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The homeowner’s guide to exercise

Surprising health benefits of taking care of your house

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kitchen, cleaning, gay news, Washington Blade
kitchen, cleaning, gay news, Washington Blade, exercise

Cleaning your house burns a surprising amount of calories. (Photo by iStock)

If you’re like many of us, you made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape.  You threw away the bags of chips in the pantry, gave the rest of the Christmas cookies to the neighbor kids and vowed never again to walk down the ice cream aisle at Harris Teeter. You even brought the treadmill up from the basement so you could exercise while watching “Flowers in the Attic.”

Yes, your intentions were admirable (as were mine), but then that comfy sofa started calling your name, Jillian Michaels became even more annoying and you couldn’t resist ordering extra pizza and nachos for Sunday’s Super Bowl game.

To those of you who love working out at the gym, playing Ultimate Frisbee with your pals on a cold Saturday morning or jogging around the National Mall, I salute you. But if you’re like me, always the last person picked for a team from elementary through high school, the humiliation of public exercise and lack of sports ability still takes its toll many years later.

Most experts agree that you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, so it’s hard enough for people on the chocolate chip pancake diet just to stay even, but we forget about the everyday things we do that can contribute to weight loss. Here’s what I suggest.

Get up in the morning. In the 10 minutes it takes to make your bed, you burn 27 calories.  Brush your teeth to burn 34 more and style your hair for 20 minutes to burn another 72.

Clean the house. Spend 20 minutes washing dishes – by hand, no cheating – to burn 63 calories, then get to the real work. Thirty minutes each of dusting, vacuuming, mopping floors, washing windows, doing the laundry and ironing will yield a 773-calorie deficit. But also consider the additional benefit – the 30 extra minutes spent running up and down the stairs doing all this for the 245-calorie burn.

Mind the kids. How much time do you spend carrying a baby on your hip? One hour equals 302 calories burned. An additional hour of playing with your child at the park consumes another 327.

Walk the dog. A 30-minute walk will help you and your dog burn 143 calories. Have more than one dog? Walk them individually.

Go to work. Driving for an hour consumes 172 calories, so some might say that commuting is actually good for you.

Decorate and renovate. My favorite home stager is in great shape and it’s no wonder, since 60 minutes spent rearranging the furniture will burn 540 calories. Take an hour to paint that spare bedroom, something that’s been on your To Do list for six months, and you’ll burn 409 calories. A 30-minute home repair garners 184 more.

Do weekend chores out of doors. There’s an outdoor chore for every type of weather. Take 30 minutes each for the following tasks and feel the burn: raking leaves (164), shoveling snow (245), mowing the lawn (178), tending the garden (222) and washing the car (184).

Have a party. Go grocery shopping for an hour for a 286-calorie burn (no nibbling along the way, please) then cook dinner for half an hour when you get home for another 108. When your friends arrive, play an hour of bridge to lose 130 calories, tickle the ivories during a 30-minute sing-along for 113 more and finish off the evening with an hour of dancing to your living room Wii console for 486.

Go to bed. Finally, sleep for seven hours and burn 530 calories.

Now, for those of you who have been waiting for me to mention it, sex does indeed enter into the picture; however, 10 minutes of foreplay only burns 20 calories and 20 minutes of, er, follow-up, surprisingly only burns 115, so when your best friend tells you he burned 1,000 calories having sex last Saturday night, be impressed. I know I am.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or [email protected]. Each Keller Williams Realty office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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Real Estate

What homeowners are grateful for this year

Where you live should be something to appreciate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Since you’re reading this over Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to write about gratitude as it pertains to real estate, so I started by Googling “gratitude, house.” 

Unsurprisingly, page after page of results were links to recovery centers and residences.  Sandwiched in between was a now defunct coffeeshop and yoga studio in Bandra, Mumbai. Although I applaud people who are in recovery and I like yoga, none of that hit the target of what I was looking for, so here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Can you be grateful for things inside, outside, and around your home? Of course you can! It might not feel as profound as expressing thanks for the people you love, or good health, or your chosen faith, but as a homeowner, you’re making memories and experiencing ups and downs that you’re going to reflect on years down the road.

Think about the purchase of your home and the steps you went through to seal the deal. Did you find it quickly? Did you compete with other buyers and win? Did you pay a fair price? Did you get a great interest rate? Did the loan process and settlement go smoothly? If so, be grateful.

Where you live can also be something to appreciate. Some people want a bustling urban environment with nearby amenities, such as shopping, dining, transportation, or multiple ways to exercise. Others want the quiet and solitude of a cabin in the mountains or on a lake, with acreage, wildlife and beautiful views of all Mother Nature has to offer. Still others want a larger, more reasonably priced home in the suburbs outside the Beltway, where they can hop on a train and get lost in a novel en route to the office. 

So, is your home situated in the neighborhood or environment you wanted? Did the schools, if important to you, meet your expectations? Is it close to (or if you prefer, far from) family members? Is your commute to work or school manageable? If you answered yes to any of these questions, be grateful.

If you work from home, is the space pleasant and the atmosphere conducive to ensuring productivity? Is the color scheme energizing? Peaceful? Would your décor get at least an 8 out of 10 from Room Rater when you have a conference call on Zoom? 

Is your home big enough to expand into as your family grows? Small enough for downsizing? Does the layout still meet your needs or have your needs changed? 

Is what you own your dream house or condo? Could it be? If you need to make some modifications, be thankful for HGTV, the DIY channel, YouTube how-to videos, Thumbtack, and Yelp reviews.

Living through a renovation can bring out the worst in people. Weeks or months of doing dishes in the bathtub or showering at the gym can cause friction in even the most committed relationship. Once your renovation is completed, however, be grateful that your sanity withstood the trauma of living through it. 

Be thankful for the things you don’t notice or think of often. Do you love the way the dining room chandelier casts light on the ceiling at night or how the sun streams in through the skylight in the early morning? 

Perhaps the feature wall you added makes you smile when you come in the front door or a favorite piece of art that reflects your personality catches your eye. Maybe you have pleasant memories of family gatherings in front of the fireplace or choruses of “Score” as you and your friends watch the World Cup on your 65” TV.

If you’re like me, you’re thankful that your boiler made it through last winter, that you didn’t have to patch the roof again this year, or that you found that hole in the fence and repaired it before your dog got out. 

During the year, we can lose sight of the things we are grateful for, so as Elle Woods suggested in “Legally Blonde 2,” I highly recommend keeping a gratitude jar. 

Use it to keep track of what you’re grateful for by writing things down and dropping those notes in the jar. Then, when you have a home anniversary or are stressed out about a renovation, when out-of-town company stays too long or when the kids draw on the walls with a Sharpie, pull out a note from the jar and read it aloud like a mantra. 

Unlike the sisters of Delta Nu, however, you don’t really have to snap your fingers after reading it.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Real Estate

Tips for holiday home sales

Buyers at this time of year are more serious

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Tasteful holiday decorations can improve the look of your home if you’re selling at the holidays.

The holiday season is often considered a difficult time to sell a home – but sometimes it’s necessary. For whatever reason, you may need to make a move quickly, and selling during the holiday months from November through January is your best option. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that selling during the holiday season does have certain advantages. 

Often, more than during any other time of the year, buyers are in the same situation as sellers – they are buying for a reason. It may be a relocation for work, it could be a move to be closer to an older family member, or any number of other reasons that require a move quickly. As a result, holiday buyers are more serious, and make more competitive offers, not to mention the fact that there is often less competition from other sellers because fewer homes are on the market.

If you find yourself needing to sell your home during the holidays, focusing on the advantages can be helpful, along with a few other tips, including:

• Add some holiday cheer to your home: Often, holiday decorations can add an extra spark of seasonal flair and can be quite helpful to sellers – provided that the decorations aren’t overboard. Decorations that are too large or flashy may distract buyers and make your home feel crowded or cluttered. The right decorations, however, can be cheerful and bright and add some holiday spirit to your home that buyers enjoy. 

• Create some curb appeal: The holiday season is a wonderful time to enhance your home’s curb appeal with tasteful lights and other décor. It’s also important if you live in an area where leaves fall from the trees to be certain to rake and maintain your yard and surrounding landscaping. Certainly, if it is icy or snowy, you should shovel your driveway and sidewalks and make sure your home is safe for potential buyers to visit. Additionally, bare trees often draw more attention to the exterior of a home, so ensuring that your paint is touched up, gutters are cleaned, and other exterior features are in good condition is important. 

• Choose the right price point: Regardless of the time of year, pricing your home competitively will help to increase your chances of selling it quickly. Often, homes priced too high will linger on the market. The longer a home stays on the market, the more skittish some buyers become, and the lower the price may eventually have to go to ultimately sell it. Pricing your home competitively from the beginning can be very helpful.

• Remain accessible: The holidays can be a busy time, with many obligations and activities. As a result, it can often be more difficult than usual for real estate agents to arrange and schedule showings. Clearing your schedule as much as possible to accommodate agents and potential buyers can help to ensure that you get as many showings as possible, which will ultimately increase the chances of a quick and successful sale.

• Find the right real estate agent: The importance of this last tip can’t be overstated. Finding an agent who knows and loves the community will help you to market your home effectively, highlight all of its selling points, and connect with the right buyer. At GayRealEstate.com, buyers and sellers across the country are paired up with LGBTQ-friendly agents who can help them achieve their real estate goals, and this can make all the difference between a smooth and successful selling experience, and a stressful one.

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s also extremely important to consult with an agent who knows your unique market and can give you tips for your particular home. At GayRealEstate.com, we’d love to connect you with that agent today. Get in touch with us soon – we look forward to helping you reach your real estate goals.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

To upgrade your home before selling or not? 

It often pays to invest in flooring, paint, countertops

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Selling your home? You might consider replacing those laminate countertops with granite or quartz.

One of the biggest questions many homeowners have is: Do I need to upgrade my home before I sell it? Is the investment going to pay for itself?  Should I make specific decisions about my home that a future buyer may or may not be happy with? There are arguments for and against making lots of upgrades. A decent Realtor can help their seller research how much various upgrades may cost, and what might give them the most bang for their buck.  

Most people start their home search online. So, the photos for a home are in most cases the first impression that a potential buyer gets of a house. And as many people say, you never get a second chance for a first impression. Most Realtors will try to get their seller to at least get the house de-cluttered, vacant or just as clean as possible for photos. If it’s in the seller’s budget, do we want to replace appliances? Do we want to put in granite or quartz countertops? Does the bathroom need an updated vanity? What kind of lights and ceiling fans do we have? Obviously, it comes down to budget. And each seller will have a different circumstance.  

For many people, hardwood floors are much preferable to carpet. In some cases, just putting in new carpet can be a great upgrade. But if you can afford it, putting in hardwood floors, or luxury vinyl plank flooring can be a nice upgrade. Cabinets – can be replaced, painted, or just fitted with new handles and knobs. Appliances, do we want stainless steel? Many buyers and renters prefer that. 

The reality for most people is that the home search starts online. And if the photos don’t look good, then there probably won’t be much traffic through the house. And the less traffic there is, the less likely an offer will be made. Or the longer it will sit on the market.  

If you have a house to sell, sometimes it’s good to go look at what the competition is and try to decide how your house stacks up against what buyers are seeing. It is important to clean, de-clutter, and put your best foot forward. The spring market is not far away. If you have more questions about how to get your home ready to sell, feel free to contact me or your trusted Realtor.  

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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