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

A Back-to-School Guide for Parents

August 22, 2017 12:57 am

Back-to-school season can be a crazy, hectic time, especially if you have more than one child at more than one school. Regardless of how many kids you have or how old they are, every parent can use a little help during the new school season. USAGov offers the following tips to help:

Schedule time with teachers. Keep an open dialog with school staff to help your children thrive.

Get those shots. Some schools require immunization records for entry. Find out if your child needs any vaccines before school starts.

Ease into the school routine. A good night's sleep is key to a successful school day. Preschoolers need 11-12 hours of sleep a night, school-age children need at least 10 hours, while teens need 9-10 hours.

Pack a healthy and safe lunch. Choose a balanced meal for your children's lunchbox and make sure you keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Low-income families may qualify for free or reduced price school meals.

Shop smart. Some states have sales tax holidays in August. Make a list, know what you need, and shop the sales. Knowing where the bargains are will help you save.

Talk to your kids about online safety. Identity theft, cyberbullying, or inappropriate behavior can happen online. Teach your children about online safety as they use social media to connect with old and new friends at school.

Plan and practice how to get to school. If your kids' school or school system provides bus transportation, find the nearest stop to your home and the pickup and drop-off times. Teach your kids to be safe whether by car, bus, bicycle, or walking.

Teach time management. Leisure time, sports, and "screen time" can interfere with homework. Keep your family's schedule on time with these tips.

Make sure kids are insured. Your child could qualify for free or low-cost insurance through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Listen to your kids. Anxiety and nerves can take over, so provide a safe environment at home and in the classroom. Talk to kids about bullying and what to do if they encounter it.

Get tax credits on tuition. Check out the IRS website for tips to see what kind of tax credits you can get based on the price of education.

Learn money management. No student wants to interrupt his or her education because of financial troubles. Visit USA.gov to get age-appropriate checklists to help students manage finances while in elementary school, high school, or college.

Source: USAGov

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How to Tell if a Job Candidate is Lying on Resume

August 22, 2017 12:57 am

The hiring process is a complicated, tricky endeavour. A new OfficeTeam study shows that as job markets steepen, more and more candidates are lying on their resumes. If you're currently searching for a new team member, keep the following OfficeTeam tips to avoid falling trap to false resume readings.

OfficeTeam identifies five signs a job seeker may be lying on a resume — and offers tips for confirming details:

Skills have vague descriptions. Using ambiguous phrases like "familiar with" or "involved in" could mean the candidate is trying to cover up a lack of direct experience. To assess a worker's abilities, conduct skills testing or hire the person on a temporary basis before making a full-time offer.

There are questionable or missing dates. Having large gaps between positions or listing stints by year without months can be red flags. Inquire about the applicant's employment history during initial discussions and ask references to validate timelines.  

You get negative cues during the interview. A lack of eye contact or constant fidgeting may suggest dishonesty, but don't eliminate a promising candidate by making a judgment based solely on body language. Consider the individual's responses to your questions and feedback from other staff members who met him or her.    

References offer conflicting details. Ask initial contacts about additional people you can speak to about the prospective hire. Also check if there are connections in your network who can provide insight about the candidate.  
Online information doesn't match. Don't always take what you find on the internet at face value. There may be multiple professionals with the same name or legal issues with how the information can be used. Verify facts during the interview and reference check processes.

Source: OfficeTeam

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How-to Brighten a Dark Room

August 21, 2017 12:57 am

Do you have a room in your house that always seems dark no matter what? Perhaps it's due to low ceilings or minimal windows. Maybe the walls are painted a darker color than you would like. Whatever the reason, don't worry. Below are a few simple ways you can brighten the space.

Remove or minimize window coverings. A dark room will only seem darker with heavy window hangings. Choose something light and gauzy, or remove window coverings all together to welcome the sunlight.

Paint it white. From the ceilings to the floors, painting surfaces a white or off-white color will brighten your space, and make it appear larger.

Add mirrors. We all know the old mirror trick can make a space seem larger, but did you know it can brighten it, too? Mirrors reflect light, so the more mirrors, the more light you will have reflected. Try a mirrored wall or a mirror-topped coffee table.

Remove (some) furniture. The less crowded a room, the more space for light to bounce around. Nix any unnecessary furniture, knick knacks or clutter.

Trim the trees. Okay so you've cleared the curtains, added a large mirror and painted your dark wood floors white. Does the room still seem dark? Head outside and look for any trees or shrubs that may be encroaching on your sunlight.

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The Hottest Consumer Products This Summer

August 21, 2017 12:57 am

While I typically look at new consumer products and gadgets in January and February, it appears a number of hot new consumer products are hitting the market during the dog days of August.

For example, Denver-based RavenWindow has launched its Gen3 line of affordable smart windows. The company claims to produce the only solar-intuitive smart solution for optimizing natural light, blocking Ultraviolet (UV) rays and mitigating glare — three key factors for occupant health, well being, and comfort. 

These thermally activated window transition from clear to tinted during peak heat hours, and then back to a clear state as outside temperatures cool, within minutes, with no need for programming, wiring or additional installation.

LG Electronics USA just launched a new fleet of Hom-Bot Turbo+robot vacuums with wifi enabled features, home security settings, and Google Assistant compatibility. The Hom-Bot absorbs vibrations and reduces noise, delivering what the company claims is the quietest robot vacuum on the market on non-carpeted floors.

Using the LG SmartThinQ app on any Android or iOS smartphone, owners can activate one of up to seven Hom-Bot cleaning modes, or live-stream what's going on in the house using its front facing camera. The Hom-Bot HomeGuard motion detection system can even be programmed to snap and transmit five photos to your mobile device if it senses any movement.  

Whirlpool unveiled several new products to the builder industry at this summer's PCBC conference, including its Sunset Bronze Kitchen Suite. By color blocking painted stainless steel, the Sunset Bronze line presents a perfect blend of mixed warm metallic tones, with a surface texture that is both fingerprint-resistant, and available in black matte as well.

And forget about your mom's garbage disposal! Whirlpool's new Zera Food Recycler gives consumers an easy and convenient way to reduce the amount of waste they're sending to the landfill by converting food waste into ready-to-use, homemade fertilizer.

Finally, RIVA Audio announced its award-winning RIVA WAND (Wireless Audio Network Design) Series is now available for purchase. The customizable and easy-to-use multi-room "+" wireless audio system combines the freedom to deliver high-fidelity audio to every room or outdoor location with the flexibility to play from any networked or local source.

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How to Preserve Your Water Quality

August 21, 2017 12:57 am

Did you know August is National Water Quality Month?  With that in mind, New York-based Petri Plumbing offers residents these tips to help preserve water quality:

Flush the tap – The DEP is responsible for providing high-quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. Many of the older plumbing pipes or fixtures leading to the home can absorb lead and pass it through the tap water. One way to minimize the potential lead exposure is to flush the tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking.

Be aware of what goes down the drain and how it affects the water supply. Medications, detergents, creams, lotions and soaps all end up in the water supply. Consider switching to environmentally-friendly and non-toxic household cleaners and personal care items.

Discard trash and pet waste appropriately – Trash and pet waste, if not disposed of properly, can cause bacteria to run into storm drains and water supplies. The best practice is to tie pet waste in a recycled-plastic pet-waste bag and place it in the trash.

Have the water tested by a professional – If a resident is concerned about the quality of water entering their home through old pipes and possibly picking up contaminants in the delivery process, contact a professional to test the water. Once the water is tested, and any contaminants are identified, the expert can recommend a water filtration system that will work best for the home. The primary water filtration system uses charcoal to remove sediment and debris that build up in your pipes. A whole-home water purification system to remove lead, chemicals, heavy metals, chlorine and other contaminants is an option many homeowners select to give them peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their water.

Source: www.petriplumbing.com

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Storm on the Way? Make Sure Your Power Tools Are Ready to Roll

August 18, 2017 12:48 pm

From chainsaws to generators, outdoor power equipment can be critical to restoring order and safety in the aftermath of a storm. That’s why it’s critical to prepare your equipment now. Here are some steps to take from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
  • Make a list of what may need cleaning up. Survey your property. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pruner, generator, or utility-type vehicle.
  • Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order. If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
  • Find your safety gear. Avoid the scramble for sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves, which should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment.
  • Review the owner's manuals for your equipment. Read product manuals to ensure you know how to operate your equipment safely.
  • Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it's important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. Store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It's illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.
  • Remain calm and use common sense. Clear-headed thinking and smart decision-making can help you make smart choices. This is no time to rush. Take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts.
  • Use safety precautions. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur. For instance, chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you're angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls.
  • Keep firm footing when using pole saws and pole pruners. Keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
  • Ensure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment, such as chainsaws, pole saws or pole pruners when starting the equipment or using it.
  • Pay attention to your health. Storm cleanup can be taxing on the body and the spirit. Do not operate power equipment when you're tired or overly fatigued. Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks. 
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

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Bathroom Remodeling Tips for Aging in Place

August 18, 2017 12:48 pm

Even though baby boomers are aging, they’re still setting trends. Case in point, the aging-in-place movement. Opting for remaining in the homes they’ve lived in for decades as opposed to heading to warm-weather retirement communities, a growing contingent of older homeowners are staying put.

Aging in place, however, means adapting your home to make living easier and safer as we get older. And the bathroom is a smart place to start. New Jersey-based Gold Medal Service, a heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company, recommends the following bathroom remodeling tips that will accommodate limited mobility or physical impairments. 

Remodel the bathroom on the main floor. If you have a house with multiple levels, focus on the first-floor bathroom, which is hopefully adjacent to a first-floor bedroom. This will allow aging homeowners to avoid stairs altogether.  

Provide extra space in the bathroom. Make sure there's enough room in the bathroom to move a wheelchair around, should one be needed down the road. Have doorways set to at least 32 inches wide, and ensure that there's enough space to position a wheelchair next to the toilet, bath or shower, to enable a safe and easy transfer.

Stick with non-slip floors. Non-slip tiles are a must to prevent slipping and tripping on the bathroom floor. Loose rugs can be hazardous, so stick with non-slip materials.

Make tubs and showers more accessible. Older bathtubs can easily be replaced with a walk-in bathtub. Consider having a seating area in the shower so an individual doesn't have to remain standing the entire time while showering. And be sure tub and shower surfaces are non-slip.

Add grab bars. Using towel rails as grab bars is a major safety risk as they will not support a person. Instead, install grab bars following manufacturer's instructions carefully. Place them next to the bath, shower and toilet.

Mind the lighting. Make sure you have ample lighting in the bathroom with a minimal amount of glare.

Have an elevated toilet seat. Standing up from a low-set toilet can be difficult as we get older.

Consider extra accessories. Properly locating things like soap dishes, shaving stands and shower caddies will make using the bathroom more convenient and safer.

Use low-maintenance materials. When you remodel your bathroom, consider using modern materials that are easy to clean, mildew-resistant, and have a lifetime guarantee.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

Source: Gold Medal Service

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Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Home's 'Hot Spots'

August 18, 2017 12:48 pm

We all know there’s no place like home, but did you know that certain rooms in your home are responsible for the majority of your home’s…well, homeyness? A recent study examined the connection we have to certain rooms in our home and how the design of these hubs—or hot spots—have a direct correlation to our emotions.

A "hot spot" is a room or space associated with positive emotions and memories. The most beloved rooms are designed to accommodate a balance of functionality, relaxation, and socialization. When designed right—by overlapping key room dynamics—a hot spot can increase your overall satisfaction with your home. The Hot Spots Research Study, commissioned by fireplace and grill manufacturer Napoleon, uncovered findings that can help homeowners create a more comfortable and welcoming home.

In the study, rooms qualified as a hot spot when at least 50 percent of respondents checked at least two of the following emotional categories to describe that room: welcoming/social, cozy/warm, relaxed/peaceful, or fun/enjoyable. The more the emotional categories overlapped—the hotter the hot spot.

The top hot spots turned out to be the living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the living room ranking at more than 60 percent in all four categories. Focusing on design in these three rooms will enhance their appeal even more for both you and your family, and potential buyers when you list your home for sale. Enhancing design in these areas can be as simple as rearranging the furniture, incorporating different patterns and textures, adding seating that’s more conducive to socializing, and playing with lighting to add more warmth.

The study also found that hot spots other than the top three can be created by adding amenities associated with positive emotions. For example, think about adding gathering spots, access to the outdoors with a balcony or French doors, smart home features or fireplaces to other rooms in your house to dial up their emotional appeal.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Napoleon Fireplaces

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Bracing for the Back-to-School Transition

August 18, 2017 12:48 pm

As the lazy days of summer wind down, and the familiar harbingers of back to school dot the landscape, the transition can be jarring to your home life. Here are some ideas for easing the family back into school mode.
  1. Conquer the summer work. While it may take a herculean effort, getting your kids to complete (or in some cases, start!) their summer work will stave off tremendous stress, both for you and them, come the last week of summer.
  2. Fill out the forms now. Ditto for all those school and doctor’s forms. Take an hour, gather everything your child will need to return to school, and complete it all now. Place everything in a file folder and tuck it away to be easily handed over on the first day of school.
  3. Make a packing list. If you’re sending a child off to college, sit down with him or her and create a detailed list of what they will need, including clothing, dorm décor, medicines, and groceries. This list will save you from the stress of a last-minute scramble, or worse yet, having to mail boxes of stuff after the fact.
  4. Discuss and plan for schedules. One of the toughest summer-to-school transitions involves having to set alarms and get back on schedule. The best way to avoid the stress is to plan the schedule in advance. Find out when buses arrive and where, when the kids will need to report for sports or band practice, which days you and your partner or neighbors will cover drop off and pick-up, etc. This way, everyone knows where they’re expected to be, and who will cover which responsibilities.
  5. Plan an end-of-summer getaway. Whether you can spare a week, a weekend, or even just a day, take one last chance to gather the family together and do something fun that commemorates summer. 
Putting these strategies into action will help close your summer on a good note, and set your fall up for success.
 
Hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any real estate information, please contact me.

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4 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent About the Market

August 18, 2017 12:48 pm

When shopping for a home, we’re understandably preoccupied with the physical features of our future abode. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Is there a first-floor master suite? Enough space in the yard for a pool?
 
While those details are of course paramount, there is some other critical information you should know about any home you’re considering buying: local market statistics. The house you buy is not only the place where you will raise your family and live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted; it’s most likely one of the biggest—if not the biggest—investments you will make in your lifetime.
 
Make sure you’re making a wise investment by asking your real estate agent the following questions:
  1. What’s the average time on market, and how has it changed in recent years? Knowing how quickly homes in your market sell is a great indicator of how much you will be able to profit off the sale of your home in years to come. Also be sure to ask how the days on market is expected to trend in the coming year.
  2. What’s the average sales price in your market? This is important to know in order to gauge whether you’re getting a sweet deal or potentially overpaying and hurting your chances to at least recoup your money when you sell. Find out if the average sales price has gone up or down in the last year or so and in which direction it will head over the coming year.
  3. What’s the current inventory of homes for sale in your market? Inventory is an easy way to determine whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market. Both have their advantages. If inventory is high and you’re in a buyer’s market, you can negotiate a better deal. If inventory is low and you’re in a seller’s market, expect to pay above listing price. However, if market stats show that you will be in a seller’s market for years to come, you can make a nice profit should you choose to sell.
  4. What’s the rate of building and construction in your market? New homes, apartment buildings and businesses are all excellent indicators that you’re buying in a thriving and expanding market, which bodes well for your investment. Conversely, if businesses are closing or moving out of town, and if new-home construction is stagnant, your market may be experiencing a decline. 
Bear in mind, while market stats are extremely important, if you’ve found a great home in an area you love, and plan on staying put for many years, it’s most likely a wise choice. Real estate is still the safest and smartest long-term investment.
 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

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