Roger Behdin | Potomac Real Estate


Moving into a new home is an exciting time. There is so much to do with packing up the old place, closing on the purchase, and moving in that you probably haven’t spent much time wondering what your new home is like early in the morning, or late in the afternoon. After visiting your new home just a few times during the buying process, you may be unprepared for how your home appears at different times of the day.

Then, one morning, you wake up, look around and think it’s still night because you don’t see light streaming into your home the way it did into your fourth-floor walk-up apartment. You feel the walls closing in and wonder if it was all a mistake.

What’s up with that?
If the home is older, it might have fewer windows. In an effort to conserve energy and lower heat and air conditioning bills, older home designs had less glass exposure. Of course, modern improvements to thermal windows makes this less necessary, but if you’ve purchased an older home, or are planning to, consider some of these alternatives for brightening up your space.

Lighten up!

  • Remove heavy window coverings and curtains and opt for more sheer versions or install adjustable blinds to let in more light. Not only will this brighten things up, but it will also give your home a modern, clean, minimalist vibe. Lighter colored blinds reflect more light than wood, and lighter natural woods reflect more than darker ones.
  • Shine light on the walls and the ceiling. Adding a couple of floor lamps that direct light up the walls and onto the ceiling can brighten up any room. Or, add sconces to brighten things up in dark hallways and smaller rooms. Choose lamps without shades, or with very light shades to maximize the brightness.
  • Use paint to add light to the room. Interior paints are rated by their LRV (light reflective values). Before choosing a paint color, learn where it falls on the scale (from zero to 100%). Paint dealers can help you choose colors that have a higher LVR so that your home reflects more light. Often, the LRV is listed in the color “fanbook” or on the paint swatch. The higher the value, the more light reflects into the room.
    Consider buying sample sizes and paint swatches on the walls so that you can view the paint in all light ranges throughout the day. If painting swatches on your walls makes you cringe, hang up a piece of butcher paper and paint the swatches on it. That way, you can quickly take it down when your mother-in-law pops in for an unexpected visit.
  • Make glass and metal your friend. Reflective surfaces found in mirrors, blown glass decorations, and metallic art helps bounce light around the room. Placing two mirrors opposite each other gives infinite reflections that open a room or give life to a dark hallway. Or, place crystal vases or brass candle holders in the darker area. Frame photos and art with metallic frames.
  • In the kitchen and bath, add reflective surfaces such as glass or metallic tile to backsplashes and showers. Chrome reflects more that brushed surfaces such as nickel, so opt for those in your bath and kitchen fixtures.
  • If renovations are in your future, consider a more open concept, enlarging windows, or adding skylights to increase your light exposure.
  • Pay attention to your landscaping as well. Older homes often come with mature trees that cast larger shadows. Give yourself the opportunity to experience all four seasons before removing them, though, because that shade might come in handy in the warmer months.

Check with your real estate professional for recommendations on local contractors to help with addressing structural changes and extensive landscaping alterations.



If you are in hot pursuit of your dream home, it is important to do everything you can to gain a leg up on the competition. That way, you can acquire your ideal residence as quickly as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you gain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals.

1. Keep Track of the Local Housing Market

The top houses sell immediately, and as such, you may need to act fast to find and purchase your dream residence. If you keep track of the local housing market, however, you will be better equipped than other buyers to instantly acquire a house that suits you perfectly.

Monitor the housing market in cities and towns where you want to reside. Then, if you find a house you may want to buy, don't hesitate to set up a showing. And if you like what you see, you should submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Entering the housing market with pre-approval for a mortgage usually is a good idea. Because if you know how much you can spend on a residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. Find out what mortgage options are available, and learn how different types of home financing work. Next, you can select a mortgage that enables you to begin your house search with a budget in hand.

Of course, if you have any concerns or questions about home financing, you should address them right away. If you speak with mortgage specialists at a bank or credit union, you can get the insights you need to make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker, particularly for a homebuyer who is shopping for a residence in a fierce housing market. Typically, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to craft an in-depth property buying strategy. A real estate agent and homebuyer then will work together to put this plan into action and streamline the property buying journey.

In addition, a real estate agent offers guidance at each stage of the homebuying cycle. He or she first will help you hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns. A real estate agent next will keep you informed about houses that become available that match your homebuying criteria. If you find a house you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit an aggressive property buying proposal. And if your offer to buy a home is accepted, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to finalize your house purchase.

As you get ready to pursue your dream residence, you should devote plenty of time and resources to prepare. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can prep for the homebuying journey, gain a competitive advantage over rival buyers and accelerate your house search.



In recent years, the number of employees who work from home, at least some of the time, has increased to about 25 percent. This trend shows that companies are warming up to the idea of letting their employees work wherever they’re comfortable, and that a growing number of people are working on a freelance or contract basis.

Working from home, despite its many advantages, does pose some obstacles to productivity. Thus, time management and daily task setting are key to being as productive or more productive than you would be at the office.

In today’s article, we’re going to help you learn how to become more productive when you work from home so that you can meet your daily numbers while still enjoying the perks of working remotely.

Time management

One of the most difficult aspects of working from home is sticking to a schedule throughout the day. The home poses several distractions--kids, pets, TV, the refrigerator. Aside from the distraction factor, it’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have a boss lurking around. There are several measures you can take while working at home to counter these factors.

First, make sure you set some ground rules for yourself and your family while working from home. Make sure everyone knows your work hours, including yourself. Stick to those hours by creating a daily routine. Everyone is different when it comes to keeping a planner.

Some people keep a simple task list in a notebook, while others create intricate planners that are color-coded and rife with stickers and reminders. Regardless of your method, make sure you have a physical reminder in front of you during the day that reminds you what you should be doing.

Routine is key to managing your time. While there will always be things that come up that we don’t plan for, having a foundation for your day is vital. Starting each day the same way is a good way to help yourself stick to your schedule. Some people go for a walk each morning, while others dive right into their work. Whichever you choose, make sure you do it consistently.

Creating a productive environment

Try to work in an office or spare room away from kids or pets and let your family know that you need to focus when you’re there.

If possible, set your phone to silent or “do not disturb” mode. Remove any distractions from the room that will tempt you to procrastinate. Things like the TV and snacks can easily steal your attention.

However, in this day of social media, it’s equally important to make sure you avoid procrastinating online as well. If you find yourself subconsciously navigating to Facebook or Reddit, try setting up an extension on your browser that limits your time on those sites to 10 minutes per day to help you stay on track.

A productive environment doesn’t have to be a barren one. Choose decorations and paint colors that work for you. You’ll want to feel comfortable in your work environment, and one of the perks of working from home is being able to customize any way that you like.

Finally, remember to take breaks. Many people who are able to work from home have a tendency to put work off until the last minute and then work feverishly to get everything done.



Preparing to put your home on the market almost invariably involves three things: painting, cleaning, and organizing. Since you might also need to do some repairs and updating, it's crucial that you prioritize your tasks and make sure you're not spending more money, time, and energy than necessary.

Consulting with your real estate agent about what projects are the most important will help you make the most of your available resources.

All home sellers have a different timetable in which they need to get their home ready for potential buyers. Few people, however, have the luxury of tackling those projects slowly or sporadically. When you factor in your busy schedule with everything that typically needs to be done before a house goes on the market, time management and self motivation become crucial elements in the process.

Wall painting often tops the list

In spite of your best intentions, walls and doors are going to get scuffed, scratched, and marred. Small, but noticeable holes from nails and thumbtacks also have a way of increasing with every passing year. Regardless of how careful you think you've been, it's virtually impossible to keep your walls looking fresh, clean, and well maintained. Bathrooms pose even more of a challenge because moisture and steam from showers will gradually cause paint to crack, peel, and lose its original smooth quality. Bedroom walls, especially those of children and teenagers, will also be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.

Fortunately the cost of a couple gallons of paint, along with brushes, rollers, and other basic supplies, is an affordable solution for most home sellers. It's one of the most cost-effective methods of freshening up your house, and it significantly enhances your home's eye appeal and marketability.

One of the pitfalls of repainting your walls, however, is the possibility of choosing colors that may turn off some potential buyers. Colors which you may describe as vibrant, splashy, or cool, might be viewed by others as garish, tacky, or "over the tip." That's why it's often best to play it safe by choosing colors that are considered neutral, such as grey, beige, tan, eggshell, and ivory.

By veering away from colors that might be considered too bold and strident, you're increasing the likelihood that your décor will appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. While there may be exceptions to just about every rule -- especially as it pertains to decorating -- your objective as a house seller is to increase the probability that your home will appeal to as many people as possible!

"Immaculate" is a good goal

Another thing prospective buyers will frequently notice is the level of cleanliness in your home. While it's difficult (at best) to keep your home absolutely spotless all the time, it does pay to establish a few family rules and expectations to help you maintain a semblance of order until your house is sold!



A home showing represents a learning opportunity for a homebuyer. If you know how to plan ahead for a home showing, you can optimize the value of this opportunity.

Ultimately, preparing for a home showing can be simple – here are three tips to help you get ready for any home showing, at any time.

1. Evaluate a Home Listing Closely

A home listing enables you to learn about a house's age and condition. It also may include pictures that highlight a home's rooms and features. Thus, if you assess a home listing closely, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a house may be right for you.

As you examine a home listing, it generally is a good idea to think about additional questions that you may have about a house. If you craft a list of questions prior to a home showing, you'll be ready to get the answers that you need to make an informed decision about a residence.

2. Make a Home Showing Checklist

A home showing allows you to examine a residence both inside and out. As such, it may be beneficial to create a home showing checklist that ensures you remember to analyze all aspects of a house.

Be sure to include assessments of an attic, basement and other house areas in your checklist. In addition, it may be helpful to consider checking out a home's proximity to parks, schools and other landmarks. Because the more information that you obtain during a home showing, the more likely it becomes that you can make the best-possible choice regarding a residence.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you plan to attend a home showing, hiring a real estate agent is essential. A real estate agent can help you prep for a home showing and ensure you can review all aspects of a residence in no time at all.

Prior to a home showing, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this housing market professional will offer expert recommendations to guarantee that you are fully prepared to attend a home showing.

Let's not forget about the comprehensive support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your area and help you set up home showings. And if you want to submit an offer on a residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

For those who want to explore the housing market, attending home showings is crucial. If you're able to make the most of a home showing, you can boost your chances of enjoying a seamless homebuying experience.

Thanks to the aforementioned tips, any homebuyer can get ready for a home showing. Take advantage of these tips, and you can approach a home showing with the confidence that you need to succeed.