AJF Inspections provides our clients’ homes with every type of inspection you could possibly need to make sure the infrastructure of the building is in great shape. Watch the video above to learn more about what services AJF can provide you.
Entering the Empty Nester phase of life will either leave you in a puddle of tears or feeling excitement for the next chapter of their life…and yours. Perhaps you feel both ends of the emotional spectrum.
That chapter is inevitable. And it opens many options when it comes to your home. While some people choose to downsize after the kids move out, some people want to stay in their homes.
As you rethink your home, what changes do you want to make that reflect this new chapter? You have probably spent years defining your decorating decisions based on the needs of your children. It is time to look at your home with fresh eyes to decide how to make it fit your new needs and wants moving forward.
REORGANIZE AND DECLUTTER
This is often the most emotional step after becoming an Empty Nester. Take it at a pace that is comfortable for you, going room by room to purge closets and get rid of things that no longer serve a purpose. Create a keepsake box that you can send along with your kids to their new homes and keep a keepsake box for yourself if there are things you are not ready to part with.
Take a good look at the items in each room. What items will you still use? What things do you still love and want to keep? Everything else can be sold or donated. If you need ideas to help you decide what items you could move out the door, CLICK HERE.
TACKLE THAT RENOVATION
When you are busy raising kids, there never seems to be enough time to tackle the renovations you have wanted to make. Now you can transform your home to meet your needs while also creating more resale value for the future. Kitchens and bathrooms are the best places to spend renovation money.
RECLAIM THE BACKYARD
Now that the backyard no longer needs to function as a playground, you can transform it into an outdoor retreat. Add an outdoor kitchen for entertaining, hang a swing to relax in the shade, and add the landscaping you avoided when your kids were kicking a ball around the yard.
RETHINK EMPTY BEDROOMS
Now that you have empty bedrooms in your home, think about how you want to live in your home going forward. Perhaps you want an exercise room, a hobby or craft room, or a luxurious guest room. Find inspiration on great sites like Houzz, Amber Interiors, and of course, Pinterest.
UPDATE LARGER SPACES
Our large spaces were great areas where the kids and their friends could gather to build forts, eat pizza, and play games. One or two adults will not use a large space the way you did when kids were always around. Add a coffee bar, a wine cabinet, or a bistro area. Trade your sectional for a cozy sofa for cuddling your partner.
If you get stuck or struggle with rethinking your home without kids, consider a professional organizer. We recommend Caitlyn Estes with Project Genesis.
As our cities grow larger and our lights get brighter, many urban and suburban areas are losing their view of the night sky. Light pollution even keeps us from seeing the Milky Way during summer nights. In January 2018, Fountain Hills responded to this problem and became the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community.
Although municipal lighting codes are vital for dark sky preservation, homeowners can also take steps to minimize their contribution to light pollution. Use these simple and inexpensive tips:
Shielded lighting. Light fixtures should shield the light to direct it downward where it is needed and prevent it from polluting the sky with scattered light.
Warmer color temperature. New LED technology gives us warmer colored lights that are easier on the eyes and reduce light scatter. Cool temperature lights can cause temporary night blindness for drivers and disrupt melatonin levels that affect healthful sleep. They also scatter light from air particles, adding to our light pollution.
Avoid uplighting. Landscaping lights that point upward to illuminate trees and buildings are an unnecessary culprit of light pollution. Illuminate your yard with creative positioning and fixtures for a pleasing effect that is environmentally sensitive.
Control lighting. Separately zoned lights with timers, motion sensors, and dimmers allow lights to be on only when needed or to be turned down as necessary.
Refrain from light trespassing. Many municipalities restrict light that trespasses onto a neighbor’s property or into the street. Better light positioning and shielding keep light right where you want it.
Light pollution has been linked to endangering wildlife and harming human health. Wildlife becomes disoriented in navigating direction and knowing day from night. Human circadian rhythms (wakefulness and sleep) become disrupted and cancer risk is increased. Smart lighting practices protect our health as much as it does the views of the night sky.
When it comes to safety, the Chicago Alley Lighting Project found that when alley lighting was increased from 90-watts to 250- watts, crimes in those areas increased. Smart lighting directs light to where it is needed and creates a wonderful balance between safety and starlight.
Dark sky-compliant lighting is not about diminishing safety or aesthetics, but about smarter practices for better health, a better environment, and a chance for future generations to enjoy a view of the stars.
For more information about dark sky-friendly lighting and the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association, visit http://fhdarksky.com/
Phoenix Magazine recently released their “Best of Phoenix” Awards for distinguished real estate agents and teams from across the Valley. The Magazine describes this segment in its May 2022 Edition as an “exclusive resource to find the Valley’s highest-performing agents, from brokerage-provided lists of top producers to our annual editorial round-up of the most creative, dependable agents in Greater Phoenix.”
In the magazine’s Top Real Estate Profiles segment, which can be viewed by clicking here, the Sonoran Lifestyle Team was honored as one of “Phoenix’s Top Producers” for 2022!
The Team was listed with the Gold Group of Phoenix Top Producers, for teams with 3-5 members who sold more than $35 million in the past year. In 2021, The Team assisted over 80 families in the purchase and sale of Fountain Hills area properties, for over $60 million in production, well above the threshold for the Gold Group. For this, a whole page was dedicated to the achievements and unique qualities of the Team that make them stand out from the crowd.
If you’re looking to buy or sell and would like to work with one of Phoenix’s top-producing teams, head to SonoranLifestyle.com to learn more about the team, receive a free home valuation, see listings in the area, read about what’s going on around town, and more!
As the temperatures rise, you’re going to want to make sure that your home’s air conditioning is in its best condition. Luckily, we have some recommendations for local businesses that can help you with your A/C unit.
When one of our clients’ homes needs air conditioning servicing, here’s who we call:
A Savings is a local air conditioning service founded by Jason Steele, who wanted to create an A/C service company based on fair and moral values with quality workmanship. If you live in or around Fountain Hills, you probably see their trucks with the notable chicken and the slogan “Keep Your Cool without losing your feathers!”
The technicians at A Savings know Air Conditioning systems down to the smallest detail. From system checks to installations to routine maintenance and repairs, they’ve got you covered!
Shadrach Plumbing & Cooling was created in 2021 when Josh and Christina Thompson acquired Fountain Hills’ Luker Plumbing. They specialize in both air conditioning and general plumbing, offering free estimates and 365/24/7 emergency services! Shadrach will handle all your installation, repair, replacement, and maintenance needs for your home’s air conditioning.
The Sonoran Desert has a magical quality that draws millions of people to live in it. The lack of snow and humidity beckons some to come, and the crystal-clear night sky calls to others. But whatever your reason for living in the desert, you can bring its essence indoors to make your home feel seamless with the outdoors.
Your floor is one of the largest visual spaces in your home. Whether you choose wood or wood plank tile, bringing in a wooden look instantly brings in the warm feelings of nature.
If you have lived in the desert for any length of time, you have noticed that the desert has a unique smell when it rains. That is the smell of oils released from creosote bushes, also known as chaparral. If you love the smell, bring some inside. Place a sprig of it in your shower and let the steam release the scent that smells like rain.
Copper is one of the “5 C’s of Arizona” and an important part of our state’s early economy. Add some touches of metal throughout your home with decorative copper bowls, vases, and candlesticks.
Another of the “5 C’s of Arizona” is cotton. Pima cotton is considered one of the finest kinds of cotton in the world and was perfected with the help of the Pima tribe of Arizona. Today, it is Arizona’s leading export. We produce enough cotton to make one pair of jeans for every American man, woman, and child each year! Bring some cotton into your home with some luxurious Pima cotton sheets and towels.
CACTUS & SUCCULENTS
Give your home the look of the Southwest by choosing small cactus and beautiful succulents for your houseplants. Continue the desert look with copper or pottery plant pots. Finish the look with a few macramé hangers to give it the modern desert vibe.
You may not be able to see the stars from inside your home, but you can set up a small telescope on your patio or balcony to take advantage of the desert’s beautiful night skies. This is especially true if you live outside of the metro areas, or in a Dark Sky Community like Fountain Hills.
If you have taken day trips around the state, find some of your favorite photos and frame them. Create a fun gallery wall or have your best work printed on canvas.
Bring some warmth to your tile floors with beautiful Southwestern or Moroccan-inspired rugs. A well-chosen rug can be the linchpin that ties it all together for a finished look.
What comes to your mind when you think of poolside luxury? Giant, fluffy towels? A pina colada with an umbrella standing on the pineapple wedge? Swaying in a hammock in the shade while you doze off?
Scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, watching episodes of HGTV, and visiting resorts and spas can leave us wondering how we can inject some luxury into our own backyard pool area.
If it’s time to up your game with your poolside space, consider giving some attention to these features:
Take nighttime swimming and pool parties to a new level by switching your underwater light to one that allows you to change colors. Include other ambient lightings such as lighting along the edges of the pool deck and overhead strands of hanging lights. These soft touches of light go a long way to creating a spa-like feel in the evening hours.
Adding a fire feature can double as a piece of art if you can find something with great eye appeal. Gone are the days of stockpiling wood and smelling like a campfire after an evening in the backyard. Today’s gas fire features are as easy as a flip of the switch and add a dramatic flair.
The Arizona sun is harsh, so shade is a must when enjoying the pool area by day. Place umbrellas in your seating areas and strategically place a large one to shade a section of the pool. While we all need some sunshine on our skin for good health, it’s important to protect it while hanging out at the pool.
Create several seating areas with a variety of options around the pool. Along with comfortable lounge chairs with small side tables for drinks, consider adding a hammock. Nothing says “relaxation” like a hammock! A porch swing is a lovely way to stay in the shade while swaying yourself into a relaxing doze. A backyard daybed with a great shade will scream “Luxury!” in any backyard.
OVERSIZED POTTED PLANTS
Whether your backyard has an abundance of trees and plants or not, a collection of oversized potted plants around the pool and patio area adds a cozy, tropical flair. Mix it up with a combination of annuals and perennials for year-round eye appeal. Tuck in small solar lights for a dramatic effect at night.
Everyone loves the soothing sound of water. You can go big by adding a water feature to the pool itself, like a waterfall. For a more budget-friendly option, tuck a water feature in among your potted plants and add a birdbath for the neighborhood birds.
Arizona summers can be scorchers. Although the pool goes a long way in keeping you cool, misters can do much to increase your comfort for longer outdoor enjoyment and entertaining. Misters can lower the temperatures in a space by as much as 30 degrees!
If you have a lot of guests during pool season, you might consider creating a changing cabana. This can be as simple as ordering a fabric cabana online. Or go bigger by transforming an unused shed or even building a pool house!
When you increase the luxury around your own backyard pool, you just might opt for a Staycation to enjoy your own little paradise.
At the annual RE/MAX Sun Properties Awards Night, agents and teams were recognized for their sales achievements over the course of 2021. RE/MAX Sun Properties sold over $177 million last year alone, which is a new record for the franchise.
The Sonoran Lifestyle Team also reached a new milestone over the past year. RE/MAX International awarded the team the Diamond Club TeamAward, one of RE/MAX International’s highest awards!
The Team managed to end the year having sold an astounding $60,348,897, nearly entirely in Fountain Hills! This is a huge achievement, with production increasing by 89% compared to the previous year.
Dori Wittrig, the Designated Broker of the Team, says “Thank you so much to the 80 families who trusted us with their purchases and sales during the year!”
Congratulations to the Sonoran Lifestyle Team for a great year! Here’s to an even better 2022!
No matter the size of your home, there are simple things you can do to turn it into a luxurious living space. Even if your budget is small, with some creative ingenuity you can incorporate these nine tips to increase the feeling of luxury throughout your home.
Ruthlessly declutter and keep it clean. The quickest way to get started is to only keep items that are of practical use along with a few things that you love. Our possessions tend to give us a sense of self, yet we can’t live a life of luxurious freedom until we let go of the superfluous items that clutter our space. Keeping your home clutter-free and tidy creates a sense of relaxation and calmness.
Blend tech into your space. We have learned how to do a good job of hiding plumbing and household wiring, but we’re still learning how to make our tech look tidy. When cables and devices are in full view, they distract our eyes from the luxury we are trying to portray. Find creative ways to hide or cover the tv, routers, game consoles, and cables so they blend in with the surroundings.
Bring in texture. Texture goes a long way in bringing a luxurious feel to every room. Think about creating layers of soft velvet, airy feathers, cool metals, smooth glass, grainy wood, and earthy leather. This creates depth and the feeling of a mature space.
Add shapes. A variety of shapes create great eye appeal. If your rooms only have squared edges and flat surfaces, consider bringing in elements that play with shape. This can be done with furnishings and décor. Experiment with curves, spirals, sunbursts, and naturally formed objects.
Natural elements. There is a growing interest in living with nature and caring for the environment. You can use these trends to add another layer of luxury by bringing in plants, rocks, or animal-related items. There’s a growing trend among designers to use recycled and recyclable materials and to find ways to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Aged items. Carefully selected older items bring a sense of experience to a luxury space. Often the value of the item is in the story that accompanies it. In a decluttered home, a few well-chosen sentimental pieces will stand out, catching the attention of your guests and giving you the opportunity to share a special memory about the object.
Treat the windows. This is an area that’s worth a splurge. Spend the money to install tailored drapes in each room. They add softness to spaces with a lot of hard furniture, creating balance.
Art. Large pieces of framed art can pull it all together for a collected look that is an expression of you. Purchasing from local artists is less expensive, and even old frames can be updated with fresh paint.
The finer details. Little finishing touches in a decluttered home add the final layer of luxury. Place fresh flowers, or even high-quality faux flowers, throughout the home. Add a few brass pieces for a bit of shine. If you can’t afford large marble countertops, select a smaller piece such as a small end table or coffee table. Add dimmer lights throughout to create a fitting ambiance for every occasion.
When cultivating a luxurious look and feel, consider the whole picture of your home. Each object tells a story of who you are, how you live, and what you value. Whether you live in a condo or a sprawling estate, a thoughtful selection of pieces will create luxury that will put a smile on your face.
It’s never too early to start preparing your home for the onslaught of scorching summer temperatures. While those temperatures are great for lounging around the pool, they can be rough on your home and outdoor equipment. They also make you gulp hard when you see your power bill.
Stay one step ahead of the heat, especially if you plan to leave for the summer. These simple steps will give you peace of mind so you can sail into summer without a sweat.
SERVICE YOUR A/C UNIT
This is one of the most important things you can do in preparation for summer. Schedule an appointment with a professional air company. They will check refrigerant levels, electrical components, motors, evaporator coils, condenser belts, and more. These maintenance checks can uncover potential issues early when they are still easy and cheap to repair. It will also give you peace of mind to know your unit is ready to get you through the triple-digit temps.
REGULARLY REPLACE AIR FILTER
The single most important bit of A/C maintenance you can do yourself to extend the life of your unit and keep it running efficiently is changing the air filter. During the summer, it needs to be replaced every month since the unit runs for hours every day.
FIX AIR DUCT LEAKS
You pay a premium for cool air during the summer, so don’t let it escape through leaks before it has a chance to cool your home. If you have rooms that seem to feel stuffy or never really cool all the way, it could be a sign you have a leaky duct. Other signs include increased energy bills without increased usage, faster dust buildup, and dirty ducts. Making repairs can save you hundreds of dollars every year and extend the life of your unit by not overworking it.
Insulation tends to compact over time, resulting in less coverage. This is particularly important around ductwork and pipes. Adding insulation is a messy job! If you decide to do it yourself, be sure to use a respirator, not just a dust mask.
INSTALL CEILING FANS
Ceiling fans help you feel cooler without turning the thermostat down by distributing the cool air. Bedrooms and living rooms are important areas to add ceiling fans and will help cut down the cost of your electric bill.
ADD A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
Programming a thermostat for the way you live in your home can make a big difference on your electric bill. If you are gone for several hours every day, program those hours to raise the temperature by a few degrees, then have it return to your favorite temperature right before you’re due to be home. There is no sense in cooling an empty house all day. If you have pets, be sure to take them into consideration when setting your programs.
PREP WINDOWS AND DOORS
Windows and doors are your home’s greatest weakness. Check for leaks by feeling for drafty air both inside and out. Fill gaps with caulking or new weather stripping. Shade windows with reflective film, roller shades, window screens or sunscreen curtains.
ADD A PATIO MISTING SYSTEM
A little spray of water can go a long way in turning a patio into a backyard oasis in the summer. With a misting system, you can enjoy more outdoor entertainment throughout the hottest parts of the year.
The summer heat and sun are harsh on our homes and power bill, but with some advance preparation, you won’t have to sweat it.