Realtors

Gwen

gwenddeleon@gmail.com
8700 Manchaca Road, Suite 603, Austin, TX 78748
P: 512-956-3888

BETTY

betty@idahorealestateco.com
22306 Upper Pleasant Ridge Rd, Caldwell, ID 83607-9092
P: 208-465-9000

Steve

steveortina@gmail.com
LIC: 2008001719
9078 Union Centre Blvd. #350 , West Chester, OH 45069
P: 937-838-0400

All Articles


Can a landlord enter a residence?

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A landlord may give notice in order to: inspect the premises; make necessary or agreed upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements; supply necessary or agreed upon services; or to exhibit the premises to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.

 

For residential tenancies, the landlord must give twenty-four (24) hours’ notice, except in the case of emergencies. Each jurisdiction may have specific additional requirements for notice to enter.

 

The time requested for access must be reasonable.  The tenant must not unreasonably withhold consent or access to the landlord to enter the premises.

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Can a landlord ask a tenant to leave a residence?

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If the tenant breaches the lease, the landlord may bring an action for possession of the premises and/or damages.  For residential tenancies, the landlord must first give notice.

To serve notice upon another means to inform that person that certain acts or events have occurred or will occur in the future.  Ordinarily, notices required by law must be served via restricted certified mail or personal service by a sheriff’s deputy or constable’s deputy or a private process server.  In certain circumstances, posting of a notice at the premises is allowed. Each jurisdiction may have specific additional requirements for such a notice.

Notice may be given to a tenant for failure to pay rent when due.  Usually, a three (3) days’ notice is required if the lease is to be terminated due to the non-payment of rent.  

Also, and typically, for any material noncompliance with the rental agreement or the obligations imposed by law, which materially affect health and safety, a thirty (30) days’ notice may be given specifying the breach(s) and stating that the lease will be terminated in fourteen (14) days if the breach is not remedied.

For failure to maintain the premises in a manner that materially affects health and safety, the landlord must first give a fourteen (14) day notice.  If the breach is not remedied, the landlord may enter the premises to perform repairs and may then bill the tenant for the repairs.  Each jurisdiction may have specific requirements for notice to terminate the lease.

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Décor Ideas for Any Room!

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Use What You Have - Many times we become so accustomed to seeing things in the same place we don't consider their potential in another area or room of the home. Rearranging furniture and décor can give any space a new look.

  • First consider how you use the space. Do you find some rooms are used all the time and others hardly at all? Frequently used spaces can easily become cluttered. Perhaps there is something you can move to a less used space to bring new purpose to that area. Convert a scarcely used nook to a game table or move a small bookshelf and add a lamp next to that comfy chair no one ever seems to sit in. Think outside the "box" of your previous layout.
     
  • Similar to the point above, consider some of your larger pieces of furniture. Moving a piece out of the room into another may help free up space in one and redefine another.
     
  • What is the flow of your rooms? Do pathways from one doorway to the next make sense? Perhaps everyone seems to be ducking in front of the couch to get by the TV when there is room to move the couch away from the wall. Contrary to popular belief, the couch does not need to go against the wall!
     
  • Take established pieces and reinvent them. No, the modular sofa does not have to be one formal island in the center of the room. Break it up and add lights, or end tables to help recharge the room.
     
  • Besides furniture, consider what you have hanging on the walls as well. Do you have old paintings that no longer appeal to you or the space? Do you have new photos that you can't seem to find a place for? If you are rearranging furniture, take pictures off the wall first. You don't want to be boxed in with the idea to leave wall space for this or that. Afterwards, look at the new blank walls and consider the possibilities. If you are not rearranging furniture, still take the pictures down. Leave them down for a couple days and come back to look at the room as fresh as possible. What do you really miss being up there, what would you like to add, or perhaps, do you prefer a more blank, uncluttered wall?

 

Color Me New - A splash of paint can go a long way! Repainting walls can be a lot of fun and the best part is that if you don't like it you can just paint over it! Of course, today there are great programs at the do-it-yourself stores that help you customize colors and paint styles before you begin. And painting doesn't have to stop at the walls!

  • Repainting the ceiling can help to brighten a room considerably.
     
  • If you have old painted trim, you may want to consider splashing on a fresh coat of paint or changing the color altogether.
     
  • Painting old furniture can reinvent it and is something kids can get involved with if redecorating their own room.
     
  • There are paint sets out there to help repaint anything with a surface. You can give any end table, lamp or bookshelf a new antiqued look. For example, we had some white metal dining room chandeliers that clashed with our house. It was easy to dismantle them and paint them with a rusted look, and this saved us buying chandeliers that would otherwise have cost $200 a piece! I admit, we did this with the thought that we would replace them "down the road," but since their makeover they have stopped being an eyesore and we have even received compliments on them - most didn't realize they were painted until we said something!

 

It's ALIVE! - Plants can do wonders for the home. Some believe that you should have a plant in every room. Large potted plants can help give life to blank corners or help set up the outline of a nice path throughout a room. Smaller potted plants can add color to the window or shelf. It must be admitted that, although a nice idea, not all of us have a green thumb - and lack of light may doom some of our green friends from the beginning. Many of the silk plants these days look very real, however, they are not for everyone. Another alternative is fresh cut flowers. Get enough small vases and one bunch can be used throughout the home to greet you everywhere from the bedroom to the kitchen.

 

Instant Relatives - "Instant relatives" is a phrase my friend uses for the photos of people in the new frames you buy. If you bought a frame 6 months to a year ago and still have those "instant relatives" you don't know staring at you, then you have just found one of the easiest home décor projects! If you don’t have new frames, they are an inexpensive way to help any room. And remember, all of the frames on one wall don't have to match; sometimes the mix and match look of your décor is what can give it personality! Once you have some frames you like, fill them with memories or art you enjoy having around you. Today it is easy to enlarge photographs and add effects to them. Enlarge one of your favorite photos of Scotland or collage your last family vacation. Fill the frames with photos of family, friends, vacation scenery, art prints, artwork by the kids, favorite postcards or cards, the list can be endless if you let your imagination run; make it fun!

 

Facelift Under $20 - Many times just adding a few small pieces can help a space. At many stores, you can find: candles, sconces, mirrors, frames, framed art, plaque art, photo holders, statues, ornate boxes, pillows, table runners, etc. Any of these smaller items can be combined to add a unique design to your space. Also, many stores package themed art (southwest, modern, Victorian, African, etc.) to help you create the design for the space you want. These series often go on sale as one design set makes way for another, leaving you a chance to find some great decorations with a little planning and patience.

 

Just Hang It! - The softness of fabric in a room can make a major mood change. Drapes are one of the easiest ways to change the look of a space. You can get drapes relatively cheap these days. I have both purchased and made my own drapes and consider it a draw. I was able to get better fabric quality when making my own, but the time and headache (I'm not a sewing expert) did cancel out some of the ease of just buying them. Others have been smarter than me and buy a fabric they want, simply seam the edges and then hang them freely over the curtain rods. Another consideration would be bamboo or roman blinds - some find these a more colorful and cheaper alternative to standard blinds.

 

Camouflage the Old - Covering up what you already have can be a great alternative to buying new furniture. Covers for sofas, tables and chairs can help introduce new colors and patterns into your room. Again, you can make these items yourself or purchase them. Unless you are proficient with the sewing machine, it may be easier to purchase some of these items. Sometimes even cushions and pillows can help cover up worn spots or add color to a drab space. While we are covering things up, you may also consider using rugs to cover up and change the pattern/color or old floors. Especially for older hard wood floors or Pergo, this can be a great way to modernize your room.

 

The Finer Details - Other features that can be changed on a small scale but effect a room on a large scale are your hardware and fixtures. Changing the hardware on cabinets can reinvent your kitchen or bathroom. You can also replace fixtures such as light casings, towel holders, toiletry and soap holders, etc. Changing these items can help transform the room from modern to antique or vice versa. Many stores sell fixture sets that can be a quick and easy facelift to any bathroom.

 

Just Say No to Clutter - Finally, one of the most effective ways to redecorate your home is to get rid of clutter. This doesn't just mean picking up bits of paper. This can also mean getting items to help you organize. Many stores offer beautiful baskets, tins or other containers that can be used to organize your madness. Adding a bit of shelving, a chest, a large basket or an ottoman that opens up for storage are just a few ways you can change the look of the room and give yourself storage space. Changing a room from cluttered to organized can have a dramatic effect on the décor and overall feel of the space.

 

Redecorating your home on a small budget can include inventive uses of what you already have and inexpensive updates to your room such as paints or wall hangings. Obviously, we have only touched on a few methods here. Hopefully this list helps you think outside the box and consider other ways you may utilize the spaces in your home. Still want to see more? Check out a few of our suggested links below. Happy decorating!

 

Further Reading:

About.com

If you long for a beautiful home, you have come to the right place! Learn about home decorating, get tips for projects, find directions for how-to's, and advice from About Guide to Interior Decorating, Coral Nafie. Take a look!

Behr.com

Get interior design ideas from dozens of articles and hundreds of images.

BHG.com

Join us for truly inspiring decorating ideas, easy projects, step-by-step how-to’s, practical home improvement tips, remodeling ideas, and home plans -- from Better Homes and Gardens family of magazines.

CountryLiving.com

Home decorating ideas, craft projects, home accents, renovation tips and more country style from Country Living magazine.

Do-It-Yourself.com

Decorating and painting is a key ingredient to a beautiful home. Before you begin decorating or re-decorating your home, learn more about painting techniques and preparation, selecting paint colors and finishes, decorating and designing trends, and interior décor, accents and furnishings. Home decorating has never been easier!

HGTV.com

Learn more about decorating and interior design ideas, projects and how-to from videos on Home & Garden Television.

KatieBrownHomeWorkshop.com

This is the official website for Katie Brown and the Katie Brown Workshop. It is the place to shop and buy Katie Brown books and provides information regarding lifestyle and domestic guru, Katie Brown and answers any questions you have about Katie Brown’s books, products, columns, Podcasts, or her televisions shows including the Katie Brown Workshop on Public Television.

MarthaStewart.com

Different ideas from her show and magazines.

RealSimple.com

Magazine and TV show about simplifying your life. Includes home solutions, meals, and special features.

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What is a Power of Attorney?

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Power of attorney

A Power of Attorney is an instrument which authorizes one person to act as another’s agent or attorney-in-fact.  The attorney-in-fact need not actually be a licensed attorney.  The Power of Attorney may be for a performance of a specific, definite act or duty, or it may be general in nature.  It may be for a specific time period or for an indefinite time period.  It may be revocable.  If not revoked, it usually expires when the person granting the Power of Attorney dies.  A Power of Attorney may grant the attorney-in-fact authority to convey or mortgage real estate.  If this is so in a given state, the Power of Attorney must be written, signed, and otherwise executed similar to a deed.  The Power of Attorney should be recorded in order to put others on notice as to the powers of the attorney-in-fact.  (Please see specific state for details and/or differences.)

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Famous properties that were found to be HAUNTED.

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Perhaps it wasn't the wind that slammed the door shut, and there isn’t a flesh and blood body connected to the footsteps down the hall? Or maybe it’s just a great marketing ploy for bed & breakfasts and historical societies because people enjoy the idea of a good haunting? Not everyone believes in ghosts, but the stories and histories behind many haunted homes can be just as enticing as their "spiritual" residents. Below is a short list compiled of famous haunted homes and buildings in America. Dim the lights, sit back, and enjoy a little Halloween-flavored fun by flashlight while learning a little history along the way!*

*Many haunted houses seem to get their start from murder or untimely death. Although we have not gone into graphic details here, please note that if you search the names of the haunted homes in this article, some sites go into much more, sometimes gruesome, detail.

Alcatraz Island - San Francisco Bay, CA

The History: Not a house per se, but people "lived" there. Alcatraz started as a military fort in 1850. It was used as a military prison and then a federal prison after 1934. In 1963, the prison was closed due to the cost of operations. As a prison, Alcatraz had a reputation of being a hard place to live, where prisoners were "shut away" rather than rehabilitated. Punishments could be harsh, such as restricted diet, solitary confinement, and hard labor. There were the now infamous solitary cells like the "strip cell" and the "hole" that even made the most hardened prisoners think twice about breaking any rules.

The Haunting: This place was generating ghost stories even before being shut down. Guards retell odd tales of ghosts attacking inmates or making noises. Today, there are still many haunting "hot spots" on the island. There is the utility corridor where three escapees were gunned down; this doorway is now welded shut but many say there is the sound of clanging against the door; perhaps something, or someone, wants out? There are also reports of running in the corridors, voices in the cells and medical ward, and screams from the dungeons and isolation units.

How to see it: Tours are available of the island and complex. Depending on the time of year, you may have to use a different ferry system to get to the island. 

Driskill Hotel - Austin, TX

The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995.

The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke and turning lights on and off. There is also the ghost of a small girl, the daughter of a Senator who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball; she can still be heard bouncing the ball today.

How to see it: The hotel is open to guests today and offers all kinds of luxury and pampering.

Franklin Castle – Cleveland, OH

The History: Hannes Tiedemann, and his wife, built the house in 1865. Unfortunately, they lost four children in a short amount of time leading to some speculation of unnatural deaths. The house architecture aids in the mystery of the house as there are secret passageways and hidden rooms throughout. There are also rumors of Tiedemann having affairs that led to jealousy and, ultimately, murder. One of the most tragic tales is that of Tiedemann hanging his niece to put her out of her misery from insanity or to punish her for her promiscuity.

The Haunting: Past residents have heard a small child crying and heard footsteps in the corridor. There is also claim of a "woman in black" who can be heard choking in the tower room. Lights can be seen swinging around, and some objects have been moved or thrown.

How to see itToday the mansion houses a private club restricted to members and their guests. It was rumored, at one time, that they would eventually start giving tours of the building.

Heceta House - Yachats, OR

The History: Built in 1894, the house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Many families, over time, occupied the house, which included a post office, school, and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of hauntings.

The Haunting: The ghost who haunts the house is named Rue, a woman from the turn of the century.  Many believe she is the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs, and she is said to be an extra caretaker of the house.  She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game.  She didn't want people playing cards in her house!

How to see it: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its’ interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the presumed presence of a ghost, they have said that guests have told them of strange encounters. 

Hickory Hill House - Equality, IL

The History: This house was built in 1842 by an evil man named John Crenshaw. Although it was illegal to own slaves in the state of Illinois, it was legal to lease slaves from slave states to work in salt mines. John Crenshaw took advantage of this fact and leased slaves from nearby states to work in his salt mines. Most horrific of all, it is said that he would kidnap free African Americans and force them to work in his mines and eventually sell them into slavery. All the slaves were kept in the upstairs attic in horse stall-like cells that opened to one large corridor. John Crenshaw had a particularly nasty reputation for cruelty and abuse.

The Haunting: The house opened as a tourist attraction in 1930, and many claimed to hear the desperate rattling of chains and muffled cries from the attic. The house had the sinister reputation that no one could spend a full night in the dwelling without leaving in fear. In 1978, a reporter named David Rogers was the first to spend a whole night in the house.

How to see it: Currently, the house is protected by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and is closed to the public.

Lemp Mansion - St. Louis, MO

The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full-time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922, when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances, and three other men of the family committing suicide inside.

The Haunting: With three suicides and a questionable death, one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion could have arisen, but the family’s tragic history of tales doesn’t end there.  A rumor existed that William Lemp had an illegitimate son who suffered from Down Syndrome and was kept hidden in the attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion. Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away, so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today.

How to see it: Spend the night, or take a tour if you're too scared.  The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant for those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. 

Lizzy Borden House - Fall River, MA

The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and later acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality.  Even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior.  And, of course, there was the creation of the rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an ax; Gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done; Gave her father forty-one!”

The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed, and a woman, perhaps the same one, can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment, such as lights and cameras, experience some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in, if you dare.

How to see it: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour, or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University!

Myrtles Plantation - St. Francisville, LA

The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794, but stories of hauntings didn’t start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder, that of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the hauntings. Most seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that’s because the house is so haunted, some kind of explanation needed to be made.

The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a young woman in a green turban, who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim the woman is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared, as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano.

How to see it: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night.

Villisca Ax Murder House - Villisca, IA

The History: On June 10, 1912, the Moore family and two overnight guests were brutally murdered. The ax murder of two adults and six children horrified the community and its story still horrifies people today. Regardless of the unprecedented effort of police, detectives, and neighboring departments at the time, the case remains unsolved to this day.

The Haunting: The most common account seems to be of children's voices in the house. Things will also move unexpectedly, and lamps won't stay lit regardless of there being no breeze in the home.

How to see it: Tours of the home are available through the Olson Linn Museum. They also offer night tours, but these must be arranged in advance.

Waverly Hills Sanitarium - Louisville, KY

The History: Although this is not a house, it has such a grand reputation for being haunted, we thought to include it. Waverly Hills opened as a hospital for tuberculosis patients in 1926. Tuberculosis was a dreaded killer of the time, and most of the patients who entered the hospital would die. It is estimated that at the height of the epidemic, a patient died every hour. This large complex had a long tunnel nicknamed the "body chute" where the bodies were transferred to a train at the bottom of the hill. It was covered so patients would not be disheartened by seeing the number of dead being removed from the hospital. Because Tuberculosis was not well understood, there were many experiments that occurred.  Some of the experiments were beneficial, but others were brutal and led to tales of mistreatment. In 1982, the hospital was shut down under allegations of abuse.

The Haunting: The tales of hauntings started after the hospital was shut down and fell into disrepair. Transients, vandals, and kids would break into the facility. Stories began to spread of small children playing in the halls, lights going on when there was no power, doors being slammed, voices crying out, and various other ghoulish goings-on. One specific spot of activity, room 502, is on the floor where the mentally ill tuberculosis patients were housed. This room was the nurses’ station where two nurses committed suicide on separate occasions for reasons unknown.

How to see it: There are tours run by the Waverly Hills Historical Society. Tours must be arranged as this is a private site and trespassers will be prosecuted. Overnight tours can also be arranged in advance.

Whaley House - San Diego, CA

The History: This house was a home, granary, court house, theater, ballroom, billiard, school, and polling center.  Before the house was built, criminals were hanged on the site. Once built, the house had the tragic history of one of the Whaley girls committing suicide inside.

The HauntingThere are many ghosts in the Whaley House. There is "Yankee Jim" who was one of the criminals hanged at the site. He now stomps around the house with a heavy step and even the first family, the Whaley's, reported hearing him in the house. Thomas Whaley, the first owner of the house, has been seen lingering around the upper landing. Thomas' wife, Anna, also wanders the downstairs and the garden. There are a few other apparitions, and even a little fox terrier ghost dog that is seen on occasion!

How to see it: This house is now a museum and is open for tours on most days.

White House - Washington D.C.

The History: The White House became the home of our presidents in 1800, with President John Adams being the first resident. There have been many presidents and first ladies in the home, and some have decided not to leave.

The Haunting: President Abraham Lincoln is the most popular ghost with the most sightings. The first to see him was First Lady, Grace Coolidge. He has also been spotted by guards and guests. Other presidents who like to make an appearance are President Benjamin Harrison, President Andrew Johnson, President John Tyler, and President Andrew Jackson. First Ladies who have made appearances include Abigail Adams and Dorothea Madison. There is also the apparition of a black cat, which has been said to be seen before national tragedies, such as the stock market crash of 1929 and before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

How to see it: You can still visit the White House today for a tour.  

Winchester Mystery House - San Jose, CA

The History: Sarah Winchester, daughter-in-law of Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifle, began the construction of this house in 1884 and kept the project going until her death 38 years later. The legend says she constructed the house continuously to confuse the bad spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. In the end, it had 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, and various oddities, such as doors leading to a sudden outside drop or staircases leading to the ceiling.

The Haunting: Some of the ghosts are said to have been invited by Sarah Winchester, as she is said to have held a séance with them every night to determine the construction for the next day. Reports of footsteps, doors closing and opening, cold spots, and other paranormal behavior have been reported. Some skeptics in the ghost hunting world, however, believe the mansion is more of an oddity than a true haunting ground.

How to see it: The mansion is open to tours. You can select a standard tour and see 110 rooms and their various oddities and details, or you can go on a behind-the-scenes tour and see how the house functioned. 

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I just made a property purchase. Do I need a Will?

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Will

There are very few people who do not need a Will.  If the state intestacy statute (state laws that set forth who inherits without a Will) provided for the exact distribution of a person's property as they would choose, then perhaps a Will would be unnecessary.  However, even a Simple Will does much more than simply provide for distribution of property.  Parents with minor children need to appoint a guardian to care for the children in the event they die while the children are minors.  Without this designation, anyone could apply to the court to be a guardian of the children. Also, trusts for minor children can be set up to provide fairly for children of different ages and circumstances.   Likewise, a Will appoints an executor to handle the estate, decide which assets should be sold or retained, file tax returns, and provide for an orderly distribution of the property.  Again, without a Will, anyone can apply to the court to act as administrator of the estate.  For those individuals with estates approaching or exceeding $600,000 in value, a Will not only distributes the property but can provide estate tax planning designed to minimize federal and state death taxes.

 

There are certain estate planning devices that are commonly referred to as Will substitutes.  The goal of a Will substitute is usually an attempt to avoid the probate process, although many times this is not accomplished because, through inadvertence, not every asset is covered by the Will substitute.  Joint ownership with right of survivorship is the most common.  When property is jointly owned, it passes to the joint owner at the death of the other joint owner, regardless of whether or not there is a Will.  There are limited circumstances where this is suitable as a Will substitute.  One situation might be where a surviving spouse has only one child and wishes to leave all property to that child.  In certain cases, spouses may own all of their property as joint tenants with right of survivorship.  This may be acceptable until the death of the first spouse to die, but then the surviving spouse must begin the estate planning process all over to dispose of the property at their death and certain estate tax planning benefits may have already been lost.

 

Revocable trusts are also used as Will substitutes, although generally a person with a revocable trust also has what is known as a "pour over" Will.  Trusts are a complex area beyond the scope of this topic.  Briefly, trusts can be attractive for those who desire that the details of their estate not become a public record at the time of their death.  The time involved in transferring assets to beneficiaries can sometimes be expedited with a trust.  For larger estates, the fees involved with a trust may be less than the administration fees required through probate; however, this will vary greatly depending on the state.  Also, a probated Will provides an established procedure for creditors to file claims and for heirs to contest the distribution under the Will.  However, these claims can also be asserted against a trust, but there is not a procedure set forth at time of death.  There are also many complexities involved with a trust that in many cases offset the perceived benefits.

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Can a Restrictive Covenant prevent me from using my property any way I want?

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Restrictive

It depends on the kind of restrictive covenant but, yes, you could be prevented from using your property however you see fit. For example, building certain types of fences, adding a satellite dish or parking vehicles in your front yard or more than a couple cars in your driveway could all be prevented by a restrictive covenant. A restrictive covenant is an agreement that acts as a limit or prohibition of certain uses of real estate. For instance, restrictive covenants for a residential subdivision may limit the use of the real estate in a subdivision to exclusively residential use. Some restrictive covenants may define the maximum and minimum square footage of homes that may be built or may set forth further limitations regarding construction of other buildings upon the premises.

Restrictive covenants must be in writing and must be signed to be enforceable. To be effective against subsequent purchasers, restrictive covenants must be recorded. Typically, restrictive covenants run with the land, meaning that they will continue to apply to the real estate property even after the original owner at the time of execution of the restrictive covenant transfers it to another person. Therefore, if property is purchased that has restrictive covenants, the buyer may be subject to those restrictions.

Most states do have limitations as to the length of time the restrictive covenants may run. These limitations may be found in statutes, sometimes referred to as stale use acts. To be enforceable, restrictive covenants must be clear-cut and explicit. Courts will often refuse to enforce restrictive covenants that are vague or ambiguous. Please see specific state for details and/or differences.

NOTICE: Restrictive covenants prohibiting sales of real estate to minorities have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.

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How To Sell A Home During The Slow Season? Try Multiple Listing Services.

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Multiplelistingsjune2019


Timing is everything when listing a home for sale.  There are always lucrative times to sell and nonprofitable times to sell.  For example, attempting to sell a home after the summer can be problematic.  It never fails that summer comes and goes quickly, and then people are already talking about the beginning of the school year, college football, and holiday shopping.  What this means is that potential home buyers become distracted with other priorities.  If there are a few homes in inventory that haven’t sold in the first 30 days, everyone begins to wonder what might be ‘wrong’ with them.  So what options do Realtors have to keep their homes at the forefront of potential buyers’ minds?  The best approach to keeping properties fresh is to try multiple web listings, supplementing existing ones with new services; this keeps the property in a "Just Listed" status even when the property has been listed on another site for over 30 days.
 

Suggested site to list your home: Try HouseList.com 1st  

 

Keep It Fresh

Always keep your eyes open for new real estate listing services.  The worst thing to do is to depend on one listing service to release your properties all at once to a bunch of MLS sites.  If the properties don't sell in the first 30 days, prospective buyers question the value of the property and your listings starts to drift down on many of these online services.  The longer your property sits unsold on the market, newer properties start to appear above your listing.  You need to keep the property fresh and take the extra step to find additional online real estate sites to list your property.  

 

Diversify your Listings

It’s important to add a property to more than one listing service at different times.  Most listing services are interconnected and will list all the new properties at once.  So once your property has been submitted to one MLS listing, it will appear on 5 to 10 other sites at the same time.  This will diversify your property listing at one time, but it exhausts many listing services all at once with the same listing date.  Before you realize it, the new property you just listed has dropped to page 2 or 3 on several sites all at once.  This isn't true of every site, but is generally what happens with most real estate listing services.  So if you find other real estate listing services that are not all tied together, you can restart the listing clock on each new website as a single listing.  This way your property will always show new somewhere online.  

 

Get More Viewers 

Another great benefit of using several different online listing services is that you promote your property to a bigger audience of prospective buyers.  Not all home buyers will see your property on the same site, and serious home buyers will scour the internet for the best deals.  Some buyers purposely look for homes on listing sites that don’t display a repeat of what they just saw on the main listing services.  They know that good deals don’t always appear on the first several sites that show up on search engines.  

 

Keep Costs Down 

When listing a property, it’s always beneficial to avoid spending too much money on multiple services.  To keep your cost down, always be on the lookout for great listing services that will list your properties for free or at a very low cost.  There are a lot of sites that review real estate websites that list your property for free or at a reduced cost, and we’ve listed some of these sites below so that you can review them and decide for yourself which sites are the best to list your property to a larger audience.  Happy House Listing!

 

Suggested site to list your home: Try HouseList.com 1st  

 

 

Additional Sites to List Properties:
https://moveuprealestate.com/30-websites-post-your-real-estate-listings/

https://retipster.com/real-estate-listings-post-ads-free/ 
https://www.isoldmyhouse.com/for-sale-by-owner-websites/ 
https://www.seodennis.com/fsbo-for-sale-by-owner-websites/

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Does an Easement affect property value?

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Easement

It depends on the circumstances. Generally, it does not; however, each situation is different. A common example of an easement is when a utility, such as an electric company, has access on and/or over a property. This is a grant for utilities to maintain their services. Another example of an easement is when a driveway is paved on your land for the benefit of an adjacent property, allowing them use of your land to access theirs.

Basically, an easement is a right granted to a person or entity for limited use of real estate, or a portion of it. It can be for a general use or for a particular purpose. The real estate subject to the easement is sometimes referred to as the “Servient Estate.”  If a person is purchasing property that is subject to an easement, it may be a servient estate. An example of an easement is a right-of-way for the ingress and egress (access) to property. In other words, the right to travel across a portion of the servient estate in order to reach or leave the “dominant” real estate. Therefore, it is important to determine if an adjacent or nearby owner of property has the right to cross the property in order to enter or use their property if there is an easement established.

Easements may arise from agreement or by operation of law. An agreement for an easement is typically set forth in writing and is signed by the parties agreeing to it. Easements may be for a set period of time, but often run with the land. This means that even if one of the parties agreeing to it conveys or transfers his/her real estate, the easement still applies to the real estate affected by it whenever a new party takes ownership.


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7 Easy Steps To Building A Powerful Web Presence.

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Today, the benefit of building a strong online presence is no longer in question. Indeed, the internet provides consumers 24/7 access to even the smallest of businesses. Real Estate professionals are no exception as they navigate the new challenges of transitioning their traditional service via phone into the addition of a web presence.

7 simple tips to ensure your website is moving in the correct direction:

 

1. SSL Certificate - add security to your website.
2. Mobile Friendly - over 50% of visits to your web page will be mobile.
3. Good Content - search engines look for original content.
4. Positive Site Links - receiving links from information friendly sites is key.
5. Clean and Easy – quick, simple, and to the point websites help attract users.
6. Contact Information – Ensure people can get a hold of you.
7. Powerful URL – a clear reflection of your business brand.


Need help?  CLICK HERE!
 

First - SSL Certificate.

Having an SSL certificate for your website provides you with basic security protection and gives your visitors confidence in your business when visiting your site. In addition to security, having an SSL certificate of https for your website will help you with search engines. Since mid-2018, it is a requirement from the major search engines, such as Google, to label your site as secure, and gives you an extra ‘bump up’ in your search standings.

 

Second - Mobile Friendly.

With over 50% of online visits to your website coming from a mobile device, you will need to have a website that is friendly to both a pc and a mobile phone. In addition, if your site is mobile friendly and loads quickly, the search engines, such as Google, will give you a boost in the searches. The reason it’s a good idea to review your old website is that allot of sites that were built before 2016 weren’t worried about mobile phone viewing, so they appear to be behind the times. Make sure your website is not stuck in an outdated platform.

 

More info:

http://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet
https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7808-google-search-ranking-mobile.html

 

Third - Good Content.

Having useful information on your website that can be used by a visitor is very important to build a strong client relationship. In addition, good content will also help you with search engine results. If it’s original and has some practical aspect for the average web surfer, it will also appeal to your clients. Having content that highlights your experience or offers helpful tips from your field of work will allow your clients to get a better idea of who you are and what you do. If you’re confident enough to share some ‘tips of the trade,’ you’ll be rewarded with more client views and better search results.


More info:
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en

 

Fourth - Positive Site Links.

Having positive sites link to your website is still a good idea to help build natural searches for your information. Links from other sites are interpreted as guides for the search engine crawlers to more quickly find your information. Even having links to your site for quick tips about your trade can have positive effects on your website. It’s still better to have outside sites link to yours than having no links back to your site at all. The best way to encourage sites to link to yours is by observing what others in your industry have done and research who they are working with on links.

 

More Info:
https://www.websolutions.com/blog/3-types-of-link-building-that-will-boost-your-sites-search-ranking/

 

Fifth - Clean and Easy.

Ensuring your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate is always a good way to sell your services on your website. First impressions are extremely important to individuals visiting your site. If you can get information to your visitors quickly, they will not get frustrated and leave prematurely. Make sure your information is plainly laid out and displayed in a way that keeps your visitors moving through your site in an even flow. If your site is cluttered with too much information, visitors will be overwhelmed and you may lose potential clients.

 

More Info:

https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/remove-from-your-site/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/simplify-your-website-with-the-kiss-rule/

 

Sixth - Contact Information.

This is one of the most obvious and important aspects of a website. Putting your contact information in an easy to read format and on as many pages of your site as possible should be your number one goal when building the site. Potential clients will need your email and phone number to contact you. If you do not have that readily available, they may get frustrated and look for someone else. Too many sites neglect to display contact information and instead hide it and, unfortunately, end up losing potential business opportunities.

 

Seventh – Powerful URL.

A clear domain name that reflects a company's brand or services is a valuable commodity. The savvy business can take advantage of new gTLDs and avoid disputes with companies in other geographic regions that share a similar name. Consider a few of these pointers as you search for your new domain name:

 

  • Use your Name Brand: If you have a trademarked name, see if you can acquire this name first. If not, you may want to use your firm name or professional name and title. Utilize what you’ve used in brochures and other advertising so you don’t have to rebrand. Be careful with a domain name that describes a service. For example, a name like "DUI-Buster" can be limiting and may not appeal to all potential clients. However, if you specialize in one service and want something your clients will remember, go for it!

  • Keyword Search: Consider trying several keywords in a couple search engines and review the results. This test can help you see if a certain key term is overused. This does not mean you cannot use the term; just realize that you may have to spend more time and money for search engine optimization.

  • Consider Location: If you are certified or licensed to work in only one state or region, you may want to consider a more localized nTLD like .us which can include state or city.

  • Check the Domain Name's History: Using sites like the Internet Archive you can look at the history of a domain name that was used before. Check out screenshots and history to make sure the previous owner didn’t create any bad press that could be associated with your new site.

  • Keep Trying: If you find that someone has your domain name see if there are other variations that will work for your business. You can also check to see if other gTLDs are available. If you still want your first choice do some research before you contact the other business. Does the other business have a legitimate trademark and presence or is it a squatter waiting for a paycheck? In the first case you may have to settle for another name, in the second you may have a good case—just be patient and do the research first!

So, let's get started!   More Info

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Ideas to Make Your House Pet Friendly

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For many, bringing a pet home is the same as bringing home new family. Pets easily find their way in our hearts with their playful antics and friendly companionship. When you first bring a new pet into your home it is imperative that you are willing to make some adjustments to your living space. This article is aimed at giving hints for all who have pets or will have pets in their home. Preparing your home and yard for your new pet is important to their well being and your ease of mind. The focus will be discussing animals that are out most of the time, like cats and dogs, that are more likely to get into some mischievous fun. However, many of these tips and hints will work for most of the four legged friends we bring into our home.

Most of the tips will seem like common sense, however, when the new pet is roaming around it may slip our mind to check for common place hazards. Many times we take for granted that things are safe or wouldn't interest animals. However the puppy running down the hall with a roll of toilet paper would beg to differ!

So let's get your home and yard ready so it is safe for your pets (and also not a free going playground waiting for destruction and mayhem)!

Part I: Preparing Your Home

When bringing a new pet to the home the last thing anyone wants to think about is cleaning and proofing their home. However, taking a little time to do so will prevent headaches and possible heartaches. It will keep your pet, prized possessions and your sanity intact. This is true whether you are bringing home a new pet or adjusting an older one to a new home. Or, perhaps, you find your self in the unfortunate situation of losing possessions to a pet who has never had boundaries set up in your home. Whatever your reason, these tips will help proof your home for the new, old and mischievous pets in your life.

Think Below the Knees 
Get down on all fours and look around at the same level as your pet. There is a whole other world down at their viewpoint!

  • Think low! Remove objects on low shelves, coffee tables, and anywhere else that is easy access. Anything destructible, such as paper, books, anything made of cloth (i.e. laundry). It is much easier to 'chew train' a pet if they do not learn a bad habit of "where to look" for destructible goodies when you aren't looking.
  • Also think about food and snacks. Don't leave pop cans, candy wrappers, crumbs or anything else on a low counter. Leaving out these delicious tidbits can easily lead to "counter surfing".
  • Since kittens and ferrets may actually have the ability to walk on your counters, make certain to keep an eye on them when cooking. You may have food on the counter and the stove burners on - both can be dangerous. If you are a messy chef you may have a very happy kitty, but it could be dangerous if you don't keep an eye on them!
  • Speaking of food and snacks, make sure if you have smaller pets, like mice, that they are out of reach to your new puppy or kitten. Don't forget your fish - sometimes the idea that the aquarium is invincible can be tested.
  • Smokers - do not leave cigarette butts where pets may reach them. If eaten it can lead to nicotine poisoning and the filters aren't good on the digestive system.
  • Children's toys can be great fun for pets too! Make sure your kids realize they may loose their toy if it is left out and unattended. Also many toys may have small parts or can be easily broken into small parts by your pet which can be dangerous.
  • Overall keep you place picked up of daily messes. For example: Newspaper whether read or not is still fun to shred and eat. (Same goes for the mail!) Just got home from shopping? Put away the bags! Plastic bags can be either chewed and swallowed (pups) or can suffocate some pets accidentally (kittens & ferrets).
  • Sometimes pets will eat something that will require surgery to remove. Small objects to watch out for include rubber bands, balloons, beads, buttons, Q-tips, sewing needles, thread, staples, string, pantyhose and coins - to name a few!
  • Medication should never be left around the house. Make sure it is secure - just like with children!
  • Keep heating vents covered. Many pets love to snuggle up to these and you don't want your pet falling in.
  • Smaller pets like ferrets should be blocked off from holes and other hideaways - you don't want them to find a comfy spot and not come out! Also be certain to check under recliners before moving them as your pet may find it a nice place to hide out.
  • Plants should be moved to higher ground or blocked. Watch out for vine plants that your pet might grab and bring the whole thing down. * Some household plants are poisonous to pets. Here are a few: aloe vera, amaryllis, caladium, holly berries, lilies, mistletoe, mums, and poinsettias. For a complete listing check out the Poisonous Plants resource links.

Playtime! 
Unless they are sleeping, or eating, they are playing!! Some tips to make this non-stop action fun and safe for both of you!

  • Keep an eye on your pet at play with certain toys. Some toys don't hold up to your pets hunting prowess and become shredded in no time. Toys with squeakers are fun but many pets will work hard to remove them if your not watching. Just keep in mind if you are in the other room, you may never see them devour their cut up prey! A solution would be have toys for when you can see them and more durable toys for when they are in the yard, other room, or you are not at home.
  • Also watch older toys. If they don't fall apart they may actually be warn into sharp edges, don't let your pet play with damaged toys, they can cut themselves easily. Look before you step when playing with all our small pets. Try this pattern "Turn, Look, Step"
  • Some small animals such as rabbits are chewers and it normal to give them various chew toys such as: Cardboard boxes, empty oatmeal containers, bird toys, cardboard paper towel rolls, things to shred. Try to keep them away from your wooden furniture - they love wood! Instead wood sticks are available at pet stores.

Road Blocks 
If they can't reach it, they can't eat it, scratch it, or all out destroy it!

  • Don't forget the garbage! Take the garbage outside or make sure you can close it away in a closet/room where pets cannot reach it. Not only will they make a mess rifling through all the goodies they can also hurt themselves if there are any rough objects they rifle through.
  • Keep some rooms closed. It is perfectly reasonable for there to be certain rooms that pets may not visit unless supervised. One obvious choice would be the bathroom (remember that puppy running down the hall with toilet paper - cute - but after the 20th time said pup turns from cutie to lil'-demon). If you don't have a door to a particular area look into getting a child gate or blocking it off with other materials. If you have a mixture of pets you may not want them to be able to access certain areas of each others space. A prime example is keeping kitty litter from dogs, some seem to find the "deposits" tasty snacks. In this instance you can set up a roadblock for the dog that the cat can still easily climb over.
  • If your pet is especially good with its nose or paws you may want to get childproof latches. They will work well to keep them out of lower cabinets in your home.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet, especially if you use strong cleaners. Small, curious pets may fall in and pets taking a drink can be poisoned by cleaners - some of them even contain anti-freeze!
  • Speaking of cleaners, here are some examples of cleaners that are really dangerous to your pets (to name a few!): ammonia, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, rat/bug poison.
  • Keep electric cords out of reach or secure them to baseboards. When first home keep an eye on where your pet is at all times. Some may try chewing on the cords. You can deter this with a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple", a mix of vinegar and water, or hot sauce. Or even better, block access to them altogether.
  • Speaking of cords, watch those drapery cords as well. Tie them up so all your window treatments aren't pulled to the ground.
  • Many animals are attracted to fire. The light of a candle or the heat of a fireplace will peak their interest. Make sure candles are never left unattended. For the fireplace make sure Fluffy knows just how close they are allowed to get for a good snooze - warm is good, singed is bad.
  • Keep the upstairs windows and any cellar doors shut. Young pets are just like children with their curiosity but can easily misstep and fall.
  • Be careful when working in the garage. It is best to keep them out and make sure you clean up thoroughly! Such toxins like anti-freeze are very lethal to pets - a drop the size of a dime can be lethal! (You hear a lot about anti-freeze, not only is a small amount incredibly lethal, anti-freeze is also sweet smelling and tasting to pets - they will seek it out!!)
  • Watch our for open dresser drawers, closets and other nice dark places, kittens are especially curious and many are drawn to these make-shift dens. Have you heard about the kitten jumping in the dryer? Its not a urban legend, be alert and check before you shut the door.
  • Another warm place kittens like to snuggle is on a car engine. If your kitten has access to your car (or the neighborhood cat for that matter) it may help pound on the hood of your car and honk you horn. If you don't want to do this every day try to limit access to your car.
  • One of my favorite words of advice when watching out for the sleeping kitten: "Locate your kitten before you sit down on the sofa or use the recliner." (Of course, depending on your house rules, that may go for your other pets too!)

Table Manners
Don't feed table scraps to your pets. Many times people don't realize that some foods okay for us can be toxic or hard on the system for animals.

Some foods to be aware of: Alcohol, Chicken & Turkey Bones, Nutmeg, Apples (stems & seeds), Chocolate, Onion Apricots (seeds), Coffee (grinds & beans), Peaches (seeds),  Avocados, Dairy Products (large amounts), Pears, Baking Powder, Fatty Foods, Plums,  Baking Soda, Garlic, Potatoes (peelings & green,) Broccoli (large amounts, )Grapes, Raisins, Cherries (stems & seeds), Macadamia Nuts, Yeast, **Tobacco, although not a food, ingestion can be poisonous

Holiday Playground
The holidays are fun for everyone - including your pets!

  • Decorations should be up high or in rooms that pets have limited access.
  • Any holiday lights should be treated the same as other electrical cords. Get it out of the way or secured so your pets don't accidentally trip over them. Also keep a lookout and make sure they do not chew on them; again a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple" will work.
  • Other holiday items to keep from you pets include: metal ornament hooks, popcorn strands, tinsel, angel hair (it is spun glass), and decorative artificial snow or tree flocking - to name a few.
  • Don't forget that holiday plants like holly berries, mistletoe, and poinsettias are poisonous!
  • Fourth of July fireworks are fun for us but many pets find all the racket frightening. One suggestion is to have treats nearby and give them treats whenever there is "Boom!" so they associate the noise with happier things (mostly used for dogs). Another thing to keep in mind if you are leaving for the festivities, don't leave pets alone out in the backyard. They may panic and do things they normally wouldn't do like digging their way out!
  • Many holidays include house guests that are not familiar with your pet or household rules. After introducing your guest to your pet, make certain you let your guests know not to leave doors open, feed table scraps or any other important household rules. If there are a lot of guests you may want to arrange a quiet place for your pet to retreat.

Home Alone 
What do they do when you leave the home? Preferably it doesn't involve eating the couch!

  • Before you leave for a long day at work it is important your pet is calm. For dogs a good walk in the morning may be necessary. For cats a little play time will help with bonus energy. Teach your pet tricks and have them perform for you before you head out. Our pets sleep more then we do and getting rid of morning energy will help them settle for a nap while your out earning money to spend on them.
  • If you have a really active breed you may want to look into a dog daycare or walking service for a couple days out of the week. Taking your dog to a pet daycare is like taking them to camp. They get to romp with other dogs and usually come home tired and ready for a good night sleep. Many find that a few days out of the week is enough to hold them over on the days in-between.
  • Crates can be lifesaver when you are gone. If you have pet that is still undergoing training and is not sure of all the rules, a crate or restricted room is a must.

Cautionary tale on the restricted room - we placed one of our pups in a room in our house as we went out to get a bite to eat. There was no furniture in the room except for her crate with her toys. When we came back she had climbed the crate and chewed the metal blinds on the window and also proceeded to dig up part of the carpet!

Part II: Preparing

Your yard is fun place for you and your pet to enjoy the outdoors. Maintaining your yard for your pet is relatively easy. There are some hazards that you will want to watch for and prevent. Not all of your pets may enjoy your yard to its fullest, some may stay in pens or restricted kennel/runs. The tips below address pets that have more freedom. These pets roam a fenced backyard or around the perimeter of your house (i.e. Dogs & Cats). In addition to proofing tips we offer some ideas about making your yard more enjoyable. Sometimes you may have a small space or areas you really don't want Fido to excavate. Read on for a checklist of ways to make your yard safe and entertaining for your pets.

Yard Maintenance
When maintaining your yard you want to keep your pets in mind.

  • When working on the yard keep pets indoors. Our dogs like to chase the lawnmower - bad idea - so they now watch from inside. Some pets may be just the opposite and try either to attack the mower or try to escape in a panic - equally bad idea. Besides the lawnmowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and other loud tools should not be used when pets are around.
  • Be careful with other tools such as shovels, rakes, spades, etc. Some pets may try to "help" you do the yard work and can inadvertently be struck by these items.
  • Review the chemicals you use on your yard. Weed killers, bug killers/bait and other chemicals can be poisonous to your pets as well. Some you may still be able to use, however, you may need to let the yard sit for x amount of hours before letting your pets back out. Symptoms of poisoning usually include: vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes convulsions or unconsciousness.
  • Keep your yard clean of waste. Especially with puppies, they can get in the habit of eating their waste. Besides, you will both enjoy your yard much better if it is not covered in poo mines! For cats you should have an outdoor litter box. This will be easier to clean and prevent the cat from laying waste to your (or your neighbor's) flowerbeds.
  • Remove any ladders, tools or stacked piles (i.e. wood), etc. that young pets may try to climb or knock over. If you do keep the stacks in your yard, check that they are secure and cannot roll onto your pet. Consider carefully what you plant in your yard. Plants that can cause complications include: Rhododendron, Japanese Yew, Lilly of the Valley, Peach and Cherry Trees (pits) to name a few. See our links to Poisonous Plants for more details.
  • You may want to try to keep your yard clear of the bee family by getting rid of nests on your property. Your dog cannot escape bees flying through the yard, but cutting down their numbers may help. All dogs are naturally allergic to bee stings. Depending on the location of the sting they may have to visit the vet for medication. If it is on the mouth/head it can lead to swelling and difficulty breathing.

The Kingdom 
Your pets will make your yard into their own domain. Make sure their kingdom is safe and enjoyable. 

  • Check the fence of the yard for holes or gaps that may be an easy escape. Make sure your gates are locked and secured and guests and children know to do so as well.
  • It is best not to have any young pets around water unattended. If you have a pool or pond make sure to watch them around this area carefully. Some trainers even suggest teaching pets how to get out of the pool or pond early on, sort of a "Swimming 101" for the pet in case they get into trouble when your back is turned. If your pet does get into a pool, make sure they get a bath so none of the harsh chemicals can effect their skin and coat.
  • Most pets are sun lovers. If your pet likes to "sunbathe" keep an eye that they don't get too hot. Signs of heat exhaustion include: restlessness, panting excessively and drooling. The worst case scenario is the pet collapsing and eventually falling into a coma. To counter it, wrap them in a damp cool (not cold) towel and go to your vet or animal hospital. In hot weather keep plenty of water. Refresh and refill it often. If you keep food outside as well make sure it does not sit too long. The heat may cause it to spoil and flies may contaminate it.
  • Make sure you have shade in your yard. You may even want to add a structure such as a doghouse for your pup to rest
  • Ask your vet to recommend a flea & tick prevention plan right for your pet. Depending on how much your pet is outside, where it goes, etc. you may need more preventive tools. It is imperative you ask your vet as many medicinal solutions are measured by your pets size, weight, age, etc.
  • Your pet may like to make or find a burrow to rest in. Block off crawl spaces under sheds or decks. You don't want them to get trapped or hurt by any debris you cannot see underneath.

Ideas for your Pet Friendly
Yard Below are just a few ideas of things you may do to improve your yard for your pet.

  • Placing markers around your yard for your dog to potty on or for your cat to scratch on can help save some of your other trees. Start by blocking the trees you want to save and place toys or treats by the markers you want them to use. Eventually you can train you pet to have a habitual like for that particular log(s)!
  • Prepare digging spots for your pets. For your dog it can be a small area of dirt and sand where you keep toys to encourage him to be there. For cats you can have one container/pot with catnip or another enticement. By keeping them interested in their designated digging spot they will learn to have fun there and leave the rest of your yard alone (most of the time!).
  • If you don't want your dog in your flower bed try a wooden or stone fence. Some dogs will learn to stay out of the area due to the road block, however you may need to supplement the roadblocks with additional training.
  • Dogs are going to do their rounds around "their" territory. This will leave worn paths in the grass. You may want to lay a nice stone path on their route to beautify it.
  • Continuing with a dogs tendency to make paths, for smaller yards you can make a maze path for them. Using placing flowerbeds and other structures you can create a winding route for them for their territorial routine.

Conclusion

Pets are a wonderful addition to the family and home. Taking time to proof your house and yard will make both of your lives a lot easier. It may seem daunting at first that there are so many things to do for or keep away from your pets. However, after a while your pets will learn the house rules. You may even be able to reclaim certain areas of the house as your pet matures and understands not to destroy your things. For example, our dogs don't touch the laundry anymore and we can leave books on low shelves without them getting even a sniff of interest. You will find many of the hazards you watch for you will begin to do so naturally. Eventually you won't even realize your new habits. It is simply part of the lifestyle change that happens as it is always an adjustment to bring animals into our home. Just know that you can be pro-active, you'll have far fewer headaches in the long run and in the end you will have great company and lots of fun!

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What does it mean when a property has a Mortgage on it?

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A mortgage is an instrument giving an interest in real estate from one person, the "mortgagor," to another person, the "mortgagee," to secure a debt or liability. Depending upon the laws of the particular state, a mortgage may create a lien or it may actually transfer title to the mortgagee who holds it in trust pending payment of the debt or obligation.

In the sale of a property, the mortgagee (lender) will have any debts they are holding be paid first before any proceeds of the sale go to the mortgagor, who is usually the home owner. To make sure this transaction goes smoothly and all parties to the transaction are paid, an escrow agent will handle the funds for the buyer to make sure all debts, liens, and obligations of the property are paid before the seller receives their funds and the title of the property is transferred.

Mortgages may contain various clauses specifying the rights and obligations of the parties. The parties may agree upon the terms as they wish so long as those terms do not violate state law. The mortgage must be in writing and must be signed. At the very minimum, the mortgage must contain the names and addresses of the parties and of the person who prepared it, a description of the real estate subject to the mortgage, the amount of the debt secured by the mortgage, and the due date. Additional provisions often seen in mortgages include: representations and warranties, provisions for payment of taxes, maintaining insurance on the real estate, specification when default occurs, acceleration clauses, foreclosure, redemption, attorney’s fees, and due-on sale clauses.  Please see specific state for details and/or differences.

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What happens if I have a Judgment Lien on a property?

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A judgment is a final decree, decision, order, or other ruling by a court determining the rights and obligations of the parties to a lawsuit. A lien is a claim, interest, or right to property or a portion of it for payment of a debt or liability. A judgment lien is a lien arising from a judgment, which gives the holder of the judgment the right to levy upon or seize the property of another to pay off or satisfy the judgment subject to rights of exemption or redemption belonging to the judgment debtor.

In many cases a lien on property must be removed before the sale of the property may commence. Otherwise, at the time of the sale of property, the judgment lien will be paid out before the home owner receives any funds.

Levy or seizure of property pursuant to a judgment lien usually is done through a writ of execution issued to a sheriff or constable directing him/her to seize a property and sell it, usually through public sale.

In most states, a judgment becomes a lien upon real estate located in the county where the judgment was entered when registered in the county where the real estate is located. It becomes a lien on real estate located in other counties or districts when registered in the county where the real estate is located. Typically, the lien lasts ten (10) years from the date of entry of the judgment. The judgment may be renewed by petitioning the court. 

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Why is my neighbor talking about Adverse Possession?

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Adverse possession is the taking of title to real estate by possessing it for a certain period of time.  Title means ownership of real estate.  The person claiming title to real estate by adverse possession must have actual possession of it that is open, notorious, exclusive, and adverse to the claims of other persons to the title.  By its’ very nature, a claim of adverse possession is hostile to the claims of other persons.  It cannot be hidden but must be open and notorious in order to put other persons on notice as to one’s claim for possession of the real estate.

A claim to title by adverse possession often must be made under color of title.  Color of title means a claim to title by way of a fact, which, although on its’ face appears to support a person’s claim to title, is in some way defective and falls short of actually establishing title to the real estate.  An example of a claim made under color of title would be a deed whose execution was defective or is in question.  Another example is a claim arising from another person’s Last Will and Testament.  Yet another common example is where two or more persons have received separate deeds to the same parcel of real estate.  For More Information Please Click Here

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How to Reduce Uncertainty When Selling Your Home.

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Imagine you’re selling your home. Now imagine that a qualified buyer has made a good offer — and that you’ve accepted the offer. Next, imagine that the buyer comes back with a list of problems that their home inspector has uncovered…problems you weren’t aware of. Suddenly, you’re faced with a thorny problem. You either spend a ton of money fixing the problem…lower the selling price…or maybe lose the sale altogether. Your exhilaration over the pending sale of your house quickly turns into exasperation!

For more information on this and other topics check out our legal Q and A
 

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Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Home Inspector.

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Things you must know before hiring a home inspector.

There’s always this feeling of fufilment when you are getting ready to buy a home, especially your first home. You can't wait to get the paper work done and relocate. Under such circumstances, we tend to make the wrong choices in hiring home inspectors. You don’t want to move into a home only to realize that there are problems you should’ve noticed earlier and fixed.

 

In this article, I’ll be writing on the basic things you must know before hiring a home inspector.

 

Ask for references

 

The first thing you must do is to ask the home inspector about his previous jobs. A good home inspector should be able to give you references or even a sample from his previous job. Although reference will serve but a sample should be a preferred option. His sample will be able to give you a glimpse on what to expect from his home inspection.

 

Don’t hire an all ‘rounder’

 

When you need the services of a home inspector, its important that you hire a home inspector and not a contractor. If you hire a person who is affiliated with repair companies, you may end up doing unnecessary repairs to the home. People like to ‘upsell’ services to make money. A bad home inspector will point out minor issues in your home and also recommend some services to you. That’s very bad.

 

Conduct Interviews

 

When you’ve narrowed down your list of home inspectors, the next step is to conduct an interview. This interview will give you the opportunity to ask several question. You can ask about insurance and refunds policy just in case there is a mistake in the inspection. You can also ask about the time frame for the inspection. A home inspector that is not willing o spend upto 4 hours inspecting your home shouldn't be hired. A good home inspector must dedicate his/her time inspecting your new home.

 

In the world today, a lot people have labeled themselves home inspectors even without any qualifications to prove that. Don’t get scammed by such people. Always go for the right people that will guarantee an excellent output. At Homecheck.com, we take our time to inspect homes for our clients. Our rates are friendly and our terms are easy to understand. Give us a call or write us an mail to get started.

 

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The Cleaner House

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The old days of harsh bleach and chemicals used to clean around the house are slowly fading out. Along with this trend is a desire of many consumers to adopt more environmentally friendly products for their home. This can be anything from the new countertops and floors to the groceries bought at the local supermarket. In addition to what you bring in (and take out) of your home, the maintenance of your home can is a way to become more green.

  • According to the energysavers.gov website, "Americans spend more than $160 billion a year to heat, cool, light, and live" in their homes. Everyone may not try every option or may find their budget does not allow for all of the products available. However, a few home improvements and informed purchases can not only save you money in the long run, but these changes can also provide a healthier home for your family and the planet. Initially, all the options to create a greener home can be overwhelming. But some tasks are good home maintenance and a few only need to be done once.

The headings below is just one way to break down some of the improvements and updates you may make to your home which will effect its impact and performance. Did we say performance? You bet! Making sure your home is running efficiently and smoothly is the number one way to helping the environment! How efficient is your home? Making your home work efficiently to keep you warm, cool and provide you with creature comforts is the perfect way to help other creatures of the world. Taking time to keep your home updated will help reduce the amount of energy you need and ultimately be easier on your wallet as well.

  • Lighting: You can cut electricity costs by taking advantage of natural lighting and choosing carefully the lighting you purchase. Natural light is a great way to improve your home's efficiency. Skylights and easy to open window treatments can help you better regulate where you get your light during the day. Windows facing north and south can offer a great source of natural light and heat. West and east windows will offer light but may produce too much glare as the sun rises and sets. Choose your artificial lights carefully. Selecting a few accent lights and then a concentrated task light for an activity such as reading is a better alternative to lighting up every square inch of the room with florescent bulbs! Using environmentally efficient light bulbs can help reduce energy costs. However, research the bulbs you buy. Some may not work as well for task lighting. Others may not work with your older lamps and you may be better buying a new lighting fixture at the same time. Keep your artificial lights working at their best. Even the simple task of keeping your lamp shades free of dust can improve the light quality in your home. Windows: The windows of your home can be a great ally. Getting the right type of window treatments can help regulate your home temperatures.
     
  • Drapes: Drawn closed in the winter, these window treatments can help prevent heat from escaping by as much as 10%! Drapes can also help decrease heat coming into the home if closed against direct sunlight in the summer. Blinds or Shades: These can help reduce the amount of heat coming through the window because of direct sunlight. Dual shades can be very useful. Use the light side to help reflect and keep out the warming sun in the summer and the dark side can be used in the winter to draw in more heat.
     
  • Shutters: Both exterior and interior shutters can be used to keep heat out in the summer. They do not work as well at keeping heat in during the winter. Another perk of having exterior shutters is that they can provide extra security for your home as well. Window Panel: Similar to a shutter, a window panel is a product that pops into the window frame and provides extra insulation in the winter. An inexpensive addition, this may be ideal for windows not used for their light in the winter.
     
  • Screens: Although these don't really keep any heat in place, using screens on your windows allows for better cooling and airing of your home in the summer. Screens allow you to keep windows and doors open encouraging a natural movement of the air. Using open windows well in the morning and evening can drastically reduce your air conditioning bill. Thankfully this can be done without letting in all the bugs and critters! Awnings: Window awnings can help keep the house cooler in the summer by reducing the amount of heat that is adsorbed.
     
  • Air Leaks: Get rid of air leaks! Insulation works to improve both the heating and cooling of your home. Check around your doors and windows first. Many leaks escape through these portals the most. Replace weather stripping and caulk where needed. Besides the doors and windows, also check for air leaks around vents, fans, phone and cable lines, and electrical lines. Depending on the materials used in your home, you may also need to check any brick, stucco or cement construction for needed repairs. Not sure if you have a leak? One option is to use an incense stick. The smoke will show any movement caused by air leaks. Another method is to have someone stand on the other side of the possible leak source while you shine a flashlight at the edges. If they can see the light on the other side then some updates should be made.
     
  • Insulation: Updating or adding insulation to your home, especially an older one, can help reduce costs associated with heating and cooling your home. The attic, crawl space, basement, exterior walls and space around service ducts are the areas that will need the most attention or improvement. Reduce Water Usage: There are many ways to reduce your water consumption around the home. The hot water heater can be an energy hog. Try insulating it if it does not already have at least R-24 insulation. You can also lower the temperature of the water from 140°F to 120°F to save on cost. Make certain to fix any leaky pipes or faucets. Over time these will not only consume water but will also cause damage to the surrounding area. To get better use of water for your money, consider installing low-flow water faucets and showerheads. You may also consider a water (and energy) efficient clothes washer. What do you bring into your home? Whether building a new home or shopping for the weekly groceries, the products you choose to bring home have a great impact on the environment. Taking some time to consider your choices before you buy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Renewable Construction: If building or remodeling a home, consider renewable sources for some of your construction needs. You do not have to use all or any of them, however, if you take the time to research some of these options, you may be surprised and find a good fit. Hardwood floors are great in that they keep allergies as bay and are easier on the environment then synthetic carpet manufacture. However, a renewable wood is key here. Renewable floors such as bamboo or cork are much easier to replenish. Another option that has gained in popularity is reclaimed wood. This product is taken from demolition sites - everything from an old house to an old gymnasium floor. Research the product's history as some sealants and paints used on the wood may be toxic. There are more renewable sources available. From recycled glass used as tile to recycled jeans used as insulation. Take a look at our links to the right for more information about these items and possible vendors in your area. Buy Local: There has been a lot of encouragement for consumers to buy local recently. Buying locally should help cut down on shipping and packaging costs. Doing so can also help local farmers and businesses. Not always the cheaper option, trying to purposely buy some items locally can help the economy and ultimately the environment. In fact, some believe buying groceries from local sources provides fresher produce that ultimately could be better for your health.
     
  • Quality of Product: Being a savvy consumer who expects the best quality in their products is helpful to the environment as well as your pocketbook. Move away from cheaply made items; instead research your purchases and get ones that will perform well for a long time to come. Check Labels: On anything you buy, take time to check the labels and be aware of any impact it may have on your environment - including at home. Consider carefully your choice in chemicals used for cleaning. When working on home improvement projects consider the options you have for glues, paints and other possible hazardous materials.
     
  • THERMOSTAT: Lower your thermostat by a few degrees. Get a controller where you can specify different temperatures for day and night. LIGHTS: Turn off incandescent lights when not in use. Turn off florescent lights if you will be gone for more than 15 minutes. Optimize your use of natural light with work or reading places near northern or southern windows away from eastern and western sun glare.
     
  • ELECTRONICS: Turn off power strips if nothing on the strip is in use. Unplug unused electronics.
  • COMPUTERS: Turn off your computer monitor if you will be gone for more than 20 minutes. Turn off both your computer and computer monitor if you will be gone for more than 2 hours. Use the sleep mode if your computer has one.
  • ENERGY: Consider purchasing green energy from your power company such as solar power, wind power, biomass power, geothermal energy or hydropower. If your power company does not have one of these options available, you may still be able to invest in future programs.
     
  • LAUNDRY: Wash your clothes in cold water when possible. Clothesline dry your laundry on sunny days. Shop for detergents that list which toxic chemicals are not in the product. A generic statement such as "non-toxic" may be gimmick so read the label carefully. GROCERIES: Shop locally. Use a cloth reusable bag for groceries.
     
  • COOKING: Use cookware that cooks at lower temperatures such as cast iron or clay. Save your baking for cooler hours. DISHES: Only run the dishwasher when it is full. Run the dishwasher at night.
     
  • GARDEN GREEN: Check out our article on environmentally green gardening. Or see our article about pet safe gardening. 11/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
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Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Tips

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With all of the environmental problems our world is facing today, every day people are looking for ways that they can make a difference. Earth conscious individuals everywhere are recycling their paper, plastic and glass, purchasing hybrid and electric cars but what more can people do in their day-to-day lives to make a difference? When it comes to earth-friendly home improvement measures, you'd be surprised at the amount of "small stuff" you can do that really adds up in a big way. Here are a few of my favorite eco-friendly home improvement tips.

1.) Change a Light Bulb, Change the World: One of the smallest things you can do with one of the biggest potential impacts is changing one, single light bulb in your home from an incandescent to a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one bulb, we could save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. That translates into savings of over $600 million in annual energy costs. Additionally, by changing just one light bulb, we could prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to emissions of over 800,000 cars! That's incredible! While CFLs do cost a bit more up front, they last up to 10 times longer and produce about 75% less heat. The best part is, you don't need to buy all new lighting! CFLs can be used in most standard light fixtures. While the impact of every American switching one light bulb to a CFL is staggering, why not change a couple? It's recommended that a CFL be installed into any fixture that is used for more than 15 minutes at a time, including fixtures in the living room, bedroom and kitchen.

2.) Paint The Town Green: If you have a painting project on your list of "to-dos," consider using low or no VOC paints. VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) are low level toxic emissions that are released into the air during the painting process and sometimes, for years afterward. While zero VOC paints are ideal, these can cost on average, about $30 a gallon. If you are on a budget, low VOC paints are a suitable option, costing about the same as a regular gallon of paint. Many of these low and zero VOC paints are also odor free, which is a plus. You can also purchase low and no VOC stains and varnishes for your woodworking projects.

3.) If You Build It Green, They Will Come: When it comes to purchasing furniture for your home or apartment, it’s a good idea to be thorough when shopping around. I'm not just talking about shopping for the best price - I'm talking about shopping for the "greenest" manufacturer! Take bedroom furniture manufacturer, Lifestyle Solutions, for example. Lifestyle Solutions has its manufacturing process certified for compliance by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) guidelines for sustainable management of tropical forests. Every single product they produce is constructed from plantation-grown imported hardwood to help ensure a sustainable use of timber. Bedroom furniture manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett on the other hand, employs a One For Program, in which the company replaces every tree used in the manufacturing process, with a new one. By shopping with a more earth-friendly company, you feel especially good about your investment - and let’s face it, good furniture is definitely an investment.

4.) Clean Living: When you clean, have you ever stopped to look at the bevy of chemicals found in most household cleaning solutions? I always go by the mantra of "if you can't pronounce it, it can't be good." By using natural cleaning products, you eliminate both direct contact with your skin and you help the environment at the same time. Since most conventional dish and laundry detergents are petroleum based (non-renewable resource), with fragrance that contain phthalates (potentially harmful chemicals), you should try and use "fragrance-free" products and cleaning products with a citrus-oil base. Home-made concoctions are also great ways to clean a more eco-friendly way. Remove stains by soaking fabrics in water mixed with borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda or white vinegar. Baking soda can be used in place of traditional cleanser for cleaning countertops and stovetops. Try adding one-quarter cup of white vinegar or a tablespoon of lemon juice to a spray water bottle and clean your windows. By taking a pot of boiling water and flushing it down your drains, you help prevent drains from clogging. If your drain is already clogged, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle one fourth cup of baking soda into the offending drain and then pour a cup of vinegar, letting it sit for 15 minutes. Flush it out with boiling water and repeat as necessary. When it comes to the day to day tasks and basic home improvement, there are plenty of eco-friendly ways that you can make a difference. While some of these things might take some extra time and cost a little more money, it's probably worth it in the long run. More information at: http://www.BedroomFurniture.com

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Paint-On Insulation: Is It Truly Green?

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Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home. One of largest contributors to drafty rooms is a lack of insulation. Insulation is designed to stop air passage through ceilings, walls, and the floor. The intention is to keep the right air where you want it in each season. Obviously, the windows and heating source are also important to maintaining an overall energy efficient program, but having the right insulation is a key factor.

In existing homes, it can be difficult to go back and insulate after the fact. If attic space allows, you can blow-in insulation. Under-floors and in-between walls can be difficult as well. Even with your best efforts, there is bound to be some location that is hard to reach. What if you had a product that you could apply from the exterior?

Sound a bit like science-fiction? SFGate highlighted the ingenious concept of Nansulate this past November. It is a paint-on insulation that suspends specially engineered particles with low-conductivity in an acrylic base. The particles are water-resistant, making the paint a weapon against mold and mildew. Unlike traditional fiberglass insulations, this new product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

So how green is this product? The company promotes it as a major breakthrough in green endeavors. Not only does it contribute to creating more energy efficient homes, but they also make this statement regarding the safety of the ingredients: "Nansulate® coatings contain none of the ingredients contained on the EPA listing as Class I or Class II Ozone Depleting Substances, nor do they contain any ingredients on the listing for Global Warming Potential (GWP) that are non-ozone-depleting." The company is anxious to become accepted into the green marketplace. "We are pleased to see that our Nansulate coatings are becoming a brand name in the sector of Green Nanotechnology," stated Francesca Crolley, VP Operations & Marketing. (Nano Science and Technology Institute)

Sounds like a pretty good idea, but is it affordable to the average homeowner? Surprisingly, it is actually quite affordable. At $66 for 150 sqft of coverage, it is an inexpensive alternative to other forms of insulation. Especially if you take into account the ability to avoid opening up walls or crawling under houses. The paint can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or roller. It is applied to walls, windows, pipes, and water heaters, and can even be applied over existing paint.

Because this is a fairly new product and its composition is so different from traditional insulation materials, it is hard to do a straight-across-the-board comparison between the two. So far, however, those who have already used it report a 20-40% savings on their utility bills.

A relatively new product, the company is working hard to bring awareness to its presence. I, like many, was initially skeptical. It sounds a bit too easy to be effective. They offer several case studies to promote its efficiency, but each of us will probably have to try it firsthand before we are believers. It definitely sounds like it is worth trying-out. Fairly easy to install, why not see how it can help your energy efficiency this season? Request free estimates from a skilled painting contractor in your area to see what this product can bring to your home. More information at: CalFinder Remodeling

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Clean to GREEN!

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The days are longer, the temperatures are becoming pleasant and our energy levels are up as we begin to stretch out of our winter hibernation - spring is here! Time to harness some of the new energy and get the spring cleaning out of the way. Although some demigods may have immaculate households and not heed this tradition, most of us do have a bit (or more) of collected clutter and dust around the home. Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to remove dust, mold, toxins and clutter from our households. And as we clean, we notice a pile emerge of unused and unwanted "stuff." This gathered hoard of old décor, books, electronics and exercise gadgets should not be squirreled away for another year! Instead, incorporate into your spring cleaning the determination to get this "stuff" out the door through a garage sale (real or virtual) or off to charity.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning for most households is a family tradition. According to the contributors to Wikipedia, evidence of spring cleaning can be seen in ancient civilizations - from the Jewish tradition of cleaning the house before Passover to the Iranian "khooneh tekouni" or "shaking the house." Many Americans grew up in households where there was a yearly purge of dust and "bad air" from the winter months. This too comes from earlier times when fires of coal and wood were the primary source of heat and rural households sometimes bundled down with the livestock indoors. For this reason, some argue that spring cleaning is not a necessity with our modern furnaces, solid windows and cleaner spaces. Consider this a time then to do the very best cleaning of all your living spaces, appliances and work areas. We all skimp on cleaning out the fridge or stove, now is the time to hit these areas thoroughly. Below we have listed some common items to clean during this sweep. For a more detailed list to help on your cleaning, we have also provided a "Spring Cleaning Checklist."

Common Spring Cleaning Tasks:

Dust ceilings, walls, corners, light fixtures, base boards, vents, and furniture

Wipe down walls, light-switches, outlets, doorknobs and handles

Clean blinds, curtains, drapes, window sills and windows

Clean doormats, bathmats, and area rugs

Shampoo the carpets

Clean the hardwoods and vinyl

Dust and wipe down furniture, cabinets, shelves and countertops

Clear the clutter and get items back where they belong

Consider items for a garage sale, charity run, or dare to think it - re-gift it!

Remember to click here for a detailed Spring Cleaning Checklist! WORD | PDF

Other important items (while your at it):

  • Update important documents in safe or safety deposit box
  • Update emergency plans and phone trees
  • Review emergency plans with family members
  • Review all medications in your household for expirations
  • Review first aid kits - these don't last forever and you may need to replace some items or the whole kit Also review any other emergency kits
  • Test and change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Garage Sale

Now that you have cleaned your house, you have gathered "stuff" that you no longer use, need or want. Your gathered hoard of goodies will probably include:

  • Unwanted décor
  • CDs / DVDs / Games
  • Books
  • Dishes / Glasses / Cups
  • Kitchen Gadgets/Small Appliances
  • Exercise Gadgets
  • Craft Goods
  • Small Electronic Devices

Now what?

Getting ready for a garage sale can be a daunting task and should be handled with the same planning and care you would give to a major event - just try to keep it fun - you're planning for a big block party where you get to meet your neighbors and make some money! Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Take inventory of your gathered hoard: :Literally list the items as you place them in boxes/bags until the weather is nice for the sale. This will help you organize items. It is very helpful if you begin this process during your spring cleaning.
  2. Consider items for charity: If you have some highly valued items, such as gently warn winter coats or clothing, consider giving some of these items to charity. You may try to sell most items and then give the leftovers to charity. However, don't use your local charity as a dump - be realistic and keep only usable items for these organizations.
  3. Set a date: Choose a day where you can rest well the night before and commit your full energy the day of the event. Keep the big day reasonable - if you are not a morning person - don't open a garage sale at 8am. With the right advertising you should be able to set your hours and stick to them.
  4. Be firm on your choices: If you haven't used an item in a year, then it is a very good chance you won't use it again. Let go of any emotional attachments to items - even if you mother gave you that clock you never use you can let it go. Instead, keep the more personalized items like photos or something handmade. Every gift is not a treasure! Remember - it was the thought that counted - not the unworn tie!
  5. Know the going rate: Review other garage sales in your area to see how similar items are being priced. Check online for prices on trade sites such as eBay.
  6. Showcase your items: Hang clothes, put small items in baggies, etc. Keeping your selection clean and neat will help buyers decide quickly. Also, label all of your prices. One box of "10 cents each" may be okay, but try to keep most items clearly priced and labeled.
  7. Advertise and make signs: These days advertising a garage sale is not only done in the paper. You can post announcements to online localized sites such as Craigslist and even most Penny Savers have an online option as well. When you make your signs keep them clear, big and simple. Make certain to take them down as soon as your sale is over.
  8. Change from the bank: Before the big day make sure to get some change for the cashbox. Decide beforehand if you will accept a checks and under what conditions or for which particular items.
  9. Prep your sale table: Besides your cashbox, prep your sale table with bags, newspaper to wrap fragile items, paper and pens, maybe a few good munchies and some items for you to do during any slow lulls.

Online Garage Sale

Now perhaps you have items left over from your garage sale or prefer to sell from the comfort at your computer desk at your own pace. Just keep in mind that selling items online will require more time as you write descriptions, place photos and run to the post office. If you have the patience or enjoy the idea of a virtual garage sale, these sites will help you get your unwanted items moving out the door! Amazon Marketplace: If you are a bit of a bibliophile and need to thin your collection, the

Amazon Marketplace can be a great option to sell used books, CDs, DVDs and more. Keep in mind that to list is free, but there are fees when an item sells. Considered more user-friendly than similar sites, it is worthwhile to check it out. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161232

BarterBee.com: A site specifically geared towards recycling CDs, DVDs and computer or consol games between households. Once you sign up for a membership, you list your used items for sale. Sell items to get points. You can then use those points to buy other CDs, DVDs or games that you want to try out. Of course you wouldn't use this site to make cash - points are used for like items. http://www.barterbee.com/

Craigslist: An online mismatch of services, used goods and announcements by city location. Here you may be able to find used items cheap. It can be the ordinary like used furniture to the not so common. For example, I once found someone who had new pavers left over from a patio project that they were willing to sell at a discount just to get them off their lawn. You may also be able to find cheap services such as yard work. However, users beware, there are no regulations on this site and you should take precautions when working with anyone on this list. This site definitely has a mixed history of great successes and terrible wrongs. Be careful. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites

eBAY: One of the most popular and well known online auction stops, eBay has been around since 1995. Users have the ability to rank other users for the ease of trade transactions. Probably the biggest garage sale on the internet. http://www.ebay.com/

Etsy: Buy and sell handmade items - a great source for crafters and home artisans of all medias. This site allows you to sell your talented pieces or purchase others for less than gallery prices. http://www.etsy.com/

JunkDepot: An online clearing house where you can list your items for sale. To list is $.99 per item and there is a 6 month limit to your posting. http://www.junkdepot.com/

Oodle Classifieds: An online classified search machine that searches 80,000 sources. You can also post your classified adds as well. http://www.oodle.com/

Sell.com: Another online classified site that allows you to list items for sale - a basic add is free and there are no transaction fees once an item sells. You can get a few more bells and whistles for a cost. http://www.sell.com/

Silkfair: Another online trade site that strives to make your life easier with fewer fees and an easy to use interface. A good alternative to check out if interested in selling or buying items online. http://www.silkfair.com/

SwapThing: This site allows for consumers to trade and barter items or services. There is also the option to do flat out sales. Unlike an auction site, you can barter privately and do not have to list items for auction. You enter what you want and it will match you with others who have it available. http://www.swapthing.com/home/index.jsp

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Selling Your Home? Use These Tips!

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Clean up the outside.

  • Curb appeal is the first impression of your house. Keeping the grass cut and the area tidy will help make a great first impression.
  • Paint or wash the exterior of the house (including window casings, shutters, and doors).
  • Wash the windows inside and out.
  • Check the gutters and chimney.

Increase The Curb Appeal Of Any House. Simple, low-cost curb appeal and house makeover improvements that anyone can do in a weekend. Or, there are many landscaping companies that can help with the job if time is an issue.

Touch up the interior.

  • Put a fresh coat of paint in the most used areas of the home. This will clean as well as brighten up the rooms.
  • Wash the walls where paint is not appropriate (i.e. wall paper, paneling).
  • Wash all floors and bathroom tiles.
  • Shampoo dirty carpets.
  • Get rid of clutter. Clean out your closets, garage, basement, and attic. Use shelf storage if necessary.
  • Replace air filters to help keep the dust down.

Replace bathroom and kitchen fixtures that are worn or leaking.

  • People will notice a leaking or worn-out faucet. By replacing these items, you will give a new look to the room.
  • Clean under the sinks. If there are any leaks, fix them. Then clean up the damage using contact paper or paint.

Home Improvement Contractor. Find and research local contractors, and get free no obligation quotes on your home improvement projects.

Get rid of any bad smells in your home.

  • Pay attention to pet or cigarette odors.
  • Place scented potpourri around the house.
  • On the day you're expecting a potential buyer, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls, home-made bread, or an apple pie into the oven for a great aroma.
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House of the Future

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What better way to begin the new year than to take a look at the future. In particular, the technology and innovation behind homes of the future. There is no doubt that as technology changes so many aspects of our lives it will soon also effect our personal sanctuary. Last year we looked at how computers were changing how we watched television. Other simple pastimes such as reading are also affected by computers and software notebooks that change our libraries. Music collections can now be slimmed down from plastic CD to bits of data on our computer. But what about the home structure itself? How will new technology effect how we use energy, water, communications and the natural environment surrounding the home? What might the homes of the future look like? Below we take a look at some of the more fast approaching changes to residential buildings that we might see take hold in the next few years.

Homes with a Brain - The new smart homes integrate new technology while keeping flexible for future innovations. A central command for everything from lights, security, and temperature control to entertainment features such as TVs, computers, and music are all connected to one central powerhouse that can be accessed from anywhere in the home. Programming options will allow you to set the home to various tasks based on the time of day. Imagine waking as the blinds open to the sun in your room, the kids are all woken for school by the house using lights and/or radio alarms, the coffee is already brewed and the security system turns off the evening protections so you don't set it off as you grab your morning paper. At the end of your day, the house checks that all the lights are off for you, all the doors and windows are locked, the security system is on, and maybe the refrigerator tallies its contents so it can remind you in the morning that you are running low on milk.

  1. Automated Climate Control - Homeowners with newer heating and cooling systems already know the benefit of automated temperature control. Currently the system can check the temperature and adjust to the ideal climate you preprogrammed. In the future, these systems will be even smarter. Look for future heating and cooling systems to respond to more than just temperature. They will also adjust according to sunlight and wind - perhaps your shades will automatically close against a setting sun. Climate control will also become easier by zone or area. You can control heating to the bedrooms at night in the winter while balancing the rest of the house so you are not paying to heat empty rooms.
  2. The Efficient "Big Brother" - Smart homes of the future will help us monitor how we use energy and resources. With a fully integrated home, families can examine how they are using and wasting energy, water, etc. They can then easily determine where they can make changes to make their homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
  3. Smart Appliances - These futuristic appliances can tell when your dishes are clean and will stop washing automatically. Your laundry will also only run until the rinse water is clean which will moderate water use and shorten cleaning time. Or better yet, instead of running the whole timed 60 minutes, the dryer will stop as soon as your clothes are dry.

Solar Energy - Recent oil prices and environmental concerns have created a resurge in the use of solar power. The new solar panels are not the same ones from the 70s. Instead, new solar panels on the market collect more photovolatic energy and are easier to install. Many homes are already including a few solar panels on the roof to offset energy costs. Setting the panels at the right slop towards where the house receives the most sun exposure is key. Even in a sunny state like California, consumers should realistically expect only a 50-75% savings at this time. But this is still substantial! Just imagine, as technology improves, so will our ability to use the sun's energy.

Wind Energy - Harnessing wind energy for a single urban residence is in a much more experimental/infancy stage than solar energy. But in the future, wind energy may help offset your energy costs just as much. Traditionally, wind power has been on a large scale and usually used rurally because the size of the turbines. But there are innovative thinkers already creating compact wind turbines for the urban resident. A recent example is the Clarian Jellyfish that is no more obstructive than a TV antenna on the roof.

Wireless Energy - Various forms of wireless energy are still under experimentation. Some are already proven to work in models - such as the WiTricity created by MIT Professor Marin Soljacic. In the future, using electromagnetic induction, microwaves or even lasers, energy may be transferred without the use of wires. In cases such as electromagnetic induction, the transmitting energy is reportedly safe to humans as energy moves from the power source to the receiver at a resonant frequency that matches each other but not other items in the environment. At this point the idea is that homes will still be connected to the city power grid, but all the devices in the home would be powered without wires. Imagine never having to charge your cell phone again or hanging a television on the wall without any wires. To read a bit more, click here.

Phones - Will your home in the future have a standard phone line? Many customers have been dropping phone line use in favor of wireless options - in fact, last year it was estimated that one in every five homes only uses wireless phones.* In addition, homes are now using more Internet phone and communication options such as video conferencing. Homes in the future may not be built with a standard phone line as more users switch to an IP based or wireless phone plan. Already many businesses are cutting costs by either not upgrading or not installing these phone lines for reconstruction or new construction projects. Starting with the business sector first, it may only be a matter of time when the phone line becomes optional for new homes.

Security - Many of the gadgets from the movies are now a reality for the everyday consumer. It is becoming easier to set up cameras around your home that you can access from any computer on a secured site. Add to this new electronic locks that allow you to lock/unlock your home online - perhaps you forgot to lock the doors this morning but can now do so from work or you want to let your neighbor in to bring in the paper while you're on vacation. And yes, these new locks will let you track which doors are opened, when and, in the future, by whom. You can already get fingerprint readers that will limit access to computers and/or your home. Some of the new model homes also include iris scans that make keys almost unnecessary.

Space - In the cities our available living space can be limited and will be even more so in the future. For urban living, therefore, it makes sense that our living spaces take on multiple functions. Tucking away what is not in use and creating efficient use of space is a common element many urban homes are adopting. For example, compact, built-in furniture features can help turn a living room into a bedroom or dining room. Perhaps suburban and even some rural homes will adopt some of these innovations as they give evidence of their cost effectiveness. Homebuyers may use urban designs to lower energy bills and the cost of building or remodeling a home. However, large homes will not disappear overnight and design will not change in most of the country until these slim urban concept designs prove their efficiency without sacrificing comfort.

Plants - Plants can help make a room more appealing and complete. In the future, plants may also be used to facilitate cleaner air in the home or to help clean waste water. Plants already can act like a carbon filter and help in taking gases such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde out of the air.* Maybe start this today and get a spider plant which is reported to work on both of these gasses. Currently plants may also be used around the home to help slow chemicals from storm runoff, safely adsorbing chemicals and creating clean waste. In the future, as more ways to treat water through phytoremediation are developed, this technology may become more accessible and plants may take a greater role in helping remove toxins from the water coming in and out of our homes.

Sprinklers - Okay, so not as impressive as say wireless energy, but the new sprinkler systems are still pretty neat - and cost effective. New systems allow for thinking sprinkler systems that will water the lawn only as needed. Set to read the amount of rain already received - you won't see automated sprinklers on during a rainstorm again!

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