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

Credit Terms Explained…

 

First, some terms and acronyms!

~ FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, which is a large company that provides the software that calculates your credit score.  One founder’s last name is Fair. The other’s is…you guessed it…Isaac.

~ Credit is a promise to buy now and pay latercredit-score

~ Credit risk is the likeliness of you paying back the debt

~ Credit reporting agency (there are 3 major ones) collect, maintain and provide information about your credit history

~ Credit score is the number that all of the above leads to! Your credit score is a number that is compiled to determine your creditworthiness

Credit scores range from 300 to about 850 and if you haven’t guessed by now, the higher the score the better your credit, and perceived willingness to repay a debt.  The 3 large reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and Transunion, and for the purposes of obtaining a mortgage, your lender will use all three.  But your credit score is used for much more than just getting a loan to purchase a home. Credit card companies, insurance agencies, cable companies, cell phone companies and landlords are just an example of who may want to see your credit score and credit report before saying “yes” to your requests.

Here’s a great link to a booklet to find out much more about FICO and credit scores ~ http://bit.ly/2nmZmh9

And one to find out how to improve your current score ~ http://bit.ly/2mD1GAl

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……

many dogs

….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.

 

 

Short Notice Showing Tips

Once your home goes on the market, you’ll need to be ready to show your home anytime, day or evening. Keeping your home “show” ready can be challenging, especially if you have children and pets.

What you need to stay organized is a handy checklist so you can be ready to show at any time. When you get the call that someone wants to see your home, whether it’s in an hour or a day,  give everyone in the household a basket and assign them each to a room to pick up clutter quickly. Set a timer and tell everyone to grab up any toys on the floor, clear tabletops and countertops of junk, and sweep up the floors.

                                Here are a few tips to help keep your home show-ready: Things to do

Eliminate clutter: Not only is clutter unattractive, it’s time-consuming to sort through and expensive for you to move. If you have a lot of stuff, and who doesn’t?,  you might think about renting a small storage unit for a few months.

Keep, donate, throw away: Go through your belongings and put them into one of these three baskets. You’ll receive more in tax benefits for your donations that pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. It’s faster, more efficient and you’ll help more people.

Remove temptations: Take valuable jewelry and collectibles to a safety deposit box, a safe, or store them in a secure location.

Remove breakables: Figurines, china, crystal and other breakables should be packed and put away in the garage or storage.

Be hospitable: You want your home to look like a home. Stage it to show the possibilities, perhaps set the table, or put a throw on the chair by the fireplace with a bookmarked book on the table.

Get in the habit: Wash dishes immediately after meals. Clean off countertops. Make beds in the morning. Keep pet toys and beds washed and smelling fresh.

Face Lifts….Real Estate Style…!

A functional and updated kitchen, an open and flowing floor plan, plenty of storage, and spacious master suite will help win your buyers’ hearts. But before they even enter your home to be wowed by these things, they need to be wowed by your landscaping, your curb appeal. Their first impressions. Some buyers will decide based on the look of the outside of your home whether they’ll even bother to come inside. Trust me, they do!

If your lawn isn’t mowed, the front yard is cluttered, or the house paint is faded or chipped, you may find that the For Sale sign in your yard won’t be enough to get those buyers out of the car and into your home.

                                                 It’s time for a Real Estate Face Lift!messy lawn

Fortunately, you don’t have to hire a landscape company to come and redo your entire yard, there are a few things that you can do that are pretty simple and will make a big difference.

If you’ve still got last falls leaves, rake rake rake.  Take out any dead or dying shrubs, plants or trees.  A few colorful pots of annuals for a splash of color is a good substitute for dead and brown plants!

Take a walk around the outside of your home and note which areas need freshening up. If you have chipping paint, get it taken care of. Too much lawn furniture? Put some away. Kid’s toys scattered about? Store them in the garage when not in use.

Important to remember….your yard and home need to look great ALL the time, not just minutes before a scheduled showing.  Most buyers are doing drive bys now….long before you and I know they may be interested in asking for a showing, they have cruised by the house and neighborhood….and what they see may turn them off from even getting

The time and money you put into cleaning up your front yard will help attract buyers and keep them from by-passing your home.

Friday the 13th ~ 2nd in a Row!!

So if Friday the 13th is considered a bad luck day, what happens when we have TWO Friday the 13th’s in a row? Crazy bad luck, or do they cancel each other out?

According to Wikipedia ~ “While it is sometimes speculated that the superstition “arose in the Middle Ages”, and there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.”

13th

Of course, this isn’t a worldwide phenomenon, in Spain, Tuesday the 13th is the bad luck day, and in Italy, Friday the 17th is the day to avoid walking under ladders and breaking mirrors.  Or is that everyday bad luck, that and letting black cats cross your path?

Can you tell I’m a bit confused?!

I can’t think of anything in particular that has happened to me on this bad luck day, but then again I don’t really tend to put much stock in ESP, fortune telling, signs of the zodiac or tarot cards.  Ghosts on the other hand, now those suckers are real…we have one or two at home!

And don’t worry, if you manage to get through today without any mishaps, we have another Friday the 13th coming up in November!

I Have to Move VS I Get to Move

I love the distinction between I “get to” and I “have to” do anything. Positive attitude vs Negative attitude. But I also get there’s a bit difference between I “get to” move and I “have to ” move.  Selling a home because you want to as it allows you to start a new job, or grow your family, or move to somewhere you’ve always wanted to live is a lot different than selling your home because you’ve lost your job, or there’s been a death in the family or you can’t afford it any longer.

But that doesn’t mean you have to approach the move like it’s a death sentence. Try to embrace the fact that all change brings something good, if you are open to seeing it.  Look upon this move as an opportunity to try something new. Embrace it. I’ve moved myself. A lot. Just ask my kids!  But every move, whether it was one we wanted and looked forward to, or one that we had to make and dragged our feet through, all turned out to be good “moves” for us.

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Have you “had to” move?  Did it ulitmately bring good changes to your life?

Did you “get to” move recently?  What tips might you have for the ones that had to?