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

3 Safety Tips for Garages and Gates

June 15, 2016 12:48 pm

Gates and garage doors are two of several access points intruders may use to gain entry into a home. With one out of every 15 garage doors lacking up-to-date security features, it’s worth assessing the safety of your own garage, gates or openers.

“At LiftMaster, safety is our top priority,” says John Villanueva, vice president of marketing at LiftMaster. “To help those at home ensure their operators are working as they should, we developed a simple 3-Step Safety Check that can be done in a matter of minutes and should be conducted throughout the year when checking other home safety devices, like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.”

The 3-Step Safety Check:

1. Ensure “photo eyes,” or black sensors, are installed on the sides of the garage door, no higher than 6 inches from the ground.

2. Block a photo eye with an object taller than 6 inches. Try to close the garage with the opener—the door should remain open.

3. Place an object in the path of the door. Try to close the garage with the opener—the door should reverse once it touches the object.

If the garage door opener fails, consult with a professional as soon as possible. He or she will solve the problem with recommendations and/or service.

A professional should also be called whenever the garage doors or gates require maintenance, or if you plan to install new doors or gates.

For more on garage door and gate safety, visit www.LiftMaster.com/For-Homes/Garage-Safety.
 
Source: LiftMaster

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How Can Smart Appliances Save Me Time?

June 15, 2016 12:48 pm

Do you have enough hours in the day? We bet most of you wish you had more!

While connected appliances can’t make a day longer, they can help recapture more of your time. In fact, one recent study showed connected appliances save a typical household 100 hours a year.

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), these time savings can be sourced from several areas. If you’ll be away from home for a while, for example, connectivity ensures your appliances stay in working order while you’re gone. Should an appliance need repair, connectivity revolutionizes the process—manufacturers are already developing features in which repair technicians remotely identify problems and, in some cases, remotely repair them.

Day-to-day, a connected dishwasher, for instance, could “learn” when you typically wash dishes and begin washing them automatically. Clothes washers, in another instance, can give you guidance when it comes to cleaning a certain type of garment, saving you time spent researching.

What’s more, connected appliances have the potential—with the Smart Grid—to drive energy cost savings and improve the environment, automatically reducing energy use based on users' preferences, or allowing users to access renewable energy when available.

Want to learn more? Download AHAM’s white paper, Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential (www.aham.org/industry/ht/d/Join/pid/84076), for an introduction to the possibilities connected home appliances hold, as well as what manufacturers are doing to keep them safe and secure.

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Tips to Fuel Your Day the Healthy Way

June 14, 2016 12:48 pm

(Family Features)—When it comes to bettering your health, everyday lifestyle changes can be powerful. Take a cue from Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin and cohorts Zack Test and Carlin Isles, who rely on basic nutrition and fitness principles to fuel their days the healthy way:

Eat Breakfast – Start your day right with a nutritious meal, such as a hard-boiled egg and steel-cut oatmeal topped with fruit and almonds. Prepare your breakfast the night before to eliminate excuses come morning.

Drink Water – Drinking more water daily is one of the best ways to stay fit. Aim for at least two cups of water two hours before physical activity, one or two cups 15 minutes before exercise, and a half-cup or one cup every 15 minutes during.

Snack – Don’t forgo nutrition when hunger pangs hit. Be prepared to fuel up while on-the-go (or after a workout) with portable, nutrient-rich snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate or herbal tea.

Most importantly, take the time to recover after workouts. Allowing your body time to heal will not only stave off injury, but also build energy for your next bout of physical activity.
 
Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

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Staying Put in Retirement? Survey Explores Income Options

June 14, 2016 12:48 pm

Is relocating out of the question for soon-to-be retirees?

The majority of those closing in on retirement prefer to live out their golden years in their current home, according to a recently released survey by The American College of Financial Services. Eighty-three percent of respondents to the survey—The Home Equity and Retirement Income Planning Survey—do not want to relocate, and nearly all respondents have no desire to rent.

“One very interesting notion was that the desire to age in place increases significantly as you get older,” says survey author Jamie Hopkins, professor of Retirement Income Planning and co-director of The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income Planning. “We saw more uncertainty between the ages of 55 and 62. But once we started getting past 62 and you start moving into retirement, we saw that these individuals really don't expect or want to leave their homes.”

Forty-four percent of respondents to the survey have considered tapping into their existing home’s equity in retirement, but just one-quarter (25 percent) are comfortable with using it as income.

Notably, just 30 percent of survey respondents demonstrated a basic understanding of reverse mortgages.

“This is really going to open a lot of eyes about just how little people moving into retirement with some home equity know about reverse mortgages,” Hopkins says of the findings.

As evidenced by the survey, reverse mortgages are worth consideration if only to educate the homeowner.

“Hopefully that's the biggest takeaway from this survey," Hopkins added. “Advisors and consumers need to start thinking about home equity, including reverse mortgages, as part of the retirement income planning process.”

Source: The American College

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Wood or Wood-Like Flooring: What's the Difference?

June 14, 2016 12:48 pm

Traditionally, hardwood floors added warmth and natural beauty to the home. These days, hardwood competes with copycat laminates and engineered wood floors, which can cost less. The differences between wood and wood-like flooring, according to Melissa Maker, host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube:

Hardwood – Hardwood flooring is made of solid, natural wood. Costing between $6 and $15 per square foot, it is typically made with a tongue and groove system for easy installation. It is simple to sand and refinish, but is easier to damage and requires a healthy amount of maintenance to keep it looking great.

Laminates – The core of laminate flooring is made of high density fiber (HDF), as opposed to actual slabs of wood. The top layer is a photographic layer that mimics the look of hardwood. It won’t fool a discriminating eye, but at about half the cost of hardwood flooring, it will take more abuse, is easy to clean, and is installed using a tongue and groove locking system you can install or uninstall with ease.

Engineered Hardwood – A hybrid more expensive than laminate and costing about as much as hardwood, engineered hardwood has a core of plywood or HDF and a top layer composed of a hardwood veneer glued onto the core. It has the more natural characteristics of wood, but it handles heat and moisture better because of the core material. It may be refinished, but generally only once.

Despite their differences, all three types of flooring may be cleaned the same way, Maker adds. They should be swept or dust-mopped regularly, and cleaned with a drop of dish liquid and a capful of white vinegar mixed into a bucket of warm water.

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Your Lawn: 5 Water-Wise Tips

June 13, 2016 12:48 am

For many homeowners, watering the lawn is a guessing game—sometimes with a losing outcome.

Knowing when and how to water your lawn is a science, says Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists.

“When it gets hot, the most common mistake people make is to excessively water their lawn,” Ostlund says. “However, your lawn only needs to be watered once or twice a week during the summer months. When done correctly, cutting back on irrigation can actually strengthen your lawn.”

Less watering stimulates deep root growth, which can be a boon in drought-prone areas, Ostlund adds. (Not to mention, overwatering can also counter community efforts to curb water consumption!)

Water with no more than 2 inches each week, Ostlund recommends. This will compensate for the lack of rainfall in summer without risking over-saturation.

The best time to break out the hose is early or late in the day, says Ostlund. This allows for deeper absorption, because the sun will not evaporate the water as rapidly as it would mid-day.

Most importantly, be sure to regularly schedule watering times. Lawns thrive wioth consistent waterings, according to Ostlund.

Source: Grass Seed USA

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Is Your Extra Room an Untapped Revenue Opportunity?

June 13, 2016 12:48 am

More homeowners are renting out their unused bedrooms to supplement income—to the tune of 33.6 million!

That’s the number of extra rooms available across the country, according to a recent Finder.com analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Assuming each of these rooms could be rented out for $100 a week (a rock-bottom rent in many markets!), homeowners all told could earn $174 billion each year.

The breakdown, based on Census data, is as follows: there are 357,032,421 bedrooms in the U.S., and 323,391,100 people, leaving a surplus of 33,641,321 rooms. The total number of spare rooms is likely to be even higher, since many couples share a bedroom.

Where are all these available bedrooms?

Florida leads with 3,026,887 bedrooms, according to Finder.com, with Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina rounding out the top five.

The average homeowner renting out an extra room, Finder.com’s analysis shows, can expect to gain $5,000 a year in rental income—an amount significant enough to pay down a mortgage.

Renting out an extra room is not decision to be taken lightly, however. Be sure to:

• Check with your accountant for the tax implications of the extra income and how to handle relevant tax payments.

• Research relevant county or state laws surrounding letting spare rooms.

• See if the terms of your lease allow subleasing of rooms, and if there are relevant local regulations.

• Make sure that your home insurance policy covers tenants, as well.

• Do a background investigation of potential tenants. Interview them in person and ask for financial records that demonstrate their income.

• Request a rental bond and two weeks’ rent in advance—this will offer you some security if your tenant proves unreliable.

Your real estate professional may also be a resource worth consulting.

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Buying or Renting: Which Is Right for Me?

June 13, 2016 12:48 am

Housing is on the up and up, with demand high and sales robust. Still, for those new to homeownership, it may be difficult to determine which route—buying a home or renting one—is the most sensible.

“Millennials should weigh a number of factors before committing to any lease or mortgage,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation, in a statement. “With the cost of living continuing to rise, they must be prepared to handle the demands of their housing choice—whether that’s a rental property or homeownership.”

First to consider, according to the ABA Foundation, is your savings. Do you have enough money for a down payment for a home or a security deposit for a rental—and enough saved for emergencies?

Next, weigh all of your debt obligations—student loans, credit cards, etc. Can you reasonably afford to pay those debts along with the cost of a home? Generally, the ABA Foundation states, mortgage or rent payments and utilities should amount to no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income.

Your credit score is an important consideration, as well, whether buying or renting. A low score can bring about a higher interest rate on a mortgage, or even prevent you from obtaining a rental. The ABA Foundation suggests taking action to improve your score before making the decision to buy or rent.

Non-financial factors matter, too. How long do you plan to stay in the home? Renters may have the option to move more often, but homeowners will build up equity. Keep this in mind when comparing your options, the ABA Foundation recommends.

For more guidance, contact a real estate professional. He or she can help you make an informed decision based on your needs.

Source: ABA

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Water Heater Replacements a Good Bet in Today's Energy-efficient Driven Market

June 11, 2016 11:33 am

When considering purchasing a home, prospective buyers often have a long list of questions they’d like answered before making a final decision. And, with more buyers being energy-conscious today, they may be put off by large energy, heating and water bills that are a direct result of old systems and non energy-efficient offerings.
 
While savvy house hunters will most certainly ask about the age and condition of the basic systems and appliances in your home, it’s important to think carefully about which upgrades make the most sense before placing your home on the market. 
 
One change to strongly consider is the water heater. If your unit is anywhere between 10 - 15 years old, upgrading can be a big improvement, catching the attention of a prospective buyer. New models are up to 20 percent more efficient and can save up to $700 in energy costs over the life of the unit. Of course, it’s always a good idea to research your options before choosing a replacement.
 
The most popular water heaters today are electric, but those running on fuel, geothermal energy, propane, solar energy and gas are also available. Conventional water heaters have a large tank that stores hot water for future use, while tankless water heaters heat water directly when needed, reducing both storage and heating costs.
 
Currently, five categories of water heater are designated as Energy Star rated, including high-performance gas storage, whole-home gas tankless, advanced drop-in or integrated heat pump, solar and gas condensing. For each type of water heater, the Energy Star rating can help you determine just how energy efficient a model is.
 
According to Energy.gov, the type of water heater you choose may affect your water heating costs. For instance, an electric heat pump water heater is typically more energy efficient than an electric conventional storage water heater, however, an electric heat pump water heater might have lower energy costs than a gas-fired conventional storage water heater because of its higher efficiency.
 
Even if your water heater is currently working, if it’s an older, inefficient model, you could reap real cost benefits by replacing it with a more energy efficient one.
 
Adding an energy efficient water heater and maintaining it properly before you put your house on the market will help reduce energy bills significantly and attract more buyers. Keep yourself out of hot water and make a change that can only benefit your sale.
 
For more information about water heaters, contact our office today.

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Outshine the Competition with a Good, Old-fashioned Power Wash

June 11, 2016 11:33 am

Before placing your home on the market, it’s important to make sure it looks as polished as possible. While many sellers concern themselves greatly with the interior of the home, more often than not, the exterior elements are overlooked.
 
This is especially true for homes that have a deck or patio, which aside from brushing off some leaves and debris—and possibly cleaning the furniture that sits on it—most people who put their home on the market don’t do much in the way or preparing the deck for sale.
 
The best way to get your deck or patio looking brand new is by power washing it before your first showing.
 
Begin at the farthest corner of the deck or patio floor and start by spraying slow, even sweeps with the pressure wand, maintaining an equal distance from the tip to the work surface. This helps to ensure even cleaning, reducing the chance of streaks and overlapping of the pressure spray.
 
If you’ve never used a power washer before, know that it may take a little time to understand the nuances of the tool. The water comes out quickly and powerfully, and you’ll want to be sure the water stream is consistent. Spraying too heavily can do a lot more harm than good by causing damage to the structure.
 
When using a power washer, it’s recommended that you keep the pressure wand 10 - 12 inches from the surface that needs cleaning. It’s also a good idea to do small passes, eyeing each area and adjusting the pressure and stream accordingly as you go. As you grow accustomed to the power washer, adjust the nozzle to a wider angle and lower pressure setting and increase pressure as needed.
 
Most pressure washers do the job better when used in conjunction with a cleaning solution, such as bleach or other cleaning detergent. Not only will this help loosen dirt more easily, it’ll also require less pressure from the washer to get the job done. Pressure washers may also have cold or hot water supplies, the latter of which enables cleaning detergents to emulsify dirt faster and more effectively.
 
Before cleaning your deck or patio with a power washer, remove any furniture, grills or anything else that touches the ground. You want the deck to be completely clear so you don’t damage anything.
 
Remember, power washers spray water at very strong levels, so while it may look like fun to get sprayed, it’s easy to injure someone with the strong force. Therefore, do your best to keep kids away and make sure you wear goggles, ear buds and work boots while completing the job.
 
When finished, you’ll be amazed at how much better the area looks. To get the most bang for your buck, power wash the deck or patio before taking photos of your home. This will give house hunters one more reason to love your property.
 
For more power washing tips, contact our office today.

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