February 8th, 2018

All the dirt on rinsing recyclables

Posted by at 8:03 pm

Are you scraping and rinsing and otherwise scrubbing to get the last of the peanut butter out of the jar, just so it’s fit for the recycling bin? Doing the same for your applesauce, yogurt, pet food and chili? Technology still hasn’t developed packaging (with the possible exception of Go-gurt) that allows you to actually EAT all the remaining food product. So, isn’t expecting you to wash out bottles, tubs and cans a little bit like adding insult to injury? How much recycling prep is enough? And how clean is clean? And what about water waste? True environmentalists know a kitchen sink can use up to 5 gallons of usable water a minute. Isn’t that worse than putting a dirty peanut butter jar in the landfill? These are all good questions, but let’s start with the simplest answer: It depends...
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February 5th, 2018

Interactive sites help Millennials make moves

Posted by at 2:34 pm

Trying to appeal to the potential homebuyer in today’s Millennial? Better promise them more than great customer service – they prefer solutions over promises. During their initial home search, chances are they won’t return your call or call a customer service department. As with every problem or need, they’ll first turn to Google. Millennials feel better about your business when you make it easy to do things online, by themselves, on their schedule. Millennial home shoppers are not only tech-savvy, they’re tech-bred. They use mobile devices for everything – from planning vacations to researching stocks to checking the Twitter status of celebs. It’s not a stretch to say these folks probably couldn’t conduct home buying or other personal financial management without the aid of a digital device, even if they wanted to. Already the largest and fastest-growing cohort among home-buyers, they’ll soon be claiming complete...
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January 26th, 2018

Concentrate on the Positives

Posted by at 8:51 am

As America heads into the big spring selling season, all signs point to a robust housing market in 2018. Demand is high and homebuilders are upbeat. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confidence gauge is at its highest level in 18 years. Record numbers of home shoppers are packing sales centers and open houses. The pace of annual construction spending soared to a record $1.257 trillion in November, and starts of single-family homes and building applications are the strongest in a decade. But will vigorous construction be enough to offset exceptionally weak inventory? With new and existing home sales skyrocketing, the national inventory is pegged at just 3.4 months, the shortest timeframe since 1999, and far short of the 6-month supply considered necessary for a healthy housing balance. Home builders say they’ll concentrate more on affordable housing in 2018, but...
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January 23rd, 2018

Autonomous cars driving housing’s future?

Posted by at 7:30 pm

The idea of self-driven cars may evoke diabolical visions of the “rise of machines,” – the first step to robots becoming humanity’s overlords. Try to look deeper. Imagine a morning commute where there’s no one on cellphones, or applying makeup, or otherwise swerving wildly while they operate deadly machinery. The human element is confined – stress free – to passenger status, free to prep for meetings, nap, watch TV, or do whatever, without lousing up traffic with imperfect decision making. Free from reactive thinking, studies show just a few robotic cars help improve traffic flow. While it’s difficult to quantify the overall impact before automated cars actually arrive, there’s little doubt that these computerized rides – capable of billions of calculations a second – will be superior drivers to their all-too-human counterparts. Besides the obvious effects on traffic, there is...
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December 29th, 2017

New bit on the block

Posted by at 5:48 pm

In 2013, a Long Island, NY, homeowner made headlines by announcing he would take Bitcoin offers on his Southampton home. But today, the idea of using virtual money is gaining traction across the financial realm. Several major retailers, including Overstock.com, Expedia.com and Microsoft now accept Bitcoin for some or all transactions, and the world’s largest futures exchange – CME – launched a Bitcoin futures contract Dec. 18. Created about a decade ago, Bitcoin is based on an accounting software known as the blockchain. Unlike other currencies, Bitcoin and other so-called “crypto-currencies” are not regulated by a central banking authority. They exist only in cyberspace, and were conceived as a way to easily conduct international transactions. No matter what you think of the cryptocurrency craze – and things are getting crazy – the blockchain technology appears here to stay – and...
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December 21st, 2017

Taxing times for homeowners

Posted by at 7:43 pm

  It’s that time of year again. Thick in the heart of the Holidays with the property taxes already paid, most of us are thoroughly spent…both physically and financially. Of course, it also means January, and the New Year, are right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about paying federal taxes. With big changes for homeowners looming, why not consider hiring a professional to prepare your return? For some, the thought of spending money to do something they COULD do themselves is particularly painful. That’s why so many struggle to keep up on housework instead of hiring a maid, or try to maintain a sprawling yard and garden instead of hiring a landscaper. Many may manage to keep spotless houses and beautiful lawns. But taxes are not sweeping and mowing. Home ownership significantly changes most people’s deductions and other tax situations. Hiring an accountant to help...
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December 14th, 2017

Disaster preparedness part of homeownership

Posted by at 4:22 pm

Talking points for a year-end wrap-up have to include the string of natural disasters that descended on the U.S.(and the Caribbean) in 2017. Whether hurricane, fires, tornadoes or even earthquakes, disaster can strike anytime, anyplace – and during any season. Every homeowner needs to be prepared. Mother Nature’s fury is exceedingly random. Not only will most of us weather the disaster’s initial mayhem, we must also be ready for the immediate aftermath. There could be countless folks in need of help, and rescue personnel may not arrive to help for some time. Roads could be damaged or inaccessible, making it difficult to get necessities. Prepare a 72-hour disaster kit. Make sure it contains enough food, water, batteries, clothing, essentials (medications, diapers) and warm blankets to last you and your family for at least three days. Include basic first aid supplies...
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December 5th, 2017

Millennials heading for the ‘burbs

Posted by at 6:27 pm

Decades ago, city dwellers had to weigh the high cost of “moving to the country” – a.k.a. pulling up roots to head for rural communities that required long, often inconvenient commutes. As cities pushed outward, and the automobile dominated American transit, the script flipped. Suburban development drew the working population to the country en masse. In the developing suburbs, larger homes on larger lots brought the promise of better living, and made the longer commutes worthwhile. Downtowns either languished or were transformed into trendy havens for the wealthy. A decade ago, many analysts wondered if the Millennial generation –  born roughly from 1985 to 2000 – was bringing the downtown-dwelling notion back into vogue. This generation seemed satisfied to rent high-cost apartment and condos just to be close to the action – and their jobs. But now, Millennials are growing...
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November 27th, 2017

Homeownership’s value overrides divisiveness

Posted by at 1:06 pm

With some pretty big issues on the table for Congress in 2018, America may seem more politically divided than ever these days. But one shared value stretches across the nation—homeownership. There may be difference of opinion on things like healthcare, immigration and tax reform, but a strong majority of Americans agree home ownership is a financially sound decision –  an instrument for gaining long-term wealth while raising a family and making ties within the community. According to real estate website Zillow, 68.7 percent of Republicans and 65.1 percent of Democrats see homeownership as a crucial part of living the American Dream. Homeownership builds equity over time, providing financial security for families and individuals. With stable monthly payments, it’s easier for cash-conscious consumers to plan and budget. Potential tax savings can also offset homeownership costs. But the real “value” comes in...
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November 17th, 2017

Seniors no longer a niche market

Posted by at 9:18 pm

Fueled by the baby-boomer generation, the population of Americans 65 and older is growing exponentially, and will become a major part of the housing and mortgage industries over the next several decades. According to the latest report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, one out of three U.S. households in 2035 will be headed by someone over 65. That’s an estimated 79 million people! Real estate agents and mortgage lenders who plan sales strategies with an eye on the aging will doubtlessly see more success. One unexpected backlash of the exodus to the suburbs over the last 40 years is the growing number of retirees realizing their neighborhoods no longer fit their needs. In a recent survey from Freddie Mac, seniors said they need major renovations in order to stay in their current homes as they age –...
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