 20-21 schedule.

One final note, and I know I have said this but a big thank you to all those in the medical field and other true essential personnel still working business as usual. Kelsey was stopped today, as she is in the medical field as a SLP and thanked by two random people at WaWa. I thought that was really cool, and so did she. It never even dawned on either of us that she is still heading out everyday to do her job without considering or allowing the risks to be to daunting.

Hope everyone had a great day and we will check in tomorrow.

#WFH-Day 6

Today was a little tougher than the past few ones. Charlotte is having a difficult time seeing that we have to complete “school” tasks in her home. I think the ability to separate the two worlds, while in the same building is going to take some time. Of course, I am not being the most patient with that I either. But it will come. We all are dealing with some significant changes. I am grateful that I have the means and ability to be home with the kids and provide some form continued education.

WFH Day 6

On a positive note, almost the entire Crenshaw staff (her elementary school) did a drive-by parade this afternoon. That was huge for her and probably most the kids who all of sudden have lost the their teachers. At least in the sense they understand. Luckily, many will begin to convert or create opportunity to connect with the students via video chats. I think that will be great.

Of course, my two needs to learn how to video chat. They just wanted to make goofy faces the whole time that were chatting with my parents. I had to actually pull Macon aside so there could be some productive conversation.

Despite the loss of the spring season yesterday, we did manage to keep working for next year. A little positive news for student-athletes that schedules hopefully will be completed in the coming weeks for the 2020-2021 school year. Have to keep moving forward because we will get them on the field and courts soon.

One last note on moving forward. I would encourage everyone to take this time, for those able to, to find means to improve yourself. Find more time to workout. Read a new book. Take an online course. Self-development is going to be critical to maintain some sanity and take the next step when we get past this all.