Real Estate can be a huge money maker, but it is very hard to understand without lots of experience and help along the way. 3 years ago, I walked into it thinking, no biggy, I can sell our Brooklyn Co-op on Zillow, For Sale by Owner (FSBO for those in the know). Why do I want to spend $30K on commission to realtors!? Am I right? Wrong... I failed. Hired a realtor, and they failed, too (partly because we were both over confident, and also because we didn't follow their suggestions for fixing up the home). Two years later we came into it knowing what we knew, hired a new realtor and finally succeeded in selling it quickly and at a great profit to boot. After all of this, here's what I learned and would like to share with you!
Watch it all in this YouTube video or read it below!
What You Need to Know About FSBO
(For Sale By Owner):
Photography is IMPORTANT!!!
If listing FSBO, you definitely should consider hiring a professional real estate photographer. They know the best angles, how to use wide angle lenses to get the whole room into a shot, how to perfect the lighting, heck they can even edit in blue sky through your windows if it was raining on the shoot day (they did on mine, below right)! HA! Professional photos are almost always covered by the realtor's agency, which is a big plus! I'll show you an example of our home below, with my DIY photos when I did FSBO (on left) vs. the professional photos after decluttering with our realtor (on right). In the 2 years between listings, we replaced the old foggy windows (realtor's suggestion), did a mini kitchen renovation (our choice), put a ton in storage (realtor's suggestion), and removed the gate from our fire escape window (realtor's suggestion). I've seen some listings that were so horribly done, even had dirty dishes or people in the shots!! Just a big no to that guys, no no no!!! First impressions are so important! You don't want to mislead people, which is why I'm not a fan of the virtually staged photos showing what it *could* look like after a renovation, for example, because then they walk into your home and it's a big let down. But you can show it in its best light with great photography, for sure!
My Take on Using a Realtor:
OK there you have it! What I learned from a failed attempt at FSBO, a failed attempt with a realtor, and then finally a great success with a realtor! If you're looking for a great realtor in Brooklyn / NYC, we loved ours - Juliette Pannone, Licensed RE Salesperson with Corcoran, who says "Think of hiring a real estate agent as adding an advocate for yourself to help navigate what is sure to be an emotional, time sensitive, and financially important process."
We're currently renting and will be looking to buy in a couple of years and you can be sure, we'll be using a realtor to help us through that!! If you have any tips or insight, I'd love for you to share via a comment below!!!
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The weather is cooling down and you're still "safe at home", so it's time to make sure you're stocked up on ways to be warm and cozy, bonus if they spark a little joy at the same time, am I right!? Here are some items I'm loving this fall, and where you can grab your own!
**disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, you don't pay more but we'll receive a commission from sales made after clicking**
Cozy Teddy Bear Hoodies & Cardigans
I recently bought the Dokotoo Women's Fuzzy Fleece Cardigan (below left) which is a #1 best seller on Amazon. It's 95% polyester 5% spandex and is about the softest most cuddliest thing I have ever worn. I'm obsessed with it. My kids are obsessed with it. I'm half ready to buy one in every color LOL! Sure I kinda look like I'm wearing a bathrobe but I just don't even care, it's that comfy and warm!!
Fleece Lined Leggings, Joggers & Sweats
If you're running around the house all day in jeans, good for you. But I can assure you, I am not. No way. Jeans and their potential muffin topping discomfort are only for public life. Around the house it's all about leggings and joggers for me!
I've been living in a pair of black sweat pants basically since the start of September when the weather started to chill, and I realized, I need some more color in my life. Just "invested" in the esstive ultra soft fleece joggers in Marled Smokey Blue (below left) and they're great!! Fitted bottom, super soft, great colors to choose from!! I also recently got the Diravo Fleece Lined Leggings in Royal Blue (pictured below second from left) and they are SO comfy, thick, and warm. I can't attest to whether or not they'll pill, but so far so good!
Cozy Slippers & Socks
We've been living the NYC apartment life for many years, where you have no control over the heat and it's like 85*F in there in February! It was wonderful! But now we're in a house and pay for our heat. So... we need to dress warmer!! So I'm all about warm socks and grippy slippers now!! Got the (below left) Fralosha slipper sock and they're super soft!! Was on the fence about getting something with a firmer and more padded bottom, but decided to go for these which are more flexible like a sock so I can keep them on the sofa for lounging!
Tumblers, Mugs & Decor
"Fall Is My Second Favorite F word", I mean, come on, that sparks so much F'in joy in my life! ha!
Keep the Draft Out
You want to stay warm and also cut energy costs (and wastefulness) am I right? Don't forget to block drafts coming from doors and windows! We got this magnetic door draft blocker for our doors and it is doing a great job at keeping out the cold air and also the creepy crawlies (we had a bit of a gap between the door and frame!!
Supplements for Fall & Winter
As winter approaches, we get less time in the sun and need to be sure we don't become Vitamin D deficient. So, it's not just time for Pumpkin Spice everything but think also about your diet, and consider adding some extra sources of Vitamin D (but first, talk to your doctor regarding your health specifically, of course)! You might also want to talk to them about probiotics and other immune supporting supplements like these:
For Your Hot Showers
If you have colored hair, you may have been ordered to keep to cool showers, but in winter!? I mean, come on!! So, consider a coloring conditioner to keep it from fading, despite wonderfully hot showers! I've loved oVertone but am gonna give this one by Keracolor a try soon! Also, keep your skin moisturized (I know, hot showers are bad for this too)... be sure to moisturize all skin with a thick lotion or balm right after showering, while skin is still slightly moist. YoRo Naturals Organic Manuka Honey Skin Soothing Cream is an AMAZING one, all natural and safe for the whole family, even babies! And if you have eczema or stubborn dry flakey spots, it's a MUST HAVE!
We've been on lockdown for months, and winter is coming. Time to make sure you have some fun and creative ways for your kids to burn energy and stay fit indoors!! I've been researching for my own family, and here are some that I think look AH-MAY-ZING (no personal reviews on these... yet. I'm still trying to narrow down which items will be a good fit for my kids and home)!!! There's something for every budget here, whether you're in a tiny rental apartment or massive home! Have an active indoor toy you love?? Leave a comment below!!
Disclaimer: affiliate links below, I'll earn commission from purchases made after clicking.
Indoor Jungle Gyms for Big Kids:
Safety first please - make sure to install these properly and put down a sufficiently thick padded safety mat underneath (check with manufacturer for recommended minimum thickness). Falls happen!
Indoor Jungle Gyms for Toddlers:
Indoor Swings for Kids & Babies:
Indoor Trampolines for Kids:
Other Indoor Active Toys for Kids:
Rock climbing, see saws, interactive video games, and more!
Active Nintendo Switch Video Games:
If you're like my family, you've been pretty much locked down staying at home for a good part of the last 8 months. Cooking wayyyyyy more than I was used to, researching endlessly to find safe places to take the kids on the weekend or to dine outdoors. Worried about illness, about school, about our SANITY! When Woodloch Resort (voted the #1 Family Resort in the United States) invited us on a weekend getaway I was a little nervous to be honest. We'd been there twice before and it is one of my all time favorite family vacation spots. But during a pandemic!? Turns out I had no need to worry, and it was just what the doctor ordered!! Sanity restored. Beautiful memories made. It was Heaven on Earth. Watch our video for as close to an in-person experience as I can give you, and read on for details!!
Pandemic Protocols - Safety First!!
Woodloch is on top of the game when it comes to pandemic protocols and covid safety. You're asked to take everyone's temperatures before heading to the resort, and upon arrival your car is directed to their station where you are greeted cheerfully with a masked and gloved staff member who takes everyone's temperatures (still in the car) without contact via one of those temporal thermometers. Once everyone passes, you're provided bracelets which prove you passed the temperature scan and have free rein of the seemingly endless amenities on their 1500 acre property with beautiful forest and a lake! Signs are everywhere asking you to wear a mask, at the front desk they have baskets with clean pens and used pens, in the kid's arts & crafts room they have bins for used items to be cleaned, heck, even in our guest room the remotes were in plastic baggies!
They opened back up in June and are currently limited to half capacity, with the option to dine in or grab a to-go bag from the dining room. They are using a very handy app for menus and to schedule reservations for many activities so they can limit capacity, meaning you no longer have to deal with lines and you feel like a total VIP with private sessions of things like go carts and bumper cars!
No matter what you're into, you'll find PLENTY to do at Woodloch! My family's personal outdoor favorites are the go carts (min 58" to drive, but kids 36"+ can ride with an adult), junior go carts (48"-58" to drive), scenic boat tour, mini golf, paddle boats, bumper boats, 2 playgrounds including one that was brand new for us with simply massive slides, and just walking around the property and exploring the beautiful nature.
If you keep your eyes peeled you'll be entertained by speedy chipmunks, curious squirrels, meandering deer, robins, Koi fish, and more! There are signs to watch out for bear but we've yet to come across any... On Sundays they also have animals brought over for pony rides and petting. During our stay they had bunnies, a 3 day old lamb, 2 month old calf, and 4 week old twin goats (all with their mamas, of course)!!
Our first stop, every time, is the Woodloch Forest Indoor Playground. It's a massive jungle gym structure that my kids are just bonkers for. They also have a cute baby/toddler area for ages 5 and under. Socks and masks required, no reservations needed but the hours are limited so check the app and schedule your day accordingly! We like to give our kids 30 minutes there at least daily! My personal favorite indoor activity this year was the bumper cars, because it was the first year every person in my family was tall enough to drive their own car (min 40"), AND due to the pandemic, you have to make a reservation and get a private session!!! Screaming. Laughing. Racing. Spinning. Crashing. So so so so so much fun!!! Other indoor favorites are the arts & crafts room (no reservations needed and you could use any supplies you want or use their pre-made kits for that day's suggested craft), the indoor pool (with kiddy splash zone, baby pool, family-friendly jacuzzi, adult-only jacuzzi and sauna, and big slide and splash zone - my kids were old enough for the slide but not able to do it yet since they can't swim independently without floatation devices yet).
When staying at the all-inclusive Woodloch Resort, you have the option of the 2 or 3 meal plan. We always go for the 3-meals a day because, quite honestly, they have the best food of any of the hotels and resorts we have been to! SO GOOD!!! As mentioned above, you currently have the option of dining in the dining room (some lunches are outdoor BBQ's) or having them pack up your meal to go (if worried about indoor dining). But, they did have the dining room at half capacity with tables spread out so we decided to keep it simple and eat in the dining room. Our table was right by the windows facing the lake, so, how could we pass that up!? They always have a couple of appetizers and several main entrees to choose from, family style sides for the table, and a couple of desserts to choose from. Food comes out really fast, and portions are HUGE but if you need to order more or something else, no worries, go for it!
It wouldn't be an all-inclusive resort without offering entertainment every night, now would it!? And they have got some great stuff going on!! They do require you get tickets, so they can make sure they stay under the safe capacity max, and we went to the 7pm show both nights and it was nearly empty. Sad for the performers but pretty awesome for us!! The first night we saw a band called Nowhere Slow and they did a medley of top songs from each decade, from 60's to to today. It was SO fun, our girls danced their booties off. Heads up though, it's VERY loud at the front of the house. We realized if you move to the back it was much better for our kids' sensitive ears. The second night was a comedy act which we didn't stay the whole time for, the content was definitely G-rated and kid-friendly but was just kind of above holding our young kids' attention. They were exhausted anyway, so calling it an early night was smart. In past stays, our kids were just too young to stay up for the nightly entertainment though we did make a splurge for a magician show last time and it was awesome. They even had my son up on the stage!
We were provided with an Edgewater Suite in the Springbrook Section of the resort, which is very convenient as you don't have to go outside to reach the indoor pool! It's just a short walk to the main lodge dining area and all activities! 2 bathrooms (1 with a shower, 1 with a tub), 2 queens in the bedroom and a pull out sofa in the living room, a microwave and mini fridge, and large closet / luggage room. It was the perfect size for our family! It did seem like musical chairs the first night with the kids figuring out where they would sleep. They finally settled with the girls sharing the sofa bed in the living room, my son taking a queen to himself, and my husband and I sharing the other queen. It had a balcony with a gorgeous view of the property and lake.
It happened to be the weekend before our twins' 5th birthday so I mentioned it at check in and they said they'd do something special! And they did!! At dinner they announced their birthday (along with several other birthdays and anniversaries) and the girls lit up hearing their names!!! Then, they brought over two cupcakes the size of their heads while singing happy birthday! Such a fun way to celebrate!!
Home Away from Home!!
Once you visit Woodloch for the first time, during a pandemic or not, you'll understand why families go back again and again and again. Some decide to buy a vacation home on the property, others simply book their family vacation there annually. Because, it really does feel like a home away from home. A much more fun and relaxing home, that is! Every single staff member you run across is friendly and goes above and beyond helping you in whatever way they can. On the last morning, after checkout, my husband lost his wallet. They sent someone back to the room with me to check, and then offered to drive me to all the spots we had been to that morning. Eventually we gave up looking and continued on with our day. A couple of hours later I got a phone call that the go cart staff member had found the wallet, and they brought it to us at the indoor playground. We really lucked out that they found it before we left, and were so incredibly grateful!! Friendly and helpful staff can really make or break a resort, and at Woodloch, they are everything!! Of course the grounds are spectacularly beautiful, the food is amazing, the activities are endless. No wonder they've been voted the Best Family Resort in America. You just have to go see for yourself!!! Located in Hawley, Pennsylvania, it's just a quick drive from NYC (they also have a shuttle from the bus stop if you don't have a car)!.
Don't miss our videos from our previous stays at Woodloch!! Summer 2016 and Winter 2018 (boy oh boy have our kids grown!!!):
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!