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

You Really CAN Prevent Forest Fires

May 23, 2017 12:36 pm

The majority of wildfires are actually started by people. One stupid mistake can take out acres and acres, threatening lives, homes, and nature. Whether you are camping, hiking, or just having a barbecue in your backyard, implementing proper fire safety tactics is crucial. Whenever you’re out enjoying nature, take the following suggestions into account to ensure you don’t start a wildfire.

- For campers, make sure campfires are lit a safe distance from tents or other flammable supplies.

- Contain campfires by using designated fire pits or use rocks to create a ring around your campfire.

- To extinguish a campfire, pour water on the fire, and fully drown all the embers.

- Never use volatile gasses, like gasoline, to start a fire.

- Avoid burning garbage, treated wood, or yard waste.

- For smokers, don't discard smoldering cigarette butts – snuff them out and put them in a designated garbage container.

Source: www.pemco.com/DontGetBurned.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Prep Your Home for Summer

May 22, 2017 12:36 pm

Summer is the sweetest season. But for homeowners, it can also be a busy time, full of improvements and repairs. Below is a list of preparations from Gold Medal Service that homeowners can do to prepare their homes for the summer.

Change air filters – Check your air filters every 30 days. During summer, air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, depending on the type of filter you use. Dirty air filters reduce airflow through the system causing it to work harder than it should, while using more energy, resulting in higher energy bills.

Inspect window and door seals – Prevent hot air from leaking into your home through damaged window and door seals, or small cracks in the walls. Cheap materials like caulk and masking tape will go a long way to prevent hot air from entering your home and cool air from escaping your home. Good insulation will also help to keep your energy bills low.

Consider shades or overhangs for your windows – This will help to naturally cool your indoor space by reducing the amount of solar heat you let into your home.

Use your ceiling and/or attic fans – Moving air helps to remove heat from your home. Ceiling fans will help to reduce the thermostat temperature inside your home by about four degrees. Properly installed attic fans will also push the hot, trapped air out of your attic, reducing the workload on your HVAC unit.

Clear away debris from the air conditioning system's condenser – You have a condenser installed somewhere outside your home. Leaves, branches or any garden debris can easily build up against the system, which could cause problems in the long run. Remove any foreign material heaped up against the unit.

Clean the registers and ductwork inside the home – Make sure the registers inside your home aren't covered with carpets, furniture or anything else that will obstruct the air flow. Open each register and check for foreign objects like toys and pet hair that could be lodged in the HVAC ductwork. Use a flashlight to carefully check the surface of the ductwork for any signs of mold. Call a professional if you find signs of mold as it can cause respiratory distress and other health problems.

Schedule an annual tune-up – This is critical so technicians can catch minor problems before it becomes a serious, costly affair. A faulty system can emit harmful gasses, most notably carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance will not only prevent system failures, but also keep your family safe.

Mind your HVAC system's refrigerant – Homeowners with a cooling system that was manufactured before 2010, should be aware of the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting gas used in older HVAC units. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of R-22 refrigerant, effective from 2020, due to the negative effect it has on the atmosphere. It will become increasingly difficult to find R-22 refrigerant needed for general maintenance of older HVAC systems, and prices will increase due to scarcity. Discuss your options with a professional if you have an older HVAC system.

Source: www.goldmedalservice.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Travelers Today Are More Stressed Than Ever Before

May 22, 2017 12:36 pm

While traveling can be exciting and fun, it can also be stressful. You’re in an unfamiliar place, you don’t know your way around, and you may not even speak the language! And despite the increase in easy technology -- there’s an app for everything these days! -- many travelers are reporting more stress today than a year ago.                                        
A new survey put on by Wyndham Vacation Rentals® has identified the main factors that are freaking today’ s travellers out.i

Too many choices: Two in three (67 percent) vacationers have become stressed due to 'information overload' and are paralyzed with too many choices when researching and planning. Two in five (41 percent) get stressed about scheduling things to do during their trip.

Trouble leaving the daily grind behind: Once on vacation, it takes time to unwind and forget about the stress of work and personal responsibilities. Three in 10 (30 percent) U.S. travelers don't feel truly relaxed until the second day of vacation or later.

Relationship-testing moments: Two in three (67 percent) have argued with a travel companion as a result of stress caused by planning or taking a vacation. One in four (25 percent) have even broken up with a significant other while traveling. The good news? One in four (26 percent) have also met the love of their life on vacation.

Source: About Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Keep the Family Safe All Summer

May 22, 2017 12:36 pm

Summer is a season of fun. But in between all that outdoor playtime, it’s important to pay mind to safety. Injury Prevention Specialist Jennifer Hoekstra shares the following tips for families kicking off the summer season:

Stay out of cold water.  Favorite swimming spots can still be cold in early summer months. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day in many inland lakes.  Resist the urge to swim until water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.

Watch out for heat stroke. Know how to identify heat stroke.  Limit your exposure to high temperatures and take breaks by going indoors to rest in air conditioning.  Try finding a shady spot and be sure children have adequate rest and hydration after play.

Drink water, not a diet cola. You cannot stay properly hydrated on Diet Coke or alcoholic beverages.  Drink lots of water if you are going to be in the heat.  If you experience dizziness or light-headedness, find a cool shady spot, sit down, and drink more water.  

Know your prescriptions. Many prescription drugs can trigger increased sensitivity to sunburn. Read labels carefully on any medication you are taking before going out in the sun.

Wait before you take a bite out of that peach! Take the time to wash any fruits or vegetables purchased at local farmers markets.  It is likely these items have not been washed and may have dirt or bacteria lingering.

Don't leave kids alone in the car. This warning is simple and very serious.  Do not leave your children unattended in your vehicle for any period of time. Within 10 minutes the temperature inside a vehicle rises by 20 degrees and by 40 degrees in an hour. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911.

Be a water watcher.  Whether your children are in a backyard swimming pool, at a community center or swimming in a lake, always watch them. Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning among children 4 and under.

Pick out the right shades. Bring along a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Most brands come with labels stating if they are effective against the sun's harmful rays.  Grab your kids a colorful and fun pair too.

Always assume the fire is hot. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a fire pit for 24 hours after use. Coals don't have to be glowing red to be hot and dangerous.

Don't walk distracted. When walking to friends' houses or the neighborhood pool, teach kids to put down their cell phones and not take photos while walking or crossing the street.  Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing and use designated crosswalks.

Source: http://www.spectrum-health.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Make Gardening Fun Again

May 20, 2017 12:36 pm

Remember when you first ventured out into your yard to turn your landscape into the oasis you’d always imagined? Chances are your newbie enthusiasm may have become tarnished over the years as gardening has gone from therapeutic to back-breaking. Here are some tips for easing the strain of yard work, hopefully renewing your love of Mother Nature in the process.
  1. Stay ahead of weeds. If only you could get your flowers to grow as quickly as those pesky weeds. Help tackle the weeding challenge by staying on top of it. Rather than waiting for weeds to become widespread and overwhelming, pull them when they’re small. Also, whenever possible, make sure to do your weeding after a rainstorm. Weeds come up from wet earth more easily than arid dirt.
  2. Dedicate yourself to deadheading. Your flowering plants will last longer and produce blooms for weeks, if not months, if you make deadheading old blooms a regular process. This will save you the chore and expense of having to dig up and replace dead annuals.
  3. Containers are your best friend. Container planting can be easier than planting in garden beds. This tactic also allows you to put flora and fauna exactly where you want it, with the option to move it when the mood strikes. Remember that container plantings dry out more quickly, so be sure to keep the water flowing.
  4. Plant more perennials. While it may take a few years for perennials to spread and offer up abundant blooms, it'll be worth the wait. More perennials mean less time, money and effort spent on planting annuals every year.
  5. Cheat a little. Instead of trying to get grass or plants to grow in areas where they just won’t take, use a decorative covering to fill in bald spots instead. Mulch, gravel, larger rocks or sea shells will all do the trick. You can even strategically arrange a bench or bird bath in these areas for instant décor value. 
Remember, gardening is intended to bring joy, not stress, so start taking the necessary steps today.
For more real estate tips, contact me today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Vinyl Siding: Know Your Options

May 20, 2017 12:36 pm

One of the most popular choices for your home’s exterior, vinyl siding has made considerable advancements—both in design and technology—since it first debuted in the 1970s. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the $12,000 national median cost of a vinyl siding replacement job returns a solid 83 percent on investment, should you decide to sell your home. Here’s a primer from vinyl siding experts Ply Gem on what makes siding a great choice for your home:
  • Design options: Today’s vinyl comes in a wide range of colors—from pastels to rich hues—profiles, architectural trim and accessory products to assist architects, builders and homeowners in customizing home designs.
  • Improved durability: One of the most attractive qualities of vinyl siding is its durability over other exterior home options. Homeowners should look for a siding option that's resistant to every element, including rain, wind and sun. Quality siding should be able to resist the harshest of weather conditions, maintaining its strength and color for the lifetime of the home.
  • Energy savings: Research shows insulated vinyl siding contributes to savings in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Look for siding made with premium recycled content.
  • Savings over time: Vinyl siding is a long-term investment. Because vinyl siding can be installed faster and requires little maintenance without the need to paint, stain or caulk, over the lifetime of the product, it's less costly when compared to other siding options, including fiber cement, brick and wood. 
Source: Ply Gem
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


What Mom Wants: A Home for Grown Kids

May 20, 2017 12:36 pm

As housing costs rise and student loan debt grows, mothers are becoming increasingly concerned about their children’s ability to afford a home. According to a recent survey of 1,000 mothers by The NHP Foundation, a not-for-profit provider of affordable housing, many are concerned about the ability of their adult children to live on their own. Nearly a third (29.86 percent) of the moms surveyed are anxious about their grown children needing to stay with them for an extended period of time.
These concerns are no surprise, considering that 53 percent of the moms surveyed make family financial decisions either alone or with “some input” from a partner. These moms often act as CFO of the family, taking a more active role than ever in the household’s finances and investments.
Many women are also living with extended family. In fact, 17 percent of those with a partner and children also report parents or other relatives living with them, emblematic of the modern “sandwich generation.”
Here are some other interesting findings from the report:
  • Nearly 63 percent of moms say their adult children are not fully prepared to live on their own.
  • Only 30 percent of moms say that their adult children who live with them are actively looking for other places to live, and less than half (41 percent) say their kids pay rent. One positive note: 67 percent of adult children help around the house, and 65 percent of them are employed.
  • Mothers are very aware that their grown children don’t have it easy. Ninety percent are concerned about rising housing costs, with 43 percent saying they are “very concerned” on their kids’ behalf. Nearly 40 percent of moms worry at least once a day about their adult children’s ability to afford desirable housing.
  • Once kids do move out, only one-third of moms would co-sign a loan for their children, and even fewer (24 percent) would help subsidize rent or a mortgage. Nearly 36 percent say they aren’t prepared to help their adult children financially in any way. 
To combat these and other rising concerns about housing affordability, The NHP Foundation is looking to the government to continue programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and to new private and public partnerships designed to increase its stock of quality affordable housing. The NHP Foundation has also been selected by the University of Virginia School of Public Policy as part of a study seeking new models to help ensure that this and future generations are able to afford desirable places to live.
Source: www.nhpfoundation.org
Interested in real estate tips? Contact me today for more information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tax Refund? Spend It at Home

May 20, 2017 12:36 pm

According to a recent study from Edward Jones, only 6 percent of Americans are planning to invest their 2016 tax refunds this year. The study, which surveyed 1,004 respondents across various age groups, regions and income levels, found that the majority of Americans (53 percent) plan to put their tax refund toward necessary expenses, such as student loans and credit card payments.

Thirty-one percent of respondents plan to save their refund, and 9 percent plan to put it toward something fun, like a vacation or entertainment. For homeowners, however, investing your tax refund to improve your home—and increase its value in the process—can be the smartest move of all. Quicken Loans suggests looking at these key areas of your home, which often translate directly to the bottom line:

The kitchen. New appliances or countertops are a great way to invest your refund dollars. Also consider giving your kitchen a less-expensive facelift by painting the cabinets.

The bathroom. Bathrooms are high on the list of priorities for homebuyers, so use your refund to make sure yours is up to par. Consider adding new faucets, a low-flow toilet or a new sink counter.

The walls. One of the most important—and most affordable—home improvements is a fresh coat of paint. A sunny shade or calming neutral will instantly change the look and feel of any room.

The windows. An important investment for not only the look of your home, but its energy efficiency as well, new windows are always a smart investment.

The exterior. Whether it’s building a patio, repairing the roof, or installing new siding, improving your home's exterior is never a bad idea.  

Putting your tax refund into your No. 1 asset will not only improve your home’s value, it'll also go a long way toward enhancing your living environment. In the end, any way you slice it, it’s an investment for years to come.

Contact me today for more tips on improving your home's value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime

May 20, 2017 12:36 pm

You know the feeling. You look around your home and are struck with a case of the blahs. The immediate thought is to set out on a shopping spree for new rugs, new lamps, new linens or whatever it takes to revamp your space. Unfortunately, your wallet may say otherwise. But don’t despair. With a little creative thinking, you can update the look and feel of your home without spending any money at all. Here’s how:
The old switcheroo. Believe it or not, switching furniture from one room to another can completely change the look of a room. Try swapping out a living room end table with your bedroom nightstand. Or move that stately floor lamp from your den into your dining room. With just a little muscle, you will instantly arrive at a brand-new look.
Find buried treasure in your linen closet. If you’re like most homeowners, it’s more than likely been a while since you’ve cleaned out your linen closet. And I bet you won’t believe what you’ll find in there. Curtains, tablecloths, throws and bedding that was tucked away years ago and forgotten about can be reintroduced to various spots in your home for a brand-new look.
Enlist old paint. Remember all those half-full cans of paint leftover from various projects over the years? Put them to use to change the look of a room by painting one wall, a piece of accent furniture or even cabinet doors. You saved them because you thought they’d come in handy someday. Well, today’s that day.
Get digging. Want to switch up the flow of your yard? Look around and see what plants, shrubs and small trees can be relocated to a brand-new spot. Be sure to do some research online ahead of time in order to determine the correct way to transplant certain items to ensure your green friends survive the move. You can do this even more easily by repositioning container plants and patio furniture.
Embrace the online community. Before you spend money on new furniture and décor items, check out some of the increasingly popular websites for scoring free stuff. The Freecycle Network, for example, is made up of 9 million members worldwide. The nonprofit describes itself as a grassroots movement, comprised of local volunteers who moderate activity to keep dealings on the up-and-up. Membership is free to boot.
With the right mindset and a little creative thinking, your home will be on its way to a brand-spanking-new look.
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Clean Machine: Tackling the Fridge and Freezer

May 18, 2017 12:36 am

If there’s a funky smell coming from the depths of your refrigerator or small icebergs forming in your freezer, it’s time to bite the bullet and do a deep clean. Not only will this make for an odor-free, organized environment for your fresh and frozen foods, more importantly, it will ensure your food’s safety. Follow these tips from the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association to make the task easy and effective:

1. Prepare. Unplug the refrigerator to save energy and to safely clean coils. Empty ice from your freezer into a cooler where you can store food you plan to keep. Fill the sink with warm soapy water for cleaning shelves and drawers. Set out dishtowels on counter tops for drying. Fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of 1cup water, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of dish soap.

2. Purge. Empty the refrigerator, then the freezer, and place items on counter. Take time to sort and discard old, unwanted foods, drinks and condiments. Check expiration dates and beware of moldy and freezer-burned foods. When in doubt, toss it out!

3. Clean. Remove drawers and shelves and clean them in the sink with warm soapy water; set aside to dry. Spray the interior with cleaner, and wipe from the top down with a warm, wet sponge or towel. Thoroughly dry and replace drawers and shelves. Wash the exterior door and handles. Replace water and ice-maker filters if needed. Clean the grill on bottom front of refrigerator. Consider cleaning the condenser coils for optimum cooling efficiency (refer to manufacturer directions).

4. Check Temps. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can become contaminated with bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness. Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40 degrees and your freezer 0 degrees or less to ensure food safety. You can check the temperatures with an appliance thermometer.

5. Organize. When restocking your clean refrigerator and freezer, organize according to usage and group like items together. Label and date new foods so you know when to use or throw out. Do not store perishable foods in the door as temperatures fluctuate there. Place meat, poultry or seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags and keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers away from the meats to avoid cross-contamination.

Source: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.