How to Determine the Quality of Your Leather Furniture

Finding out the quality of furniture at a furniture store can be difficult. Product descriptions are written with the goal of getting you to buy. What’s more, floor sales employees will boast about the quality of their “genuine bonded leather,” how easy it is to clean and how long it lasts.

What many people don’t know is that words like “genuine” don’t mean “real” leather, but rather a grade of leather. Genuine leather is, in fact, the second worst type of leather in terms of quality and durability.

To help you avoid this and other blunders at the furniture store, we’ve written a simple guide to furniture leather that aid you in making the most informed decision possible the next time you’re at the furniture store. After all, furniture is expensive, and you want to make sure you get the best option for you and your family.

Leather grades

Bonded. The most basic thing to understand about leather are the grades. At the bottom of the list, or the lowest grade leather, is bonded leather. The word “leather” is actually generous in this scenario because bonded leather is really made up of fragments of leftover leather that have been glued together (or “bonded”) with latex or poly.

Bonded leather is often used for furniture because large items like sofas require so much of it. Manufacturers won’t soon tell you just how much of the sofa is comprised of leather and how much of it is composed of latex, so be wary of spending a lot of money on bonded leather furniture.

Genuine. Genuine leather, also known as “corrected grain” leather has artificial grain applied to its surface. This top grain is designed to increase the visual appeal of the leather by changing the texture and pigmentation to create different colors.

While genuine leather is a step above bonded leather, it is also subject to wear as the surface isn’t true leather.

Suede. Suede is a type of “split grain” leather, meaning that the top of the piece of leather has been removed and sanded forming the soft, suede texture and color we are all familiar with.

Top and full grain. The highest quality leathers are top and full grain. Top grain has had the split removed which makes it both easier to work with as well as softer and more flexible. Full grain, on the other hand has not had the split removed and is often unbuffed and unsanded. It isn’t as common to see this type of leather used in furniture because the imperfections are often removed in favor of a more visually congruent leather. However, since full grain hasn’t had any layers removed, it is easily the most durable type of leather.

Shopping tips

Now that you know more about the types of leather, here are some tips for when you hit the furniture store.

  • Each manufacturer may use their own numbering system for grading leather, so don’t count on them being accurate.

  • Treated leather, in spite of seeming lower quality, may be more resistant to stains and thus preferable for a family with kids and pets.

  • Leather furniture that has received minimum treatment and includes the top grain requires specific cleaning. Don’t attempt to condition the leather with oils like you might a leather shoe that has been subject to the elements. Rather, use warm, damp, soft cloth to wipe down the leather every month or so. Soaps and cleaning solutions can do more harm than good to quality leather.

Green Living Tips: Reduce Your Electricity Usage

One of the first places we think to cut back on to conserve energy and save money is electricity. However, there are a lot of everyday habits we often overlook that not only keep more money in our wallets in the long run but are also cheap to do!

Below are a few cheap and easy habits you can make a part of your everyday routine that lower your electricity usage in the home:

Start with the basics – I’m sure you’re all too familiar with this one from when you were a child, or perhaps you say them to your own child: turn off the lights when the room is not in use. You can take this a step further by unplugging an appliance or device when it is not in use. Electronics can actually use electricity even when powered down but still plugged in. An easy way to to do this is by plugging your items into a power strip so that when they are not in use you can simply flip off their power supply with one easy motion.

Bright idea – CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs use less energy to provide light than traditional incandescent bulbs. This is because incandescent bulbs need to first heat up the filament which becomes so hot it glows white and thus provides light. CFL’s produces significantly less heat and that’s what makes it much more effective than traditional bulbs. So while opting for CFL bulbs is a pricier purchase up front over incandescent ones you will save money over time as they not only save energy but have a longer lifespan as well.

Summertime Saving – When it’s warm out opting to hang dry clothes instead of putting them in the dryer can save in the long run. Most of the energy used when washing clothes is actually used from the electric dryer. Skipping the air conditioner, a big energy hog, in favor of fans is another great way to cut your electric bill and conserve energy.

Wintertime Saving – Turning down the thermostat by two degrees from your desired temperature can make such a big difference over the colder months. Remember to dress warmly during the cold months, even inside, and you can keep your home at a lower temperature while saving electricity and conserving energy. Further lowering the thermostat while you are out of the home will also save you in the long run. Adding insulation around water pipes, and even your hot water heater if it’s an older model, will help save on the energy it takes to heat up your hot water.

Whether you implement one of these ideas or all of them you will be making an impact on the environment, and your wallet, by conserving energy and therefore lowering your carbon footprint. And when you can do both at the same time on the cheap, that’s something to feel good about!

Questions Every Home Seller Should Ask a Real Estate Agent

Want to sell your home? Like many home sellers, you’re probably on the lookout for a real estate agent who can help you get the best price for your house.

Choosing the right real estate agent usually will require you to perform comprehensive research. You’ll need to examine the credentials and skills of many real estate agents in your area. Plus, you may want to sit down and chat with various real estate agents to find one who can simplify the home selling process.

Ultimately, there are several questions you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to sell your house, including:

1. What is your home selling experience?

No two homes are identical, and much in the same way, no two real estate agents are exactly alike. As such, you should learn about a real estate agent’s experience to ensure he or she possesses the expertise necessary to sell your house.

For example, if you’re selling a condo, you may want to hire a real estate professional with condo experience. Or, if you’re looking to sell your home as quickly as possible, you should find a real estate agent who knows how to promote a home across social media and other platforms.

2. How will you keep in touch?

What good is a real estate agent if this professional fails to keep you informed throughout the home selling journey?

With the right real estate agent at your side, you’ll be able to stay up to date along each stage of the home selling process. In fact, this professional will provide you with updates about offers on your home, requests to view your residence and much more.

Furthermore, your real estate agent should be easily accessible via phone and email. This means if you need support at any point during the home selling journey, your real estate agent will be able to assist you.

3. Can you provide references?

An expert real estate agent should have no trouble connecting you with past clients. That way, you can find out how this real estate professional has helped previous home sellers accomplish their goals.

If you connect with a real estate agent’s past clients, you can get a better idea about how this real estate professional responds to various home selling challenges. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to determine if this real estate agent is the right person to help you sell your house.

4. How will you market my house?

A real estate agent should go above and beyond the call of duty to market your house to the right groups of homebuyers. This professional typically will allocate extensive time and resources to learn about you and your home selling needs and help you plan accordingly.

Finding out how a real estate agent will promote your home is essential. With this information, you can understand whether a real estate agent will do everything possible to showcase your residence to potential homebuyers.

Use the aforementioned questions, and you can select the right real estate agent to help you sell your home.

Questions to Ask Before You Accept an Offer on a Home

After you receive an offer on your home, how should you respond? Ultimately, there are many questions for a home seller to consider before accepting a proposal, including:

1. What is my home worth?

Did you get your home appraised before you added it to the real estate market? If so, you may want to review a home offer in contrast to your home appraisal. This will give you a better idea about whether the offer is “fair” based on your home’s condition.

If you have not received a home appraisal, there’s no need to worry. In fact, there are many ways to assess your home to determine whether to accept or decline a proposal.

Check out the prices of comparable residences in your city or town. This will enable you to see how these houses are priced and better understand how to proceed with an offer.

Also, review the prices of homes that recently sold in your area. With this information, you can learn about the current state of the housing market.

2. Are there any other offers to consider?

As a home seller, you’ll likely have 24 to 48 hours to respond to an offer on your residence. But if you receive multiple offers at the same time, you’ll want to evaluate these proposals in conjunction with one another.

Even if you receive two offers for the exact same price, these proposals may differ.

For example, a homebuyer who has financing in hand will be able to streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner. On the other hand, a homebuyer who submits an offer without financing in hand may require additional time to secure a mortgage from a bank or credit union.

Take a close look at all of the offers on your home. Review these proposals with a fine-tooth comb, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

3. Does this offer meet or exceed my expectations?

An offer on your home may fall short of your initial asking price, but this offer can still meet or surpass your expectations.

Consider what you hope to accomplish as a home seller as you review an offer.

For instance, if your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible, you may be more inclined to accept one of the first offers you receive. Or, if you can afford to remain patient, you may want to take a wait-and-see approach to ensure you get an offer that matches or exceeds your initial asking price.

4. What will happen if I accept the offer?

After you accept an offer on your home, a homebuyer likely will want to complete a home inspection.

If the home inspection goes well, the homebuyer probably will proceed with his or her purchase. If it does not, you may need to complete home maintenance or repairs to finalize the purchase agreement.

Remember, if you accept an offer, there are still several steps that will need to be completed before you sell your house. With an expert real estate agent at your side, you’ll know exactly what to expect at each stage of the home selling process.