William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

7 Household Items to Toss, Now

February 15, 2016 1:27 am

The snows may not be fully melted, but the first signs of spring are closing in—and with them comes the impulse to clean and de-clutter in the annual rite we call spring cleaning.

But while some items get tossed without a second thought, consumer blogger Jacob Hurwith urges us to dig deeper, suggesting 10 things we really need to get rid of:

Old Shoes– It may be comforting to see those 27 pairs of shoes in your closet, but deep down you know that at least half of them will never be worn again. They have no purpose or sentimental value. Pitch them.

Unmatched and Outgrown Clothing – If there are odd gloves or socks cluttering the drawers, give up hope that mates will appear. Pitch them, and give your kids’ outgrown clothes to charity or to a family with younger kids.

Wire Coat Hangers– If you’ve amassed a collection from the dry cleaners, take them back to the store. It will make room in your closets for plastic or wooden hangers that really do keep clothes looking presentable.

Old Tupperware – Plastic Tupperware can break down after years of use in microwave or dishwasher, releasing chemicals into your food. Replace them with glass containers or inexpensive disposable plastic to be thrown away after a couple of runs through the dishwasher.

Old Pillows – Pillows older than two years have probably lost their oomph and purpose. Test yours by folding them in half. If they pretty much stay folded, it’s time to replace them with new ones – and well-used mattresses should be replaced after seven or eight years.

Dated Technology – We all have those old cords lying in the back of the closet, a dated printer we hope works again or a computer that barely runs. It’s time to get rid of them. Tip: Try bringing old tech to an electronics store in town. You may get a credit.

Old Makeup – Makeup, like food, can expire or lose potency. Cream products typically expire within six months to a year after purchase, dermatologists tell us, and mascara often only lasts three months before becoming a bacteria threat.

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Don't Get Chilled by Winter Repair, Maintenance Scams

February 15, 2016 1:27 am

Into every property-owner's life some harsh weather may fall. So when winter weather crosses the line, don't compound the annoyance by getting scammed or burned by unscrupulous responders disguised as timely do-gooders.

Connecticut's Consumer Protection Commissioner recently released a raft of great tips and advice applicable to home and property owners anywhere a weather-related incident may occur.

Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris says, "A serious storm or natural disaster could require quick home repairs that you weren’t expecting, but it’s important to act, and not react. Hiring unqualified, unregistered, unverified workers could put you and your home in a deeper mess."

Commissioner Harris says snow removal is not considered home improvement work - even removal of snow from roofs. But it’s best to have someone who is qualified in roof work to remove snow from roofs; someone unfamiliar with certain types of roofs could cause damage and void the warranty. If your roof is damaged and needs repair, hire a registered home improvement contractor; roof repair may even be covered under local, county or state protections.

When hiring anyone to clear snow and ice from your driveways and walkways, Commissioner Harris says be sure to negotiate the price upfront and know the scope of the work. And anytime there is damage to your property, notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.

Don’t hire home repair contractors who go door-to-door, who call, or who post notices on bulletin boards or telephone poles or online, such as Craigslist, before checking them out thoroughly.

You should NEVER pay in advance for any work, especially in an emergency situation. Depending on the length of the job, you may need to pay some upfront, some half-way through the job, and the final payment once the job is complete to your satisfaction. Payment should be made by credit card or check, rather than cash.

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Take Advantage of Leap Day with These Simple Tips

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

If you’re in the process of selling your home, take advantage of the extra day this month to tackle some of the chores you’ve been putting off—or remove yourself from the process by taking some time to relax and unwind. 
 
Spending extra time around the house will provide the opportunity to do another purge of all the things you no longer need. To truly be effective, dig deep through closets and cabinets to try to make them as clean and empty as possible. With spring right around the corner, now may be a good time to start putting away some of your bulky winter things.
 
In addition to getting rid of things you no longer need, spend some time cleaning your home. If you’re not going to hire a professional cleaner, take the time to clean and dust every area of your house—including the windows, closets and shelves—so that your entire home sparkles when prospective buyers come to view it. While cleaning, replace burnt out lightbulbs so that your home truly shines.
 
You may also want to spend some time reading books and searching the Web for advice on selling a home. Who knows, you may even stumble across a tip you haven’t tried yet that will help your home stand out from the competition even more.
 
And last but not least, if it’s not too cold outside, do some things around the yard to make sure it’s in good shape. Winter can take a toll on shrubs and bushes, so clean up any twigs or debris that may have found their way into your yard.
 
For more tips on taking advantage of Leap Day, contact our office today.

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Moving Day Madness: How to Keep Your Pet Healthy and Happy throughout the Process

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

When it comes to moving, there’s no shortage of things to think about as you go through the process, but one thing that many people don’t think much about is the impact a move can have on a pet.
 
Cats and dogs get used to a routine and like familiar surroundings. When they’re yanked from a home and placed in a new environment, it could lead to behavioral changes, loss of appetite or overall sadness.
 
According to the American Humane Association, prior to moving day, pet parents should make sure pets are fitted with collars and ID tags with your name and current cellphone number. Microchipping is also recommended, serving as a backup if your pet loses its collar.
 
Before the move, be sure to check with the City Clerk’s office in your new town to find out about local ordinances. Not only are leash laws and licensing common, but so are limits on the number of pets per household.
 
For pet owners with more exotic pets, make sure you know the pet laws and regulations of the state to which you're moving. For example, if you own a monkey or reptile, you might need a special permit. Zoning laws may prohibit certain animals, as well.
 
When traveling, if your pet is prone to car sickness, make sure you visit your veterinarian a few weeks prior to your move to get any prescribed medications and feeding recommendations. The last thing you want is a sick pet adding to the stress of moving day.
 
For long-distance moves, be sure to identify pet-friendly hotels along your route and reserve rooms ahead of time.
 
Once you arrive at your new house, create a pet-friendly space filled with your pet’s favorite blanket and toys. It’s also important that you spend some time with your pet—whether it’s a cat, dog, bird, rabbit or even guinea pig—to help them get comfortable. Make sure they know where their food is, and for cats, where the litter box is located.
 
Moving with pets doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Most pet owners treat their pets like members of the family, so don’t forget about their needs when a move is made. A happy and healthy pet can make any move go smoother.
 
For more tips to make your move easier on your pet, contact our office today.

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5 Books You Need to Read Before Buying a Home

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

Before jumping into the housing market and looking for a home, many prospective buyers seek advice from friends and family to better prepare themselves for what lies ahead. For those looking for additional perspective, books written for those going through the home-buying process can serve as a valuable tool.
 
Here are five great books that everyone looking to purchase a home should read.
 
Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced buyer, “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” by Ilyce Glink has you covered. Not only does it touch on all the questions that may be running through your head, it provides great insight into the things you worry about most.
 
As one of the best-selling books on the market for homebuyers, the “Home Buying Kit For Dummies” by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown offers time-tested advice and updated strategies for buying a home in today’s market. Guiding buyers toward finding the perfect property, making savvy financial decisions and understanding taxes and other concerns, the book also comes with a CD full of information, materials and resources.
 
Chock-full of interesting facts, real-life stories and insights, plus common pitfalls to avoid, “Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home” provides everything one needs to know in order to find the right type of home, the right mortgage and the right agent.
 
Buying a home can be a confusing process, and making mistakes can be costly. That’s why “The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)” by Gary W. Eldred is the perfect book when it comes to avoiding these mistakes. This eye-opening guide arms buyers with the information they need to become an educated consumer, ensuring that the property you buy is both a comfortable place to live and a great investment for the future. Eldred surveyed hundreds of homebuyers, real estate agents, homebuilders and mortgage lenders to find the biggest mistakes people make and provides solutions so you don’t fall into the same traps.
 
As one of America’s top real estate agents, Robert Irwin has seen it all. In writing “Tips and Traps When Buying a Home,” Irwin set out to help those going through the home-buying process avoid common mistakes made by others. The current fourth edition is helpful whether you’re a first-time or experienced homebuyer, providing practical, step-by-step information on a broad range of proven home-buying strategies.
 
Contact our office today for additional resources that will help you through the buying or selling process.

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Buying Your First Home? Simple Tips to Keep the Process Running Smoothly

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

As the real estate market continues to improve, we’re seeing a steady increase in the amount of first-time buyers jumping off the sidelines and into homeownership. In fact, the December 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey revealed that the number of first-time homebuyers increased to 32 percent of residential sales at the end of 2015.
 
While buying your first home can be nerve-racking, paying attention to the following items will go a long way toward putting your mind at ease as you make your way through the process.   
 
Get your finances in check. Just because you have money in the bank doesn’t mean you will qualify for a mortgage. Meet with a financial advisor and get a handle on what you can truly afford. If you want to do the numbers yourself, make sure to create a comprehensive list of every possible expense—loans, student debt, monthly expenses, etc.—and don’t rely on your lender to figure out a total for you. Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio and not necessarily your day-to-day spending habits.
 
Choose an agent. Buying a new home will likely be one of the biggest decisions of your life, therefore, it’s important to take your time when choosing an agent. Not only do you want someone who is willing to communicate on your terms, you want to be sure your agent knows the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Whether it’s the most experienced agent—or an eager up-and-comer—do your homework before choosing an agent to guide you through the process.  
 
Get pre-qualified. Once you know how much home you can afford, be sure the bank agrees by getting pre-qualified for a loan. While the pre-qualification process is not a guarantee that the lender will offer you funding, it does take into consideration your credit score and income level in order to determine how much the lender might be willing to offer through a mortgage program. The next step is to get a prequalification letter so that when you find your dream home, you can offer proof that you can get the financing to buy it.
 
Shop for lenders. Mortgage rates are still low, but that doesn’t mean you should jump at the first one that comes along. Compare and contrast at least three to five lenders to find the one that best serves your interests. It’s also important to disclose that you’re a first-time buyer, as it could potentially make a difference in the types of programs a lender offers you.
 
Seek out first-time homebuyer programs. There are a slew of programs specifically designed to assist first-time homebuyers with benefits such as down-payment assistance and no closing costs. Others offer first-time buyers competitive interest rates that are designed to make borrowing easier. Be sure to understand the various resources that are out there to help you.
 
To learn more about buying your first home, contact our office today.

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7 Tools Every New Homeowner Needs in Their Toolbox

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

If you recently purchased a home and have a big move looming in the not-so-distant future, preparation is key to ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible—and that includes making sure you have the right tools for the job. Here are some common tools you should have at the ready when moving to a new home.
 
1. Cordless Drill. From hanging shelves to photos—and assembling furniture—a cordless drill will help you get any job done quickly and easily. Going cordless is also a great option when it comes to working around the nooks and crannies of your new home.
 
2. Tape Measure. Whether it’s making sure the TV is centered on the wall or ordering a rug to fit a specific space, a tape measure will undoubtedly come in handy as you unpack your belongings. Invest a few extra dollars and purchase a retractable tape measure that won’t break or tear easily.
 
3. Level. Hanging art or photos is often more challenging than most people think, and the last thing you want is a bunch of frames hanging crookedly throughout your home. Purchasing a level is a surefire way to ensure everything gets hung with precision.
 
4. Extension Cords. Typically an afterthought, extension cords can come in handy during parties, around the holidays and in rooms where electrical outlets may not be conveniently located.
 
5. Pliers and Wrenches. Good for tightening shelves and cabinets and many small plumbing jobs you may need to tackle in the bathroom, pliers and wrenches are a must-have for any homeowner’s toolbox.
 
6. Socket Set. No home is complete without a set of ratcheting wrenches with metric and standard sockets in different drives.
 
7. Screwdrivers. Be sure to stock up on screwdrivers of different sizes (both flat- and Phillips-head), as this is the tool you’ll reach for most often. Whether it’s for hanging items up, replacing smoke detector batteries—and many other ordinary fix-it-up jobs—you’ll want to be prepared.
 
While this list is just the tip of the iceberg, these tools will come in handy for years to come.
 
Contact our office today to learn more about preparing for a move.

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In this Edition: Leap Day

February 13, 2016 11:12 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the seven tools that will come in handy as you prepare to move into a new home. Other topics covered this month include simple tips for first-time homebuyers and five books everyone should read before purchasing a home. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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Valentine’s Day: A Dozen Fun Facts

February 12, 2016 1:27 am

All in the name of love! Valentine’s Day celebrants shelled out nearly $19 billion on outings and gifts last year, and that number shows no signs of dwindling this time around. The big bucks will be spent in three categories:

Candy
What New Year’s resolution? Fifty percent of Americans will buy candy for a loved one, spending a sweet $1.7 million total on the tell-tale, heart-shaped boxes.

Cards
Did you know Valentine’s Day card sales rank second to those of Christmas cards? Fifty percent of Americans will buy greeting cards this year, totaling upwards of 180 million. That’s a lot of time spent licking envelopes!

Flowers
Over 200 million roses are produced each year for Valentine’s Day. This year, one out of four Americans will buy flowers, with more than 40 percent of purchases being red roses.

Some Valentine’s Day shoppers also plan to splurge on jewelry—it’s the glitter things that count, after all! Fun facts: nearly 10 percent of all diamond jewelry is sold as Valentine’s gifts, and almost half of proposals happen on Valentine’s Day.

Some, still, are even spreading the love to their four-legged friends. About one in five Americans will buy a Valentine’s Day gift for their pet this year, proving that unconditional love goes both ways between pet owners and their beloved companions.

Source: FatWallet

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Replacing Windows? 3 Tips for the Kitchen and Bath

February 12, 2016 1:27 am

(BPT)—Dollar for dollar, one of the most valuable improvements you can make to your home is replacing the windows. New windows not only increase energy-efficiency, but also offer optimal natural lighting and ventilation.

The best rooms for new windows? Your kitchen and bathrooms, say the experts at Pella Windows and Doors. Before embarking on the project, they suggest these three tips:

1. Select a window material that fits your needs.

Kitchens and baths require windows that are easy to clean and can withstand moisture, so materials like vinyl or fiberglass are ideal. Fiberglass windows can withstand extreme heat and cold, are energy-efficient, and have the look of painted wood without the need for additional painting or staining.

2. Choose a window style with function in mind.

Kitchen windows are often placed above counters or sinks, and bathroom windows tend to be located above tubs, beside showers or above bathroom counters. The placement of these windows can sometimes make them hard to reach, so choosing a window style that's easy to open and close is a must. Sliding windows or casement windows—which crank open and close—are ideal for these hard-to-reach areas.

Ventilation is another key consideration in kitchens and bathrooms. A properly placed window can help decrease the amount of heat and moisture retained when cooking or showering. Awning windows, which can be pulled in or pushed out, are a good option, and perform best when placed close to the ceiling or above eye level.

3. Consider additional features and options.

If you want to maintain privacy while maximizing natural light in the bathroom, choose a window with obscure or opaque glass. Streamline the look and function of your kitchen or bath with between-the-glass cordless blinds or shades, which minimize allergens and eliminate clutter. Because these window coverings are tucked between the panes of glass, you won't have to worry about moisture or stains.

Source: Pella Windows and Doors

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