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Remodeling Versus Moving – What Should You Do?

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Construction | 0 comments

There are many things to consider before you make the big decision to either move or remodel your home. To some the decision comes natural, but to others they really take the time to consider the two options. The main factors one should think about to decide what they what to do are, time, money, location, and a few other important things.

When remodeling a home one must consider the time it will take to complete the home. Sometimes there’s a minimum amount of projects to be done and a home can be ready within a week. However sometimes a home needs a floor to roof remodel and if that’s the case the house could take months to complete. A person must consider that if they’re going to remodel their home certain parts of the home will no longer be functional while being remodeled. If the project is remodeling almost the whole home, than the home itself may not be livable. If you’re remodeling it is good to have family, friends, or neighbors to stay with.

If you’re considering moving you have to consider how long it will both take to find a new home and sell your current one. This process can either be a quick one or long one. After you find and sell your home a person must also consider how long it will take to pack and clean and to unpack and get settles into their new place.

Kitchen Remodel

How To Remodel A Kitchen On A Limited Budget

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Home Improvement | 0 comments

Just because you have a limited budget does not mean that you have to give up on a kitchen remodel. Sometimes a simple face change is all that is needed in order to update the look of your kitchen. The kitchen is one of the two most trafficked areas of the home, so it is the logical choice to start remodeling your home. The following is a quick list of ideas that you might want to toss around if you want to change the tone of your kitchen and home without spending a large amount on the entire project.

To begin with, you might want to take a close look at your cabinets since they are the largest piece of furniture in the room. If you cabinets are getting old you might want to give them a fresh face by resurfacing them or coating them with a polyurethane finish. It is very expensive to completely replace cabinets in a home, but by refinishing them you will create a brand new look. You can take it one step further by choosing to add new cabinet handles and accents to the cabinets. It only takes a few dollars to replace each handle and this can easily help update the look of your kitchen.

After deciding what to do with the cabinets you might want to continue your face lift by choosing to repaint the walls. Paint is not an expensive purchase, and choosing a bright color to place against a dark accent color is a great way to bring your kitchen to life. If you choose a dark finish for your kitchen cabinets then you might want to think about a light color as the cabinets will work perfectly as your dark accent saving you a lot of trouble.

Redemption Through A Usb Microphone and a Podcast?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in News | 0 comments

When I was a mortgage broker I didn’t have time for consuming information about finance because I was too busy dishing it out. Funny right? I’ll explain.

A corporate broker needs to toe the company line and to an extent the advice we gave out was determined by the company policy and truth be told company policy was driven by the need to have a sustainable business.

Financial advisers make money by advising you to buy specific financial products and regrettably those products are not always the best deals for the customer.

It was only when I left employment as a broker that I could finally offer truly independent financial advice because I didn’t need to follow company policy anymore. But without the support of the company I had to make myself informed through other means.

That was when I started getting really into financial blogging and following guys like J.D. Roth of
More Than Money and Paul Merriman from Sound Investing.

By reading blogs and listening to podcasts I was able to develop an independent financial strategy for the 1st time in my career I could speak freely about financial products.

My wife thinks I run this website because I am trying to redeem myself for my sins. Don’t get me wrong, the advice I dished out while working as a mortgage broker was good advice. It was advice that saved people money, just it wasn’t always the best advice.

If we had been able to freely recommend products from across the whole spectrum of the financial industry we could have saved people even more money.

Fast-forward to 2014 and everything you now read on this site is truly independent advice.

I have no axes to grind and I do believe that what I try to do on this site makes amends for some of the previous mistakes but I have time and I know I can do more.

That’s why I’m planning on creating a podcast. It was by listening to podcasts that I broke free of the corporate chains and I believe that I have a lot of experience to give to the community here and the wider internet.

I have had an in depth study of The Easy Podcasting Guide available on and also Podcasting For Beginners that can be found over here.

It seems that it’s quite simple to get started with podcasting by using either a usb microphone or with a regular microphone and audio interface.

Since I am not terribly technically minded I have opted to order a usb microphone and it should arrive next week. After than I will be scripting the 1st episode and doing some test recordings and hopefully before October the 1st podcast will be live.

As regular readers will know I am never short on opinions about financial products and can talk for hours on the subject. However, I think diversity of opinions help to hedge against any personal biases I have that I am not aware of. So my plan for the podcast is to feature regular guest interviews to get different opinions on the show.

I hope you like the sound of that and I’ll get back to you with more details about the show in the near future.

Home Gym: An Easy Way to Increase Your Property Value

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in News | 0 comments

With the fight on obesity intensifying by the day, focus on health and fitness has increased. Unfortunately for most people, busy schedules and long working hours prevent them from finding time to exercise in a public gym. For such people, home gyms are a favored option, as they can exercise at their own times, whether early in the morning or late at night.

Home gyms are not only vital in maintaining health and fitness, but they are also an easy and surefire way of increasing the value of your property. Going by real estate data, home gyms increase the value of a property significantly. In UK, a home gym alone without additional square footage can add as much as 30,000 pounds to a property value.

Setting Up Your Home Gym

One of the biggest concerns when deciding to set up a home gym is whether to convert an existing room into a gym, or to add an extra room to the house. If you are working on a flexible budget, building an extra room is a good option. The extra room will add valuable square footage to the property, instantly increasing its value. What is more, buyers will find an extra room appealing as they can use it for whatever they please. If you choose to set up your gym in an existing room, then go for the basement or the garage as these two rooms are usually located in ideal places, and you will not have to worry about heavy equipment weakening the floor of the house.

What to Include in your Home Gym
Deciding what to include in your home gym is a question of personal preference and your exercise routine. However, you can always start with simple items such as an exercise ball, dumbbells, free weights and barbells, exercise mat and some exercise DVDs. A good stereo system is also necessary for motivation. If possible, try to have your gym room overlooking some beautiful scenery such as the garden to keep you motivated when exercising.

When it comes to exercise machines, a lot of people wonder whether to invest in heavy equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers and stationary bikes. While such equipment is important, it is expensive and you should only invest in it if you are disciplined, have a regular exercise routine and do not mind exercising alone. If you will only use the treadmill or elliptical once in a while, you are better off using it from the local gym and saving the money. You can use the money saved to invest in vital fitness equipment that you are unlikely to find in the local gym such as vibration plate machines and inversion tables. However, you should make sure to research well to find machines that are beneficial as they come in many series, each claiming to be better than the other. The internet is bound to have a lot of review sites for good inversion tables, vibration machines and other great equipment that you can add to your home gym, aside from the traditional treadmills and ellipticals.

Once you have settled on the equipment for your home gym, you can go ahead to beautify the room with cheerful paint colors or wallpaper and inspirational posters. Heck, you could even add a television set and you will not only be on your way to a healthier life but your home will also be more valuable.

Something to Strive For…

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in News | 0 comments

While at the mall I unexpectedly bumped into one of my high school friends whom I hadn’t seen in ages. We got to talking and realized that we were both in the Mortgage business. He then extended an invitation to come to his house for dinner on Saturday. I prepared a caramel apple pie to take with me. It took me two hours to get to my friend’s house. When I arrived I could smell the strong barbecued delicacies in the atmosphere but could not tell where it was coming from. My friend came outside and welcomed me into the house. He had two cute Beagles that came over and jumped on me as if in appreciation of my presence.  I met his parents, his wife and three children. He then proceeded to take me on a tour around his house and told me that we were having dinner in his backyard. His house was neatly designed and had a touch of elegance.

The Fruits of Labor

When I stepped out into the backyard I could not help but admire the new deck he had built onto his backyard. Then to my right there was a sparkling Cookshack AmeriQue Electric Barbecue Smoker. He then opened it up and showed me the succulent chunks of seasoned smoked chicken and veggies. Then on a table was sitting a special container that had some smoked pieces; he gave me a sample. It was quite a delicacy I tasted. He then proudly said, “That is one of the top electric smokers on the market.” We walked up and down the well-kept gardens and stoned sidewalks of his property. Further down there was a decent sized swimming pool. He had a very spacious backyard and everything was magnificent. I told him, “It looks like you have been doing well since High School.” He said that once his father told him “Son, you have a great talent in handling finances and the ability of becoming one of the finest entrepreneurs in the business world. Use it wisely son.” “After achieving my degree, working and gaining years of expertise with realtors and mortgage brokers I was able to start my business on the side by assisting other borrowers and consumers.” He added. “One of my goals is to protect my clients by offering the best expertise, and the highest professional and ethical standards in the financial world.” He continued. “This is why I have been able to make some home improvements and construction improvements on my own property.”

Success Worth Working For

At the dinner table we feasted on some finally smoked meats. My friend says he prefers the electric smokers over the gas smokers. We enjoyed a fabulous meal and then we swapped work and mortgage company stories. My friend shared of his education, investments, trials and successes. It was evident from his newly renovated house that he had some great successes. In all honesty he gave me something to strive for.

Feeling the prices of real estate in your wallet

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Buying a house today is not as simple anymore as it used to be. Since the crisis in 2008 a lot of people had to sell their house because they couldn’t pay their mortgage anymore.

Because of the crisis it has become more and more difficult to buy your own house. As couple it’s already difficult, but as individual it’s nearly impossible. Even the people who work in the finance sector and have good jobs will have it difficult to get a mortgage. Crime has gone up due to the crisis. So make sure you hold on to your wallet. To make sure it doesn’t get stolen follow this advice to put a wallet in your front pocket or choose one with a chain.

Keep your money safe. Investing in real estate is a good option. A friend of mine who works a stock analyst on Wall Street recently bought a house on his own. He’s always carrying a briefcase such as these ones. He told me looks are deceiving. People think he’s a big businessman because of the clothes he wears, the sunglasses and his briefcase. And last but not least because he has a house of his own.

However it’s not what it looks like. He bought his first house during the crisis. Crisis times bring opportunities. He bought the house at half of the price it would have cost before the start of the crisis in 2008. According to him it is money well spent. If you have some money left in your wallet then this is the time to invest in real estate. Prices are at their bottom. He compares it with the stock market: buy low, sell high.

The price at which my friend bought his house was 90,000$. The value is certainly the double of that. It’s located in Springfield, where he grew up. With his parents and some friends he will repair it so that the value goes even further up.

But the initial plan is to rent it back to the people who had to sell it. Sounds strange right? It’s like a sale and leaseback what often happens with buildings. Currently he will stay working on Wall Street, so he just bought it because it was a good deal and he could rent it immediately back to the people who sold it. They had to sell it quickly because of the mortgage. They couldn’t pay it anymore. They lost their jobs. So they sold their house at a low price to him and will use that money to rent it back from him.

So for some people this crisis brings opportunities. My friend paid 90,000$, but will now receive 900$ per month for renting the house back. (this means in less than 10 years he would have the money back he invested) After the crisis he will be able to sell it back for double that price. So after 10 years he will have made 180,000$ from this investment and received 120 payments of 900$ or 108,000$. So he will have made 198,000$ in 10 years or almost 20,000$ a year with this investment. So is the crisis bad? Yes, but it also brings opportunities for people that invest their money well.

5 Tips on Trasnporting Construction Material With Limited Space

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in News | 0 comments

One thing you know as a truck (or 6+ passenger van) owner is that there is always an opportunity to make a little cash (or whatever your preferred payment is) moving and unloading materials (rather it’s for your job or for helping a friend move in.) Helping a friend might be easier than moving construction material, though. Construction materials require a bit of planning, here are 5 tips for getting that material where it needs to go.

1. Be mindful of your vehicle.

This is first for many reason, mostly for your well-being and the well-being of your vehicle. Know how big of a load your truck can haul, don’t try to get too creative. Construction material can be heavier than it looks, and if you haul too much you can cause damage to your engine; cause the truck bed to be dangerously close to the driving road; and risk the lives and safety of those sharing the road with where a potential accident could occur. Also make sure your oil and water is at a good level.

2. Get help.

Having another person with you will ease some of the burden of your physical work. Plus have another opinion on how much your hauling is good too. You might be able to do the bulk of the gig on your own, but there are going to be some materials you’re going to need an extra hand with. Calling up a friend will ease your back the next day and you’ll be glad you did it.

3. Plan a route.

If you’re hauling a large load you’re probably not looking to take the freeway, depending on how much you’re carrying and how tall the material is over the truck, you should plan a route accordingly. Maybe stick to smaller streets and go a little out of the way if you have to. Whatever you have to do to mitigate risks is well worth it. Planning a route will also set you up for success in knocking the gig out as soon as possible.

4. Organize.

Be sure to organize well when fitting in all the materials to get the optimal result. If you pack everything up nicely you may double the amount of cargo you can take, just be sure not to over-load as we mentioned above.

5. Make use of each trip.

If you’re going to have to make multiple trips anyway, try to be as compact as possible but don’t over-stress your vehicle. Find that sweet spot between a productive trip and amount of cargo without too much. Your vehicle will be thankful for it.

How Important is It to Have an Emergency Fund?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in News | 0 comments

You have probably heard this one a million times before. Maybe you hear it so often that you get irritated about it to the point of frustration. Maybe you think everyone who asks if you have an emergency fund or tells you that you need one is pretty much nagging. It may be a possibility that they are, but the truth is that it is really all for your benefit. If you want to be able to live a more carefree life with the knowledge that you are on your way to financial freedom, well…you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you will need to save up enough money for an emergency fund.

Remember that an emergency fund is separate from your savings–fact is your emergency fund is supposed to be at least six month’s worth of available cash (in the bank or otherwise) that you can have and spend in cases of emergency. This is supposed to be a fund that you will not touch no matter what, unless the situation actually calls for it. Remember as well that when you use your emergency fund, no matter for what it may be, you are actually going to have to replenish that so that it’s back to the amount it was. If you are comfortable with living on less for a while so you can save up an even bigger number, well… go right for it. The bigger your emergency fund the better–it sets you up for less stress in the future.

So let’s talk about why your emergency fund is important.

Accident, Sickness or Injury
Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to have insurance. So if you are one of the unfortunate people who do not have insurance, or do have insurance but have one with far too little coverage… well, this is where your emergency fund will come in handy. What happens if you are self employed, don’t have any insurance and you have an accident at work falling off a ladder? You’ll definitely need that emergency fund if you need to take time off work and don’t get paid.

Emergency Home Repair
So you have been going through your life happily, not worrying about a single thing at all. But the next thing you know something ridiculous happens–a ball comes flying in through your living room window. Your stove catches on fire and damages your wall, or your ceiling. Some sort of freak accident happens and a portion of your roof has caved in. Or your foundation needs to be fixed. Regardless of what it is, if you need emergency home repairs that you do not otherwise have a budget for, you can take it out of your emergency fund.

Living Expenses
The economy is simply not as good as it used to be. While you may feel as though you are in a secure job, making enough to retire on when you hit a certain age, there truly is no such thing as job security anymore. Not in this day and age. Thus you should really have an emergency fund. Enough for your living expenses for 6 months. This will cover your rent, utilities and so on as you find another job. 6 months is a good benchmark, and it is what almost everyone sticks by, but if I were you I would aim to keep adding to that little stockpile of cash, just in case you are not able to find a job within that six month time frame.

Home Improvement – Reasons to Look Into Remodeling Your Home

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in News | 0 comments

When people have a car that is getting older, they are faced with a difficult decision: spend money on fixing the car up, or do they simply trade the older car in as a down payment for something new and fun? In order to make an informed decision, people are going to start doing research into the replacement parts for their car like replacement wheels, replacement rims, or other parts of the car that need an upgrade.

While the prices for getting new car parts might be decent, the question remains as to whether it is worth it to fix that car up because even with good deals on parts, the parts need to be put in by a mechanic, which can cost a lot of money. The same thing can be said for an older home, should people do a little home improvement or not, and here are some reasons as to why people need to go ahead and go for the remodeling.

3 Reasons To Look Into Home Improvement

1. Interest rates are the best they have been in a long time: The economy is getting better, and even the house marketing is too, which means that banks are now willing to give out loans for things like home improvement, and these loans are low interest. With rates being so low now on loans, people are applying them, getting them, and turning their homes from old to modern.

2. A home that has been upgraded is worth more money: The house itself, and the land it is on, adds to what the overall value of the property is. However, if the home on the inside is not looking great, and is filled with old appliances, then the value of it is going to drop significantly. By doing things like painting the walls, changing out the appliances for newer energy efficient ones, and upgrading things like the air conditioning and heating system, the value of the property is going to go up significantly, which is a very sound investment for homeowners to make.

3. Home improvement makes a house more attractive to potential buyers: Some people buy a home, and then after a few years, or as many as five, they feel it is time to move out of that home, sell it, and acquire another. However, even if people have lived in their home for less than five years, things in the home could still have become worn out and need to be changed for something newer. A house that is in need of newer appliances, and one who’s owner actually replaces them on occasion, is going to make that house look very attractive to people who are looking to get a house. After all, people want to find a great house that is going to make them happy for a long time, and possibly a home they want to raise children in.

The Home Improvement Route

When people look around their home, and notice that it is not as new as it once was, they have the option of just ditching it for something new, or taking the time, effort, and money, and look into home improvement. Now is the best time to get a home improvement loan because banks are more willing now to loan out money as the economy recovers. A home that has been upgraded is going to make it more valuable, and if you choose to sell, you’ll be at the top of the list to potential home buyers.

Don’t Skimp On Landscaping When Trying To Sell Your Investment Homes

Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Although usually an afterthought, landscaping can be one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your investment homes when selling. All I mean by landscaping is to change the look and or structure of the land that surrounds your house. So keeping the grass short and tidy, the garden alive and beautiful and incorporating outdoor furniture the correct way. Here I’d like to give 6 landscaping tips that I’ve learned from many years in the business. They’ll help you sell your investment property faster and for more money from a small investment in landscaping.

Lawn Care

Tip 1: Mow the lawn before the open house. Even if you don’t have the healthiest grass, mowing it will ensure it at least looks good. Of all the mowers for sale you could do this with electric, petrol or reel – it doesn’t matter – just ensure that it is done because there is nothing easier in terms of landscaping than a well groomed lawn. And in terms of investment the top mowers are only $200.

Tip 2: Have a nice lawn with no brown patches. Another easy one as long as you plan ahead of the open house. Hire a lawn care expert to put down fertilizer and ensure a watering schedule to get the grass nice and green. Easy and cheap. And extremely effective at selling a house.

Tip 3: Where the garden bed meets the lawn use an edger (like this one) to create sharp lines that are extremely pleasing to the eye. One of the key elements in landscaping is tying aspects together. The garden should have an obvious starting point and the grass an obvious end. The easiest way to do this is with an edger. The edger will create the “cliff” where the grass drops down into the soil of the garden. This will also keep the wind from blowing soil onto the grass.

Garden Care

Tip 4: Make sure the garden is colorful and healthy looking. What this means is before an open house make sure to plant flowers and plants if there aren’t any there currently. Make sure to put some fresh top soil in the garden as well to ensure a healthy fresh look. You can either do this yourself or pay a small fee to have a gardener come and do it. Without a doubt the small gardener fee will pay off in spades since they’ll know what plants and flowers to incorporate to maximize the aesthetics of your garden.

Tip 5: Ensure shrubs, trees and the like are well groomed and tidy looking. Nothing is worse than overgrowth. If people show up to the open house and see branches all over the place and shrubs overgrown they’ll think the property is not well taken of. All you need to do is trim the overgrowth and tidy up the look of your trees and shrubs. If you want to pay someone to do it then you could even get them to turn your shrubs into artwork by trimming them a certain way.

Outdoor Structures and Tying it All Together

Tip 6: Incorporate some outdoor furniture to create extra living space outside. This means creating another room outdoors like around the barbeque so that your home feels bigger. And who doesn’t love a summer barbeque with the family? The way to do this is to ensure you have a solid ground to put a table and chairs. Usually homes will have a patio with a concrete pad or you can cheaply hire a contractor to put in some stone tiles to create the patio. Obviously the cost is a little higher for this tip but it will add the extra living space to your home and people love barbeque areas.

In terms of selling your investment property fast and for top dollar landscaping is an obvious investment. Making sure your lawn is perfect and trim, your garden is tidy and beautiful and your outdoor living space is inviting will ensure a quick sale.

Enjoy Your Pool Year Round: A Guide to Buying Quality and Affordable Pool Heaters

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Swimming pool heaters, especially in colder climates, are a great investment for families who own a swimming pool. Most families spend a lot of money on putting a pool in their backyard, only to be able to enjoy it a few months out of the year. This is an unwise investment, but the good news is that it can easily be corrected. If you own a pool and you’re unable to swim in it year round, purchasing a pool heater will allow you to regularly enjoy swimming outdoors. Don’t limit yourself and spend your money on maintaining a pool you hardly ever swim in. Your pool should be used by your family; it’s not just a showpiece. Enjoy the return on your investment, by being able to maximize the use of an outdoor swimming pool.

A heating system will allow you to swim in your pool whenever you’d like. When looking for swimming pool heaters on the internet, there are several things you need to take into account. It’s important for you to educate yourself on the types of pool heaters available for purchase. For example, you can select a natural gas, propane or solar pool heater. Based on your location, one option might be far more viable than another. It’s necessary to do the appropriate amount of research and to read pool heater reviews online. If you want to make the right choice, this is something you need to plan out in detail first.

Also, check to see whether you require a lot of space for your pool heater. Your storage space should be close to your pool. This is absolutely essential, as water is collected from the pool in order to be heated and delivered back to the the pool. There are a lot of online retailers offering these units at low prices. Don’t purchase it without reading all the fine print. Always purchase your products from a reputable company. Pool heaters are expensive. You don’t want to get stuck with a pool heater without an available warranty, or one that you cannot return if something goes wrong. Pool heater reviews online will offer the information you need about the company you’d like to purchase your pool heater from. You can also look in online forums if you’d like to interact with other customers. You will surely be able to find honest reviews through them. Secure transactions are also something you’ll want available to you. By selecting a company that prides themselves in providing their customers with safe transactions, offers a good delivery, return and warranty policy should be the one you purchase your pool heater from. Don’t settle for anything less than the best. Avoid companies that do not list a telephone number on their website. If something goes wrong with your order, you’ll need to get speak to someone about it. It’s also a good idea to call the number before you place your order. There are a lot of fake companies online. Scams are not uncommon.

If you read pool heater reviews online, take advantage of buying guides, and you do your research carefully, you’ll definitely be able to avoid running into this problem. Eventually, you’ll be able to locate the best pool heater at the right price, thus, allowing you to enjoy swimming in your pool any month out of the year.

Why Selecting a Real Estate Agent Is Like Buying an Espresso Machine

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Next time you think of selling or buying a house, think espresso coffee. That’s my new inspiration on how to best choose a real estate agent. Think like you would if you were shopping for an espresso machine. Why an espresso machine? Because the dynamics that get in the way of getting the best deal in both cases are surprisingly similar.
It hit me the other day when I needed a new espresso machine. Instinctively, my first thought was to call a friend who has a friend at the local electronics store. He had no idea of what espresso machine is ‘best’ and sounded surprised by my asking him. But he agreed to link me up with his friend at the store. But before I made that second call, it hit me: Isn’t this exactly what I advise my real estate clients against?

Real Estate and the Perils of Friendship

In my experience, most people looking to buy or sell a house first go to a friend or acquaintance who has bought or sold a house. It’s the sensible thing to do. A person who has gone through the process of buying or selling a house obviously has some insights into the real estate business. He or she probably knows a good real estate agent and knows the intricacies involved.
All true. Just like it is reasonable to assume that a guy who works at an electronic store knows what espresso machine is best.
The problem is that using friendship as your first reference in the selection of a real estate agent – or espresso machine – comes with some risks. Your friend will most likely feel good that you thought of them first. Actually, they would probably get offended if you went on to buy or sell a house without talking to them first.

The risk is that, most of the time, we tend to take a friends advice at face value. That’s just what friends do. The result is that, once a friend has recommended something or given a strong opinion on something, we will not explore the issue further – or if we do, we will not be as critical and cautious as we would be if we had not heard our friend’s perspective. It sort of feels rude and untrustworthy to countercheck a friend’s advice.
In real estate business that can be a big problem. Your friend’s advice is very important, no question about that. It gives you an insight into what you are about to get into. But, unfortunately, that is all it does: it give you an insight. You still have to research further, possibly talk to other colleagues, and maybe talk to several professional realtors before settling for one. So what happens if, after exploring the matter further, you decide to go against your friend’s advice by, for instance, choosing a different real estate agent? Will that offend your friend? And what if you follow your friend’s advice to the letter and things go south? Will your friendship suffer as a consequence?

Navigating Around Friendship in Real Estate Purchase

I did call my friend’s guy at the local electronic store about the espresso machine. I had to. But I made a point of first researching espresso machines on the internet. You will be surprised at how much information and choices exist on the damn thing. Like, there are espresso machines for coffee beans and others for coffee capsules. And some espresso machines use manual levers while other use pumps and stream technology. And so on.

My point? It’s perfectly fine to seek a friend’s advice on real estate before jumping into the deep end of the business. But it is best to first do your own research, talk to a professional real estate agent or mortgage broker – or better still, talk to several of them. Then, when you are better informed about the dynamics of the business, have a talk with your friend.

Why? Because you are as likely to be surprised at the intricacies of the real estate market as I was about espresso machines. Like, for instance, just because a real estate agent sells more houses per month compared to others does not make him a better performing agent. He may simply be selling more houses because he has a bigger portfolio – as in, he sells 10 houses a month out of a portfolio of 60 listings while the guy next door sell 4 houses per month from a listing of just 10 houses. Or maybe he prices his houses lower to minimize on marketing costs and create volume.

Also, contrary to what should be a logical assumption, selling of buying any one house is almost always different from buying or selling another house. Often, prices vary not just according to location but also because of shifts in the economy, demand and supply, the profile of the agency or realtor, and sometimes for no apparent reason.

But perhaps the main reason why you need to do your own research before you seek a friend’s advice on real estate is because it cushions your friendship. You are better informed so you are more likely to ask the right questions. You will also already be having an idea of the options you have, which means your friend will be less surprised – and therefore less likely to be offended – by whatever choice you eventually make.

Tips for Setting Up a Room for Your Piano

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in News | 0 comments

There are many reasons you should dedicate a room for a piano, like a Yamaha P105. Playing the piano has been proven to improve a person’s health and overall wellbeing – regardless of whether the player starts as a child or as an adult. Playing piano helps to increase cognitive development; the act of creating music stimulates the brain in a certain way not found in other activities. The way neurological pathways connect when playing the piano can be used in advancing oneself in mathematics, science, and engineering. Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination also benefit by reading sheet music and training the eyes and hands to work together.

Another benefit to playing the piano in your home is that music itself can reduce anxiety and stress – and even lower your blood pressure. Playing the piano for even a small set of time during a busy day can help the mind feel refreshed and at ease, very similar to meditation. Pianist also see a considerable decrease in depression and other mental health issues.

As far as setting up the room itself, there are a few things you can do to optimize your experience, your sound, and over-all enjoyment. One thing to keep in mind, for the best sound, is the total length of the walls of your piano room should be 10 times the length of a grand piano, at least. If you open the doors into an adjacent living space, you will allow your bass sound to resonate more clearly; the lower notes require more room to “breath,” so to speak. Another good way to increase your sound is by placing a rug under the piano to absorb some of the excess reflective sound. Also using irregularly shaped objects, wall hangings, and furniture along the walls will help to break up and even out harder reflections. Some suggestions would be upholstered furniture and heavy draperies.

Places you don’t want to put your piano

Try not to put your piano in any setting that is dark, warm, or moist. You may encourage the growth of mold and bacteria inside of your piano; this could lead the weakening of internal wood and possible health risks.

Fluctuating humidity levels are also a bad environment for a piano. You may risk damage to the piano’s finish and warping of the wooden soundboard, also weakening the strings. If you want to keep your piano in tune, plan on investing in a climate-control device and have it running 24/7.

Too many open doors and windows in the piano room could cause condensation beneath the piano keys. May also lead to warped wood.

Fans, air conditioners, heaters, and also computers need be 4 feet, at least, away from the piano, the farther away from the piano the safer you are. This includes fireplaces, which should be at least 10 feet away.

Investing in a piano and allocating a room for one is well worth your time, well-being, and will undoubtedly enrich your life. A piano is a beautiful instrument and can lead to easy-learning of other instruments that may interest you. Learning to play Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Teddy Wilson, or just your favorite songs will impress your friends and may lead you to a new role as an entertainer at parties!

How To Improve The Way Your Home Smells

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

It’s a fact that bad smells just happen in your house on occasion. The best way to handle this problem is to look through a range of solutions that will help you improve the situation. The best method will depend on your personal preference, what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, and what materials you have access to offhand. Here are a few ideas.

Home Orange Scents
One great way to make your home smell great is to put some oranges and cinnamon into a glass jar, and then fill the jar with water. You can then store this in your refrigerator until you need to use it. When you’re ready to make your home smell nice, all you have to do is poor the mix into a heating apparatus such as a pan. This will slowly vaporize the nice smelling water, and push this scent into the air in your house. The good thing about this approach is that it tends to last throughout the day.

Room Spray
Another great way to make your house smell nice is to add a dozen or so drops of essential oil to a cup of distilled water. Then add this water to a mist spray can. You can then spray any area that smells bad in order to make it smell much nicer. This method is ideal if you want to focus the effects of the mist in one particular area instead of your whole house since it’s harder to get a pan full of boiling liquid into the bathroom safely.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is an ideal way to help reduce odors in the sink and in the refrigerator, as well as on the carpet. This is because the substance will help to absorb any and all smells that might be coming out of that area. This is often the case with refrigerators, for example, since sometimes, despite the best of intentions, things go bad in the refrigerator and there’s nothing you can quite do about it. During these situations, it’s often best to make sure that you absorb as much of the scent as possible in order to make sure that it doesn’t continue to send the foul odor from your refrigerator and into the rest of your house. This can be the case with rotting milk, or especially with rotting milk, for example.

Personal Scents
Another great way to make your house smell nicer is to smell nicer yourself. Getting your hands on the best cologne for men will go a great way to helping with this goal, regardless of any other methods you use to make your house smell nicer. There are plenty of natural oils you can get for this purpose.

In the end, it’s worth putting a little extra effort into making sure that you take care of bad smells or otherwise they will make your life unpleasant. And they will also make any guests who come over your house think twice before they ever make that mistake a second time.