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Superheroes Reign This Halloween

October 24, 2016 12:54 am

This Halloween, expect to see a bevvy of pint-sized superheroes littering your 'hood. The beloved princess costume has been de-crowned after an 11-year reign, according to NRF’s 2016 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. But perhaps the spookiest finding of all from this survey is that spending on Halloween costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion.

Findings show that over three million children will dress as their favorite action or superhero, 2.9 million will dress as their favorite princess and 2.5 million plan to dress as a cat, dog, bunny or other animal. 

Top Kid's Costumes
  1. Action/Superhero
  2. Princess
  3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Lion, Monkey, etc.)
  4. Batman Character
  5. Star Wars Character
  6. Tie: Witch AND DC Superhero (excl. Batman)
  7. Frozen Character (Anna, Elsa, Olaf)
  8. Marvel Superhero (excl. Spiderman)
  9. Zombie
  10. Spiderman
So what will millennials rock on All Hallow's Eve? Nine percent will reach for a Batman costume, followed by 6.1 percent opting for witch hats and brooms and five percent planning to dress as an animal. 

Adults, 18 -34-Years-Old
1. Batman Character (Batman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc.)
2. Witch
3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
4. Tie: Marvel Superhero (Deadpool, Spiderman, etc.) AND DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman, excl. Batman)
5. Vampire
6. Video Game Character
7. Slasher Movie Villain (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.)
8. Pirate
9. Star Wars Character
10. Zombie

For the mid-range adults, more will turn to witches, pirates and political figures for their costume inspiration.

Adults 35+

1. Witch
2. Pirate
3. Political (Trump, Clinton, etc.)
4. Vampire
5. Batman Character (Batman, Catwoman, etc.)
6. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
7. Tie: DC Superhero (Superman, Wonder Woman, excl. Batman) and Star Wars Character
8. Tie: Ghost and Zombie
9. Scary Costume/Mask
10. Marvel Superhero (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, etc.) 

And what would a holiday be without dressed up pets? Sixteen percent of consumers plan to dress their pets in costume this year and 86.7 percent of those consumers already have a plan for their pet’s costumes. Pumpkin, hot dog and bumble bee are at the top of the list again this year.

Furry friends

1. Pumpkin
2. Hot Dog
3. Bumble Bee
4. Tie: Lion and Star Wars Character
5. Devil
6. Batman Character
7. Witch
8. Superman
9. Action/Superhero
10. Cat

Sources: www.ProsperDiscovery.com, www.nrf.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Buying a Home? How Technology Can Help

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

Technology touches every part of our lives, and buying a home is no exception. With an abundance of websites and apps at the homebuyer’s disposal, how do you know what’s worth your time and what isn’t? And what about a real estate agent? Where do they fit in? Here’s a game plan for using technology to your advantage when searching for your home-to-be.
 
Get prequalified. Before you even begin your home search, find out how much house you can really afford by using an online mortgage calculator. Then start the process to get prequalified for your mortgage. Certain lenders, such as Quicken Loans, offer a streamlined online process for prequalification.

Start online. Well over 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online, and this is a good thing. Try a home search portal like realtor.com® or Homes.com, or do a Google search on the cities/neighborhoods/zip codes where you’d like to buy. This will also lead you to the sites of real estate professionals who serve the areas you’re interested in. Then start perusing what’s available.

Look for listings with lots of photos, and better yet, virtual tours and videos. Some videos are even done with drone technology to give you an awesome aerial perspective on properties for sale.

Use social media sites like Instagram and Twitter and check out homes and neighborhoods using hashtag searches that include the towns you’re interested in. This will yield some interesting information not only on available real estate, but on the communities themselves.

Do some drive-by’s. Your online research will help narrow down your choices. Now it’s time to get in the car and drive by the properties you’re interested in. While you’ll most likely notice a yard sign with the listing agent’s information outside the homes you’re interested in, you might even notice a text-for-more-info code. Be sure to take advantage of this technology if it’s offered, as it can connect you with an agent right away who can then show you the home and help you negotiate an offer.
 
Technology will help make for a fluid relationship with your agent. Let your agent know your preferred method of communication—email, text or phone call—to ensure responsiveness. You’ll also find that digital documents and secure electronic-signature technology will streamline the closing process even further.
 
Despite the array of technology that will help you along the way to buying your home, remember that none of it replaces the guidance and local expertise of your real estate agent. Ask them how they use technology and what other apps they may have available to help you find and seal the deal on your home.
 
Contact our office today to learn more about how technology can help in the home search process.

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Bed Bugs: Fact vs. Fiction

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

No one wants to entertain the thought of bugs in their home, but since 2000, bed bug infestations have risen 81 percent, according to the National Pest Management Association. The resurgence has consumers on high alert, anxious to know how they can prevent and protect themselves from bed bugs. London Luxury LLC helps us understand the facts versus fiction when it comes to these pesky creatures.
 
The Facts:
-Bed bugs can be found on bedside alarm clocks. Bed bugs have been known to fester in alarm clocks and other appliances, as well as within dark crevices like coffee makers.
-Bed bugs like to hitch rides. These pests can very easily be transferred in suitcases and on clothing, putting travelers at extra-high risk.
-Some people are not affected by bed bug bites. Some people do not have a physical reaction to bed bug bites and may be unaware that bed bugs are in their home until they actually see them. It’s important to remember that everyone is at risk, as bed bugs don’t discriminate based on socio-economic class.
-Bed bugs can live many months without feeding. Encase mattresses, box springs and pillows with bed bug-proof protectors, which effectively trap bugs and cut them off from their food source indefinitely.
-Insect foggers provide very little control of bed bugs. Most insect foggers contain a flammable propellant, some of which have been associated with accidental fires. The best way to control a bed bug problem is to contact a pest professional who will help with vacuuming, steaming and laundering belongings, in addition to sealing areas/gaps where bed bugs can hide.
 
The Fiction:
-Bed bugs spread deadly diseases.
Bed bugs do not transmit disease. Bed bug bites, however, can cause an allergic reaction similar to a mosquito bite in some people.
-Chemicals/pesticides will kill all bed bug stages. It’s difficult to kill all bed bugs with only a pesticide application. Successful treatment depends on an integrated pest-management approach.
-Only poor people or dirty people get bed bugs. Wrong—anyone can get bed bugs. And they’re typically found in a bed mattress, box spring, bed frame or even around the bed. They're also found in electric outlets, switches and behind pictures. Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes and even public places, such as retail stores, movie theaters, businesses and offices.
-Bed bugs are too small to see with the naked eye. An adult bed bug is actually about the size of an apple seed.
-Bed bugs come out only at night. It's true that bed bugs are more active at night and in the early morning, however, they sense the heat and carbon dioxide given off by humans, and therefore, may come out at any time of day.
-If you have bed bugs, you need to throw away infested clothing and furniture. Clothing can be laundered to get rid of bed bugs. In most cases, furniture can be treated and should only be discarded if there are no acceptable treatments to rid specific items of bed bugs.
-It's too cold where I live for bed bugs. Bed bugs can still thrive even in the coldest climates. 
-Sleeping in a metal bed will protect you from bed bugs. Having a metal bed will not protect you from bed bugs. In some scenarios, a metal bed may actually make it harder to detect a bed bug infestation because the hollow tubing of a metal bed provides a great place for bed bugs to hide.
-You can't get bed bugs from your neighbor. Bed bug migration from one home or apartment to another is more common than most people think. In apartments or shared housing such as condos, the risk of migration is even higher. Bed bugs can travel through tiny cracks in the wall, through connected vents or spaces, in the seams of floor boards or along the edges of carpet.
-Bed bug bites all look the same. Bites can be small and red or bigger like welts. Some people don't even react to a bed bug bite. It’s almost impossible to diagnose a bed bug problem solely on the presence of bites on a human host.
 
To learn more about bed bugs, contact our office today.

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How to Help Your Child with Student Debt

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

A hot-button topic during this year’s presidential election, mounting student debt is triggering concerns on many levels, not only for students themselves, but for the housing industry and the economy at large.
 
According to the most recent National Association of REALTORS® Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, while surveyed households still believe now is a good time to buy a home, roughly half of young adults with student debt disagree. The HOME survey revealed that existing student debt is making many young people uneasy at the thought of taking on additional debt to buy a home. According to the survey, roughly two-thirds of non-homeowners and half of respondents under 35 with student debt said they aren’t comfortable also having a mortgage. They also believe they’re less likely to even qualify for a mortgage due to their debt.
 
The student debt dilemma is particularly troubling for parents who want to see their children take flight after working so hard to earn their college degree.
 
Here are a few ways parents can help their graduate get out of debt and on with life faster:
 
-Encourage your child to move back home…temporarily. While you might have gotten used to the empty nest, having your child move back in to save money makes sense in many scenarios. Set up some ground rules and have them contribute to household expenses, but make it clear that paying down their student loan is priority.

-Whether living with you or on their own, help your child create a budget and teach them where they can trim expenses and how to live within their means.

-If downsizing to a smaller home is in your near future, you might want to consider shortening the window and making the move now, sharing some of the profit to help your child pay down their debt.

-Sign up with a rewards program like Upromise, which allows you to earn cash back on purchases like travel, restaurants, groceries, online shopping, and more. You can cash out your rewards via check or use them to pay down an eligible student loan directly.

-Ask family and friends to consider giving your children cash instead of gifts for holidays and birthdays. This money can help pay down student loans faster.

-Encourage your children to look for side projects that can bring in additional income that goes directly toward their loans. Child care, catering gigs, freelance writing, home maintenance jobs—whatever your child’s talents happen to be can be put to good use to earn some extra cash.
 
Most of all, be emotionally supportive and keep the lines of communication open—advise, don’t lecture, and assure your child that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
 
For more tips to successfully help your child with student debt, contact our office today.

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Fall's Top Paint Color and Decor Trends

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

This season's design and paint trends combine the crisp essence of autumn foliage with soft pastels to help bring outdoor-inspired colors into your home.
 
According to Ace Hardware design experts Nathan Fischer, Katie Reynolds and Julie Richard, from cool blues and smoky greens inspired by scenic mountaintop views to warm neutrals reminiscent of transitioning leaves, this season's trends create classic and elegant palettes that provide a sophisticated, timeless upgrade to any space.
 
Here are the designers’ top paint picks and ideas for fall:
 
-Try painting interior window frames in a cool-toned black to create the steel-frame "modern-farmhouse" look that’s so popular this season.
-Make the home feel warmer with colors like creamy beige or a warm chocolate brown in a variety of accessories, such as rugs or lampshades.
-Using darker neutrals like deep brown or cool charcoal sparingly on small accent pieces, such as side tables or a headboard, will add sophisticated dimension throughout a space.
-Neutrals don't have to be boring! Try a rich beige with lavender undertones to add a whimsical twist to a room.
-Forest greens create a masculine, sophisticated look that works best in intimate spaces like a bedroom or library. Darker teal hues work well as accent colors, while more muted greens are ideal for walls and larger areas.
-White walls are anything but simple. Try soft off-whites in a space to achieve a polished, timeless and clean look.
-One of the easiest updates to the exterior of the home is changing the color of the front door. Pull inspiration from nature with a bold green, and add colorful exterior accents like planters or Adirondack chairs in a softer, lighter green shade or a light blue for a more subtle pop of color.
-When painted in a bold red, side tables, kitchen stools and picture frames provide the perfect complement to a neutral space.
 
Ace's experts also offer these tips for bringing the fall season indoors through décor:
 
-A luxurious look can be achieved in any space by adding plenty of texture and layers. A soft, thick rug makes a great centerpiece for a simple, yet chic room.
-Use objects found in nature, such as branches, pinecones and logs to fill vases and stack on shelves.
-Update wood finishes in the home that may feel faded by liming, washing and weathering the finish.
-Vary the size of decorative objects in a room or on a front porch. This will create a dimensional look without incorporating too many accessories.
-Pair clean, neutral shades with layered gold, bronze and silver metallics to create a luxe designer look.
-Whites reflect light, making rooms with little natural light feel more open and airy. Try painting a room with a few windows in a light, neutral shade to achieve this bright idea.
 
Contact our office today to learn more about incorporating fall’s top paint color and décor trends into your home.
 
Source: Ace Hardware

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Fall into Home Maintenance

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the urge to lounge on the couch by the fireplace becomes powerful. But before you start your winter hibernation, it’s imperative to take care of certain fall maintenance projects around your home.
 
Start by checking the outside of your home for peeling or blistering paint, which can be a sign that the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding, says Carl Minchew of Benjamin Moore Paints. Take care of it now, or risk more expensive repairs come spring.
 
Check for drafts around windows and door frames and caulk as needed in order to keep your home properly heated as temperatures drop.
 
Call the chimney sweep and schedule an appointment to have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned. Fall is peak season for these professionals, so the sooner you can get on their calendar, the better. Cleaning the chimney will remove creosote buildup and reduce the risk of dangerous chimney fires.
 
Clean and replace filters in your heating system to ensure optimal performance.
 
If your driveway suffers cracks and potholes, now is the time to have it sealed. This will prevent further, more costly damage from ice and snow in the months to come.
 
Assess the current state of your yard and deck and take care of the following: Clean and properly store equipment you won’t be using, such as lawn mowers and weed whackers; clean and cover your grill and deck furniture; turn off outside hose valves to prevent pipes from freezing.
 
Follow this protocol in your garden: Empty soil from ceramic pots—otherwise the soil will freeze and crack them; plant your spring bulbs; divide and replant perennials; trim dead branches; rake and use leaves for mulch.
 
Your reward for taking care of your home now is a safe winter and an easy, less costly transition into spring.
 
For more information about fall maintenance projects you should add to your to-do list, contact our office today.

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In this Edition: Bed Bugs

October 21, 2016 2:27 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the most important home maintenance projects you can’t afford to overlook this fall. Other topics covered this month include simple tips to help your child with student debt and technology’s role in the real estate process. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Not to Help Your Child Succeed in School

October 21, 2016 12:54 am


Children are under a lot of pressure to get good grades at an early age in order to pave the way for a successful academic future. Parents are often at a loss as to the best way to help their children do well in school, and their best intentions, unfortunately, can backfire.

While every child is different, the tactics that usually don’t work:

Nagging - Constantly reminding your children to do their homework and study will have little to no effect on their motivation. Most of the time, they know exactly what they need to do and are simply procrastinating. Have a conversation with your child to review what’s due the next day or within the coming week, jot it down, and then leave them to it.

Getting Angry - Worse than nagging, yelling at your children about homework and grades is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it ineffective, it disrupts the peace at home, which is counterproductive for everyone in the family.

Doing It for Them - It can be oh-so tempting to simply intervene and do that math sheet or English paper yourself, especially if your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, show them how to organize their time, break a project into chunks, or encourage them to see their teacher for extra help. 

Blaming the Teacher - Keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher is very important, so long as you remain as impartial as possible, and are open to constructive criticism about your son or daughter. Getting adversarial with the teacher just making things worse for your child.

Punishing - While threats may seem like a logical way to get your child to do well, negative reinforcement rarely works long-term. Instead, try positive reinforcement, such as a small reward (e.g., a trip to the ice cream parlor, an extra hour tacked onto Saturday night curfew) for handing in work on time or getting a good grade on a paper. This will encourage good work habits that will serve them well far into the future.

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Not My House! A Before-the-Storm Checklist

October 21, 2016 12:54 am


Storms can cause all types of damage to a property, from loss of belongings to mold growth and beyond.

“Preparing before a storm is critical in managing the aftermath damage,” said Peter Duncanson, director of System Development with ServiceMaster Restore, in a recent statement. “We know how devastating storm damage can be for people, and we want to help them mitigate it as much as possible and be prepared to respond quickly.”

Duncanson and his team at Service Master Restore suggest following this checklist:

• Obtain emergency supplies (or refresh reserves, if needed) of items such medication, non-perishable food and water.

• Organize important documentation, such as birth certificates, insurance policies and receipts, into accessible, waterproof storage.

• Take stock of possessions, preferably with photos, including the items’ make, model and/or serial number.

• Unplug all electronics.

• Raise furniture, as well as below-window treatments. Board up windows, if necessary.

• Determine points of contact for emergency communications, and share that information with all members of the household.

• Clear gutters.

• Store outdoor furniture or any other outdoor items, including toys and tools, that could become airborne.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore
 

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The 10 Paint Colors Designers Use Most

October 21, 2016 12:54 am


With hundreds of paint colors to choose from, selecting the shades just right for your home can be daunting. Good Housekeeping magazine recently rounded up the top 10 paint colors most often used by professional home designers. Get inspired by them:

1. Palladian Blue – By Benjamin Moore, this blue-green-grey shade can be used in any room, and is especially ideal for cooling down a sun-filled room or adding tranquility to a bedroom.

2. Garden Stone – By Clark+Kensington, this classic warm grey shade is a designer favorite projected to stand the test of time.

3. Manchester Tan – By Benjamin Moore, this shade is a go-to warm neutral favored because it changes with the light, going from rich to fresh.

4. Compatible Cream – By Sherwin Williams, this creamy yellow shade is warm and inviting, but not too sunny.

5. Intense White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade gives off a light grey-ish tone. Designers use it as a backdrop for rooms with brightly colored furniture.

6. Sprout 0.6 – By Colorhouse, this shade has a slightly pinkish hue, and is often chosen for ceilings because it reflects flatteringly on people in the room.

7. Revere Pewter – By Benjamin Moore, this fail-safe neutral shade is the perfect alternative to white, ideal for open floor plans with just a hint of color.

8. Decorator’s White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade has pure white undertones that provide a crisp, clean look on ceilings or trim, or in bathrooms. 

9. Essential Grey – By Sherwin Williams, this shade is best paired with white trim for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic.

10. Wool Skein – By Sherwin Williams, this neutral shade coordinates well with any color.
 

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