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Consider Green Living in Retirement

by Carla Griffin on November 16, 2020

Every little thing we do makes a significant impact on our environment. Many of us do not stop to think about the impact we make on our planet. However, it is never too late to consider the things you can do to make a contribution. If you are wondering how you can do so, here are a few ways you can contribute to green living.

Reduce the Carbon Foot Print – Whatever we do, in our daily lives, we contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it is eating, travelling or living, we do cause a significant amount of damage to the environment. You can reduce carbon emissions by making wise choices at home and out. Recycle your garbage, live in a green community, and use eco-friendly cars. There are so many things you can do if you just think about it.

Send Ecards – The festive season is upon us, and one of the best ways you can contribute to green living in retirement is to send Ecards. This way, you ensure the cutting of fewer trees and reduce airmail service use. Just think, all it takes is one person to use this facility and it will double and treble in no time.

Save Energy – Now that winter is here, the heaters will be working at full throttle. Although you cannot live without the heater, you can contribute to green living by setting your thermostat a few degrees lower during the winter months. When summer comes by, set your thermostat a few degrees higher. This will not only contribute to green living, it will also save money.

Save Water – Many of us like nothing better than standing under the hot water showers during cold, winter days. If you wish to contribute to green living, spend less time under the shower and use lukewarm water. Lowering water use reduces your water and heating bills.

Walk or Bicycle – If you live close to your grocery store, you should consider walking or bicycling instead of driving. This helps you save gas and parking costs, and is also a healthy way to live.

We need our planet for our future generations. So, if you think it is too late for green living, remember it is never too late to think green.

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Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now?

by Carla Griffin on November 11, 2020

In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it’s a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to make a move so you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

 

Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

  • 34% – Life is too uncertain right now
  • 31% – Financial uncertainty
  • 25% – COVID-19 health concerns

If you identify with any of these, you’re not alone. Whether it’s the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did at this time last year. The good news is, real estate professionals have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year.

Real estate agents are doing two things very well to make selling your house possible:

1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, agents have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

  • Virtual tours
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chats

They’re listening to their audience and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

  • Limiting in-person activity
  • R­­­equiring guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Removing shoes or covering them with booties
  • Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the modern-era safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

As Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow notes:

“Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall’s record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable on a monthly basis, are not guaranteed to last.”

Bottom Line

In this new era in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game-changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

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First-Time Gardener? Here’s How to Prepare for Fall

by Carla Griffin on September 9, 2020

Learn what to do before the season is over to protect plants and make improvements in anticipation for next spring.

Key takeaways:

  • Demand for gardens and other outdoor spaces for lounging, cooking, and dining has surged since the coronavirus pandemic began.
  • Gardens require constant tending to remain viable, even through less-active winter months.
  • Don’t treat all plants the same. Vegetables, shrubs, and other greenery will need different kinds of maintenance.

Before COVID-19 hit, millions of Americans had never gardened. With more time at home this spring, they planted perennial beds and borders, vegetable and herb patches, and fruit trees to improve their yards’ aesthetics and provide food for their families. They also may have constructed outdoor spaces for lounging, cooking, dining, and to simply have a place to breathe fresh air.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 42 years in business,” says Sacramento, Calif.–based landscape designer Michael Glassman. “Homeowners who never planted anything were freaked at the thought of going to the grocery store. They preferred to stay home and garden.”

But unlike many of the rooms in our homes that don’t require frequent attention, gardens need active involvement to see them through to the end of the season and over the winter.

As summer winds down, many new to gardening are asking what they should do now.

Novices may have encountered problems of overgrown shrubs, half-eaten tomato plants, and hostas with holes that rabbits or deer feasted on. Do they rip out the dead ones or grab their shears to prune? Did they overwater and so now look to install a better irrigation system? Or maybe homeowners are wondering what to do before the season’s over, so they still might enjoy fall vegetables, like beets and broccoli, and perennials, such as coreopsis and astilbe.

Help your clients who were bitten by the gardening bug so that they don’t get discouraged. Here’s what Glassman suggests heading into the fall and winter months.

Deadhead perennials. When perennial flowers have finished blooming, cut off old stalks or stems, which is called “deadheading.” This keeps them healthy and helps them to regenerate more flowers next season, says Glassman. He’ll do this at least once a week with his finished stalks.

 

Fall garden prep

 

©Michael Glassman

 

Prune and transplant overgrowth.

Plants and bushes require different types of trimming—think of it like a fall haircut. For example, a lilac bush should have its old flowers and stems cut to thin out the growth, allowing light into the center of the bush. This will allow it to grow bigger and fuller next season. For a pear tree, thin out crisscrossing branches and carefully shape the tree. Hydrangeas should be heavily cut back to keep them from getting too tall. Overgrown hostas can be transplanted to another part of the yard after they finish blooming, usually during late fall. Glassman says it’s best to call a licensed arborist to safely prune larger trees.

Mulch plants to retain water. Using an organic material, such as wood, bark, or straw, homeowners should mulch flower beds and around trees to help them retain water, keep down weeds, and prevent the soil from drying out. It also curtails ground temperature fluctuations, which protects plants over the winter. Mulch will give gardens a nice professional look. Many communities offer mulch at a reduced price, or even for free, so check with your municipality’s building department. The best times to mulch are fall and spring.

Set up a drip irrigation system on a timer to water plants. This will help prevent overwatering, which is much more common than underwatering, Glassman says. The system can be hooked up to a soaker hose and uses a timer to regulate watering. A good rule of thumb is to water early in the morning before the sun is high in the sky, causing the water to quickly evaporate. A homeowner should water daily for the first two weeks after planting, then slowly scale back to every other day. At the end of the season, be sure to unplug hoses and other systems so they don’t freeze and burst.

Keep pests away. New gardeners often learn that certain plants and flowers in their gardens extend an invitation to bugs. If you’re seeing partially or completely eaten leaves and stems, you’ve got company. Spray with insecticidal soap or use Neem oil rather than a chemical, which, Glassman says, “defeats the purpose of growing your own healthy vegetables.” Use them early in the morning or after dusk so you do not damage the plants. If you get aphids, consider releasing ladybugs in the morning or evening to prey on them, he suggests.

Deter larger wildlife. To control voles and gophers, dig down into the ground two feet and lay heavy-duty wire mesh, or build a raised planter at least 18 inches high that’s filled with a quality, organic planting mix. This keeps animals from digging up and eating plant roots. A homeowner could also go with vegetables and flowers that are known to be more animal resistant such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, and society garlic.

Order bulbs to be a step ahead for next season. Now is the time to peruse garden centers and online garden retailers for spring bulbs. Homeowners should plant in the fall, before the first frost arrives. Among favorites to consider are allium, tulips, daffodils, anemones, and irises. Many experienced gardeners like the look of a big visual display of the same type of bulb, which requires larger orders. For ideas, look online at the displays in the famous Keukenhof Garden in Holland.

Try raised planters or horse troughs. Rather than planting directly into the ground, raised “containers” help improve soil drainage—it also means less bending and sore backs. When thinking ahead to next spring, Glassman recommends planters or troughs that are at least 18 inches high to discourage snails and slugs from climbing in. He also suggests cutting one or two drainage holes in the bottom for water to seep out and filling them with a light, organic planting mix. “Be sure to set your vegetable garden where it will get a least five hours of sun each day,” he says. “Add in some nasturtiums or marigolds as a way to gain color and edibles at the same time,” he says.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a black thumb. “Everyone can be successful. It just takes time and patience,” Glassman says. “Don’t be afraid to experiment with different plants—it should be fun, not stressful. A cliché, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful garden.”

 

Raised planters

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Don’t Abbreviate Date and Wire Fraud Prevention in 2020

by Carla Griffin on January 23, 2020

It is common practice when dating documents to simply use the last two numbers of the year, however, police departments and other public agencies have warned the abbreviation of the year 2020 could lead to fraud on legal documents. When 2020 is abbreviated, it could easily be manipulated by adding extra number to change the date to a previous or future year, such as 2019 or 2021. Consumers should be warned to never abbreviate dates on legal documents.
 
Wire Fraud Awareness in 2020
 
Real estate professionals should also be on the lookout for email phishing and wire fraud as they dive into the hot spring market. The real estate industry continues to be a target for internet hackers and scammers. Consumers are experiencing an uptick in the volume of attacks. Real estate professionals should train their clients to keep the following in mind:

  • Hackers send emails to home buyers and sellers and attempt to impersonate agents and title officers involved in the closing;
  • Hackers will send fraudulent wire instructions to get you to wire funds to an account controlled by the hacker;
  • Never trust an email with wire instructions or an email asking you to provide sensitive financial information;
  • ALWAYS call your escrow officer to confirm wire instructions using a phone number you looked up from an independent source. NEVER use a phone number from an email (the criminal will often provide their phone number in a spoofed email); 
  • Use only secure email accounts with Multi-Factor Authentication (“MFA”) measures and long passwords; and
  • Immediately contact the bank and authorities when a scam happens.

 

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17 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House

January 10, 2020

17 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House

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CA Prop 60/90: Transfer of Base Year Value for Age 55 & Over

January 9, 2020

Happy 2020! As we head into another property tax season, it is important for homeowners, investors and real estate professionals to better understand CA’s Proposition 60 and 90 (Prop 60 & 90), which provide certain tax relief for qualified homeowners age 55 or over.   Understanding Prop 60 & 90   Prop 60 & 90 […]

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10 Things You Need to Do When Buying A Home

August 3, 2019

BY HAROLD POLLACK Everything you need to know about buying a home — on one index card. A home is often the biggest financial investment you’ll make in your lifetime. In fact, a recent Zillow analysis reports that the typical American homeowner has 40% of their wealth tied up in their home. Several years ago, I wrote a complete guide […]

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3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating

July 21, 2019

New house? Hold that sledgehammer! You might want to hold off until you’ve settle in. BY BRENDON DESIMONE In today’s market, many buyers forego fixer-uppers for move-in ready homes. As a result, significant opportunities abound in prime locations as homes that need work linger on the market. In competitive markets, savvy consumers gravitate toward these homes that […]

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