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Don't Let Your Pet Derail Your Home Sale

October 17, 2014 10:17 pm

You love your pet so much that he or she is like part of the family, right? But if you’re trying to sell your home, it might be best to keep your furry friend out of the way so that they don’t work against you and put a damper on the home-selling process.

When it comes to selling a home where there’s a pet involved, it’s important to keep in mind that people who don’t like pets might be afraid of the animal, or even bothered by it. And fellow animal lovers might spend so much time playing with—or talking about—your cat or dog, that they may not focus on your home. Plus, there’s always the prospect of liability if your dog was to bite someone who is looking at the house.

When you have appointments scheduled for people to look at your home, consider having your dog stay with a friend or family member. If there’s just one appointment scheduled for a certain time, take your dog for a walk while the prospective buyers are looking. Another idea is to schedule a pet daycare or grooming appointment when people are coming to look at the house.

It’s especially important to keep pets out of the house during open houses. The more people in the home, the more likely the animal is to be distracting. Most important, with so many people coming in and out of the house, you don’t want to worry about a pet getting out while you’re trying to showcase your home.

You should also assess any damage your pet has caused both inside and outside the home. Hair, spills around a water bowl, and minor damage are all part of living with a pet. Clean thoroughly, and vacuum up hair. Put the pet’s bowls away and thoroughly clean and dry the area. And it’s imperative that cat owners keep litter boxes thoroughly cleaned so that unpleasant odors don’t make their way through the home.

If the weather is appropriate, open your windows to let in fresh air. Use air fresheners and products that remove pet odors from carpets and furniture. After doing all of this, invite friends and relatives over and ask them to honestly say if there are any odors in the home—sometimes it can be difficult for a pet owner to notice smells caused by the animal.

And don’t forget the outside. Fill any holes your dog might have dug up. Get rid of any plants or decorations a dog might have chewed. And it goes without saying that any messes from a pet need to be cleaned up.

Don’t let your pet be the reason that your home doesn’t sell.

For more information about selling your home when a pet’s involved, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Simple Tips to Choose a Stager That's Right for You

October 17, 2014 10:17 pm

Having trouble selling your home? Looking to give it that extra something to attract a wide range of prospective buyers? Then it might be time to hire a stager.

Once you’ve made the decision to bring in a stager, you must find the right person for you. Not every stager is the same, and you’ll want to make sure the person you choose has a vision you can get behind.

The first thing you should do when deciding among stagers is look at their portfolios and see what they have done for other homes. If you don’t like their previous work, it’s a good bet that you might not like what they do for you.

Even if you’re not pleased with what you see, a conversation about their thoughts and vision is warranted. Remember that a stager is an artist, and they may have ideas for your home that aren’t showcased in their book or even on their website. Be sure to tell them your ideas, listen to theirs, and see if you can come up with a happy medium.

When choosing a stager, it’s also a good idea to get references and ask about their experience staging in your local area. Remember, a stager is a professional who is trained to know exactly what house hunters are looking for, so even if it’s not your cup of tea, if they have had success getting homes sold in your neighborhood, you might want to trust in their opinion.

You’ll also want to ensure that the stager you choose isn’t making your home look like every other home they have previously staged. Remember, the whole reason for hiring someone is to make your home stand out. If they’re bringing in the same furniture and colors that they use in countless other homes, it might not be making the statement you want.

The cost of a stager should also play a role in your decision. You don’t want to be paying more than you can afford, even if it does mean having your home look exquisite while on the market, so make sure you choose a stager who’s within your budget.

One thing many sellers don’t think about when hiring a stager is insurance, however, this is a key area that can’t be overlooked. Be sure the stager you ultimately pick is insured just in case an unforeseen accident happens while in your home, or a piece of antique furniture they bring in breaks.

Finally, choose someone who you can talk with and work with favorably. You don’t want to be butting heads with the person who’s trying to help you sell your home. Find someone whose talent you admire, is open to dialogue and has experienced success. Once you do, your home stager will help you and your home on the way to a sale.

To learn more about hiring a stager, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Harness the Beauty of Fall and Winter to Get Your Home Sold

October 17, 2014 10:17 pm

Conventional wisdom says that spring and summer are the best seasons for selling a home since people typically want to be moved and settled into their new space so that they can enjoy the summer months. However, for anyone looking to sell their home, it’s important to remember that sales don’t come to a standstill during the colder seasons. In fact, there are plenty of people looking to buy in the fall, including first-time buyers, people relocating for a job and even empty nesters.

This offers a unique opportunity for sellers to help their homes stand out. For the fall, this means raking leaves, with a focus on keeping them off driveways and walkways. And don’t neglect your lawn just because it’s fall. Grass grows in the fall, so take the time to keep your lawn well-manicured.

It’s also important to use the weather to your advantage. If it’s a nice day, open the windows to let the fresh air in, so long as the air doesn’t make your house too cold. Also, open curtains and blinds to let in the sunshine and the picturesque fall foliage.

In addition, make sure your heating system is in excellent working condition. If it’s cold outside, you want the inside of your home to be warm in order to create a cozy, welcoming feeling. Keeping the heat on and being able to say the system works well can be a huge selling point.

If you’re listing your home this fall, don’t be afraid to get in the holiday spirit. But don’t overdo it. The addition of a few subtle Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations can have guests envisioning themselves spending the holidays in your home. Consider decorating with subtle fall pumpkins of various colors and sizes.

You may also want to add a special touch by baking. The smell of a warm pie during the fall, or even cookies throughout the holiday season, go a long way toward creating a nice, homey touch. Just make sure your kitchen is perfectly cleaned and organized; don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re baking or cleaning while people visit.

If you’re thinking of selling during the winter, be sure the photos of your house used in listings were taken in the spring or summer. The last thing you want is for online real estate sites to showcase your house covered in snow and ice.

And last but not least, maintaining your home is key. During the fall season, make sure there are no leaves or wet shoes in the hallway or foyer. As winter approaches, be cognizant of keeping the entrance dry and free of snow boots.

A house can sell at any time, during any season, so stay positive and use the beauty of fall and winter to your advantage.

For more information about selling your home this fall or winter, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


6 Tips to Keep in Mind as You Prepare for a Home Inspection

October 17, 2014 10:17 pm

Preparing your home for its market debut can seem overwhelming, but making repairs or taking care of anything cosmetic that needs to be fixed is an important piece of the puzzle. And for those looking to sell, taking the time to prepare for an inspection is just as important—if not more so.

Whether your inspection is right around the corner—or a few months down the road—consider the following tips so that you and your home are prepared well before inspection day arrives.

1. Remove clutter. Don’t make your inspector’s job any harder by neglecting to move items that may make it difficult to get to the basement, bathroom and even the far corners of the house. Not only will the inspector need to look at every room, he or she will also have to examine the walls, ceilings and floors, in addition to looking closely at the outside of the home. Make sure walkways are clear of any and all clutter so that your inspector can easily see everything he or she needs to see.

2. Remember the attic. Your home inspector will also want to take a peek at the attic, so be sure there’s a walkable path for easy access. It’s also important to make sure the opening isn’t blocked by anything. And be sure to clean up any dust or cobwebs ahead of time.

3. Turn utilities on. You don’t want to hold up the inspector, so make sure all the major components of the house are up and running. This includes the water, power and gas. If the house utilizes fuel oil, make sure there’s enough oil to fill the furnace so that there are no delays.

4. Clear space to the fuse box. Electrical panels are an important part of any home inspection, and since they are often located in areas with limited access such as storage rooms or closets, visibility is often an issue. Therefore, it’s crucial that these spaces are easy to get to. It’s also a good idea to replace light bulbs in these areas so that there’s enough light to see clearly.

5. Keep pets at bay. The last thing you want is an inspection to get off on the wrong foot because your pet jumped on the inspector upon his arrival, or started barking incessantly. Not everyone loves animals the way you might, and an aggressive pet can be problematic. When inspection day arrives, be sure to keep your pet confined to one room. Or, better yet, take your furry friend out for a walk or set up a playdate in advance.

6. Make plans. While you may be inclined to tag along on the home inspection, the truth is, homeowners only get in the way of the process. And the inspector really doesn’t want you there. Instead, do something fun with your friends, go see a movie or take care of things that need to get done before moving day arrives.

Planning ahead will not only result in a smoother home inspection, but a happy outcome as well.

For more information about properly preparing for a home inspection, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


In this Edition: Pets and Home Sales

October 17, 2014 10:17 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters, brought to you through our company's membership in RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), examines six crucial tips you can’t afford to ignore when preparing for a home inspection. Other topics covered this month include simple tips for choosing a stager and how to use the fall and winter seasons to your advantage when it comes to getting your home sold. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


7 Cardinal Rules to Retirement Planning

October 17, 2014 4:32 am

An onslaught of retiring baby boomers; the uncertain duration of Social Security funding; difficulty with workplace retirement accounts like 401(k)s—even if these factors were stronger than they are now, you’d still have a heavy burden in managing your finances during retirement, says financial planner Carl Edwards.

“Financial planning for retirement has always been a daunting prospect; the current landscape simply makes your preparation that much more crucial in using your assets well,” says Edwards, a highly credentialed consultant and owner of C.E. Wealth Group, (

“Many advisors and clients rely too much on single product lines. This misuse often gives products and the financial industry in general a bad name. Advisors who are restricted in the types of financial products they can offer or understand may not provide the best advice. Independent and credentialed planners, on the other hand, don’t have their hands tied in what they can offer clients and may provide better advice.”

Edwards reviews seven essential points that everyone should know regarding retirement planning.

• Avoid trying to time the market. Markets often move in cycles and some investors believe that they can boost their investment returns by buying at the bottom and selling at the top. The problem is that investors are terrible at correctly predicting market movements and multiple studies have shown that market timers usually end up with significantly smaller retirement savings than buy-and-hold investors. While it can be stressful to see your portfolio plummet during a market correction, it’s important to stay calm and focus on your long-term strategy.

• Use risk-appropriate financial vehicles. Retiring can be a risky business. The days of relying on employer-provided pension plans are largely over and retirees now have to deal with risks including investment, inflation, healthcare, longevity and others. Though the total elimination of risk isn’t possible, we can manage many of them through competent retirement planning and a clear understanding of factors like your goals, time horizon and financial circumstances.

• Invest in the most tax-efficient manner. Taxes can take a big bite out of investment returns, which is why we stress tax-efficient planning with our clients. While taxes are just one piece of the overall financial puzzle, it’s important to structure your investments so that you are able to keep what you earn.

• Complete a cash flow analysis.
Retirement will involve major changes to your finances. Sources and timing of income will change and financial priorities may shift as you start generating income from retirement savings. A cash flow analysis will identify spending patterns and help ensure that you have enough income to support your retirement lifestyle.

• Guarantee your required income. For many retirees, having income that is not subject to market fluctuations is an important part of their retirement plan. Many will have at least some level of guaranteed income from Social Security or defined benefit pension plans. However, if you are worried that your expenses exceed your guaranteed income, a financial advisor can help you explore options for additional streams of income for life. Guarantees are subject to the paying ability of the income provider.

• Utilize longevity planning.
Today’s retirees are living longer than ever and many worry about outliving their assets. Longevity planning is about preparing for a happy, comfortable and independent retirement and can help ensure that your wealth lasts as long as you need it to.

• Consider the effects of inflation.
Inflation is one of the biggest issues facing retirees because they are disproportionately affected by rising prices. Escalating food, fuel and medical costs can devastate a retirement portfolio unless these costs have been factored into your planning. Positioning your retirement portfolio to fight inflation is critical to ensuring adequate income in retirement.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Six Ways to Save on Halloween

October 17, 2014 4:32 am

Did you know that Americans will spend a projected $75 per person in their household for Halloween this year? While that number might seem steep, particularly if you have kids who plan to dress up, there are plenty of ways to save money on costumes, candy, decor, and more. Follow these tips from authority credit expert to avoid getting spooked by your credit card bill this Halloween.

1. Use Rewards Credit Cards

Many credit cards offer rewards or points for spending on everyday purchases. You can earn significant amounts of cash back, points, or miles just by buying candy and pumpkins from the grocery store, costumes online, or even DIY costume supplies from your local market. Halloween is a great time to maximize these credit card rewards and earn extra money on your Halloween expenses.

2. Consider Homemade Costumes

If you are at all crafty, get creative when preparing costumes for your family. In most cases, DIY Halloween costumes can be had for a fraction of the cost of their store-bought counterparts, and are often way more fun to put together. If you have kids who are old enough, get them in on the act of making their own costumes. Look to websites and online forums for inspiration to make easy costumes with plenty of personality.

3. Think Second-Hand

Kids' consignment stores are a great resource for Halloween costumes, especially since they are typically only worn once. You can find tons of adorable costumes in like-new condition, especially for younger children. Online yard sale sites are also a great place to look. And check with friends with older kids -- they may have hand-me-downs in the basement or garage. Shopping thrift stores for the components to a costume is also a smart way to save money.

4. Scour Your Own Basement

Do you have kid costumes from previous years that you can repurpose? Even small items like fairy wings or superhero masks can mean big savings if you don't need to buy these pieces again. You can also sell or trade old costumes to earn money to spend on new duds for this year's holiday. Consider organizing a swap with neighbors to get new-to-you costumes for free.

5. Think Outside the Candy Box

Non-candy treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters, such as pencils, erasers, rubber spiders, and other trinkets, are often much less expensive than candy. Another upside is that you can often return the items that don't get handed out. If you do decide to hand out candy, look for printable coupons. The day or two before the holiday is often the best time to buy.

6. Plan Ahead

If you are a newlywed, have a new home, or are otherwise low on Halloween decor, think ahead for next year by buying holiday items at deep discounts on November 1. By stocking your basement ahead of time, you'll have everything you need for next year at a fraction of the cost.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Bring Your Halloween Home Décor Back from the Dead

October 17, 2014 4:32 am

(BPT) - Halloween has its fair share of iconic symbols: ghosts, witches, mummies and pumpkins, just to name a few. But if your home decor is becoming just as iconic, it may be time to change it up and take your decorating in a new direction.

There are many directions you can go with a decoration theme. Certainly, the colors of black and orange can be integrated into the decor with the use of pumpkins or candles; these items still scream Halloween and can be displayed elegantly.

"For a more sophisticated look, combine dark red arrangements of roses, cover them in black hat veiling so you see the roses through the veil and tie them together with black satin ribbon," Gary LaVasser, academic director in set and exhibit design at The Art Institute of California, suggests. "If you want to go a little further, place the arrangement on an inexpensive black placemat and drip dark red nail polish from a few rose petals onto the placemat. It will look like the roses are bleeding."

LaVasser also has these tips for alternative but sophisticated Halloween decor:
  • Use vintage Halloween toys from the 1930s, 40s or 50s as part of the design. If they are worn they'll have more character. Combine them with garlands of silk fall leaves available at most craft stores, tree branches or wheat and place on mantels or dining tables.
  • Paint objects black that are normally not this color. For example, jack-o-lanterns are orange so spray them black for a twist on a familiar item. Also, consider painting real flowers black. To make objects more interesting, select different black textures such as matte, glitter, satin, gloss or metallic paints.
  • The colors of fall are rich earth tones and these colors are also tied to Halloween. Add a little "punch" by using a deep purple color - it can be an interesting contrast to oranges and gold tones. Also consider using metallic gold, copper and pewter colors. You can paint leaves or pumpkins with these shades as well. 
  • Look for inspiration among different cultures and learn how they celebrate certain holidays or Halloween. A Latino tradition is Day of the Dead, which is observed on November 1st and 2nd. It celebrates family and friends who have passed and the decor includes folk art, candles, colorful flowers and bright ribbons.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Least Expensive Fall and Thanksgiving Travel Destinations

October 15, 2014 4:32 am

Against the backdrop of rising airfares, new research from reveals travelers can still save money this Thanksgiving and fall. But, to do so, travelers will need to fly westward.’s data study, which compared the average cost of flights to popular fall vacation spots in 2013 against 2014 prices, found that – with the exception of Dallas – the only destinations experiencing cheaper fares this fall are located in the western United States.

Surprisingly Hawaii, which is often associated with expensive airfares, offers the best deals for the Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving travel periods. In contrast, Florida’s continued popularity over the fall has played a role in rising fares. For instance, flights to Tampa between December 1-21 cost 25 percent more in 2014 compared with last year.

The study also revealed that flights to popular fall destinations cost an average $105 more during the Thanksgiving travel period, but drop $123 post-Thanksgiving.

“To borrow the words of American author Horace Greeley, it is time to ‘go west,’” said Warren Chang, vice president and general manager, “For anyone still looking to use up their vacation days without breaking the bank, the West Coast and Mountain states offer something for every taste. There are also some amazing hotel deals out there for Hawaii and Los Angeles that can save travelers even more money.”


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween

October 15, 2014 4:32 am

(Family Features) Including pets in your family's Halloween festivities can be a fun addition to your celebration. However, with all the excitement comes the chance for pets to get into danger or trouble. You can head off potential problems and enjoy an evening of fun with some safety tips and smart planning.

Keeping your pet away from candy and other Halloween treats is especially important because so many favorites include chocolate, which is potentially toxic for dogs. It's also an ideal time to practice obedience commands with your four-legged friends, as crowds of unfamiliar people, costumes and lots of open doors can create temptations too hard to resist.

To include your furry family members while still keeping them safe during the fun, follow these guidelines.

Trick-or-treating together
  • Before hitting the streets, make sure your dog is socialized around kids, adults and other animals.
  • Bring water and treats to reward your dog for good behavior and reduce the desire to go for kids' candy.
  • Increase nighttime visibility with LED leashes, collars or harnesses.
Pawsitively good party manners
  • Before guests arrive, practice "leave it" or a similar command. This is useful to help pets avoid candy or food they might encounter on the ground. Trainers can help you get it down right.
  • Establish a rule that guests don't feed the dog candy or human food. A new interactive toy or long-lasting rawhide may keep your pup busy and out of temptation's way. Many ingredients commonly found in Halloween candy can be harmful to your pet. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins, can cause a toxic reaction.
  • Prevent your dog from running out an open door by working on a "stay" command. Ask your dog to sit, and praise him when he obeys. While your dog is sitting, say "stay" and place your hand flat with your palm facing the dog. Wait 2-3 seconds then give your dog a treat. You can increase the time he stays by a couple of seconds every three repetitions, working up to 30 seconds.
  • If you aren't confident about your dog's abilities, keep him on a leash while the doorbell is ringing.
Costume comfort and safety
  • A costume should never constrain or bother your pet. If your pet isn't comfortable, try a strap-on costume that attaches loosely with snaps or around the pet.
  • Once a costume fits properly, make sure your pet won't trip on anything like a cape or ribbon. Check for little parts within chewing distance and keep identification tags on collars.
  • Throughout the evening, watch your pet and make adjustments as needed. You may need to cut or remove portions of the costume to increase a pet's comfort. The most important part of the evening is your pet's safety.
Source: PetSmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.