Realtors

Heather

heather.acker@coldwellbankerrealestate.com
650 Ne Adams, Mc Minnville, OR 97128
P: 971-241-4961

Vic

markarianvic@gmail.com
LIC: BRE# 01059771
2946 Honolulu Ave, La Cresanta, CA 91214
P: 818-248-8668

Stratton

stratton@altrealtors.com
3637 N High Street, Columbus, OH 43214
P: 614-554-5255

All Articles


Got Attic Mold? How to Diagnose Common Sources.

Authored by | Published:
Atticpexels jeswin thomas 1628417

It happens to countless homeowners around the end of the year – you make the annual visit to your attic to collect the holiday decorations and what do you find? Spots and blotches covering the bottom of the roof sheathing. Worse yet – it turns out to be attic mold! What does energy conservation have to do with mold in the attic? Well if you take a step back and consider how the house behaves as a system, they are often directly related. Building science experts have long been using the “house as a system” approach to diagnose the cause and origin of building defects. For example, ice dams. These are often caused by warm air seeping into the attic which causes the snow and ice on the roof to melt. The water drains to the edge of the roof (which is colder than the rest of the roof because it is an overhang and not warmed by the attic), freezes and creates an ice dam. As this process is repeated daily, the ice dam grows larger. Eventually water is forced under a shingle where it can seep into the house. Understanding how the house behaves as a system and the various causes and effects is necessary to diagnose most building related problems. But how about that attic mold? How did it get there? Mold requires chronic moisture to form and to thrive, so source(s) of moisture must be present. Possibly the moisture came from outdoors. The roof is newer and a quick check of the roof shows no obvious damage or leaks. Possibly the moisture came from indoors. During the heating season, the interior of the house frequently has high moisture levels, especially bathrooms and kitchens. A quick check shows that all bathroom fans, kitchen vents, etc. are properly ducted completely outdoors and not into the attic. The amount of insulation looks good and the attic is well ventilated. Don’t give up – you are almost there! Remember the house as a system? You know that warm, moist air is in the house, but how is it getting into the attic? By air leaks! Air leaks are the leading source of energy loss in most houses, and a frequent source of chronic moisture that can cause attic mold. Most homeowners are well aware of air leaks around windows and doors (especially old ones), but many overlook the numerous gaps leading directly into the attic! Have a look around the attic and you may find large gaps around recessed lights and fans, holes where wires or pipes are installed, even large gaps around the chimney. And don’t overlook the whole house fan and especially the folding attic stair - a big, uninsulated hole in your ceiling that is often overlooked! These gaps can add up to a large hole that allows warm, moist air from the house to flow right into the cold attic. The warm moist air condenses on the cold roof sheathing, creating chronically damp conditions that can lead to attic mold growth. And the energy loss – it can be like leaving a window open all winter long! Seal these air leaks and you stop a significant moisture source. And just think of all the energy you can save and the cold drafts you can stop!

Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover and a fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit: www.batticdoor.com

 

Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels

Read More

IMPORTANT HOME INSPECTION TIPS

Authored by | Published:
Inspectips rodnae 8293680

IMPORTANT HOME INSPECTION TIPS

1. Order a home inspection soon after your purchase offer has been accepted. Real estate contracts typically allow a limited number of days to complete a home inspection (and then to request repairs, if applicable). 

2. Reputation is important. Choose a home inspector who is known for competence and professionalism — a referral from your lender or realtor is a good place to start. Make sure the inspector you select has access to ongoing technical support and offers you post-inspection advice, if needed.

3. If the home has been vacant, ask the seller to have all utilities turned on during the home inspection. Failure to do so may require a second trip to the home and may involve additional fees. To properly evaluate the home, an inspector must be able to operate all systems.

 4. If your inspector recommends a further evaluation, have a specialist in that area conduct a more extensive examination prior to closing.

5. Be sure you understand all conditions identified in the inspection report and reported defects/and or areas of concern have been resolved to your satisfaction before closing.

6. Your inspector can arrange for other services such as radon screening, termite inspection, water analyses, lead-based paint testing and septic/well system evaluation. Take advantage of your inspector’s contacts when necessary to further minimize unexpected after-sale problems or hazards in your new home.

More information at: http://www.southernhomeservices.biz/index4.htm

 

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Read More

Your Property Rights When Moving in Together

Authored by | Published:
Propertyrightsmovingintogether 3773837

If you are an unmarried couple and you plan on buying a home, the process is not necessarily more difficult but, it does come with additional challenges and items to consider before signing on the dotted line. Unmarried couples will find they have the common options of Tenants in Common or Joint Tenancy contracts when they purchase property. In some states one of these options will be considered automatically for them so they should be aware of what type of contract they are signing in advance.

Tenants in Common:

  • Contract between two or more people to own property together. There is no limit to the number of owners. This type of ownership is common for unmarried couples, groups investing in larger property and those interested in buying property in expensive markets they could not otherwise afford on their own.
  • Tenants in Common can sell their share of the home at any time. If no additional contract is made, they may do this without forewarning other owners.
  • Shares of the Tenants in Common does not need to be equal. Percentages can be assigned based off contribution amounts. Curtis A. may own 50%, Amber B. 25%, and Bradley C. 25%.
  • To terminate a Tenants in Common contract one owner may buy out the other(s) or all parties can agree to sell the property and split the profits according to percentage(s) owned.
  • If one owner passes away, then it is whomever they specified in their last will and testament who inherits that share.

Joint Tenancy:

  • Most of the above conditions also apply to joint tenancy. However, a joint tenancy offers a right of survivorship. If one of the owners passes away, the other(s) automatically get ownership without the necessity of a last will and testament.

It is important to realize the above contracts cover the basic property rights for a mortgaged/purchased home or property. The above do not protect individual property (i.e. furniture), discrepancies in contributions to home improvements, or other expenses of owning a home. Therefore, it is imperative that unmarried couples write up a contract that addresses these issues. Almost like a pre-nuptial agreement (and often perceived as unromantic as one) a contract of terms will protect both parties in case paths do part.

Items to consider in a contractual agreement:

  • If you have a Tenants in Common agreement, make certain all parties do have a last will and testament to clear any possible confusion of ownership in case of death.
  • Include terms for terminating the joint ownership. -Specify if the other party should be given a required number of days notice of the sale and an option to buyout before one of the owners sells their half. -Set limits on the amount of the time allotted for the buyout. A fair time should be offered with a consideration of time constraints created by working through the banking process. -If the property will be sold, make sure to include the percentages of the property owned so each party gets their share.
  • Detail how expenses will be kept on equal terms. Will the mortgage be split? Will one pay the mortgage and the other all the household utilities and joint bills? Again, if the contribution is not equal the difference should be recorded.
  • It may be too cumbersome and unrealistic to include personal property items such as furniture in this contract. Instead you may want to make a separate record. List items that each individual brings into the household. If furniture is later purchased together, many unmarried couples will find it beneficial to keep track of contributions. Because their separation will not be treated as a divorce, disputes over items like these will be harder to resolve without some record.
  • Do not include chore items such as who does the dishes. This can make your contract frivolous and tossed out in a court of law. However, some counselors do suggest making chore lists for all couples (married or not) to help cope with the pressures and expectations of our fast passed lives and homes.

If the unthinkable does happen and you do separate, make sure to give yourself time to cope and process. Even without a marriage it is a major life change. With or without contracts it is important to work together until you can sell or buyout the house if at all possible.

Read More

Is Your House an Historical Home?

Authored by | Published:
Crop pexels jeffrey czum 4526153crop

Historical landmarks throughout the country provide all citizens with a physical, present experience of our history. Through these landmarks you can not only observe but, in many cases, feel the original work and walk the spaces of the past. Historical homes help us remember important people as we can view intimately how they lived; we get to see the most sacred of spaces, their internal sanctum, their home. Where did they read at night for inspiration, where did they write that novel, where did they meet the important guests and characters in their lives? All of these things can be glimpsed when seeing history preserved in rock and mortar. Historical homes also allow us to visualize and experience architecture, culture, events and community history. They help tell the story of how our town and communities came to be and developed over time.

Below is a summarization of how to protect an historical home, which will include information on registering the home with the state and federal government and incentives and resources available to the owners preserving these properties. Even if you do not own an historical home, it is beneficial to take a look into how this part of our history is protected, preserved, and continues to educate our communities.

Registry for Historic Places

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 provides guidelines for federal, state, and local governments to work with non-profit organizations and the public to preserve our historical places. The preservation is handled through the National Park Service, which administers the National Register for Historic Places that is made up of 79,000+ sites. Historical places can be buildings, structures, sites, and objects that speak for American history, architecture/engineering, and culture. This can be as varied as an historic home to an archaeological site. A few places that are considered to represent the nation on a whole may also be registered in the National Historic Landmarks program; however, this membership is more difficult to obtain and there are only 2,500 sites nationally. So how does one determine if a site is historical?

The National Register lists the following reasons for registering and protecting historical property:

     The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:

          A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
          B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
          C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
          D. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

These four basic guidelines can encompass quite a bit of history. However, there are some limitations as well. Properties must be over 50 years old; to get a younger property registered an owner must prove "exceptional importance" such as might be recognized immediately for its reflection of an extraordinary political event or architectural innovation. Other limitations may include cemeteries, historical figures birthplaces and gravestones, religious structures, moved or reconstructed structures and commemorative structures. As with the 50 year rule there are exceptions for these limitations. In conclusion, if an individual or group feel a property meets the right criteria and should be registered they will need to nominate the property for review.

Any person or group may nominate properties for the National Register. Nominations, depending on the properties significance and location, are nominated through theState Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO), the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO)or the Tribal Preservation Officer (TPO). In most instances nominators will start with the SHPO for their state. The officer will then recommend the nominated property be reviewed by the state review board which consists of historians, architects, archaeologists and other professionals. The board then makes the recommendation to approve or disapprove the registration back to the SHPO. During the time the property is being reviewed, the public is notified the property may be registered. This may include the property owner, who may not have nominated the property themselves. If the owner at that time does not wish the property to be registered they can reject the proposal. The property will not appear on the national register, however, the nomination may be forwarded to the National Park Service only as a determination of eligibility in case a future owner would wish to have the property registered. Although the process varies from state to state, there is usually a minimum of 90 days to process. Once a recommendation is made to the National Park Service, the nominators will know the decision within 45 days. Once a property is registered the owner may expect some changes.

Owners of registered historical places may find both benefits and restrictions from state and federal programs. Surprisingly, on the federal level, once a home is registered owners may choose to change very little about their property:

Under Federal law, owners of private property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that there is no Federal involvement. Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so.

However, state and local preservation laws may be more restrictive of what property owners may do once a the property is registered (the SHPO will have further details about the restrictions in your state). Some properties will obtain Federal historic preservation grant funding or investment tax credits for rehabilitation. Participation in these Federal programs may include more restrictions. As for changes to a structure or site, drastic alterations or physically moving a property when not absolutely necessary may effect the property's status. If, for example, the remodeling of the structure is enough to destroy and remove its historical significance, the property may be removed from the registry. Finally, a property may be affected by recommendation of the Advisory Council on Historical Preservation's recommendations at the federal level. However, inclusively, federal, state and local governments want to work with historical property owners to entice them to preserve our history. Property owners should contact the SHPO for more specific answers about local and federal benefits and restrictions.

Registering a home on the National Register for Historical Places is a relatively straight forward process. Contacting SHPO (or FPO or TPO) is the first step in reviewing what changes to expect and what forms need to be completed. With a little patience and research a home can be registered and protected as a part of our history. Now that it is registered, let us examine what resources are available for the renovation and upkeep of these places.

Resources for Historical Properties

The restoration of historical homes can be both overwhelming and expensive. Obtaining expert advise from contractors, architects, and historians (to name a few) can be invaluable to the homeowner. Research may be necessary to understand how the home looked, was furnished and functioned in the past. Also, it may be necessary to update older systems of plumbing, wiring, and replace lead-based paint (again, to name only a few). To begin the renovation process the home owner will first consider where the funding will come from, what projects need to be done, and finally, what the ultimate function of the historical home will be. There are many grants and sources of funds to help ease the impact of these improvement costs.

The funds available to owners of historical properties vary both nationally and locally. Nationally the most common is the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive which entitles those qualified a 20% tax break. However, to obtain the credit the property does have to be used commercially for at least 5 years; usually as a rental or an apartment, in some cases use as an office may be sufficient. Local grants, loans and state tax incentives are not always available. To find what locally based programs there are contact your local government agencies such as the Historic Development Commission, Department of Planning and Economic Development, Housing and Redevelopment, and State Historic Preservation Office. When they are available the funds may come with certain restrictions or requirements. For example, some funds are only available to non-profit organizations or a grant may be offered that requires owners to share property with the public through tours or other educational outreach programs. Finally, involving family and community in the restoration project can help tremendously. Receiving help from the community may again mean opening up your home to educational programs or tours. However, when owning a historical home, sharing the history is part of the fun! So you have some money in your pocket; now you must decide what you want to restore first.

There may be many renovations needed for your historical home ranging from wiring to lead-paint removal. So overwhelming are the renovations at times that there is the tendency to over renovate homes.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has this top ten of Do's and Don'ts:

  • Make every effort to use the building for its original purpose.
  • Do not destroy distinctive original features.
  • Recognize all buildings as products of their own time.
  • Recognize and respect changes that have taken place over time.
  • Treat sensitively distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craft work.
  • Repair rather than replace worn architectural features when possible. When replacement is necessary, new material should match the old in design, composition, and color.
  • Clean facades using the gentlest methods possible. Avoid sandblasting and other damaging methods.
  • Protect and preserve affected archeological resources.
  • Compatible contemporary alterations are acceptable if they do not destroy significant historical or architectural fabric. Build new additions so they can be removed without impairing the underlying structure.

Once you have clarified the tasks that need to be done, hiring a contractor, plumber, architect or electrician (to name a few) will be an important step in the renovation of your historical home. Make sure to take time to interview and speak with several professionals to find one with the most experience and knowledge about historical homes. Again, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has compiled good short summaries about choosing professionals. When making any renovations to the historic home it is important to keep in mind the purpose of the house. The functions of a historical home can be varried. For some home owners they simply want to renovate and enjoy the historical building as their home. When making improvements, owners will be more concerned about updating creature comforts and creating an esthetic environment for their family. On the other hand, some will choose to live in the historic home but also dedicate rooms or floors as public museums. When making renovations for these homes a balance should be kept between updating the living space that will be used while keeping museum spaces closer to the feel and accuracy of the time they represent. Brand new faucets upstairs in the family bath are great but a stainless steel countertop in a 19th century room may look a bit out of place. Finally, others will live in the historic house but also rent out rooms for guests and small conferences. Historic homes can make an ideal bed and breakfast. This may create additional renovation challenges such as access ability and practical updates for the comfort of guests (i.e. adding and updating a bathroom or two). However, owners will want to keep in mind the historic atmosphere of the home. Visitors are drawn to historical B&Bs because of the sense of walking into the past. Keeping antiques relevant to the time or using period correct wall treatments (i.e. wallpaper patterns) are just a few ways to help keep the historic feel of the home. If creating a bed and breakfast out of an historical home is the goal, then reading about the B&B business will be helpful. Whatever the function of the historical home, the project should remain fun and rewarding.

The restoration of an historic homes can be expensive and daunting. However, it is also very rewarding, a wonderful chance for connecting to the past and community (and can be a great home too!). Whether your historic building will be a home, museum, B&B or all the above, having a game plan before starting renovations is a great idea. Make sure the plan protects the hisotry of the home so that the character and craftsmenship of the home is not lost in the renovation. Enlisting professionals and the community will help. In the end it really can be very rewarding!

A lot can be said for the structures a society builds. When looking at buildings from the past one can get a sense of style, comfort and culture from previous generations. A family and/or a community may learn more about where they came from. To preserve historical homes, individuals or communities need to take the time to submit the home to the National Register for Historical Places. Once this is done the home may still be used for varying purposes from a living space to a museum. In some cases funding is available to help in the daunting task of renovation. In the end, historical houses are a tough investment that, with a bit of research, can turn into a rewarding home and much more.


Photo by Jeffrey Czum from Pexels

Read More

Home Appraisal - Your Property's Market Value

Authored by | Published:
Pexels rodnae productions 8293713   copy2

The Appraisal Foundation - USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) defines an appraisal as "The act or process of developing an opinion of value."  This valuation is a determination of your property's market value - what it will likely sell for on the open market.  How is this "valuation" determined?  Why does the idea of getting an "opinion of value" create so much apprehension about the process?  What can you do to make your home appraise better, if anything?  These are some of the questions commonly asked about home appraisals.  Hopefully, the questions and answers below will give you more clarity on the subject.

What is a home appraisal?
A home appraisal is a survey of a home by a professional for their opinion of the property market value.  In most cases, an appraisal is done for a bank when a home is being approved for a loan for the home buyer.  The home appraisal is a detailed report that looks at such items as the condition of the home, the neighborhood, what comparable homes are selling for, and how quickly similar homes are selling.  The appraisal may be a sales comparison or a cost/replacement opinion of value.  There is also an income appraisal, but this is done primarily with commercial properties.  The sales comparison will look at other properties in your neighborhood and what they are selling for and then figure how they compare to your home.  With a cost/replacement opinion of value, the appraiser is looking at what it would cost to replace the home if destroyed; this is more commonly used for new homes.  Important To Note: An appraisal is not a home inspection!  Appraisers only look for major concerns; they do not examine the home's full condition (i.e., examine the roof, appliances, etc.).  For this reason, a home inspection should still be requested by the home buyer before purchasing the home.

Who is an appraiser?
Appraisers are licensed by individual states and are held to strict ethical standards.  Appraisers are the third-party whose purpose is to give their opinion of the market value of a home.  Ideally, the appraiser should not be connected to anyone involved with the home transaction.

Who picks the appraiser?
When an offer is made on the house, the appraiser will normally be determined by the lender.  The lender may have their own appraiser or contract with an independent party.  Sometimes the bank will allow the seller to choose an appraiser, but only when that appraiser is already well known to them.

Can the seller get their own appraisal done?
Yes, the home seller may commission their own appraisal before selling the property to determine cost.  However, this will cost anywhere from $300-$500 and the bank will most likely not accept this appraisal but will request another to be done by their own contact.

If not by appraisal, how do I set the price for my home?
Home sellers can set the price of their home with the help of a REALTOR® using a comparative market analysis (CMA); the CMA is not a substitute for an appraisal but will give a good idea on setting an asking price (usually 5%-10% more than the market price for your area).

How can you prepare your home for appraisal?
Prepare for your home appraisal as you would for a home sale.  You are in essence re-selling your home.  Make sure all of the maintenance you can do is done; this includes clearing out and trimming landscaping, cleaning the gutters, powerwashing or painting the house, etc. - hopefully, most of this was already done for the sale and should only need a minor touch up.  Be polite to the appraiser and give them full access to your home; work with, not against, them.  Inform the appraiser of your home improvements.  Let them know about the new windows, new floors, the finished basement, etc.  And finally, don't be caught off guard.  Do your homework and know what similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood.  This is something that should be done before setting your selling price.  In case your home has been on the market for a month or two, keep your research current.  Let the appraiser know about the selling price of homes that are comparable to yours that have sold.  If you know of a particular home that sold for less but is similar to yours, point out any beneficial differences that set yours apart such as, better curb appeal, underground sprinkler system, attached garage, gas stove, etc.

What if the appraisal is low?
An appraisal that comes in lower than the asking price can jeopardize the loan and ultimately the sale. The lender will generally only loan up to 80% of the appraiser’s opinion of the home's value. The most common result is that the seller can lower their asking price. Or the seller and buyer can negotiate and meet at a price in-between. If the buyer still wants the home badly enough, they may put more money down; but this may still not guarantee their loan as the lender will still view it as negative equity. The final option is to dispute the appraisal. Before disputing an appraisal, do your homework. Look at the homes in your community that have sold in the last 6 months and see what the differences are that may make your home more valuable. Perhaps there is a sale that the appraiser missed, perhaps other homes do not have the renovations and improvements you have done, perhaps the appraiser is not familiar with your type of home or neighborhood, etc. Building this case may be a good idea even before the appraisal. This will prevent you from getting rushed by the timeline after the appraisal is done. This is something you can ask your REALTOR(r) to help with as they usually have a vast knowledge of your market area. Once you have prepared your case, present it to the lender. They will likely get a new appraiser or request the same appraiser to reconsider it. If you do not want the same appraiser, make sure to specify this and ask for a second opinion.

What other aspects of the appraisal can hurt the loan?
By far, the appraiser's opinion of the home's value being lower than the asking price is the most detrimental.  However, other factors may cause the lender to refuse the loan or require further negotiations. These concerns would result from property conditions that may require the home buyer to do more investing in the property to keep it valuable, such as upkeep on a private road.  Your REALTOR(r) can help you with these types of objections and altering the contract to alleviate the lender's concerns.


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Read More

Winter Driving

Authored by | Published:
Snowredcar pexels skitterphoto 730901 2

A little groundhog has predicted another six weeks of winter! Already a tough season, many of us experienced firsthand or saw news coverage of winter storms bringing cities and counties to a virtual standstill. Whether you live in a winter weather state or are just visiting, winter weather can drastically affect your ability to get around and keep to a schedule. Learning some basic driving safety measures and coping tips can help alleviate some of the aggravation. Although varying by state, understanding winter related laws or ways laws are interpreted to include winter conditions is vital to enjoying a safe winter. Hopefully you'll find the safety information in this article useful. Drive safe!

Winter Driving Safety Measures

Winter Inspection: Prepare your car ahead of time for winter road conditions. Check the levels of antifreeze, oil, and wiper fluid. Examine your windshield wipers for wear and replace them if necessary.

Tires: Examine your tire treads. If you buy snow tires or studs, get your appointment scheduled before the tire stores are inundated. If you are in a state where you can use chains or cables, inspect these when you pull them out of storage. Take time to review how to put them on before the first snow fall.

Journey Prep: Before driving out into a winter wonderland, make sure you are prepared. Clear your car of any snow and ice so you can see clearly - this includes any snow around your headlights and brake lights. How much gas is in the tank? If you are getting low, plan your route to make this your first stop. Consider your physical condition - are you awake and alert?

WEK: Don't be weak - have a Winter Emergency Kit! Some items to include in your kit are:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Travel Toolbox
  • Blankets
  • Gloves, Hats, Scarves, Jackets/Sweatshirts, etc.
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flashlight and Spare Batteries
  • Road Flares
  • Matches
  • Sand and/or Salt/Ice Melt
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • Small Shovel
  • Water
  • Energy Bars, Nuts, Trail Mix, other High Calorie Foods (Nonperishable)
  • Cell Phone and Charger

Dress Sensibly: As we hop from one heated building to the next, we don't often consider how we are dressed for the winter weather. Adjust your wardrobe for unexpected winter weather. If you insist on traveling in the car in flip flops because they are comfy, make sure you pack thick socks and warm boots in case your car breaks down. Dress in layers and have spare gloves, a hat, and a scarf in the car.

Weather Forecast: Check for road condition updates and possible closures. Before driving in winter weather, make certain to check the local forecast.

Go S-L-O-W: Accelerate, brake, and turn slowly. Travel at slower speeds. Enter the time warp willingly, be patient, and stay calm. Trying to rush through anything during poor winter weather is the number one reason people slide off roads or skid into other cars.

Personal Bubble: Allow those around you plenty of space. Don't crowd other cars. Increase the car lengths between you and the next car.

Icy Conditions: If the forecast calls for freezing rain, the best option is not to be on the road - period. Be cautious when you consider the roads drivable again because there can be patches of ice and black ice that pop up unexpectedly. Keep in mind that ice forms quickest on bridges and overpasses. Also, as the temperatures begin to rise the thawing ice will be much slicker as it melts. If you see ice ahead of time, keep your speed slow. DO NOT hit the brakes! If you suddenly can't hear the road, which is often the case when you drive over black ice, continue forward and take your foot off the accelerator. DO NOT hit the brakes!

Look Up: Many times, the winter weather makes us concentrate on the road in front of us so much that we forget to look ahead. This is precisely the time you should be looking up and ahead; look farther than you would normally. This will give you more time to react to possible sliding cars or hazards in front of you.

Main Street: Plan your routes on main roads. These will be traveled more and are the first to be cleared and sanded.

Share the Road: Give plows and sanders plenty of space. Three car lengths is the standard suggestion. Be patient - many will get over to let traffic pass. Always pass with extreme caution and never pass them on the right as that is where they are pushing all the sludge!

Double Your Time: As a general rule, double your travel time for all your commutes and usual destinations.

Share Your Plans: Let others know of your travel plans - especially for long distances or during a weather event. Let family and friends know where you are going and the route you expect to take.

No Cruising: As with heavy rain, do not use cruise control on winter roads. If you begin to slide you may not be able to get out of cruise control quickly enough. Also, depending on the slide/skid, tapping the brake may be the last thing you should do!

Form a Pack: Have a commute group for severe weather. You can alternate drivers as you battle the extra stress and fatigue of driving in bad weather. Encourage it in your community and this can help keep more cars off the road.

Think Outside Your Car: Consider other modes of transportation altogether. If available, consider the bus or train. Get creative - do you like to cross country ski? Just stay on the sidewalk!

Flex Time: If your employer will allow you to change your hours to accommodate bad weather, wait until the plows have cleared your neighborhood and go in later. Even better, if your job can be done from home, work remote from the comfort and safety of your house.

Melting Snow and Thawing Ice: Be cautious even after the snow begins to melt. Puddles can easily hide monster potholes that grew under the ice. Potholes are not only jarring, they can do real damage to your car. In addition, be careful of hydroplaning. As the ice thaws, water may be caught between mounds of slush creating the 'perfect storm' to send your car sliding.

Blizzard Conditions: According to FEMA, "If a blizzard traps you in your car, pull off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely to find you there. Conserve fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket. In extreme cold use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth. Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run the battery down. In remote areas, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes. Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Once the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction."

Legal Concerns

Car Snowballs:

You should clear off all of the snow on your car to make for safer driving - but is it required legally? Technically, in most states, there is no law that demands snow be brushed off your car completely. Instead, other laws may be interpreted to include snow as a hazard. To be safe, uncover your car completely so your view is not obstructed and you don't inadvertently cause hazards. Consider these scenarios:

  • Windows.  In many states you can be cited if your windshield, rear window, and side windows are obstructed so that you cannot see the road. This is often interpreted to include snow, ice, and fog that disrupt the driver's view.
  • Roof and Hood.  Snow left on your roof or hood, in most states, will not necessarily result in a citation; however, if the snow blows off your car and damages another car (i.e., smacks into and cracks the windshield of the car behind you), you are liable for any damages. Some states are clever and cite snow falling from your car as littering! 
  • Lights.  In some states you can be cited for not clearing snow from your headlights and brake lights. Be safe and clear all lights. If nothing else, this will ensure a brighter path to lead you down the road.

Tire Enhancements:

SNOW TIRES: Standard in many snowy states, there are usually no penalties for having snow tires on past a certain date. Check with your local tire stores as they will often store your summer tires during the winter season and vice versa.

STUDDED TIRES: States that allow studded tires for winter travel often have a set timeline when they may be used (i.e., In Alaska they may be used from September 15th to May 1st - most states in the lower 48 will have a shorter time allotment). This information can be found on the website of your state Department of Transportation.

CHAINS: If traveling in mountainous states, verify if chains are required to be on your tires. If so, make sure you have the chains in your car and you are familiar with how to put them on your tires. Some flat states will allow chains under certain conditions. Check with your state Department of Transportation for specific requirements or limitations. The following YouTube video, sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation, illustrates how to put cable style chains on your tires: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8RVbDuyOcY

 

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Read More

Winter Safety Tips

Authored by | Published:
Pexels pavel danilyuk 5618029

Winter brings many different celebrations and activities.  During these various festivities and social gatherings, we host dinners or get togethers that may necessitate overnight house guests.  Decorating your home can be a fun way to create a joyful atmosphere, however, many times these decrations come with no instructions or their various 'How to' booklets have been misplaced years ago.  In our overexuberance to fill every space with fun and festive decor, we may not think about how to display items safely.  If you have children, pets, house guests, or high-spirited relatives around the house this winter season, you may want to consider some general safety tips.  Even if you aren't hosting an event but will be using winter items, such as a fireplace, a simple, quick safety checklist will come in handy for your winter fun!

Safety around the home, and in general, should always be taken into consideration, especially in the winter season.  Consider these facts and figures from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Each year, between 2015 and 2019, an estimated average of 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 12 civilian injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage; an estimated average of 790 home fires that began when decorations (other than Christmas trees) caught fire caused an average of one civilian death, 26 civilian injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage; and an estimated average of 7,400 home fires (2 percent) started by candles caused an average of 90 civilian deaths (three percent), 670 civilian injuries (6 percent), and $291 million (4 percent) in direct property damage. (Source: NFPA's One-Stop Data Shop).  Please take a moment to review our safety tips and checklist of things to think carefully about during winter activities.  Then enjoy a safe s eason!

GUESTS

  • Visiting: If visiting another home with your family, keep in mind if they don't have children, they may not have everything out of reach of little hands.  Always keep a close eye on children when visiting someone else's home.  Even if it is a familiar home, their seasonal decorations may have changed the landscape enough that it will be a whole new environment with potential hazards for children.
  • Sitters: If leaving children with a babysitter, make sure they are prepared with all the essential numbers and contacts.  Also ensure sitters are aware of any special rules for the house; i.e. no 'sledding' down the steps or lighting the fireplace.
  • Smoking: If guests will be smoking inside your house, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check the ashtrays frequently.  Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Designated Driver: When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver or hire a driver.
  • None For The Road: If you are the host of a gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving.  Stop serving alcohol well before the party is over.  Bring out coffee, alcohol-free drinks, and more food to aid in sobriety before hitting the road.

GIFTS

  • Instructions: Read instructions for children's toys carefully before letting them run off and play.
  • Under Age 10: Choose toys appropriate for age, ability and skill level for children.  Children under the age of ten should only get electrical toys that use batteries rather than ones that plug into the wall.
  • Under Age 3: Government guidelines specify that toys for children under three years of age cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Choking Hazard: After gifts are opened, make sure to remove ribbons, strings, and bags from toys before giving them to young children as they can be suffocating/choking hazards.
  • Fire Hazard: Keep gift bags and wrapping paper away from the fireplace.

FIREPLACE

  • Chimney Sweep: Fireplaces should be cleaned annually, preferably by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Screen: Keep fireplace screens/doors closed when fire is lit.
  • Flue: Make sure to open the flue before lighting a fire.
  • Decorations: Make sure no decorations are near the fireplace before lighting.
  • Wood: Use only wood that is properly seasoned to reduce creosote build-up.
  • Wrapping Paper: Do NOT put wrapping paper in the fireplace; it burns fast and intense.
  • Fire Starts: Keep fire starts out of reach of children and pets as they are dangerous if ingested.
  • Artificial Logs: When burning artificial logs, burn only one at a time; they produce too much concentrated heat for some types of fireplaces.
  • Water: Don't use water to extinguish a fire; it can crack the bricks in your hearth.  Let the fire burn itself out.
  • Heaters: If using an electric fireplace or portable/space heaters, keep them at least three feet from anything that can burn.

DECORATIONS

  • Sharp Edges: Avoid sharp decorations where small children and pets may reach them.
  • Faux Edibles: Do not get decorations that look like food or candy when small children are present.
  • Children/Pets: Get down on your hands and knees and examine your decorations.  If there is too much mischief for children or pets to get into, make the room off-limits.
  • Angel Hair: If using spun glass (angel hair), follow the directions completely and make certain it is out of reach of children and pets.
  • Plants: Keep holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly berries, Christmas cactus, etc., away from children and pets. Poinsettias can make pets very sick.
  • Combustible Materials: The following should never be used for holiday decorations because they are inherently combustible: bamboo, cedar trees/branches, corn stalks/shucks, cotton or confetti (loose, in large quantities), dry moss/leaves, flammable powders/liquids, hay/straw (loose or baled), paper streamers (serpentine), plastic sheeting/pellets, sawdust, tumbleweeds, and wood bark/shavings.

CANDLES

  • Tree Branches: Do not use candles on Christmas trees or evergreen trimmings.
  • Non-flammable: Use non-flammable holders and make sure they are placed where they cannot be knocked over easily.
  • Supervision: Do not keep candles lit in rooms that are not occupied/supervised.
  • Hot Wax: Check your candles as they burn. Some will burn unevenly and may finish sooner than you expected or break open drip streams of hot wax.
  • Igniters: Do not leave children unattended around candles and matches/lighters.

LIGHTS

  • Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the home. It is an even better idea to turn lights off when leaving the room unoccupied.
  • Whether new or old, always check lights before hanging them anywhere. Check that bulbs are working well and not cracked. Also look for damage to wires or socket connections.
  • Turn off lights before replacing bulbs or fuses.
  • Do not put indoor lights under carpets or behind curtains; make sure they are away from foot traffic and are not stepped on.
  • Keep cords and lights away from small children and pets.
  • Make sure to only use lights certified for outdoor use outside! If using lights from last year, make a habit of storing outdoor items together so you know which is which in the event labels are lost.
  • String lights through hooks or insulated staples. Do not use nails or tacks.
  • Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to avoid shocks.
  • Where lights are connected together outdoors, keep the connections dry by wrapping them with friction tape or plastic.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Look for the manufacturer's recommendation. General rule is no more than 3 strings of lights for each extension cord.
  • Do NOT use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • When removing lights, never tug! Remove them as gently as they were strung up!

TREES & EVERGREEN TRIMMINGS

  • If purchasing a live Christmas tree, check to see that the tree is fresh. The tree should be green, the needles should not break off easily, you should have to pull the needles to remove them. When you tap the tree against the ground it shouldn't be shedding needles. Also, there will be resin visible on a fresh tree bottom.
  • When you bring your tree home cut the bottom so that fresh wood is exposed. This will allow for better water absorption and keep the tree from drying too quickly. Also make certain to keep the tree stand basin filled with water; something that can be easy to forgot since it is not part of your normal routine!
  • Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • If purchasing an artificial tree look for one labeled "Fire Resistant." Note the resistant, artificial does not mean fire proof! Place your tree away from heat sources such as fireplace or space heaters.
  • Don't place your tree in high traffic space. You don't want someone to trip and topple over the tree!
  • Trim your tree with non-flamable decorations, such as tinsel or plastic ornaments. However, watch tinsel as cats like it, but it is not at all good for them! Be very careful if your pets have access to the tree that decorations are not tempting to them.
  • Keep green trimmings away from heat sources. They are great for railings or doorways, but not good for table center pieces if there are candles there as well!
  • Tree and trimmings should be removed as soon as able once the holiday season is over. You don't want a pile of dry evergreen sitting in a corner waiting to ignite!

FOOD

  • Thoroughly cook all meat products.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator - not on the counter.
  • Thoroughly wash all raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate. Make sure to use different utensils when preparing them.
  • Wash your hands frequently. If working with "little chefs" making holiday treats, make sure they wash their hands often as well.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on kitchen projects.
    If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it, and turn the heat source off!
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left out more than two hours.
  • Do not add new food to a serving dish that h0as been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Dry foods such as nuts, crackers, baked goods, breads, hard cheeses and candy don't support bacterial growth. Fruits, pickles, jams and jellies are too acidic for most bacteria.
  • Clean up early after a party. Plates left out and around may have bad food that can make children sick or can become a chocking hazard.
  • If you choose to make eggnog with whole eggs, heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 160°F. Refrigerate at once, dividing large amounts into shallow containers so that it cools quickly.
  • Use ciders labeled as pasteurized, or bring unpasteurized cider to a boil before serving. This is especially important when serving cider to people with weakened immune systems.
  • Use leftover turkey meat, bones, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within two to three days.

SNOW

  • Clothing: If you must be outside, wear plenty of layers.  Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.  A hat is a must because the largest amount of body heat is lost through the top of the head.  The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. 
  • Sunscreen: The sun's rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow!
  • Cold Weather Injuries: Recognize the early symptoms of winter weather related injuries and take precautions.
    Hypothermia Symptoms: Complaints about being cold and irritability.  Uncontrollable shivering.  Impaired or slurred speech.  Clumsy movements.  Blurred vision.  Severe symptoms can include stiff muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and breathing rates, and unconsciousness.
    Snow Blindness Symptoms: Eyes become sensitive to light.  Pain in eyes or forehead.  Gritty feeling in the eyes.

    Frostbite Symptoms: Superficial frostbite looks like gray or yellowish patches on the skin, especially fingers, toes, face, and ears but can occur on any exposed skin.  The first symptoms are usually numbness or itching and prickly pain.  The skin remains soft but becomes red and flaky after it thaws.  Severe frostbite looks like waxy, pale skin and feels cold, hard and solid to the touch.  The areas turn blue or purple when thawing and large blisters may appear when the area warms up.
  • Shoveling Snow: If you have a history of heart trouble, check with your doctor before grabbing that snow shovel and clearing the driveway or sidewalk.  Don't shovel snow just after you eat.  Don't smoke while shoveling.  Pace yourself.  Snow shoveling is a strenuous exercise that raises both your pulse and blood pressure.  Treat shoveling like an athletic event: warm up before you start and stretch during and after shoveling.  Concentrate on using your legs instead of your back.  Bend your legs and keep your back straight. Take breaks.  Don't over-exert yourself or work until you are exhausted.  If your chest feels tight, stop immediately!
  • Cold Metal: Teach children to never touch metal during cold temperatures, and resist the dares and/or urges to place your tongue on metal posts, railings, etc. 
  • Streets/Parking Lots: Children should never play on snow piles near parking lots or on the road side.  Make sure children never go near snow plows or areas being plowed.
  • Sledding: Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.  Children should be supervised.  Keep young children separated from older children.  Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.  Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.  Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.  Sled slopes should be free of obstructions, such as fire hydrants or fences, and they should be covered in snow - not ice.  Sled slopes should also not be too steep (slope of less than 30º) and they should end with a flat runoff.  Avoid sledding in overcrowded areas.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: Never ski or snowboard alone.  Young children should always be supervised by an adult.  Older children's need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill.  If they are not with an adult, they should at least be accompanied with a friend.  Consider wearing a helmet.  Equipment should fit.  Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year.  Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.  Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder.  Avoid overcrowded slopes.
  • Weather: If weather warnings suggest a severe wind chill or extremely low temperatures, consider avoiding outdoor activities until the weather improves.
    A winter STORM WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area.
    A winter STORM WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area.
    A BLIZZARD WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!

TRAVEL

  • Extended Trip: When leaving for a long time, make certain to get your mail held by the post office.  Also get your paper temporarily stopped.  Have a neighbor or family member stop by and check your house once a day.  Set timers on lights, indoor and outdoors.  Make sure your outdoor sensor lights are in working order.
  • Security: If you have a security system, make sure it is fully armed.  Remember to show anyone checking on your house how to unarm and reset it if they will be entering your home.  Check all windows to make certain they are locked. 
  • Safety: If traveling out of state, make certain to review weather reports and construction reports before starting your trip.  Keep car windows up and doors locked at all times.
  • Gas: Keep a half a tank of fuel to be prepared in case you run into heavy traffic or weather delays.
  • Winter Driving Kit: Put together a winter-driving kit, including gloves, hat, coat, blankets, shovel, ice scrapper/brush, flag or bright cloth.
  • Blizzard: If a blizzard traps you in your car, pull off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window.  Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely to find you there.  Conserve fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.  Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert.  Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket if you don't have one.  In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering - anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.  Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run the battery down.  In remote areas, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes.  Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.  Once the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot.  Follow the road if possible.  If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction. (Tips provided by FEMA)


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Read More

Holiday Food Safety

Authored by | Published:
Pexels nicole michalou 5779181

With the holidays upon us, we know cheerful celebrations with food and drink are a given. Just remember to take food safety precautions during the hustle and bustle of the season.

Happy and safe holidays to you and yours!



Food Preparation:

  1. Before cooking or preparing anything - wash your hands! In between working with different dishes - wash your hands!
  2. Wash all fruits and vegetables. Even those with tough outer skins that you do not eat. When slicing these, the knife may pick up bacteria from the outer skin.
  3. Thaw meats in the refrigerator overnight. Never leave them on the counter to defrost. If defrosting in the microwave, make sure the meat is cooked soon after.
  4. If preparing a turkey, make sure it is completely thawed before cooking. Cooking a frozen turkey can lead to uneven cooking with the inside not being up to temperature. According to the FDA, a "20-pound turkey needs two to three days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator at a temperature of no more than 40 degrees F. A stuffed turkey needs 4 ¼ to 5 ¾ hours to cook completely."
  5. If marinating food then do so in the refrigerator - not on the counter! If you want to have extra marinade to use as a sauce later, make sure to separate a portion ahead of time. Never reuse marinating sauces!
  6. Do not reuse any batter or breading that has touched raw meat.
  7. Use one plate for raw meats and another clean plate to take cooked items to the serving area. Never use the same plate. The raw juices can contaminate your cooked meats and side dishes.
  8. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on kitchen projects. If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it, and turn the heat source off!
  9. That evil mayo - did you know according to the Department of Health, it is not really the mayo that is making those deviled eggs a dangerous game of chance. Instead, it is the fact that when making cold salads usually the ingredients are mixed together when still warm creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, chill all your ingredients separately before mixing them together.
  10. Use ciders labeled as pasteurized, or bring unpasteurized cider to a boil before serving. This is especially important when serving cider to people with weakened immune systems.

Setting the Table:

  1. If you set out a brunch style breakfast or buffet, and guests will arrive sporadically, pay close attention when leaving items such as milk or cooked meat on the table:
    - These foods are safe to leave out: Dry foods such as nuts, crackers, baked goods, breads, hard cheeses and candy don't support bacterial growth. Fruits, pickles, jams and jellies are too acidic for most bacteria.
    - Anything else should be discarded after sitting out for 2 hours.
    - To save milk or soy, make certain they are kept in the refrigerator instead of on the table.
    - An alternative is to keep cold items on ice. However, the ice will still need replacing every two hours or so.
  2. Supply plenty of clean plates and utensils. Encourage guests to get a new plate if theirs has been sitting out as they waited between helpings.
  3. Do not add new food to a serving dish that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.

Cleanup:

  1. Refrigerate any left over food within 2 hours of its initial serving. If the temperatures are higher, refrigerate 1 hour or sooner. Meat should be kept hot for serving (140°F) and unused meat should be refrigerated immediately as it cools. If you have too much left over meat, make sure to freeze whatever you won't eat within the next two days.
  2. Use left over turkey meat, bones, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within two to three days.
  3. Cut up any leftovers before refrigerating so they may be spread out on a tray. For meats like roast beef, this helps to make sure the meat cools at the same rate.
  4. Date leftovers - you'll appreciate it a week later when you've forgotten what food is from which feast.

Additional Precautions:

Turkey Fryers:

  1. Always use outdoors away from anything flammable. 
  2. Use on cement or stone surfaces - not on a wooden deck!
  3. Do not leave unattended. It is a very good idea to not have children and pets in the vicinity, better if they are inside. If they must be outside, make certain they are watched very carefully! Do not allow children and pets near the fryer as it cools after use either.
  4. Make certain the turkey is thawed before cooking - water and oil don't mix!
  5. Check the oil temperature frequently and immediately shut off if the oil begins to smoke. 

Gifts of Food via USPS, FED EX, UPS, etc.:

  1. If sending food as a gift via mail or delivery service, let the recipient know so they may look for the package.
  2. If you receive any gifts of food in the mail or from a delivery service, make certain to check that items that should have been kept cool were packaged properly.

Candle Decorations:

  1. Do not use candles on evergreen or natural trimmings.
  2. Use nonflammable holders and make sure they are placed where they cannot be knocked over easily.
  3. Do not keep candles lit in rooms that are not occupied by a responsible attendant.
  4. Check your candles as they burn. Some will burn unevenly and may finish sooner than you expected.
  5. Do not leave children unattended around candles and matches or lighters.

 

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

 

Read More

Who Is Viewing Your Home for Sale Online? Find Out With Houselist.com.

Authored by | Published:
Pexels rodnae productions 7948006

Houselist.com, the free listing site, is adding a new feature for the 4th quarter of 2021. The latest embellishment will allow home sellers to track the day and time their home is viewed by potential buyers, and more.

With the dramatic changes that have taken place in the real estate market over the last year and a half, it appears that the wild sellers’ market is starting to balance out.  Next year is shaping up to be a much more stabilized sellers’ market with more buyers reevaluating and holding off on urgent purchases.  However, sellers will still be able to take advantage of being in the driver’s seat by setting a price higher than in a normal market.  The only ingredient missing in the seller’s recipe for naming their own price and getting it is how to identify when potential buyers are looking, where they are coming from, and what kind of traffic the seller may be getting in specific areas of the state.

Houselist.com provides the solution to the problem with its’ new, invaluable feature, which allows users who post homes for sell to view the traffic from a specific area of the state and country without violating a user’s privacy.  How this tracking service works is a breeze, automatically activating as soon as a registered user posts a home for sale or an apartment to rent.  This product is a game changer for the industry with several applications making it helpful in improving the sale of a home.  First, it informs the seller at which times of day their property is being viewed; next, it identifies the days of week the property is being viewed; then, it indicates which specific region of a city, state, or country is most often viewing the property; and, finally, it provides the data in a nice and concise user-friendly format that can be downloaded and converted into a spreadsheet for comparison with other properties.


To start accessing this insightful tracking information, the first step is to create a Houselist.com login account to your specific property, and then post the home for sale or place to rent.  The posting will be reviewed and when this is completed, the feature will be immediately activated.  It’s that simple.
 

Read More

Famous HAUNTED Properties

Authored by | Published:
Photo by suzy hazelwood from pexels

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 some Halloween-flavored reading 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.


The 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. 

 

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Read More

Autumn Harvest

Authored by | Published:
Photo by lukas from pexels

Fall is traditionally associated with harvesting and stocking up for the winter ahead. However, many locations in the U.S., even those accustomed to getting heavy snow in the winter, may embrace the fall as a great time to extend their garden harvest and continue to play with their landscape. Gardeners may continue to plant a regular 'salad mix' and root vegetables through November. Fall is also a great time to plant bulbs and other plants for the following spring. Landscapers who think ahead may already have some great flower varieties showing off their colors in the fall. Finally, fall is a great time to take advantage of mild temperatures to prepare plants and soil for the winter ahead. There are many projects for the fall garden to keep all green-thumbs happy!

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." ~ William Cullen Bryant

 

The GARDEN

• There are many quick growing vegetables that enjoy the milder fall temperatures. There are also some longer growing vegetables that don't mind a little frost and may be planted early fall for a harvest in November/December. Some of those that can help keep your green thumb busy are: Arugula - Beets - Broccoli - Cabbage - Carrots - Cauliflower - Leeks - Mustard Greens - Radish - Scallions - Spinach - Turnips - Winter Squash.

• As you enjoy your fall vegetable garden, keep some of these tasks in mind to prep the soil for your spring planting:

  1. Remove dead plants. If you leave them there they may become a hiding place for pests. Instead, collect healthy remains and place them in a compost bin or discard completely. Also remove old stakes and twine, which will just get messy over the winter and become more of a headache to clear out come spring.
  2. You may till some dead leaves and compost into the soil to add nutrients over the winter. However, be careful not to use too much as you do not want to mat the surface. Tilling your soil in the fall can also expose any pest larvae to freeze in the winter. Finally, take a soil sample; fall is a great time to add lime or sulfur to adjust the soil pH for spring.
  3. If you have a mild enough winter, you may want to consider cover crops such as clover and rye grass (ask your local garden store for localized suggestions).
  4. Do not fertilize as this will wash away before your spring planting - save your money!
  5. Use time in the fall and winter to sketch out next years garden. Doing this early will help you decide if you should make any adjustments or amend soil in certain areas now.

The LANDSCAPE

• Looking for a little color around your house in fall? Try some of these plants to add color to your home with their vibrant fall colors and blooms: American Cranberry Bush - Chrysanthemum - Burning Bush - Iris (re-blooming) - Kale - Pansies.

• Perhaps you are considering your spring flowerbeds? These plants can be planted in the fall to make sure they are established for a spring awakening: Allium - Crocus - Daffodil - Hyacinth - Iris - Tulip.

• Fall is a great time to introduce new plants to your landscape. Many of your large plants such as trees and shrubs do best when planted in the spring or fall. Planting in the fall allows them milder temperatures to get established before the winter.

• Autumn is also a good time to relocate plants that may not be happy in their current location. In addition, perennials such as Daylilies, Geraniums, Irises, Lambs Ears, and Peonies may be divided and spread in your landscape for a new bloom next year. It's also time to clean up your landscape and prep your plants for the winter ahead.  Remember these 'to do' items:

  1. Water all your plants - it may be wet, but they will appreciate a good drink before the ground freezes.
  2. Cut back plants - cut back perennials and add to the compost bin. If you have concerns about the health of the plant, discard the cuts instead. Also cut back any evergreens and shrubs; at this point you are mainly cutting out dead or diseased stems on the plant.
  3. Clear debris - debris, such as leaves and pine needles, need to be cleared away from the base of your plants. Crushed dried leaves can be used to make mulch or compost. Some gardeners may also use pine needles for mulch, however, pine needles can produce a more acidic soil.
  4. Dig up annuals - they have had their moment of glory in the garden and can now be brought inside or added to your compost bin.
  5. Lawn care - continue to mow your lawn until it stops growing. Make sure to rake leaves to prevent molding and dead spots. Unlike the garden, you will want to fertilize the lawn once in the early fall and again after it stops growing.

 

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Read More

A HOMEOWNER’S GUIDE

Authored by | Published:
Pexels kindel media 7766930

Establishing A Maintenance Routine

The cost of maintenance and repairs depends on several factors. The age of your home, how well it was maintained by previous owners, weather conditions in your area, and your profit expectations will all impact how much you spend.

In general, homeowners should budget approximately one percent of their home’s value for maintenance and repairs. If you make a habit of putting aside a small amount of money each month to be earmarked specifically for home maintenance, then it will be less painful when unexpected repairs are needed or when appliances must be replaced.

Many prospective home buyers will not consider a home that is clearly in need of TLC, even in a hot market. Finishing your “punch list” before contacting a realtor will ensure that you are able to ask the highest price possible for your property.

Home Insurance

Lien holders require that you purchase homeowner’s insurance to cover damages to your property from the elements, fire, accident or theft. Additional coverage may be required for floods, tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes, none of which are covered by the typical policy. If you live in an area threatened by one or more of these, it is recommended that you expand your policy to cover them. Likewise, if you have a large number of valuables in your home, your insurance should reflect that.

Weigh The Return On Investment When Making Improvements

Painting is an obvious way to improve your home’s appearance without spending much money, but what about big-ticket items such as swimming pools, or designer kitchens? It is easy to get carried away when you are decorating your home, but many projects do not add lasting value to your home or guarantee that you’ll recoup your investment. Research what features are hot in your market and consider your expenditures wisely.

Keep Good Records

When you buy a car you want to see the maintenance records to make sure the oil was changed on a regular schedule. Why not do the same for your home? Scheduling maintenance on your home and performing regular check-ups of your chimney, mechanical systems, and roofing, etc. will ensure problems are fixed before they get out of hand.

CHECKLIST:

Items you should routinely inspect are:

  • Grading and drainage. Slope and landscaping need to angle away from your foundation.
  • Sidewalks, driveways, decks and patios. These should also slope away from your home. Regrading may be required and railings and balusters should be as required by code.
  • Exterior wood. Paint untreated wood, porches, deck columns and fence posts to prevent rot.
  • Doors and windows. Maintain caulking around frames or the money you spend heating and cooling your home will go, quite literally, out the window. Inspect your doors and windows for correct fit, missing caulk, paint, broken glass or cracks.
  • Exterior walls. Check brick and stone for missing mortar which can lead to deterioration from freezing and thawing. Blistering or peeling paint could indicate roof leaks, bad gutters, interior leaks from baths or laundry rooms, etc. Make sure there are no exposed nails or warped boards.
  • Roofing and surface water. Inspect your roof and chimney regularly with binoculars or from a ladder, when safe. Remove debris from gutters, and trim overhanging branches. Make sure to inspect after severe storms and high winds.
  • Garage. Check the door opener to make sure the safety reverse is working. Prime the inside and outside edges and check the rollers, tracks, and weather-stripping several times a year.
  • Walls and ceilings. Don't ignore minor leaks. They are sure to become major ones. Mildew and mold can be indicators of a serious problem. Maintain painted surfaces, inspect grout and caulking around sinks, tubs and showers. Replace missing grout to prevent damage to subsurfaces.
  • Attic. If your attic is accessible, inspect roof sheathing, insulation and moisture barriers.
  • Mechanical systems. Trip circuit breakers every 6 months and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) every month. Check lamp cords, extension cords and plugs. Test outlets near water for proper polarity and grounding. Most hardware stores carry testers that are inexpensive and easy to use. If fuses blow or breakers trip, have an electrician inspect your wiring. Ask him to make certain GFCIs are installed at any outlet within 6 feet of water. Never work with or near electricity when your hands or feet are wet. Never remove service panel covers. Avoid using extension cords when possible. Never replace blown fuses with larger fuses.
  • Plumbing systems. Know where the turnoff is for your system. Do periodic inspections of toilet tanks to ensure they are not wasting water. Make sure your water heater is performing as outlined in your owner’s manual. Remove sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of the tank. The pressure relief valve at the top of the water heater should be opened periodically to see that it is in operating condition. Check all valves in your home from time to time. If corroded, clean them and check for leaks.
  • Water treatment systems. Install a water softener if you have hard water to extend the life of your water heater and pipes.
  • Sump pumps. Periodically check for proper operation.
  • Heating and air conditioning. Service annually. Oil furnaces have parts that must be replaced periodically. Check for leaks, odor and soot. Keep bleaches, paint and other materials sealed and away from the heater. Service air conditioners every spring according to the operating instructions.
    Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels
Read More

A 'Green' Green Thumb

Authored by | Published:
Greenthumb allan mas

Make Your Garden Environmentally Green

We hear so much about "going green" that we sometimes forget one of the best ways to be environmentally friendly is through a green thumb! Whether a careful design of a major landscape renovation or small changes to a few habits, making your garden green can be as simple or complex as you want. In fact, don't expect to make major changes in how you care for your yard overnight. Instead, consider some ideas you can implement now, and then slowly add to them. As you begin to implement new gardening techniques, you will also discover that making your landscape environmentally friendly is not just about saving mother nature - it can also save you money!

Here are some ideas to get you started on your new green garden:

Pesky weeds: Yes, dousing them with weed killer is easier. However, most are not children, pet or nature friendly. Some old fashioned weed pulling can be great exercise or a way to get the kids to earn their allowance.

- Try to get weeds early in the year as this will mean less pulling later on.
- Pulling a little at a time as you walk down a path is much better than a whole day of work.
- Putting down mulch can help prevent weeds.
- If you have an area that is overtaken by weeds instead of lawn, you might want to consider replanting the area with low native plants that need little attention.

Return of the native: Using native plants in your landscaping is a great way of choosing plants that are accustomed to the climate and resistant to pests in your area. Although not foolproof, you will find native plants much easier to care for than many imports.

- Also, many imports can be harmful to the native plants of the area. For example, English Ivy may look pretty when you care for it, but left on its own, it is a weed that quickly overtakes native plants and even trees! Research non-native plants beforehand to make certain they are not really noxious weeds for your environment.

Homebrewed compost: Adding a compost bin is a great way to recycle food and yard waste and get something in return for it! Composting does take about 3-6 months before you get to use any results, but once you get the cycle going you will have a great way to decrease your garbage and increase your plants.

- There are many styles of compost bins from indoor to outdoor, homemade to store bought
- You can even find stylized ones that give character to your décor!

- If you don't have a garden but have yard removal, check with your waste company's policies; many companies now offer to take the same items you would put in a compost bin (i.e. vegetable and fruit skins). They in turn use this to make compost for city parks. Even if you aren't using the compost, it is a great way to get this type of waste out of the landfill and to areas where it will be more beneficial.

Harvest the rain: While you're out picking up a compost bin, add a rain barrel too! These barrels can be placed directly under your gutter downspout or out from under the eaves. It is ideal to use the water regularly to keep it circulating. Overall this will help save on your water usage and bills!

Water thoughtfully: Watering your plants properly will avoid unnecessary waste.

- Use drip hoses for more even watering and to help decrease your water bill.
- When watering plants, pay attention to their roots and water them before the sun is high so the plant has time to drink before it evaporates.
- Using mulch around your plants can keep natural moisture in. Just make sure the mulch is not too deep and you leave some space at the base of the plant stem.

Grow your groceries: What could be more green than eating from your own garden? If you have never gardened before, start with a small plot and easier to grow veggies. For local advice, check out your neighborhood gardening associations, which often offer free classes. Getting garden fresh foods on your table not only helps the environment but offers you better flavor and ease of mind as you know exactly what went into your produce.

- Don't have a large yard? Urban community gardens are a fun way to build a sense of community, get free gardening help, and again, harvest some great tasting produce.
- Another way to garden in small spaces is through container gardens. Using containers to grow herbs and smaller vegetables like onions or spinach is a great alternative.
- As you garden more, you will begin to start your veggies from seeds rather than buying starts at the store. When making starts of your own, use old milk cartons or other containers that you can recycle and use again and again.

Invite the birds and the bees: Utilizing plants in your garden that are naturally appealing to beneficial insects and birds is a great way to improve the life of your plants. These good allies will help cut down on bad bug pests and can be fun to watch too!

- Plant flowers and plants that are attractive to butterflies, bees and other naturally beneficial insects. Encouraging natural pollinators and cutting down your use of pesticides is a great combo for these natural little friends.
- Some nurseries even sell lady bugs as they are a great natural defense for bug problems.
- Invite birds into your yard with berry plants, flowers, and a water bath. Birds are some of your best pest reducers.
- If you have berries you want to keep for yourself instead of the birds, there are safe netting options out there that don't trap birds but keep them off your berries!

Plan your garden: Mapping out a garden can save you a lot of headache and money down the road. But it can also allow you to be more green. When planning your layout you may pay closer attention to what areas of the yard get more sun or rain and install plants that are suitable for different locations.

- You can also minimize your gardening chores by planning certain "wild" areas or buffers using native plants that require little upkeep.

Hardscapes: Finally, when planning or renovating your yard, consider the non-organic features. From the paths to the containers, consider what impacts the materials you use will have on the environment and your garden's health.

- Recycled materials are becoming more readily available for constructing everything from paths to patios. Take a look at all the options and give these recycled materials a chance.
- Try to get planters and containers made of recycled material. Some people get very creative with old items that they turn into planters (i.e. an old sink or wheelbarrow).
- Try some of the new solar lights to add lighting features to your yard. They are earth friendly and can save you money!

USEFUL LINKS:

Environmental Protection Agency
https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/greener-living
This resource provides information about going green from the US EPA. Includes greenscape ideas for homes, businesses and recreational areas.

US Department of Agriculture
https://www.usda.gov/topics/rural/cooperative-research-and-extension-services
This resource will help you find state-specific plant information. Each state and territory has an office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices staffed by experts who provide useful, research-based information to agricultural producers, small businesses, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities.

American Horticultural Society
https://ahsgardening.org/gardening-resources/master-gardeners
This resource provides a map that links to Master Gardener websites in the United States. You will be connected to regionally-specific advice on gardening tips, the best plants for your area, classes, and more.


Photo by Allan Mas from Pexels
Read More

Peeling off the layers of the 'onion' that is a Structural Pest Inspection.

Authored by | Published:
Termites jimmy chan

Wood pests, wood destroying organisms, structural pests, termites and dryrot, or, fungus, whatever or however you refer to them, they are the uninvited, unwanted guests that can degrade the wood structure of your home, or, the home you are interested in purchasing. What is interesting is how these conditions are addressed in the various states. Some states allow Home Inspectors to identify and report on these issues if the inspector is properly certified/licensed. Meanwhile, other states (California is one) do not allow Home Inspectors to identify wood destroying organisms unless that inspector is also licensed as a Structural Pest Inspector, of which there are very few. But, if the inspector is properly licensed, then the reporting will be done on a report form mandated by the Structural Pest Control Board located in Sacramento, and the reporting process falls under a whole slew of regulations administered by the Structural Pest Control Board. In California, a Home Inspector can only mention a “wood pest” or “white growth” condition and note it in his or her report, and then, can only refer/defer to a licensed Structural Pest Inspector/Company for further details, proper identification of the wood pests involved, and, recommendations necessary to correct/repair the issues present.

This practice is unfortunate as that process breeds (in California anyway) a huge conflict of interest situation that revolves around the home sale/purchase activity. In California, the Structural Pest Companies perform the “termite” inspections (the term commonly used to describe a Structural Pest Inspection) for little or no money with the intent of getting their “foot in the door” to do the chemical treatments and repair jobs, which can be very expensive. So, lets peel off the first layer of the onion. The scenario goes: The inspector/company you call to make the inspection is the same person/company who provides you with a report that outlines the repairs and chemical treatments that he/she says are needed, which is the same person/company shoving a pen and a work contract into your hands to sign, which is the same person/company that sends out their repair crew to perform the work, which is the same person/company that “inspects” the completed work and then issues a Notice of Completion and certifies the property “free and clear.” I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that is a big conflict of interest.

But wait, lets take it one more step further. Lets peel off the next layer of the onion. How about the fact that many of the “termite” companies pay their inspectors straight commission on WORK PERFORMED/COMPLETED! Might that smack of a little conflict of interest? How comfortable would you feel having your home inspected under those conditions? How objective and impartial do you feel the outcome of the “termite” report will be, knowing that the “termite” company/inspector lost money the moment the tailgate of the inspectors’ truck went through the shop gate on the way to the inspection and now they need to recoup?

Time to peel the next layer off of the onion (are your eyes watering yet?). Now lets throw the real estate agent into the mix. The agent calls the “termite” company for his client (purchaser) and orders the inspection. All fine and good unless this agent happens to be one of those who has a predetermined idea as to what the outcome of the inspection should be in order to close the deal quickly and with no hassles even though the inspection report may have no basis of reality as to the conditions present. This is why, on occasions too numerous to count, two inspections of the same home are worlds apart. The rule is: both/all reports of the same home should contain the same findings, but the recommendations to repair may differ as inspectors may have different methods to correct the conditions found. It is very disturbing when comparing two reports of the same home, that, the diagram, as well as the findings, are as if the two inspectors looked at two different homes. But, this occurs all too often because of the pressure applied by the agents by “black balling” inspectors that are perceived to be “deal busters” because they actually do their job and accurately report conditions present.

Please don’t feel that this discussion is saying that all real estate agents or termite inspectors/companies are “shady.” More are good than bad, but the questionable still exist and you need to be aware and "do your home work” so you don’t end up in a situation for which you didn’t bargain.

So, lets peel another layer off of that onion, but in a positive way this time. ALWAYS, I REPEAT, ALWAYS interview the real estate agent before engaging them. Just because the agent meets you at the door of the office doesn’t mean you are “stuck” with him/her. If the agent is the listing agent of the property, be especially wary. They will not legally be working for you or have your best interest at heart. That is where the questionable termite inspector/company may suddenly appear. You want to ask the hard questions and get the proper answers! You want to know names and phone numbers---- not of sellers, but of purchasers of property handled by the agent so you can find out how their (the purchaser) experience was. Of course, this is a good time to find out how satisfied they were with the pest work that was performed. You would be surprised by how many buyers are very unhappy with the quality/completeness of the pest repair work but don’t have the stamina to “fight the system.”

In closing, referrals from qualified sources are your best way to find the inspector and real estate agent that will best serve you. Remember, the ones charging the least are most likely the ones to give you the least. A home purchase is probably the single largest investment any of us will make in our lifetime, so don’t shortchange yourself by falling into the age-old trap of the “cheapest.”


Photo by Jimmy Chan from Pexels

Ron Ringen owns and operates Ringen’s Unbiased Inspections, which is located in Sonora, California. Ringen’s Unbiased Inspections serves the beautiful gold country of California that includes the foothills and Sierra Mountains in the counties of Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amadore. Ron has been involved with the Structural Pest Control business for 56 years and has been a licensed Structural Pest Inspector in California since 1968. Ron is a licensed General Contractor (B) in California and has been since 1977. Ron is certified with the American Institute of Inspectors as a Home Inspector, Manufactured/Modular Home Inspector and a Pool and Spa Inspector.

Read More

Earn Cash Spring Cleaning Your Home!

Authored by | Published:
Springclean

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, clothes, exercise gadgets, etc. should not be squirreled away for another year! Instead, incorporate into your spring cleaning the determination to get this "stuff" out the door by donating it, having a garage sale, or selling it online.

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, so now is the time to hit these areas thoroughly. And don't forget to go through your attic, closets, storage areas, and basement and purge unused, unneeded, and unwanted belongings.

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, to sell online, to donate, or even to re-gift!

Other important items (while you're at it):

  • Update important documents in the safe or safety deposit box.
  • Update emergency plans and contact numbers.
  • 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 alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Spring Cleaning Bounty

Now that you have cleaned your house, you have gathered "stuff" that you no longer use, need or want, which may include:

  • Clothes
  • Toys / Board Games
  • Furniture / Lamps
  • Wall Art / Mirrors / Clocks
  • CDs / DVDs / Games
  • Books / Magazines / Comics
  • Collectibles
  • Dishes / Glasses / Cups
  • Kitchen Gadgets / Small Appliances
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Craft Goods
  • Small Electronics

Now what?

You'll want to have an organized plan of action to determine what to sell or donate. Here are some basic guidelines as you take inventory of your miscellaneous items:

  1. Be firm on your choices: If you haven't used an item in a year, there's a very good chance you won't use it again. Let go of any emotional attachments to items - even if your mother gave you that clock, which you never use, you can let it go. Instead, keep the more personalized items, such as photos or handmade objects. Every gift is not a treasure! Remember - it was the thought that counted - not the unworn tie!
  2. Consider items for donation: If you have some highly valued items, such as gently used winter coats or clothing, consider giving these to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a local charity. You may prefer to try to sell your items and then donate what doesn't sell. However, don't use your charity of choice as a dump - be realistic and donate only usable items and not broken toys, games with missing pieces, appliances that don't work, etc.
  3. Consider items for a garage sale: List the items as you place them in boxes to temporarily store until the weather is nice for a garage sale. Organizing items ahead of time when you do your spring cleaning will save time on the day of the garage sale.
    • a) Set a date and time: Choose a day when you can rest well the night before and commit your full energy to the day of the sale. Keep the time reasonable - if you aren't 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.
    • b) 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.
    • c) Showcase your items: Hang clothes, put small items in baggies, etc. Keeping your selection clean and neat and visible will help buyers decide quickly and will lessen the need for items to be handled too much. Also, clearly mark each item with a price label. One or two boxes of "25 cents each" may be okay, but try to keep most items individually priced with a label.
    • d) Advertise and make signs: These days, advertising a garage sale shouldn't only be done in the print version of your local newspaper. It can be posted online, as well. Even most Penny Savers have an online option.  You should also post announcements to online localized sites, such as Craigslist, and post the sale on social media.  Finally, when you make signs for the sale, keep the print clear, big, and simple. Make certain to take them down as soon as your sale is over.
    • e) Change from the bank: Before the day of the garage sale, make sure to get some change for the cashbox. Decide beforehand if you will accept checks or cash app payments, and under what conditions or for which particular items.
    • f) Prep your sales table: Besides your cashbox, prep your sales table with bags, boxes, newspaper to wrap fragile items, paper and pens, calculator (if you don't want to use your cell phone), maybe a few good munchies, definitely a beverage to keep hydrated, and something to keep you entertained during the slow periods (if you don't want to drain your cell phone battery).
  4. Consider items to sell online: Perhaps you have items left over from your garage sale, or maybe a garage sale doesn't appeal to you and you'd rather sell things from the comfort and convenience of your home office, kitchen table, or sofa?  Either way, you still have stuff that needs to be sold.  Just keep in mind that selling items online will require more time as you write detailed descriptions and take clear photos of each item to be posted. In addition, you'll spend time checking online to see if anything has been purchased, packaging items that have sold, and shipping them off to their new homes.  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're a bit of a bibliophile and need to thin out your collection, Amazon Marketplace is a great option to sell used books, CDs, DVDs, and more. To list is free, but there are fees when an item sells. https://sell.amazon.com/?ref_=asus_soa_rd&id=hm1&ld=AZSOAHelp
  •      Craigslist: A mishmash of services, used goods, and announcements. You can find used items for cheap prices. It can be the ordinary, like used furniture, to the not so common. For example, I found someone who had new pavers left over from a patio project. They were willing to sell at a discount just to get them off their lawn. You may also find bargain services, such as yard work done cheaply. However, be careful; there are no regulations 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. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
  •      eBAY: One of the most popular and well known online auction sites, eBay has been around since 1995.  It's the biggest garage sale online. http://www.ebay.com
  •      Etsy: Buy unique, creative pieces or sell your imaginative, handmade items.  A great source for crafters and home artisans of all medias. http://www.etsy.com
Read More

Is it time for a Bathroom Remodel?

Authored by | Published:
Spanishmermaid

Your bathroom is where you prep to start your day and where you wind down at the end of the day. From a nice hot shower, to an at home spa, the bathroom is an important room in every home and to our daily lives. However, it can be the room most overlooked when it comes to decor and/or remodeling. It shouldn't be. According to Contractors.com, remodeling your bathroom can yield an 80-90% return in the value of your home. Adding a new bathroom can also easily give you a 90% return in the value of your home. Improving this room can, therefore, be a savvy investment in your property. But it can be more than just a wise investment. Updating your bathroom can make this at home retreat more inviting and invigorating. Take the time to make a bright, friendly room to jump start your busy work day, and a calm, peaceful room to help you recharge in your own do-it-yourself spa retreat. Below, we provide some pointers and tips for your bathroom makeover. Whether just updating the decor or completing a major remodel, we hope you will find something beneficial for your bathroom remodeling project.

Part I: Decor Makeover & Small Remodel - This decor makeover includes simple, do-it-yourself solutions for a quick update. Many of these changes could be done in one to two days. Some of these remodel items may take longer.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any decor makeover or remodel is to set out a plan for the project.

  • Set your budget and a timeline. Both will help determine what you can do. You may need to consider doing the project in stages or altering your original ideas. Planning ahead will help make certain you do not end up with an unusable bathroom for weeks or even months!
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking, such as, do you have enough functional space, storage, lighting, etc.?
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can be anything from the toilet to the outdated wallpaper on the walls.
  • What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room? Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling? Are you limited to painting the walls and changing hardware? If some of your ideas seem over your head, you may want to consider hiring a contractor, plumber or electrician. For more information about major remodeling projects, see below.
  • Finally, if you want a change but are drawing a blank with ideas, consider hiring an interior designer. Some people are hesitant about hiring an interior designer because they think they have to use them all the way through. But indeed, you can work with them to make a project plan, and then project manage the remodel yourself. Or you can also hire them to follow the entire project from start to finish.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Changing a mirror to a medicine cabinet can help add space above your sink.
  • Adding cabinets can help store essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. There are many styles of cabinets available.
  • You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet, which provide quite a bit of extra space. You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer an updated look and add more storage to your bathroom. **You may wan to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Walls - Is the paint or old wallpaper making the room too dark, dated, or showing damage or spots from mildew?

  • Determine your new color scheme or theme for the room before painting or wallpaper goes up.
  • Roll a fresh coat of paint on the walls! Wash the walls down first and check for mildew. Any light mildew will need sanding and bleaching. Then clean the entire surface to be painted with TSP solution. Although a bit shinier, you may want to consider a satin or semi-gloss paint as these will make your walls easier to clean and more resistant to damage from constant cleaning. Just keep in mind, glossy paint will show imperfections in the wall itself.
  • If you decide to wallpaper a bathroom, keep in mind the moisture content of the room. Also consider how often you may be cleaning certain walls near a sink or bathtub.
  • Consider combining a new coat of paint with just an accent wall of wallpaper!

Lighting - Again, how bright is the space? Is it too dark or too bright and harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider two light switch options for the room: one for soft light for general use and the other for brighter light for applying makeup, etc.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when coming up with your redesign plan.

  • If the window is older, you might consider replacing it with a newer one. Or you may want to add additional windows or change the style to bring in more natural light. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Does the window give enough privacy? You may want to consider updating blinds or frosting the window to provide more privacy to your bathroom.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one to the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.

Shower Curtain or Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing your shower curtain or door.

  • Replacing an older shower curtain is a cheap way to help update the decor of your bathroom.
  • Installing a bath/shower door can lighten the space of the room. This can also make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.

Hardware - Changing out your old hardware can be one of the easiest updates to the bathroom.

  • Add a new towel rack or completely change the set to start a new color scheme with gold, brass,brushed nickel, or bronze, etc.
  • You can create a spa feel to your bathroom by adding small upgrades like a heated towel rack!

Faucet - Updating your sink faucets can give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out. If uncertain, take a class at a hardware store or hire a professional.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub can be a littler trickier. However, again a class or professional can help with this change.
  • If you have a showerhead, this can also be changed out to complete your new look and add a more spa like feel to the room.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet, you maychoose to replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate, granite, quartz, marble, etc. to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Mirrors - A mirror is an essential item to every bathroom.

  • Consider updating your mirror if crackled or out of style.
  • How do you use your mirror? You may want to consider mirrors that hinge out to provide angles or depth when needed or one that offers different strengths of magnification.
  • Mirrors can also be decorative items! Mirrored sconces or tiles on the wall can help to give a dark corner light or a narrow space depth.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new again.

  • You can refinish your own tub, but you will need a respirator, spray gun, sander, chemical cleaners and will need to also purchase an acrylic top coat. The actual refinishing product can be purchased as a kit. Keep in mind that there will be a 30-60 minute wait between about three coats of acrylic and a 24 hour set time. Needless to say, this will be a time consuming project that will take clear ventilation and lots of patience. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. This is a task you can do by yourself with some careful planning and a few extra helping hands. There are also many dealers offering liners and installation for reasonable rates. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Tiling - Does your tiling need replacing? If you have the time and skill, this can be a great update to any bathroom.

  • Again, consider your timeline, budget, and skill level before taking on a task of this magnitude. Consider a deep clean. Giving your tiles a good clean can help breathe new life into them. Some also find it beneficial to selectively replace specific tiles and re-grout lines rather than replacing the whole wall; consider this option if you are on a tight budget.
  • Make arrangements to be without your bathtub for a while if you plan to retile this area. Although the tiles and grout may set at specific times, you may need longer to work it out if taking it on as a do-it-yourself project.
  • If tiling/retiling a floor, consider how you are going to move the toilet and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to tile around them.
  • Be patient with any tiling project, take it slow as this is something that should last a long time.

Vinyl Flooring - If tile flooring is not for you, you may want to consider replacing your existing vinyl flooring with an updated vinyl.

  • As with tile flooring, consider your timeline, budget and skill set before taking on this task.
  • Consider how you are going to move the toilet, and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to cut the vinyl to fit around them.
  • Again, consider taking a class at a local hardware store or hiring a professional if uncomfortable with this kind of work.

Part II: Major Remodel - This makeover includes major structural changes and updates. You will most likely need professional help. Also, this type of remodel may include obtaining specific building permit from your city or county.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any major remodel is to create a plan for the project.

  • Determine your budget and timeline. Planning ahead will prevent unforeseen expenses and help you obtain better estimates from professionals you may need to hire for the project.
  • You may need to get a building permit for some of your changes, especially if you are making major structural changes to the room.
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking, such as, do you have enough functional space, storage, lighting, etc.?
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can be anything from the plumbing to the sink fixtures. What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room? Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling? Are there some aspects of this remodel that you are confident you can complete on your own? Perhaps you don't want to install the sink but have no problem putting in the tile backsplash. Mixing contracted work with do-it-yourself work can be a great way to save money, if you have the time.
  • You may want to consult with an interior designer for a major remodeling project. They could bring up considerations for the space you may not have thought about.
  • What kind of professional help will you need? Will you need a general contractor, electrician or plumber? Often times even a general contractor may hire out certain tasks (i.e. electrical work) under their supervision. If you know what tasks will need to be done, then you will have a better idea of who will need to be hired.

Hire a Contractor - With a major remodel you will very likely need professional help.

  • Interview several contractors and get estimates from each. Ask questions and be bold enough to ask why estimate are different - i.e. if they are using different materials, this is good to know in advance!
  • Many contractors will help obtain the necessary permits for your project. Check and see if any you are interviewing will help with this process. Avoid any contractors who say this or that permit, "isn't really needed."
  • Check to see if the contractor will be sub-contracting certain aspects of your project such as plumbing, electrical, tiling, etc.
  • Find out what they expect from you in giving sub-contractors access to a work site, etc.

Permits - Many overhaul projects that affect the structure of your home will need permits from the city or county.

  • If you are removing or adding any walls, this may be affected by local or state building codes.
  • You may not be aware of all the aspects in your project that may need a permit. Check with your contractor. If you are doing it alone, check with your local government for guidance.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Adding cabinets helps with storing essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. With a major remodel, you may have the opportunity to include built-in wall cabinets/closets in your new bathroom. Otherwise, there are many styles of cabinets available. You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet that provide quite a bit of extra storage.
  • You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer an updated look and add more storage to your bathroom.

Walls - Do you have room to expand your space?

  • Taking down a wall to add space can do wonders for a small bathroom.
  • Think outside the box. Replace a dividing wall with a sheet of glass to allow more light throughout the bathroom. Insert small alcoves within the walls to add little retreats for mirrors, candles, and other decor items to make the space more inviting. Some redesigns use tiles on the walls as a protective "wainscoting" design. Other designs include half walls to offer definition of space without enclosing entirely. The possibilities are endless.

Lighting - How bright is the space? Is it too dark or too harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help you add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider getting an electrician to add light switches. Add one for soft, every day light and another for brighter, utilitarian light for applying makeup, etc.
  • With the help of an electrician you can add recessed lighting or other design lighting updates.

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when planning your redesign.

  • If an older window, you might consider replacing the window with a newer one. You can add a special feature like stained or frosted glass. Or consider built in blinds for a combo of extra privacy and easy cleaning. You may also consider making the window larger or adding an additional window to the room.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one in the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.
  • Consider working with an electrician to get a more powerful fan with more options and better ability to clear moisture from the room.

Shower Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing to a shower door.

  • Installing a bath/shower door can help lighten the space of the room. This can also help make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.
  • Another alternative to a shower door is using a sheet of glass or a tiled wall to separate the shower from the larger room. This adds a decorative feature and more light for the room overall.

Faucet - Updating your faucets can help give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub and the showerhead can help complete a new look for you bathroom.
  • If remodeling an older home, a major remodel may be a good time to consider reviewing the pipes and improving water pressure and usage. There are many water saving devices available now that can still offer a good amount of water pressure.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet you may decide to replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate, granite, quartz, marble, etc. to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new once again.

  • Refinishing your tub is an alternative to replacing or lining it. This process will need at least a 24 hour set time. This should be considered if working with more than one professional, as work will have to be suspended as the acrylic is applied and sets.
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. Many companies offer the liner and installation for a reasonable cost.

Tiling - Finish your spa retreat with professional tiling.

A major remodel is a great time to get the bathtub, shower, floor and even walls all done at once.

If you want to keep the old tiling, consider this a time to get damaged tiles replaced and grout redone.

New Big Items - A major remodel may also include getting a new bathtub, toilet, sink or custom made shower.

  • If you are doing a different style design you may want to consider changing some or all of your big items.
  • If you are updating an older home, this would be a great time to get a more efficient toilet or better fixtures to aid with water pressure.
  • This is your own spa, maybe it is time to replace that old bathtub with a jetted one!
  • A custom built shower can offer a neat new design and multiple shower spray option for a more spa-like experience.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are considering a small or large remodel, the short list above makes it obvious the possibilities are endless. In both cases, make certain to plan ahead and really consider how you want your new bathroom to function and feel. Have fun, get carried away, and then look at what you can turn into a reality. Get help from the professionals whether it be an interior designer or a general contractor. Or get in your hours at your local home improvement store's classes and put your patience and creativity to the test. Either way, the best part of a bathroom remodel is that once it is done, you can reap your rewards by enjoying your mini spa retreat everyday!

Read More

Myths and Realities about Real Estate Appraisals and Appraisers

Authored by | Published:
Mythsapraisals

Myth: Assessed value should equate to market value.
Reality: While most states support the concept that assessed value approximates estimated market value, this often is not the case. Examples include when interior remodeling has occurred and the assessor is unaware of the improvements, or when properties in the vicinity have not been reassessed for an extended period.

Myth: The appraised value of a property will vary, depending upon whether the appraisal is conducted for the buyer or the seller.
Reality: The appraiser has no vested interest in the outcome of the appraisal and should render services with independence, objectivity, and impartiality - no matter for whom the appraisal is conducted.

Myth: Market value should approximate replacement cost.
Reality: Market value is based on what a willing buyer likely would pay a willing seller for a particular property, with neither being under pressure to buy or sell. Replacement cost is the dollar amount required to reconstruct a property in-kind.

Myth: Appraisers use a formula, such as a specific price per square foot, to figure out the value of a home.
Reality: Appraisers make a detailed analysis of all factors pertaining to the value of a home including its location, condition, size, proximity to facilities, and recent sale prices of comparable properties.

Myth: In a robust economy - when the sales prices of homes in a given area are reported to be rising by a particular percentage - the value of individual properties in the area can be expected to appreciate by that same percentage.
Reality: Value appreciation of a specific property must be determined on an individualized basis, factoring in data on comparable properties and other relevant considerations. This is true in good times as well as bad.

Myth: You generally can tell what a property is worth simply by looking at the outside.
Reality: Property value is determined by a number of factors, including location, condition, improvements, amenities, and market trends.

Myth: Because consumers pay for appraisals when applying for loans to purchase or refinance real estate, they own their appraisal.
Reality: The appraisal is, in fact, legally owned by the lender - unless the lender "releases its interest" in the document. However, consumers must be given a copy of the appraisal report, upon written request, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Myth: Consumers need not be concerned with what is in the appraisal document so long as it satisfies the needs of their lending institution.
Reality: Only if consumers read a copy of their appraisal can they double-check its accuracy and question the result. Also, it makes a valuable record for future reference, containing useful and often-revealing information - including the legal and physical description of the property, square footage measurements, list of comparable properties in the neighborhood, neighborhood description, and a narrative of current real-estate activity and/or market trends in the vicinity.

Myth: Appraisers are hired only to estimate real estate property values in property sales involving mortgage-lending transactions.
Reality: Depending upon their qualifications and designations, appraisers can and do provide a variety of services, including advice for estate planning, dispute resolution, zoning and tax assessment review, and cost/benefit analysis.

Myth: An Appraisal is the same as a home inspection.
Reality: An Appraisal does not serve the same purpose as an inspection. The Appraiser forms an opinion of value in the Appraisal process and resulting report. A home inspector determines the condition of the home and its major components and reports these findings.

 

J. Myers & Associates Inc. - 5098 28th Avenue South West - Naples, FL 34116 - Phone: 239-793-3430 - Fax: 239-793-3430 - JasonMyers@embarqmail.com

Read More

What is a Lease on property?

Authored by | Published:
Pexels anthony shkraba 5816297

A Lease is an agreement, which creates the relationship of landlord and tenant.  The landlord leases to the tenant exclusive possession of land or tenements for a period of time.  The length of the Lease may be for a determinate period of time or at will.  The land subject to the Lease is sometimes referred to as the “leasehold.”  A Lease should contain, at the minimum: the length of the Lease, the amount of the rent, the payment periods, a clear identification of the parties to the Lease including their addresses, a clear description of the property leased, the amount of any security deposit, and any other terms agreed upon by the parties.  State law may require that other terms be included in the Lease, such as identifying the landlord and his/her agent able to receive notices, the time and manner of rent increases, and the method of termination.  Leases or rental agreements, as a form of contract, imply a duty of good faith upon the parties to the agreement.  In addition, a Lease or rental agreement usually implies other terms, even if they are not specified.  The Lease usually implies a covenant of quiet enjoyment.  This is a covenant given by a landlord to the tenant arising from the terms of the Lease by law.  The tenant is able to enjoy the possession of the premises in peace and without disturbance.  Regardless of whether it is included in the Lease, most states have held that the tenant has an implied right of quiet enjoyment of the premises.  Another covenant usually implied in a Lease is the warranty of habitability.  The warranty of habitability means that the premises are suitable for habitation by people.  The Lease or rental agreement also implies that the landlord holds possession of the land or tenements and is able to lease or rent them.

 

Leases for more than one (1) year must be in writing and signed to be enforceable.  Residential Leases should be in writing, and a copy of the Lease must be delivered to the tenant at the beginning of the Lease.  

 

Oral Leases for more than the time period specified by law are still valid between the parties.  However, if a dispute arises between the parties, the fact that it is not in writing may make it unenforceable.  The advantage of putting a Lease in writing is that it reduces the possibility of disputes arising between the parties due to ambiguity or uncertainty.

 

There are several types of Leases.  The Lease or rental agreement creates a tenancy.  A tenancy is an interest in real estate or tenement belonging to the tenant who possesses it exclusive of others except as the Lease or law may permit a landlord’s right of entry to demand rent or to make repairs.  A Lease may be for a specific time period as stated in the rental agreement.   A tenancy that has no fixed time period is known as a tenancy at will.  If the length of the Lease is not specified in the rental agreement, the length is determined by the payment periods for rent.  The length may be week-to-week, month-to-month or year-to-year.  These types of Leases are sometimes referred to as periodic estates.  If the tenant remains on the premises after expiration of the Lease without the landlord’s consent, a holdover tenancy results.  A tenant who remains on the premises after expiration of the Lease is known as a “holdover tenant” or a “tenant at sufferance.”  If the landlord chooses to consent to the continued presence of the holdover tenant, the tenancy becomes a tenancy at will.

Read More

What is a Mechanics’ Lien on property?

Authored by | Published:
Man 5710164 1920

A Mechanics’ Lien is a lien (or encumbrance) on real estate held by a person for labor, service or materials furnished in connection with the construction or improvement of real estate. The claim will allow for interest or right to property, or a portion of it, by the lien holder that arises by law or agreement until payment of a debt or liability is satisfied.  This type of lien is typically codified by a statute of the state which governs the creation, extent, filing, and foreclosure of the lien. The time limitations for filing of the lien and foreclosure of it are set by statute.

In many cases, a lien on property must be removed before the sale of the property may commence.

For most states, the lien must be verified or sworn under oath and must include the names and addresses of the lien claimant, the owner of the real estate, and/or their agent, the street address and legal description of the real estate subject to the lien, the amount due or claimed, including an itemized list of labor or materials furnished, the nature of the work performed, and when the work began and ended. The time for filing of the lien determines its priority with respect to other liens on the real estate.  Please see specific state for details and/or differences.

Read More

Budgeting for the Holidays and Special Events

Authored by | Published:
Holidayshopping

Big events and holidays can often mean big spending. A little pre-planning can help to ease and avoid financial pain. To the left are some worksheets that may be used when planning holiday or big event spending. In the meantime, here are some other tips for not overspending:

Set a Limit - Before any spending spree begins, make sure you know your limit. Set your cap a bit below as last minute expenses may arise. Did you account for mailing the gift? Gift wrap? The unexpected can creep on you before you know it! Also, take a look at how much you have spent in the past. Was it too much? What expenses surprised you? Asking questions like these will help you plan for the holidays and events to come.

Make a Gift List - Instead of hoping for something to catch your eye, keep a list of gift ideas. This way you will know what you are looking for and be able to better preplan the budget. This will also prevent buyers remorse - sometimes that gift that seemed like a great idea when you were in the store may not be so great when you sit down to gift wrap it.

Pay Cash - Credit cards are easy to use but not all of us are good at paying them off as soon as the bill comes. Taking cash helps you stick to your budget. Another alternative is the prepaid credit cards that you load with a limited amount in advance. Many also find these pre-paid credit cards a nice alternative to use for online purchases for extra credit protection.

Shop Early or Late - Depending on how far in advance you like, plan to shop either in advance of the holiday season or post-holiday season with the next year in mind. This will allow you to stick to a budget and not get caught up in last minute buys. It will also relieve a lot of the stress that comes with shopping during the busiest shopping days of the year!

Allow Time for Shipped Gifts - Plan ahead if you are shipping gifts to friends and relatives far away. Waiting until the last minute will mean more expensive postage to get gifts to the door on time.

Take Time to 'Comparison Shop' - Some of us get our list together and then just want to get it over and done with. Be patient, compare store prices and options before you go out to buy. This will help stretch that budget further.

Be Creative - Have fun with your gift ideas. Consider homemade or crafted gifts; however, don't forget the time involved making these items! Or make your own gift baskets - know a lot of chocolate lovers? Instead of buying a pre-made gift set - make your own basket of local chocolates or goodies.

Read More

Ghostly Getaways: Haunted Hotels, Creepy Castles, Mysterious Mansions, Bewitching Bed-and-Breakfasts, and more! (Part 2)

Authored by | Published:
Abandoned ancient architecture 775667

Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend retreats.  Why not have some fun and book a stay at one of the haunted places listed below:

Magnolia Mansion - New Orleans, LA

The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever, his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and, it was rumored he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954, the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002.

The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to with the house. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for a while, however, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well.

See It: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a romantic Ghostly Getaway package, which includes a room, treats, and ghost walking tours.

Mason House Inn - Bentonsport, IA

The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. The Mason House keeps its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years.

The Haunting: Three of the owners died in the building, and there was also a murder in one of the guest rooms. In 1860, poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also, a doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy who plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds, and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all!

See It: Request to stay in the B&B’s main house on the 2nd floor, rooms #5 & #7, for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Or stay in the restored caboose! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are available twice a year, and a Halloween Ghost Walk thrills in October.

McCune Mansion - Salt Lake City, UT

The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune’s donated the mansion to the Latter-day Saints Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salt Lake Center, and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999, it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel.

The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music, but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fitted with locks, doors opening on their own, and lights going on and off on their own.

See It: Schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation.

Myrtles Plantation - St. Francisville, LA

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

The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a 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 this ghost 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.

See It: Dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is yours.

The Queen Mary - Long Beach, CA

The History: Her maiden voyage was May 27, 1936, but with the coming of WWII, she was refitted and used as a troop ship housing 5,500 souls by May 5, 1940. By the end of the war, it was used to transport as many as 12,886 war brides and children from Europe to the U.S. and Canada on six voyages in four months. More war bride voyages would follow. It became a cruise ship in 1963 but, by 1967, it was purchased for Long Beach, CA to act as restaurant and museum with the first hotel rooms opening in 1972.

The Haunting: The ship’s first-class swimming pool has some of the most recorded ghost sightings and noises. Many women dressed in 1930 swimsuits have been sighted. But the spirits like to wander and have been seen in many parts of the ship - especially the engine room where two men were crushed to death by the heavy "Door 13." Those who take the self-guided walking tour of the ship have been spooked more than once!

See It: Brave enough? Spend the night or take a tour with Ghost and Legends of the Queen Mary group. The tour is technically enhanced to make certain you get a few jumps and spooks. The hotel also hosts a 'Terrorfest' of haunted mazes on Halloween.

Ross Castle - Ross, County Meath, Ireland

The History: This area shows record of settlement since the Iron Age. The castle tower was completed in 1537 by Richard Nugent, 12th Baron of Delvin. A family loyal to the English crown for their title and rank hoped to receive the extra boon of £10 given as encouragement for each fortification built in Ireland. In time, the Nugents began to marry the once rival Celtic nobles, especially the O'Reillys. In 1644, the castle was pulverized by Cromwellian soldiers in retribution for Myles O'Reilly's defiance. Restoration was begun by the family in the 19th century and the castle was later modernized with plumbing and electricity.

The Haunting: The castle's founder, Richard Nugent, was also known as the Black Baron and, you guessed it, he had a reputation for being quite unpleasant. The Black Baron had a beautiful daughter named Sabina who had the unfortunate luck to fall in love with Orwin O'Reilly, at this time still an enemy. Moved by love to give up their home, family and wealth, they decided to elope. However, as they made their escape by boat, a storm came up and it capsized. Orwin died but Sabina lived. Crushed with heartache, she pined away in Ross Castle tower until she finally gave up the ghost, which in turn walks the halls to this day. She is said to sometimes be heard screaming! The Black Baron is also rumored to haunt the grounds, as unpleasant as ever!

See It: Besides ghost hunting, you can go fishing, golfing, horseback riding, sailing, boating, hiking, cycling, watching the races or taking flying lessons! Plenty to do in a romantic setting.

Ruthin Castle - Ruthin, North Wales, UK

The History: Legend has it that the original castle was a wooden fort lorded by Huail. He fought King Arthur and wounded him in the knee. A truce was called but Huail later mocked King Arthur and was beheaded. The first stone structure was put up by King Edward I in 1277, and the castle was owned by the crown off and on until sold by Charles I in 1632. The modern stone structure was built in 1826. However, some of the older walls, dungeons, and tunnels are still standing today.

The Haunting: This castle comes with its own Grey Lady. Dating back to the time of Edward I, this ghost was sentenced to death for killing the lover of her husband. Soldiers are said to still march around the grounds, and prisoners, long dead, are still heard moaning in agony.

See It: Besides ghost hunting and random spooks, this castle offers medieval banquets (one with a murder mystery theme!), golf, and romantic getaway packages.

The Sagamore - Bolton Landing, NY

The History: This hotel was originally built in 1883 to provide a getaway on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. This historic building suffered two fires but was reconstructed in 1930. The resort was meant to be a retreat for the wealthy and is still neighbored by palatial mansions across the lake.

The Haunting: This hotel has many ghosts including a little boy on the golf course! This boy chased balls and sold them when alive. He died in a tragic accident when he was hit by a car running after a ball. Now his shadowy form can be seen running after golf balls on the course. He likes to steal balls and laugh at golfers as they look for them. When they give up, he tosses the ball at them, again laughing. Other ghosts include the guests who come down from the second floor for dinner every night and wait patiently in the reception area before they literally vanish. Then there is the portly cigar smoker in the elevator who may not appreciate the no-smoking policy these days.

See It: Stay in the hotel, vacation lodges or a castle (if you have the cash). Themed getaways are available, including a Murder Mystery Weekend.

The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, CO

The History: Six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, this hotel has famous views and offers a serene escape. F.O. Stanley created this hotel after moving to the west when forced to by poor health. Besides the hotel, he helped to create the sewer, power, and water supply for the area. A recent claim to fame is that a stay in this hotel inspired Stephen King's ‘The Shining.’

The Haunting: Both F.O. and his wife Flora haunt the hotel. They are amicable ghosts that enjoy hanging about the rooms they loved so much, such as the Billiard room and Ballroom. Rooms 407 and 418 have reputed activity of lights going on and off, noises, and, of course, rascally kids playing in the nearby hallway. One story relates some guests checked out early as the kids playing in the hall kept them up all night. When the hotel staff looked at the register, there weren’t any kids as guests - at least not any live ones!

See It: Spend the night and go on an Historic Ghost Tour, which explains the history that created a haunted playground. The hotel even hosts a ‘Shining’ themed Ball.

The Stone Lion Inn - Guthrie, OK

The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine.

The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police, but no intruder was found. Soon after, they realized they had experienced their first "guest," who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play.

See It: Stay at the inn for a night or two, and enjoy!

The Story Inn - Nashville, IN

The History: This historic inn is located at the borders of Brown County State Park and Hoosier National Forest. This inn and its collection of buildings is actually what remains of the town of Story, which was established in 1851, set up as a lodging community.

The Haunting: The Story Inn is haunted by a lady in blue who floats about the second floor of the general store, which has been turned into guestrooms. There has also been activity in the restaurant below. A guestbook details the experiences of the spooked over the years.

See It: If you prefer a ghost-less sleep, book a cabin in the close community.

Thornewood Castle - Lakewood, WA

The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained-glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has been enriched with many different imported materials, which have been used in the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting details put into the castle are the "wishbone sticks" left in the basement underpinnings by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks are said to help ward off evil.

The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle, and there are reports of objects moving on their own. Recorders have picked up voices, such as an unknown child. A child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, and perhaps the house as well. Overall, the spirits at Thornewood seem to be a good-natured sort. There isn’t a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornewood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle.

See It: You may stay in the castle, which is now a B&B. For an additional charge included with the cost of a room, you can spend the night and take a Candle Light Tour, exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters.

Read More

Ghostly Getaways: Haunted Hotels, Creepy Castles, Mysterious Mansions, Bewitching Bed-and-Breakfasts, and more! (Part I)

Authored by | Published:
Ghostlygetaways

Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend retreats.  Why not have some fun and book a stay at one of the haunted places listed below:

17-Hundred-90 Restaurant & Inn - Savannah, GA

The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at 16 years to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from a window, landing on the brick pavement below.

The Haunting: Anne Powell, the most famous ghost at this inn, is believed to haunt guest room #204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She isn't a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes or plays pranks on guests waking them up in the wee hours of the morning by setting off the alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and shoves them, but he’s countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who helps the staff turn the lights off at closing.

See It: Savannah ghost tours stops for a drink, but you can go for a bite to eat at the restaurant yourself. Or if you really dare, ask for room #204 and spend the night!

Brumder Mansion - Milwaukee, WI

The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to a Lutheran church activity center. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998.

The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of a Brumder daughter who never married after being spurned in love early in life. She is said to still stay in the room; in fact, she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs!

See It: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so you can request the Gold Room and spend the night! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner!

The Carolina Inn - Chapel Hill, NC

The History: Owned by UNC, this inn was built by a UNC graduate in 1924. Throughout its history, it has been used by the campus to host conferences, guests, and alumni. Today the proceeds from the inn are given to the university library.

The Haunting: Professor William Jacocks haunts room #252. Although guests claim to have encounters with the professor, the hotel staff say he has never frightened anyone to the point of packing their bags and running. Instead, he’s a friendly ghost who plays pranks such as holding doorknobs so doors won't open, rustling papers, and making the occasional noise. Some claim there are additional ghosts walking the halls and looming over their shoulder, but more curious than menacing.

See It: Spend the night in this historic hotel, and receive a jovial welcoming from the resident impish ghost!

Crescent Hotel - Eureka Springs, AR

The History: Founded in 1886, the Crescent Hotel started its career as an elegant hideaway for the Victorian wealthy. However, not able to stay afloat, the hotel closed. It was reopened in 1908 as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, but closed in 1924. In 1937, it was opened as a hospital and health resort. Norman Baker claimed to have a cure for cancer but was met with scrutiny as it came to light that he had no medical education. He was later imprisoned on mail fraud. The hotel was reestablished in 1946.

The Haunting: The fresh spring water under the hotel must attract spirits thirsting for human interaction! There are many different haunted areas from guest rooms, to the lobby, to the grounds. Guests have seen a woman in the hall, a tall man knocking on doors, and former cancer patients and nurses. The hotel's website posts a long list of guest experiences.

See It: The hotel offers history tours for groups of 10 or more. Ghost tours are available by Eureka Springs Ghost Tours.

Driskill Hotel - Austin, TX

The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened the hotel in 1886. It 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 wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is also the ghost of a small girl bouncing a ball, said to be the daughter of a Senator, who was left unattended playing with her ball and fell to her death.

See It: The hotel is open to guests and offers all kinds of pampering.

The Feathers Hotel - Ludlow, Shropshire, UK

The History: The original building was built as a private residence in 1619 but has been modified. After the English Civil War, in 1670, it was changed to an inn and remained one for 200 years! In 1863, it was changed to a hotel and the owners started to acquire more land and expand. Why the name feathers? There are faded motifs of ostrich feathers on the hotel’s outer woodwork, which were a symbol of the Prince of Wales and "en vogue" at the time of construction, and the town of Ludlow was royalist even during the English Civil War.

The Haunting: There is a female "guest" in room #211 who is known to bother women, pulling their hair and letting them know they are not welcome. There are a couple gentlemen ghosts roaming about, including one who is accompanied by his ghost dog!

See It: You can go on a ghost hunting adventure with Eerie Evenings or Haunted Breaks. Or you may opt to spend the night and enjoy the historic surroundings.

Heceta House - Yachats, OR

The History: Built in 1894, this house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The complex also includes a post office and school. Only the keeper's house has tales of hauntings. Many believe the keeper was the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs at the turn of the century.

The Haunting: A ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker. She makes it known if she’s displeased with any activity in the house, such as the humorous account of her screaming in the middle of a card game!

See It: Now a bed and breakfast, offering guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the owners don't play up the ghost, guests have reported strange encounters.

Hotel Del Coronado - San Diego, CA

The History: Babcock and Story built the resort to be the "talk of the Western world" in 1888. Since then it has been visited by presidents, foreign dignitaries, celebrities, and heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Thomas Edison. The hotel was famous as a backdrop for "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

The Haunting: Tales of ghosts started with the untimely death of Kate Morgan, a guest, in November 1892. She came to meet her estranged husband who never showed. Kate was found dead on the hotel steps leading to the ocean. She died of a gunshot wound to the head, which was officially deemed a suicide, but is speculated to be a case of murder. She likes to slam doors and randomly turn on the TV, and some have seen indentations in the sheets as if someone was sleeping on the bed. There are other ghosts in the hotel who love to flicker the lights, provide cold spots, and make some random noises.

See It: Stay at this stunning resort and enjoy the spa, golf course, pool or take surfing lessons. Kate's room has been #312, #3312, and is now #3327 - verify with staff.

Hotel El Convento - Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The History: This former Carmelite convent named The Monastery of Our Lady Carmne of San Jose was founded in 1651. The nuns left this convent in 1903 and the site fell into ruin, until 1962 when Robert Woolworth purchased it to make it into a resort.

The Haunting: Dona Ana was a noblewoman who lost her husband in the war with the Dutch and then turned to her faith. She donated the land for the Carmelite convent. It is said her spirit and those of nuns can be seen about the grounds and gliding through the halls.

See It: Enjoy a luxurious stay with these faithful spirits.

Jerome Grand Hotel - Jerome, AZ

The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it unfortunately was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule having been unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests.

The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished within its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed to have been murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopened, more paranormal activity has been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the ground looking for the babe.

See It: Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, the hotel offers some great views and, if you're lucky, maybe a ghost or two!

Kehoe House - Savannah, GA

The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992, the home opened as a B&B; it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere.

The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house, that we know of, was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night!

See It: Ask for rooms #201 or #203 and spend the night!

Kewaunee Inn - Kewaunee, WI

The History: Built in 1912 by William Karsten, this inn is still commonly known as the Hotel Karsten. Father and son managed this hotel until William Karsten Jr.'s death in 1964. The hotel then changed hands and received various facelifts. The most recent owners renamed the hotel to the Kewaunee Inn at Hamachek Village in May 2008.

The Haunting: The ghosts at the Kewaunee Inn didn't start to bug the living until after renovations started in 1966. The inn website mentions that the triad of ghosts include William Karsten, Sr., Billy Karsten III (who died at 5 years of age, shortly after his grandfather), and Agatha the housekeeper. Agatha seems to be the most active, floating about the halls and popping up behind you when you look in the mirror! She doesn't seem to like men much - so any male guests be on your guard! William likes to have a drink at the bar now and then, and Billy still runs up and down the hall playing.

See It: If you’re brave enough, spend the night!

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 for good and sell. 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, one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the family’s odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion 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.

See It: The mansion is a bed and breakfast, which 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 perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment, such as lights and cameras, have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom, which you can stay in if you want...

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!

Read More

Is Probate the same thing as a Will?

Authored by | Published:
Is probate same as will

No.  A will is a written instrument to outline property distribution upon death. Probate is the procedure whereby wealth, or title to each specific asset held in the name of the decedent, is transferred into the names of the beneficiaries named in the Will or to the heirs in the case where there is no Will.  First, a Will must qualify for admission to probate.  Generally, a testator must be of a certain age, usually 18; must not execute a Will as a result of undue influence or fraud; and must be mentally competent to make a Will.  If the decedent had a valid Will, it is admitted to probate upon application by a proposed executor or administrator.  If the decedent had no Will, the estate is still subject to estate administration; however, title is transferred to the heirs as set forth by state law.  Certain assets, such as property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, insurance proceeds and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and revocable trusts are called non-probate assets and do not go through estate administration.

 

Probate is a court supervised process and state law sets forth the exact procedure to be followed.  The executor generally files an inventory with the court listing the fair market value of assets and debts.  Notice to creditors is part of every probate, in order to notify them of the death so they may file a claim for unpaid amounts owed to them.  Once all claims, debts and taxes have been paid, the estate can be closed after the executor has filed an accounting and final report with the court.  Distribution to beneficiaries can now be made, although in many cases a partial distribution can be made before the estate is closed.  Many states provide simplified procedures for small estates or estates where the assets pass entirely to family members and all beneficiaries consent to the simplified administration.

Read More

What does it mean if a property is in Foreclosure?

Authored by | Published:
Pexels energepiccom 313691

Foreclosure is the legal or equitable enforcement of a mortgage, deed of trust, or other lien through legal proceedings or pursuant to a power of sale clause in a mortgage.  Discussed here is a foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust.  Foreclosure typically occurs when the mortgagor, or debtor, has defaulted or failed to perform an obligation imposed by the instrument such as a mortgage.  The ability to foreclose a mortgage often is limited by state law.  In Iowa, for example, a mortgagee may foreclose a mortgage by judicial proceedings or non-judicial voluntary foreclosure.  Foreclosure terminates the rights of the debtor/mortgagor in the real estate except for such statutory rights as redemption, mandatory mediation or other rights allowed by law.  Once foreclosure has been accomplished and all the rights of the debtor/mortgagor in the real estate are extinguished, the mortgagee holds title free and clear of any claims by the mortgagor.

Read More

Must any Transfer of Property be in writing?

Authored by | Published:
Transferofproperty

Yes, an agreement, contract, conveyance, sale, or other transfer of real estate, or an interest in it, usually must be set forth in writing and signed.  The writing requirement is found in a body of law, sometimes referred to as the “statute of frauds.”  This law makes oral or verbal transfers of real estate unenforceable.  The written document setting forth the terms of the sale or transfer is referred to as “an instrument.”  Simply put, an instrument is a written document.  To be enforceable, a sale or transfer of real estate, including an encumbrance such as a mortgage, must be evidenced by a properly executed instrument.  Some examples of instruments affecting real estate include: contracts, deeds, leases, mortgages or deeds of trust. 

 

A possible exception to the writing requirement occurs where one or more of the parties to the agreement have partly performed their obligations under the contract and strict enforcement of the writing requirement would be inequitable or unfair.  Another exception occurs where one or both sides to an oral agreement admit the terms of the contract and agree to put it in writing or agree that it will be enforced.

Read More

The proper way to conduct a Live Virtual Open House.

Authored by | Published:
Girlvideo

With so many individuals desiring an open house that is accessible via live video feed, there is a need for essential pointers regarding conducting the live video open house.  To ensure a professional live video, you will need the correct equipment.  In that regard, you may want to use a wearable video camera headset, which is connected to your cell phone, to create a “House Hunters” worthy live tour.  Because you are going to be directing live virtual tours for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, you will appreciate equipment that is comfortable and hands-free to allow you to focus on key features of the home.  You can find portable headset cameras at any online big box store or ordering service.  This allows you to keep your phone in a pocket or to carry it but not hold it up for an hour, which can wear you out.


Sample Wearable Video Cameras:
https://images.app.goo.gl/mbqaLYCzWk7y3pRw8

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WWZRPB6?pf_rd_r=5YN4MREATEEQYN6ZZ9VF&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee


If you are not comfortable using a wearable video camera, make sure you use a tablet or an ultrathin laptop that you can carry for approximately 45 minutes to an hour on battery power. The weight will be of significant concern because you will be walking from room to room, showing online guests areas of the home that can't be seen in the images or amateurish pre-canned video tour provided.  The drawback to using a laptop is the weight and the fact that the distance for Bluetooth is limited.  A cell phone offers greater portability and will afford you better flexibility to move more freely around the home.  In fact, some cell phones have a better data plan and signal than what can be found with the home owners’ WIFI.  The only major downside to using a cell phone for full video is the battery life may be limited to 1 to 1½ hours of use. 

Once you have the proper equipment for a live virtual open house, you will need to determine the type of WIFI the home owner is accessing.  In some cases, the home owner will give you access to their WIFI so you can utilize the bandwidth for a better live video tour.  However, if the home is unoccupied or is brand new construction, you will need to review the strength of your cell phone data plan.  If you are on a budgeted data plan, you could eat up a lot of data hosting a live video open house.  You may want to check out various cell phone carriers to ensure you have either unlimited data or a special data package that you can use for your live video open house. 

After you have assessed your camera, device, and bandwidth, there are a few pointers to review before you start your live virtual open house: 

  • Do a practice video call to verify the equipment is working properly.
  • • Have an agenda for the virtual video tour to ensure you highlight all areas of the house.
  • • Keep your virtual tour productive. Limit side conversations to ensure you finish on time.
  • • Don't be late to start the live video open house; this could appear unprofessional.
  • • Set objectives regarding what will be accomplished in the live virtual video tour.
  • • Dress appropriately. Avoid stripes or busy patterns, which interfere with camera focus.
  • • Avoid jewelry that moves and makes noise, which can interfere with the microphone.
  • • Be aware that your hands will likely be seen; keep them well-manicured or at your sides.
  • • If the house is well lit, try using base powder to cut down on the glare from your skin.
  • • Speak clearly and towards the microphone.
  • • Make eye contact with the screen, not the camera, to avoid appearing disinterested.
  • • Use names, if given, to direct questions to specific people if there are several attendees.
  • • Don't speak over people or interrupt.
  • • Don't focus the camera too closely on your face or objects in the house.
  • • Try not to pan or tilt the camera too much during the live video tour.
  • • Avoid making excessive background noise, like rustling papers.
  • • Turn off beepers, watch alarms, and cell phones.
  • • Don't leave the live video open house while the camera is on unless absolutely necessary.

Now you're ready to follow the three easy steps below to conduct a live virtual open house!


STEP ONE - Log In:

 

 

STEP TWO - Post Property on Social Media:

 

 

STEP THREE - Start a Virtual Open House:

Read More

How to provide a Virtual Open House after the wake of COVID-19.

Authored by | Published:
Man in black holding phone 618613

How can a home owner, who is intent on selling their home, provide a safe alternative to an open house when the coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone's mind?  An essential part of the home purchasing process is the experience of seeing a variety of homes and comparing them via open houses.  The majority of home owners are concerned about how to sell their home without opening themselves up to a traditional open house and unnecessary exposure to viruses or run-of-the-mill bugs from the general public.  Because of COVID-19, standard practices are no longer considered safe or even comfortable. Home owners are caught between opening their homes to the public to allow a larger swath of potential buyers the opportunity to view the inside of their home or allowing a much smaller ‘by appointment only’ group of qualified buyers a peek inside.

What if there was a way to keep the open house concept, but in a more restrictive environment, without losing the potential to sell a home? What if individuals could tour a home live, but through their home computer, tablet, or Android phone with the help of the real estate agent hosting the open house?  HouseList.com makes this now possible with virtual open houses.  The first and only real estate listing service to allow Realtors or home owners to present a live virtual open house. Utilizing this service would eliminate the potential of a home owner and potential buyers from becoming infected with any number of viruses or unintentionally infecting others when showing no signs of illness. Videoconferencing open houses are so easy to set up through HouseList.com. When a potential buyer spots a for sale sign and an open house sign in your yard, and sees you’re listed on HouseList.com, they can access a video address, unique to you, that can be viewed on a home computer, tablet, or Android phone.   

Because of the improvements in videoconferencing technology, which have made almost any cell phone and tablet capable of portable videoconferencing, anyone can visit HouseList.com and click on the virtual open house link to initiate a video chat with the realtor hosting the virtual open house - without downloading any software or registering for the video service. The realtor can host a virtual open house through HouseList.com for one person or for several potential buyers at one time.

This new virtual open house service provided by HouseList.com is just another ‘tool’ to make the home selling and buying process as safe and streamlined as possible.  It also keeps the looky-loos at bay and satisfies the curiosity of others. And when a home owner is ready to begin taking serious offers, the realtor can show the house in person to bona fide buyers. Now, how it works: (Get Started)

Step One: Realtor or property owner must log into their account on HouseList.com and add the property they want to feature in a virtual open house. (See tutorial on listing a property: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzZgzjMYUhI&t=6s)

Step Two: Click on ‘Manage’ at the top of the page within the menu.

Step Three: You will see a list of all your properties.  Find the property you want to feature in a virtual open house and click the ‘Edit” button after that property. 

Step Four: Once you have selected the Edit button after the appropriate property, you will see two buttons listed at the bottom of the individual property listing. 

Step Five: The Virtual Tour button will guide you to a wizard where you will type in the date and time of the virtual open house.  Please follow the instructions, and click ‘Add Tour.’

Step Six: Once Step Five is completed, you will have an Open House Online button on the property listing you are featuring.  Please go to the live page to review the listing.
 

Step Seven: Remember to post the video tour on the same day as the open house. It will make it easier for you, the home owner or Realtor, to control the Video Tour of the open house. (You can copy the listing link in the URL address bar of your property for future Video Tours of the open house so it doesn’t appear until you’re ready.) 

Step Eight: After you have posted the video of the open house, you can either copy the link that has been created and post it on an address bar or you can visit the live listing on HouseList.com to see how it looks. 

Read More

What is the difference between a Warranty Deed and a Quit Claim Deed?

Authored by | Published:
Warenty deed

A Warranty Deed is the transfer of real estate from one person to another, which warrants good and clear title to the real estate transferred. This means that the grantor (the person issuing the Warranty Deed) will defend and guarantee the worthiness of title to the grantee (the purchaser or person receiving the property) against any persons or entities making claims against the property.  In many states, a Warranty Deed often includes some or all of the following covenants: seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances, and defense of title against all claims.

In a Quit Claim Deed, the grantor transfers to the grantee all the right, claim, or interest in the real estate that the grantor possesses. It does not contain any of the covenants or warranties found in a Warranty Deed. It does not covenant or warrant that the grantor's interest in the real estate is valid, but simply transfers any interest, claimed by the grantor, to the grantee.

A Warranty Deed provides a buyer of real estate property far more protection than a Quit Claim Deed.

Read More

What is the difference between an Offer to Buy Real Estate and a Real Estate Contract?

Authored by | Published:
Mansigning

It is important to note that an Offer to Buy Real Estate and a Real Estate Contract are not the same thing.

An Offer to Buy Real Estate or a Purchase Agreement are contracts between a buyer and a seller agreeing that a sale of real estate will take place in the future between the parties. It usually includes the purchase price, the description of the real estate to be sold, the identities of the parties, the date when the sale will be closed, and when possession of the real estate is to be transferred to the buyer. In most Jurisdictions, an Offer to Buy Real Estate or a Purchase Agreement is not the actual conveyance or transfer of title.

A Real Estate Contract is an agreement to transfer the title to real estate to a person, at some specified time in the future, contingent upon that person completing all payments for the real estate at the set purchase price. The Real Estate Contract contemplates and outlines the execution of a deed in the future.  The seller is known as a vendor and the buyer is known as a vendee.  The vendor gives a deed to the vendee once the vendee has performed their obligations under the contract. Until such time, the vendor retains title to the real estate.

Read More

Can a landlord enter a residence?

Authored by | Published:
Pexels photo 271639

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.

Read More

Can a landlord ask a tenant to leave a residence?

Authored by | Published:
Pexels photo 684387

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.

Read More

Décor Ideas for Any Room!

Authored by | Published:
Pexels photo 1099816

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.

Read More

What is a Power of Attorney?

Authored by | Published:
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.)

Read More

Famous properties that were found to be HAUNTED.

Authored by | Published:
Abandoned abandoned building architecture 923269

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. 

Read More

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

Authored by | Published:
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.

Read More

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

Authored by | Published:
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.

Read More

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

Authored by | Published:
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/

Read More

Does an Easement affect property value?

Authored by | Published:
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.


Read More

7 Easy Steps To Building A Powerful Web Presence.

Authored by | Published:
Website article image

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

Read More

Ideas to Make Your House Pet Friendly

Authored by | Published:
Pexels photo 2

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!

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 yourself 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 lose 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 you're 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 to 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 worn 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 other's 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 pique 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 out 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 that 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 to pound on the hood of your car and honk your 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!

Read More

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

Authored by | Published:
Content mortgage 13

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.

For More Information Please Click Here

Read More

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

Authored by | Published:
Content judgment 12

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. 

For More Information Please Click Here

Read More

Why is my neighbor talking about Adverse Possession?

Authored by | Published:
Content adverseposession3

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

Read More