Aimee Kniceley-Barnes | Fredericksburg Real Estate


Moving to a new home can definitely be labor intensive, but there are plenty of ways to make it easier and less stressful. Creating a priority list of things to do before the moving truck arrives can help ensure that you won't forget important details.

If you've chosen a service-oriented moving company, they should provide you with information -- possibly even a checklist -- on how to efficiently work with them and prepare.

Having the movers do the actual packing for you is often an option, but not everyone feels comfortable turning over that task to people they don't know. If you decide that it's worth it to pay the extra fee, you can always prepack and take with you any personal, fragile, or valuable items you don't want to entrust to others.

Moving companies are in a competitive business and are usually willing to negotiate the price of their services. By getting cost estimates from three different movers, you can often save hundreds of dollars and choose the company that provides the best value and customer service. Reading online reviews, checking Better Business Bureau ratings, asking a lot of questions, and taking notes are a few of the methods you can use to make an informed decision. Once you've done your research and picked a reputable moving company to transport your belongings, you've cleared one of the biggest hurdles. Packing, of course, can also be a rather immense part of the process. Here are a few tips to help make it a bit easier.

Downsizing helps: Depending on your age, the size of your family, and how long you've lived in your current home, you may want to "lighten your load" as much as possible! Transporting things you no longer use or need can make moving more tiring, complicated, and expensive. Taking the time to have a garage sale, contact the Salvation Army for a truck pickup, or even find a cost-effective junk removal service to haul away your unwanted stuff can simplify your moving experience.

Boxes and packing materials: Although there's a good possibility of being able to negotiate some wardrobe boxes and other supplies into your service contract, more boxes, heavy-duty tape, and packing material will be needed! Inquiring at your local supermarket about any surplus boxes is one way to save money on supplies. However, if the boxes they give you are flimsy or damaged, the monetary savings may not be worth the hassle of having them split open in transit. Overpacking boxes with heavy objects can also result in that same problem -- not to mention the probability of muscle strains and back injuries! Clearly labeling boxes and avoiding using nondescript categories, such as "miscellaneous," is yet another way to reduce the potential stress and frustration of moving all your belongings to a new home.



The amount of money you will need to ensure you can purchase a house varies based on a number of factors. For example, if you want to purchase a house in a big city, you may need to save more money than you likely would require to buy a residence in a small town. Meanwhile, your decision to choose a fixed-rate mortgage over an adjustable-rate mortgage – or vice-versa – can impact your monthly housing costs. And let's not forget about the costs of home utilities like electricity and water, either.

Ultimately, it helps to put together a homebuying budget before you embark on a house search. Because if you know how much money you have at your disposal, you can map out your house search accordingly. And as a result, you can minimize the risk of spending too much to acquire your dream residence.

Let's now take a look at three tips to help you craft an effective homebuying budget.

1. Evaluate Your Current Expenses

An in-depth assessment of your current monthly expenses is key. If you conduct an expense evaluation, you can find out how much you spend on various must-haves and wants. You then can take steps to reduce your monthly expenses and increase your savings for a new home.

It also never hurts to consult with a financial planner. If you have a financial planner at your side, you can gain expert insights to help you evaluate your current expenses. Plus, you can work with a financial planner to determine the best course of action so you can eventually buy your dream residence.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions and explore your mortgage options – you will be happy you did. If you assess your mortgage options closely, you can find one that complements your finances. And once you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house.

Generally, it is beneficial to meet with as many banks and credit unions as you can. If you consult with myriad lenders, you can receive extensive insights into many mortgage options. Best of all, you will be better equipped than ever before to find the lowest-possible interest rate on a mortgage.

3. Consider Your Down Payment Options

The down payment required for a home purchase varies, but it commonly ranges between 5 percent and 20 percent of a house's total price. If you account for a down payment as you craft a homebuying budget, you can use this total to plan ahead for the property buying journey.

Lastly, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent as you prepare to launch a home search. In addition to helping you find your dream residence, a real estate agent can put you in touch with potential lenders and offer plenty of guidance throughout the property buying journey.

Ready to pursue a home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you create a successful homebuying budget.



The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a home. Not just a place to cook meals it’s also often the entrance to a home and where families gather together at the end of the day. Arguably, it’s also the most important room in the home and the one home buyers should be most astute of.

The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel ranging between $20,000 and $50,000. Whether you’re eager for some renovation projects or looking for a move-in ready home, you’ll want to assess the level of work this room will need as your shop potential houses.

Start with perhaps the most obvious - is the room large enough for your daily needs? Is there plenty of counter space or room to expand cabinetry? Do you have a lot of kitchen tools that call for plenty of storage space or perhaps prefer an island to prep dinner at? Know what your ideal kitchen space ahead of time, especially if it is a priority, so your realtor can help you find the perfect fit.

Check that all appliances to ensure they are in working order as per the disclosure statement claims. Appliances are a big expense and you’ll want to have a good idea of what will need replacing or to be installed. Consider if they are an easy color to match when it comes time for replacement and if any are under warranty.

You’ll also want to examine the cabinetry. Check to ensure all drawers and cabinets are properly aligned and open smoothly. If they are wooden cabinets you can easily swap out hardware or change the color if you’re not a fan of the current style. However, other materials are not as convenient so consider replacement costs if you’re unhappy with the current installation.

Countertops can be another major expense. Have the granite countertops been properly taken care of? If they are laminate are they scratched or chipped? If this isn’t an upgrade you’re looking to make, be sure to look closely at what each home already has in place.

Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in your home, especially if you love to cook. Check flooring for loose tiles, discoloration or poorly maintained wood flooring. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the quality of the materials used to build the home. And secondly, how well the house has been maintained over time.

Remodeling isn’t on everyone's list when house shopping. And with kitchen’s being one of the most expensive to renovate, this is one room you want to pay extra attention to as you view each potential home. Happy house hunting!



If you’re looking to make some big updates to make your home more stylish and on trend today I have four of some of the most popular trends on Pinterest right now. Pinterest is a goldmine for finding new and exciting projects but don’t just let them sit on your boards as a “that would be nice” idea. Bring them to life!

These updates aren’t for the faint of heart and definitely more for the trendsetters. If you’re looking for a style that packs a punch and makes jaws drop keep reading.

Herringbone patterns - And not just for wood flooring, though this classic form is certainly finding their way to many people’s Pinterest boards. Give the currently trendy subway tile a fresh take by installing in a herringbone inspire pattern. Another clever placement? Take it outdoors to your paving stones. This will give your yard a chic and very unique touch.

Statement ceiling - Or as some are calling it, the fifth wall. If you’re ready to go bold adding color to your ceiling won’t let you down. The most popular color cropping up on Pinterest boards everywhere is pure black. It might seem counterintuitive but doing so actually creates the illusion your room is larger than it is. The truly eclectic are going, even more, daring and wallpapering their ceilings. And today it’s easier than ever thanks to peel and stick wallpaper. You’ll have any pattern you can dream at your fingertips and far less of a commitment than wallpaper of yore.

Mixed metals - Every rule is made to be broken. Especially when it comes to mixing metals. It’s been in fashion for jewelry for years, now it’s time to bring it into the home. The trick is to balance finishes with each other. Get creative with which metallic elements you bring in. Think picture frames, end tables, coffee tables, brackets, hardware, serving trays, and bar carts. Keep in mind this isn’t to mean mixing up hardware to have different tones and finishes. Instead, look to pieces you can add to the room (and easily take out again) that will add a much welcome contrast.

Terrazzo - And last but not least the trend that has everyone talking is an old favorite. We’re reaching back to the 70’s with this one people! Terrazzo is being used everywhere from walls to flooring to counters to the decor. Which is good news! You don’t have to go all in on this bold trend by replacing those coveted granite countertops. Because hey, they might not be on trend but they are classic for a reason! So instead look for terrazzo ceramic vases and “faux” terrazzo print fabrics. And if you’re especially creative make a weekend project out of creating a statement wall painted to mimic the print and texture of terrazzo.  



There are a lot of ways a real estate agent can help you find the best home for your needs. However, the final decision always rests squarely on your shoulders.

The challenge for many home buyers -- especially first-timers -- is to keep everything in perspective and avoid sacrificing features that are especially important to you.

Developing a carefully thought-out priority list, consisting of both necessities and "wish list" items, is an essential starting point for getting what you want in a new home. Even though house hunting can potentially wear you down, it's important to hang in there and stay true to your priorities.

While everyone has different expectations, lifestyle needs, and personal requirements, some things are bound to create issues down the road.

  • Being too close to neighbors: Depending on your need for privacy, this may or may not be a problem for you. However, if you don't want your life to feel like a reality show (with your neighbors being the audience), then it would probably pay to maintain a comfortable distance between houses. Unfortunately, that's not always possible. For example, if you're in the market for a home in an urban environment or a townhouse setting, then close proximity "comes with the territory". If living in suburbia is your objective, though, it's often feasible and desirable to keep some breathing room between neighbors.
  • Basement laundry: Having to go up and down an extra flight of stairs every time you do your laundry is not the worst thing in the world, but it can make laundry day more of a hassle. The inconvenience of a basement laundry is multiplied if you have to do several loads of laundry every week. To make that chore even more unpleasant, unfinished basements are often dank, musty smelling, and not much to look at! Regardless of the condition of the basement, though, having a first-floor laundry does make life a lot easier!
  • A tiny yard: A spacious yard is not a feature all house hunters require, but if you have dogs, kids, and the occasional backyard barbecue, then you'd probably find a good-sized yard to be more satisfying. On the other hand, if your short-term plan includes moving in a few years, then yard size might not be a major issue.
  • Being too far from conveniences: Do you have your heart set on a rural setting for your next home? If so, you may have to sacrifice being close to shopping, entertainment, friends, and work. It is a potential trade-off that you and your family will need to consider carefully. Reaching a consensus on what you must have versus what you'd like to have in a home will hopefully help ensure a decision you'll all be satisfied with.
There are literally dozens of other potential priorities to consider when searching for a new home, so it's wise to create a comprehensive list of the features, advantages, and amenities that are really important to you. Your real estate agent can work with you to pinpoint your house hunting requirements and help you find the house of your dreams... or at least a close facsimile!