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

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/

placement

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!

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.

portable-generator

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!

Tech Tip Tuesday

After an enjoyable weekend with Ben and Alison and Maine Maple Sunday, I’m once again looking at a way to store and share photos ~ fast, free and easy of course!  I have so many personal photos to share with family, but I also have real estate photos that I need to share with the office and have easy access to.  So what to use?

Dropbox is great ~ if I could get all family members to download.  Works great for office photos and documents so that’s a real plus!

Snapfish is good ~ some family members use this and in addition to seeing photos of Ben and Alison, I can easily order them up on a coffee mug!

I haven’t used Piscas yet but that’s my next “free time” project…learning all I can about it.  From what I’ve read so far, it sounds like you can edit, share and organize all your photos quite easily.

But this week I’m reaching out to you…what do you use and what are the pros and cons of the software you’ve chosen?

Oh, while I should probably have used an image of Picasa here, I can’t resist showing off Alison!Alison