Lichman Group

Homeownership

August
15

5 Tips for Making Your Yard Sale a Success

Yard Sale

Having a yard sale is a great way to get rid of unwanted items in your home and garage. Whether you're cleaning out clutter, remodeling, or moving, our real estate agents know that hosting a yard sale can help you clean up your home and generate extra cash for household expenses or donations to your favorite charity.

When a yard sale is done right, it draws a lot of attention from neighbors, people searching for collectibles, and buyers looking for Georgetown homes for sale. That old saying, "one man's trash is another man's treasure," is what makes yard sales so popular. Here are 5 tips for making your yard sale a big success.

  1. Start Collecting Items
    Before you plan your yard sale, go through your closets, cabinets, and garage and collect all items you want to sell. First, make sure that all items for sale are in good condition. Next, focus on sorting and getting organized. To make sorting easier, group items into specific categories such as clothing, linens, kitchen wares, small appliances, toys, workout gear, gardening equipment, and household tools. Tip: It's helpful to round up some boxes before you start sorting to keep things organized.

  1. Price Your Items
    To stay organized and reduce stress, it's best to price your yard sale items ahead of time. Pricing can take a long time, so don't wait until a day or two before the sale to think about it. Allowing extra time for pricing will ensure bigger profits and a successful yard sale. Here are some helpful tips for pricing sale items:

  • Use Price Tags – To stay organized and save money, buy some inexpensive tags or stickers from a local discount store. Mark each item's price with a permanent marker. Apply the tags or stickers to each item with string or masking tape.
  • Create Pricing Sheets – If you're selling a lot of clothing, create pricing sheets so you don't have to put a price tag on each item. Place pricing sheets in clear sheet protectors and hang them near the clothing. Keep extra copies near the payment area.
  1. Pick a Sale Date
    Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the best days for a yard sale. Scheduling your sale on the first weekend of the month when many people get paid can also increase turnout and profits. When choosing a sale date, schedule it at least one month out to allow the necessary time for collecting, sorting, and pricing items and advertising the sale. Tip: Since it's difficult to predict the weather in advance, be prepared for rain with tents, tarps, or umbrellas to avoid canceling the sale.

  1. Gather Sale Essentials
    At least a week before the sale, make sure you have all the necessary essentials for a successful event. This includes:

  • Display tables
  • Hanging rods for clothes

  • Paper or plastic bags

  • A calculator and receipt book

  • Pens and scissors
  • Sold tags
  1. Advertise the Sale
    You have to advertise if you want a successful yard sale. A few days before the sale, advertise your sale by hanging weatherproof signs or flyers, posting online ads, and posting on social media. Make sure you identify the items for sale, especially sought-after items like toys, electronics, tools, and collectibles. Signs and online ads should always look the same and include the yard sale dates, times, and property address.

If you're considering buying or selling a home in Georgetown, contact us for available homes and pricing that suits your lifestyle.

July
18

Maintenance Tips for Your Water Softener

water softener

A household water softener can be an appealing feature to buyers searching for Round Rock homes for sale. Hard water tastes harsh, causes scale and buildup on fixtures and dishes, and can shorten the lives of appliances. But having a water softener requires some maintenance if you want to get the most out of it during its lifetime. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents for keeping your water softener in good working condition for as long as possible.

  • Check Salt Levels Once a Month
    Salt is one of the things your water softener needs to do its job, so to properly maintain it, you'll need to refill the salt when needed. This isn't something you'll need to call a professional for, thankfully. With a properly working water softener, you should only need to refill the salt every couple of months, but you'll want to open up the brine tank at least once a month to check the levels, especially if you're using more water than usual. Unless the manual or the markings on the tank state otherwise, the tank should always be about half full of salt. If the level is lower, refill as needed.

  • Inspect the Tank for Salt Bridges
    Salt bridges are formations of salt inside your tank that prevent the water softener from doing its job properly. When you check the salt levels every month, you will also be watching for signs of salt bridges forming, such as salt levels that appear to never go down. To break up a salt bridge, pour hot water over the salt and then use something, such as a broom handle, to push the salt buildup down into the water. If you get a lot of salt bridges, it may be from using cheap salt, or it may be an indication that your water softener is in need of professional maintenance.

  • Clean the Brine Tank Once a Year
    Your water softener doesn't require a lot of maintenance, but you do need to clean the brine tank about once a year to keep it at peak performance. For your convenience, you can wait until the softener is almost out of salt before cleaning it. Dump the water and salt, scrub out the tank with dish soap and water, and then pour a bleach solution into the tank and let it sit for a little bit before dumping and rinsing. Once that's finished, you can reattach the tank and refill it with salt and water. Let the salt and water sit for a couple of hours before starting a regeneration cycle.

  • Watch for Signs of Trouble
    In addition to the regular maintenance mentioned here, it's important to also keep an eye on the quality of water in your home. If you start to notice signs of hard water, such as scale or buildup on fixtures and in appliances, in sinks and bathtubs, or in your water kettle and bathroom cup, it may be a sign that the water softener is no longer doing its job. Also, watch for tiny particles called "fines" in your water, which may signify that the resin in your water softener is getting old and breaking up. If you notice these signs, it may be time to have a professional check out your water softener.

Installing and maintaining upgrades such as a water softener can make your home more appealing to buyers when it comes time to sell. For more information about easy ways to boost your home's value and saleability, contact us today.

June
20

Building a Deck? Deck Material Options

Building a Deck Tips

Having a deck off your home is so nice, especially in the summer. You can sit out there with a good book, just basking in the sun. Or, you can host a barbecue and enjoy a meal on the deck with friends. If you're looking at Round Rock homes for sale and discover one that would be even better with a deck, then it's time to start planning! Here are some deck materials to consider using.

  • Pressure-Treated Lumber
    Pressure-treated lumber has long been a popular deck material. This is essentially wood that has been compacted under pressure and treated with various chemicals to make it resistant to rot and insects. 

    Pressure-treated lumber is fairly affordable and readily available. It does not need to be sealed and waterproofed like "natural" wood. However, not everyone likes its greenish undertone. You can paint it, but that does add to the maintenance requirements.

  • Cedar
    If you want a wood deck you can leave natural and not paint, then cedar is a great wood to choose. The natural oils in the cedar repel insects and allow the wood to resist rot. Cedar takes on a beachy, grayish look as it ages, which can be nice with a more rustic home design.

    Cedar is abundant in the western United States and is typically harvested in an eco-friendly manner. The one main downfall is that it can start splintering once it ages — so you won't want to walk across a cedar deck barefoot.

  • Composite
    There are several companies that make composite decking boards from a blend of wood fibers and concrete. Composite decking is heavy and comes with a high price tag. Installing a composite deck also takes longer and is more expensive than installing a wood deck, largely because of the weight of the boards. However, composite decking is incredibly durable and long-lasting.

    You don't have to paint or stain a composite deck. The color extends through the material, so your deck won't start to look chipped and worn. You can clean the decking by simply power washing it; this is all the maintenance it really needs.

  • PVC
    PVC decking is a lightweight, plastic decking material. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. You can even find PVC decking that is made to look like wood or concrete.

    PVC decking is affordable, easy to install, and easy to maintain. You never need to paint or seal it, and you can clean it with a hose and dish soap! However, PVC can get brittle with age, especially if installed in a really sunny area. The UV rays from the sun can slowly break down the plastic. This material also has a more modern look, which not everyone likes.

  • Polystyrene
    Polystyrene is another type of plastic decking. The boards link together with little clips, which makes polystyrene decks really easy to install. Plus, if one board is damaged, you can easily remove and replace that one board without having to deconstruct the rest of the deck.

    Polystyrene decking is lightweight and durable. It does look like plastic, but it comes in a range of colors. The surface is also textured in such a way that it does not become slippery when wet, making polystyrene a good choice for pool decks.

If you're still looking for the perfect home near Round Rock, our real estate agents would be happy to help. Contact us soon to learn more about our services for buyers and sellers.

April
18

7 Pet-Safe Houseplants

Pet-Safe Houseplants

If you're a pet parent, you know that giving your pets a safe, healthy environment is a top priority. Whether you have a four-legged canine or a frisky feline, you want to protect your pet from dangers like injuries, diseases, and poisonous houseplants. To keep your pets safe, take some tips from our real estate agents, who suggest buying only non-toxic houseplants for your home.

Many homeowners don't realize that just a few nibbles from a poisonous plant can cause nausea and vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death to pets. If you're a pet owner and looking for Georgetown homes for sale, make sure to research indoor plants that are non-toxic to dogs and cats. Here are just a few that are safe for your pets.

  1. African Violets
    If your home gets a lot of indirect sunlight, African violets will fill your rooms with flowers in brilliant hues of pink, lavender, and purple. They thrive in 68–77 degree temperatures, as long as you keep them slightly watered and away from drafts. If your curious cat decides to eat the leaves or blooms, the plant may look wounded, but your cat will be fine.

  1. Baby Tears
    This plant's trailing tendrils were designed to attract curious cats. Even if you place this plant on high shelves or in hanging baskets, your clever kitty may still be tempted to investigate. But don't worry, it's perfectly safe for your kitty and a good choice for beginner green thumbs. Just choose a location with filtered light and warm temperatures, then keep the soil moist.

  1. Bird's Nest Ferns
    This squiggly green fern thrives on low light and humidity, so it's perfect in bathrooms and windows near the kitchen sink. It likes warmer temperatures and quickly adds organic appeal to indoor spaces. Bird's nest ferns grow well in pots and planters with loose, fast-draining soil. When the soil feels dry, just give it a little water and fertilizer in the spring and summer.

  1. Date Palms
    If you want to protect your pets and wow your guests, buy a few date palms for your home. With tall stems and delicate leaves, date palms, like Areca palms, bamboo palms, and Chinese fan palms, grow tall, making good floor plants that add height and texture to small rooms. For best growth, keep date palms and other types of palms in bright, indirect sunlight and don't over-water.

  1. Friendship Plants
    Friendship plants produce intricately-patterned bright green leaves that feel like velvet. They're lovely to look at and completely harmless to your pets. Since they are small plants that only grow 6–12 inches high, they make great decorative accents on shelves and tables. They tolerate low light with a few hours of sunlight each day and occasionally flower with pale pink buds.

  1. Orchids
    Few houseplants add as much elegant beauty to a home as orchids, and luckily they pose no dangers to dogs or cats. With tall stalks, large green leaves, and colorful flowers, orchids become focal points wherever they're placed. Orchids bloom each year for about three months. When the flowers die off, the blooms return the following season.

  2. Peperomia Plants
    Peperomia plants make great houseplants because they're easy to grow and they clean the air. There are many varieties, each with slightly different characteristics, but they all grow well in temperatures of 65–80 degrees with minimal watering. The watermelon peperomia has leaves that resemble watermelon rhine with distinct dark green stripes.

If you're interested in homes in the Georgetown area, contact us for more information on available properties and prices.

April
4

Clean Your Home Faster with These Tips

Cleaning Tips

Spring is here, which means so is spring cleaning. You don't need a whole day to clean your home as there are tricks that shorten the cleaning time. Whether you want to get it done quickly so you can relax or you need to get ready for a showing fast, our real estate agents have some shortcuts to get your house sparkling in no time.

  • Organize Clutter
    A clean house is characterized by clutter-free rooms. Don't wait until cleaning day to pick up toys and other items lying idle in the house. Instead, pick up clutter every day, so you have an easier time tidying up when cleaning the home. Another idea is to have storage areas for everything in the house. Laundry baskets and containers are some inexpensive storage solutions that shorten the tidying time.


  • Use Vinegar on Hard Water Stains
    Hard water stains on tubs, faucets, and glass shower doors can be hard to remove. Luckily, vinegar has an amazing ability to remove these stains, and you can use whichever type you have, including apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or cleaning vinegar. Spray the vinegar on any surface with hard water stains and leave a rag doused in the solution on any stubborn stains.


  • Clean Your Microwave with Lemon
    Cleaning the microwave is a daunting task, and many people procrastinate on cleaning it, giving grime more time to accumulate. However, all you need are fresh lemons to break down your microwave's gunk.


    Fill a bowl halfway with water and set it aside. Slice a fresh lemon in half, press the juice into the bowl, and drop both halves in the water as well. Leave the bowl in the microwave for about five minutes to let the lemon's acidity and steam loosen and dissolve the stains.

  • Use Multi-Purpose Cleaners in Bathrooms
    If you use several products to clean your bathroom, you will be amazed at the amount of time you save by using multi-purpose cleaners. These cleaners eliminate limescale, soap scum, and bacteria from various bathroom surfaces, including tubs, showers, mirrors, and shower doors. The cleaners are budget-friendly and versatile as you only need one powerful solution for a fresh bathroom.

  • Make Laundry Day Easier
    If you always dread laundry day because of overflowing hampers, try to do a little laundry every day or every few days to make things less overwhelming. This strategy works exceptionally well in busy households with children.

    Another tip is to use divided hampers, so you don't have to sort everything when you do laundry. Let family members know where to place dark and white pieces and delicates. Sock bags for each household member is another great idea if you don't want to sort through mismatched pairs.  


  • Carry Cleaning Supplies in a Tote or Apron
    Running back and forth to get cleaners, brushes, and rags on cleaning day wastes time. Instead, wear a kitchen apron with pockets to carry supplies around and shorten the cleaning time. You can also buy a plastic tote to keep cleaners, cloths, disinfectants, and other cleaning supplies. Keep this tote in a locked cabinet to restrict access to children.

Learning how to clean and disinfect your home fast can make your life easier. Contact us today to explore sparkling clean Cedar Park homes for sale.

February
14

5 Things to Do When Visiting a City You Might Move to

Move to Georgetown

Moving to a new city can be so exciting. But before you make it official, accept a job, and start looking for a place to live, you want to make sure this new city is a place you'll feel at home. Our real estate agents have worked with countless clients who are relocating, and they've learned a lot from these experiences. Below, they share some top things to do when visiting a city you might make your home. 

  • Stay in a neighborhood you'd like to live in.
    When visiting a city you're thinking about moving to, try to stay in a neighborhood where you'd like to live. Services like Airbnb make this easier. If possible, try to stay for at least three nights so you can get a true feel for the neighborhood, its personality, and its culture.

    Throughout your stay, try to pretend you actually live there. Go grocery shopping. Go to the gym. Go for a jog in the nearby park. You want to get a feel for what your normal, daily routine would be like if you moved.

  • Participate in your hobbies.
    Do you have a hobby you love, such as playing golf, hiking, birdwatching, or creating art? Before your visit, do some research, and find clubs and groups related to your hobby. Or, find the key places where locals engage with your hobby. Then, when you're in the new city, participate in your hobby. Hike the local trails, or book some studio time at a local art school. 

    If you find the local scene around your hobby engaging and enjoyable, this is a good sign you'll feel at home once you move there.

  • Walk around and explore.
    Set aside at least one afternoon to walk around the city and just explore. Perhaps you can start by looking at a few Georgetown homes for sale and then branch out from there. Discover what streets have the best coffee shops. Stop by parks that you pass on your way. 

    When walking around and exploring a city on foot, you get to take your time and really process what the place has to offer and the overall vibe it gives off. Either you'll be excited to see more, which is a sign you should move there — or you'll be itching to get back home, which means this isn't the place for you.

  • Research the cost of living.
    While you're visiting, pay attention to the cost of items and services. Do groceries cost more or less than they do in your current city? How does the cost of real estate compare?

    This research can tell you how much you need to earn in order to live comfortably in this new place. Allow it to guide your salary negotiations as you interview for new jobs. 

  • Talk to the locals.
    As you visit coffee shops, bars, and even local parks, don't be afraid to strike up conversations with people you meet. Ask them how they like living in the city. Ask what their favorite and least favorite things about the city are. Why did they move there? Do they recommend others move there, too? What advice do they have for a potential newcomer?

    Also, pay attention to how friendly the locals are. You probably want to move to a city where people are warm and welcoming, right?

Contact us if you've decided to move and are looking for the perfect home. 

November
8

National Espresso Day: Barista Tips to Use in Your Home

Espresso Tips

November 23rd is National Espresso Day, and it's an opportunity to truly savor and appreciate the role coffee plays in our lives. Our real estate agents wouldn't make it through a day without it, and we're not ashamed to admit that!

In honor of the occasion, we rounded a few crucial tips and tricks for all you home baristas out there. Whether you're looking to up your pour-over game or want to brew the perfect latte in the comfort of your kitchen, these tips will help. 

  1. Use Fresh Beans
    All the high-end equipment and perfectly honed brewing skills in the world won't help you if you're using old beans. When you buy coffee, choose beans from a local roaster (we're partial to Mi Mundo Coffeehouse & Roastery here in Round Rock) and look for the roast date stamped on the bag. 

  2. Keep it Sealed Up
    As long as we're talking about freshness, it's worth noting that coffee beans start to lose flavor and freshness the minute you open the bag. Once you've opened your package of freshly-roasted coffee beans, transfer them to an airtight container, and store them away from light at room temperature. Contrary to popular belief, it's best not to keep coffee in the freezer if you plan to use it within the next few weeks. 

  3. Buy a High-Quality Grinder
    The convenience of having your beans ground when you buy them is tempting. But you'll get more flavor out of every cup if you grind the beans yourself right before you brew. It's also important to use a high-quality grinder. 

  4. Use a Scale
    Trying to eyeball the amount of coffee grounds you want to use for each beverage leads to inconsistent brewing. Use a scale so you can dial in the precise amount of coffee and enjoy a perfect espresso every time. 

  5. Experiment with Coarseness
    The coarseness of the grind impacts the flavor of the resulting coffee in a big way. For espresso, a very fine grind is usually best. But if you find that your espresso machine takes too long to brew or that the resulting espresso tastes bitter, try a slightly courser grind. If you're simply making coffee using a French press or pour-over method, a courser grind is best for eliminating bitterness without losing flavor.

  6. Don't Use Hard Water
    This is one of the most common mistakes home baristas make. Hard water can potentially add off-flavors to your espresso, but that's not the biggest problem it causes. More importantly, hard water leaves scaly mineral deposits inside your espresso machine, which can be very difficult to clean. 

  7. Brew at the Right Temperature
    Water temperature is crucial to extracting all the desirable flavors from coffee beans without scalding them. For espresso, the ideal water temperature is 190 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. For making pour-over coffee, the ideal temperature is 195 to 205 degrees. No matter what kind of coffee beverage you are making, the water should never be boiling. 

  8. Keep Your Equipment Clean
    After making espresso, clean your espresso machine like you're a barista who just got done serving the morning rush. It's easy to put this off until tomorrow, but the longer you wait to clean up, the harder it will get. Leaving equipment dirty is not only a health hazard but can also shorten the lifespan of your precious coffee gear.

Here in Round Rock, we're lucky to have some truly amazing local coffee shops convenient to these Round Rock homes for sale. For coffee lovers, it's a perfect place to call home. Contact us today to learn more about life in Round Rock, TX!

August
2

What to Know When Building a Home in 2021

Building a Home 2021

If you're looking for a new home in 2021, you're certainly not alone. A housing shortage means that demand exceeds supply and that there are more buyers than sellers in the market. As a result, some potential buyers are choosing to build their own homes. This allows them to fully customize their homes.

Our real estate agents explain what you need to know when building a home in 2021:

  • It may cost more than you think.  
    Building a home may cost more in 2021 than in previous years. That's because builders are experiencing shortages of essential materials. More than 90% of builders surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders say they've experienced shortages of plywood, with almost that many reporting a shortage of windows and doors. This drives up the price for these materials as well as the cost of building a home.

  • Interest rates are still quite low.
    If you need to obtain financing for your new home, the news is good. Interest rates have been around 3% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the summer of 2021, which is historically very low. Although rates can sometimes be difficult to precisely predict, experts expect them to stay steady or rise only slightly by the end of the year, which makes financing a home build (or buying an existing home) easier financially.

  • Factor in the cost of land.
    Don't forget to factor in the cost of land if you're planning to build a home. Even if you already own the plot of land you'll be building on, you'll probably want to budget for some improvements. These can include a driveway, landscaping, and outdoor structures.

  • Consider healthy home features.  
    Homeowners have placed a higher priority on healthy home features in the past few years, and this trend has grown even more since the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider faucets controlled by motion sensors and smart home devices that minimize the number of times you'll touch surfaces like light switches and door locks. Features like low-VOC paint and an efficient HVAC system and insulation that helps improve indoor air quality are also important healthy home features.

  • Look beyond the open floor plan.  
    Open floor plans remain popular, but many homeowners now prefer a more formal layout. Think about what your family likes to do before deciding on a layout. If you like to entertain, for example, an open floor plan may better suit your needs. But if you have a family member who works at home or would like your home to have more private space, a more formal layout is probably the way to go in your new home.

  • Patience and flexibility are key.  
    You'll usually run into some unexpected delays and issues when you're building a home, so you'll need to be patient as well as flexible. This is particularly true in 2021 since shipping delays and material shortages are common. If you approach the project expecting some delays and are flexible about some of your decisions, you'll have a much better experience and be under less stress. 

Contact us to find out more about the local housing market and Cedar Park homes for sale. If you decide to build your own home, we can help you find the land that meets your needs and share information about specific neighborhoods and other areas. 

July
19

How to Pick a Pet Sitter

Pet Sitting Tips

Your pet is your best friend, so of course, you want to be there all the time. But sometimes, life gets in the way. Whether you're on vacation, in the process of moving, or out of town checking out Round Rock homes for sale, there are times when a trusted pet sitter is essential. 

But of course, you can't let just anybody take care of your furry friend. You need to know you're working with the best. Our real estate agents have a lot of experience connecting their clients to great pet sitters here in the Austin and Round Rock areas, and we have a few useful tips for finding and choosing the right pet sitting service. 

  1. Know Who Your Friends Are
    A lot of us have reliable friends, family members, or neighbors who we often entrust with the care of our pets. If your pet has formed a bond with this person, then that's a great option. It's always best for your cat or dog to spend time with someone they know and trust, especially in your own home. But there are situations when this may not be an option. Perhaps you're traveling longer or more frequently, or you simply don't want to put pressure on your friends and neighbors. In that case, it may be time to consider a professional pet sitting service. 

  2. Check Credentials
    Anybody can say they're a pet sitter. That doesn't necessarily mean they're experienced and qualified. Real professional pet sitting companies should have a business license and be fully bonded and insured. Pet sitters should also have undergone a criminal background check and received proper training. Be sure to ask if they've been trained in pet CPR and first aid. 

  3. Ask for References and Read Reviews
    One of the best ways to determine if a pet sitter is right for you is to find out what others think. There's no substitute for firsthand experience. So it's always a good idea to ask a pet sitter for references, but you can also go deeper. Unbiased online reviews can shed a lot of light on how a pet sitting company is viewed by its customers. Keep in mind that one bad review shouldn't make or break someone—anybody can have a bad experience—but if you notice multiple past customers making similar complaints, that's a definite red flag. 

  4. Do a Meet-and-Greet
    It goes without saying that your fur baby and your pet sitter will have to get along! The first step is to schedule a meet-and-greet. Depending on your pet's personality, you may want the first meeting to take place outside of your home. This is especially the case if you have a very protective or high-anxiety dog. If the first outdoor meeting proves successful, the next step is to spend some time with your pet and pet sitter inside your home. You should be there for the first meeting, and if it goes well, perhaps schedule a short pet-sitting session before going on any long trips. 

  5. Establish Open Communication
    Communication between you and your pet sitter is key. You need to be able to reach them any time (and vice versa), especially while you're out of town. Make sure your pet sitter is comfortable with open communication and is willing to give you regular updates.

Moving to a new home always presents challenges, and finding the right pet sitting service is just one of them. Contact us today to learn more about how our team can help you find your dream home in Austin, Round Rock, and the surrounding areas. 

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