Smoke and Mirrors Day

Today is “Smoke and Mirrors” Day.  I’d never heard of it. But I like the sound of it. Is it like “Fire and Reflection” Day? “Fog and Glass” Day?  Nope, it’s a day devoted to trickery, deception and the art of fraudulent cunning.  Got your attention now, don’t I?!

mirror

Have you ever wanted to just play havoc with someone or something? Well don’t, I really can’t recommend that (but if you do today’s the day!).

I’ve heard the term smoke and mirrors in legalese….sorry to all you lawyers out there! And possibly politicians use this as well?

But for us, let’s just all take some time today to perform a bit of magic…learn a new magic trick, make something disappear or do something nice and unexpected for someone today,

5 Reasons to have a Home Security System

But let’s start with some basic questions…Do you want one?  Do you need one?  Should you DIY or hire a professional?security

First of all, a home security system doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can install one yourself.  The latest home security systems are simple enough and inexpensive enough that you shouldn’t use that as an excuse not to read further! The safety of your family and your home isn’t something to pass off as too hard or too expensive.  In a nutshell, if you can use a smartphone, you can use a DIY security system.

If you’re not sure that a DIY is for you, there are many companies that can come in, access your needs and design a system that is perfect for you. They’ll monitor and alert you if anything changes in the areas that you have indicated are important to you.

So why have a system?

1) If you live in a cold winter climate (like me in the Northeast) but travel to warmer areas (NOT like me, I’m still in the Northeast), wouldn’t it be comforting to know that if the power/heat goes out in your home, the system will alert you to that and it could be addressed before your pipes freeze? Have you ever been in a home after the pipes have frozen and then everything defrosts?  Not pretty.

2) If you come home after dark, wouldn’t it be great to have lights come on as you approach the garage or doorway? All those hidden corners and shadowy places are bright and not scary!

3) If there is a fire, wouldn’t it be great to have the fire department alerted immediately? A smoke and fire alarm system could know about the danger before you do. The fire department might not get to the house before you notice the fire, but with a fire alert all you’d need to do is leave safely.

4) If there is an attempted break in, wouldn’t it be great to stop it before it starts…I just read that 9 out of 10 burglars said that they would not attack a home if there was a security system.  Who knows what that last one is thinking, right?! Smarter than the average bear…

5) And did you know that having a system can lower your homeowner’s insurance premium? The system just may pay for itself while giving you the benefit of some great peace of mind! And we can’t put a price on that!

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Here’s a link to a site that rates security systems, and please call if you want recommendations for local (Midcoast Maine) companies that are fantastic!!  http://bit.ly/2mY4eLv

How’s your air?

It’s still heating season (insert frowny face here)…..and do you have any idea how your heating system is affecting your indoor air quality?

Probably not, who does?  When it’s keeping us warm we think it’s working correctly, and that’s all that we really need to know. Right? Wrong.

You may not be aware of this, but even if the system is putting out heat, it may not be working properly. For all systems (hot air, hot water) that use oil, kerosene, propane or natural gas, clogged or dirty filters, dusty ducts and cracks in heat exchangers are all things that could be happening behind the scenes.  The downside of this is not just burning more fuel than necessary; there could be health issues as well.

Minor health issues could be an increase of allergy symptoms (coughing/breathing/sneezing) but the major concern is carbon monoxide poisoning.  And that’s no joke or anything to fool around with. Carbon monoxide poisoning can start with headaches and dizziness but could end in death.

So while it’s almost time to shut that system down for the spring, I recommend you do 2 things right away.  Call your service company and have a full system inspection.  This is something that should be done every year, and they may not be as busy now as they will be next fall when everyone else is calling them.  The other suggestion is to install a CO detector.  Here’s a great site to visit to figure out which detector to buy and where and how to place them.  http://www.carbonmonoxidedetectorplacement.com/

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So while the threat of spring is in the air, we still have that heating system running and let’s just make sure it’s running right!

Rule of Thumb….or Foot?

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So you have a new house, or a new apartment, or even just new paint and furniture…and you need some flooring help….If you’re looking for an area rug but don’t know where to start, let’s begin with the basics.

  • Buy big ~ but not too big, the size of the seating area rather than the size of the room is perfect.
  • Your furniture should fit on the rug if possible ~ at least the front legs of the couch, a few feet on each side of your bed, and dining room chairs should all fit on the rug.
  • Be colorful ~ this is your place to use accent color and texture.
  • Ask advise ~ once it’s down it’s hard (but not impossible) to roll back up and return!

There are many professional home decorators that would love to come into your home and help you pick out the perfect rug (and anything else you need!). But if it’s just one rug at a time, then part of the fun is shopping isn’t it?!

2017 resolutions, starting today!

Yes, I know it’s February, but I suspect that the resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve have all been set aside and forgotten. So why not try something a bit more realistic now that the pressure of losing weight treadmill and working out is over?

I would suggest that a great way to start (the rest of) 2017 is to take a look at your credit score, and see how you can improve it.  With credit scores determining not only if you can purchase a home, your credit score also plays a big part in obtaining insurance, credit cards, etc.

If you’re planning on purchasing a home house , the best thing to do is meet with a lender (and yes, I can make recommendations!).  The lender will pull your credit and if changes need to be made, will make suggestions.

If you’re already a homeowner, or not yet ready to become one, you can pull your own report for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com

Once you know your “number” and if it needs improvement, here are 5 things you can do:

  • If there are errors on your report, dispute them ~ it will take some time and effort but really help!
  • Set monthly goals to pay down credit cards ~ start with the small ones and then use that money to tackle the larger ones!
  • Set up payment reminders ~ it’s easy to forget a payment with so much going on in our busy lives, so my reminder system saves me once or twice a month!
  • Set up auto pay on your accounts ~ but remember to have the money in the account when the payment comes out!
  • Use cash whenever you can ~ but remember that having credit is a plus on your report so don’t close out accounts, just keep the balance low and pay on time!

credit-score

To generate or not to generate?

When we hear the words “snow storm” (at least here in the Northeast!), it seems to produce a run on certain items…..bread and milk, shovels and salt/sand at the very least.  But as a homeowner it also seems to get us motivated to looking into alternative power sources, as snow also brings the possibility of power lines down and a loss of electricity!  So if you don’t have a wood stove to help heat things up, which we don’t as of this year, we start to think about generators.

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You could go to your local hardware store and pick up a portable generator, but they can be in short supply just like the bread and milk once the storm starts!

A better solution may be a whole house, permanent generator, which will start on it’s own and supply power to the entire house as soon as your “regular” power decides to go out.

Now I could try to explain how that all works, but since I have a Real Estate license not an electrical license, I think it’s best to leave all of that up to a professional.  But I can recommend some really great electricans who would be more than happy to answer your questions, like: What size do I need? Is a permit needed? Are there setbacks to worry about? Do we need to have it inspected? What powers the generator?whole-house-generator

And while it’s already February 1st, there’s lots of time left for our power to go out leaving us cold and dark…so think about what might be best for you and start planning!

National Pie Day!

Today is National Pie Day!!  For all of you (and I’m in this group) cake lovers, you might want to skip this, but know that National Cake Day is November 26th for future reference!

Pie

Apparently, The American Pie Council (who knew there was such a thing right??) set aside January 23rd to celebrate the pie, bake the pie, share the pie and I assume eat the pie! There is also a National Pie Championship where one could win the “American Pie Council’s Best Pie in America” award.

Here’s a link to a “perfect” apple pie…but a word of caution, it starts with a boxed pie crust! http://bit.ly/1RT3Ms6

So are you a pie or a cake person?!

It’s Tax Time. Again. A few ideas to help!

So by now you’ve probably been thinking about your Federal and State taxes, and maybe even preparing just a bit for them.  And you can wait if you want, even for a few more months, but eventually, you’ll need to read this post and get to work filing your taxes.

As a homeowner, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider.  One of the most useful benefits of homeownership, after the right to paint those bedrooms purple, is tax deductions.  If this is your first year of owning a home, then check out this list!

tax return

#1: Property Tax ~ any money paid during the year to your town/city property tax is deductible.

#2: Mortgage Interest ~ any money paid towards mortgage interest on your first or second mortgage and any private mortgage insurance payments are deductible.

#3: Closing Costs ~ some of the costs paid at your closing are tax deductible (ask your accountant which ones to include). Your may even be able to deduct some of your moving costs.

#4: Home Office ~ you may be able to use your home office as a deduction as well.

There may be others (his is when your accountant not me, your real estate agent is the professional!) so save all of your receipts for purchasing (your Closing Statement) as well as receipts for repairs, remodeling, parts etc.  My advice is to save everything for seven years, but again, let your accountant guide you on that!

If your still renting, know that your landlord is getting all these benefits…wouldn’t you rather get them for yourself??

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pets at showings?!

I know you love your dogs. I know you love your cats.  And for some reason that I’ll never understand, I know you love your snakes. But not everyone does.

You’ve made the decision to sell your home, and with that comes the knowledge that strangers will be traipsing through your home peeking into closets and cabinets, looking into attics and cellars and sitting at the table and on the couch getting a feel for the kitchen and living room. I’ve yet to have someone lay on a bed to get a feel for the bedroom but……

So you’ve scrubbed, packed, decluttered and staged. The dog hair is vacuumed up, the litter box is clean, empty and odor free. Thank you for that, by the way, your home is now truly “show ready”.

BUT, since you’re a pet owner, you still have one more thing to do.  Please remove your dogs and cats prior to the showing!  Yes, remove them.  There is nothing worse than trying to show a home with barking and lunging dogs and sneaky and escaping cats. If the potential buyer is not a dog lover, the minute they hear a bark, they become nervous.  I’ve had buyers decide NOT to look at a home because of barking dogs inside, even if it’s the house they put #1 on their list.  If buyers have allergies, walking into a house and having a welcoming cat rub up against their legs can send them right out the door before they even see the foyer.

dog and cat

Cute, I know,but to a non pet lover……

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….this is what they look and sound like!!

 

This may sound harsh, but it’s reality.  So find a doggy day care,  a cat sitter or pet walker…..but when we’re coming to decide if YOUR home is going to be THEIR home, don’t let your pets be the decision makers!

Oh, and please, cover the snake tank. Please.

 

 

Pantone Colors of the Year….with nothing to do with hair products

So the news is out, and Pantone has chosen Rose Quartz and Serenity as the two colors of the year.  Basically that’s pink and baby blue…neither or them are favorites of mine, but that’s okay as I don’t have anything to paint this year.  But the biggest news is that even though I see the chosen Colors of the Year each and every year, this is the first time I’ve realized that it’s PantOne not PantEne, like the shampoo!!!!  How many times have I just seen what my eyes think I should be seeing, and read what my mind thinks it should be reading.  Wow…have I done this with other things?  Is this a reality check that I need to slow down?  I love to read, and I know that I read fast and tend to speed read if I think it’s not that important, but this may have gone to far…for years I thought that a hair product company had influence over our color choices for decorating!

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To read more about the real company behind our decorating choices click here:   https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2016

To read more about the hair company, click here:  http://pantene.com/en-us