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Moving Cross Country…Tips to Keep You Sane!

So recently, after 39 years in my home, I made my first move cross country to start a new life journey but didn’t want to spend $15-20,000 using a traditional moving company. So I explored other options and eventually chose to rent a UHaul Truck and movers to load it, drive it and unload it at the other end. I figured I would rather do all my own packing anyway to decide what will get sold, donated, tossed or packed and really how hard could that be? Turns out, pretty darn hard. With a leaning toward sentimentality and having raised my only child in my home, selling and donating was tough and tossing was even harder! BUT I will admit that once I started selling some things I got more conducive to the idea. By the time I moved, I was giving stuff away!! So here’s some tips to help you on your way!

UHaul: The UBox is ridiculously small and though it might be good for a move across town or taking a child to college, it is NOT a good choice for cross country moves no matter what their Infomercial says. Seriously small!!

UHaul 26ft Truck: This was my choice as all their literature and employees stated that this would accommodate a 3-4 bedroom home. And let me say, when you look at an empty 26ft truck trailer, you will be convinced your things will fit. Reality, maybe a 1-2BR home at the most. I moved one set of bedroom furniture, one mattress, a sofa, loveseat and twin sleeper plus 4 desks and a few incidental small tables….NO dining room, other 3 bedrooms, kitchen, family room, appliances, washer dryer NONE of THAT! I had lots of bins and boxes but hey, without all that extra furniture it should fit, right? Wrong. Ended up having to buy a 14′ trailer to attach to my daughter’s truck which was also full to make the 1100 mile drive across country.

Granted moving this way saved me probably $10000 in costs and so I would do it again, just smarter and better!

I’m still glad I packed myself as I made sure I have what is most important to me with me in my new home. One thing that made it difficult was that I wasn’t confirmed on the deal going through until 2 weeks before closing so I had to leave a lot of packing until the last minute so the home would still be staged properly in case it had to go back on the market. These are all factors I was not aware of when I started the process but know now and want to pass on so that your move can be less stressful, more joyful and an experience you can look back on as a good part of your new journey.

The key is recognizing that your past memories will be with you forever and your new memories are lying ahead. Give yourself the authority to move forward so when you look back it’s with joy and appreciation for the blessings you enjoyed. Home truly is where your heart is and with the people who mean the most to you.

Happy Journey!

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Window Choices to Add Beauty…Light…Energy Efficiency

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating your existing one, flipping a house or updating old windows, it’s a great idea to look at all your possible options that might further enhance the look and energy efficiency of your home before you simply duplicate what’s already there or go with “ordinary” because it’s cheaper. If https://bendwindowcleaning.com/Resources/window-cleaning-size-chart.pngyou’re building, sometimes the more exciting window looks may, in the big picture, not add that much more to your end cost. If you’re flipping, windows that allow a lot more natural light to bathe the home, especially one that typically had smaller and less windows, can definitely pay for itself when selling. Buyers LOVE when the sunshine flows!! If you’re updating your residence, by changing up your windows, even just a few of them, can allow you to have the sense of living in a brand new space! Take time to review, study and choose what windows can and will do for your home in the big and ultimate picture! Then bask in the light, sunshine, warmth/coolness and if you choose wisely, lower energy costs!

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HAPPY LABOR DAY & THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK!!

Per Merriam Webster….Definition of Labor Day:  A day set aside for special recognition of working people celebrated in the US and Canada as a legal holiSee the source imageday the first Monday in September. At this challenging time, many working class people have been suffering reduced work schedule or been out of work all together while others have been called upon to work more deemed essential for maintaining daily living. Here at ByOwner.com we wish to celebrate all our “Laborers”…Farmers, Police, Firefighters, Hospitality Workers, Retail and Grocery Workers, Doctors, Nurses, Hospital Workers, Dentists and their Workers, Teachers, Restaurant Owners and Workers, Janitors and Maintenance Workers, Nursing Home Workers ….Workers, Workers, Workers!!!! You have earned our respect and our wish that you take the time to enjoy a very relaxing Labor Day Holiday!!

 

 

 

 

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Ceiling Fans Offer Style AND Energy Efficiency

Did you know that the simple and fairly inexpensive process of installing ceiling fans will not only create more energy efficiency but will also save you $$$ on your utility bills! With even the lower end fans including remote operation, cooling your home and fattening your bank account is as easy as click click click!

Q: Can I use a ceiling fan instead of air-conditioning?Image result for Ceiling Fans
A: Not only can you, there are many benefits to doing so.

  • Ceiling fans are quiet. You don’t hear anything when you turn it on or off, or even when it is running constantly.
  • Ceiling fans save energy. They only use 50-75 watts of power. That is the same as a light bulb and less than one-tenth of the power it takes to run a medium-sized air conditioner.
  • Ceiling fans save money. Running a fan costs considerably less per month than running an air conditioner. Plus so many also have lights that you can add more lighting, including dimmer type, to your room for style and savings.    Silver Orchid Finlayson 52-inch Lighted Ceiling Fan with Reversible Blades

Q: How are ceiling fans beneficial in the summer?
A: Although a ceiling fan will not lower the temperature in your home, it will make a room feel cooler. When you open doors and windows, warm air is circulated from inside the room to the outside of your home. This action can make you feel up to eight degrees cooler! Inside tip: During the summer, run your ceiling fan in a counter-clockwise direction for maximum efficiency to lower electricity costs and to conserve energy.

Q: What kind of ceiling fan should I buy?
A: Energy Star fans are a good choice and boast being fifty percent more efficient than conventional fans!

Q: What size ceiling fan should I buy?
A: It is a grave mistake to install a huge fan in a big room or a tiny fan in a large room. Not only will it look awkward, but you might not get enough airflow.

  • Large rooms (15-by-15+): Use a fan with a blade span of 50 – 56 inches.
  • Medium rooms (12-by-12): Use a fan with a blade span of 42 – 44 inches.
  • Small rooms (8-by-8): Use a fan with a blade span of 32 inches.

Q: Where should I install a ceiling fan?
A: You should install ceiling fans in the rooms that get the most use. Once you choose the rooms, you should hang your ceiling fan in the center of the room, 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. If the blades are too close to the ceiling, the air will not circulate.

NOTE: A great often overlooked benefit of ceiling fans is that by reversing the blade direction in the winter, you can help your furnace also be more energy efficient as well and keep your home comfortable while saving money!! In Image result for Victorian Style Ceiling Fans With LightsImage result for Ceiling Fansaddition, there are so many beautiful styles, now you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. Overall a good home purchase!

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Housing Market UP In Spite of Covid Issues!

With the Coronavirus pandemic came an almost dead stop to the real estate industry caused by fear of the future regarding jobs, health, the drop in consumer confidence and the stock market. BUT just as suddenly as things turned to chaos, the housing market, enhanced by historically low mortgage interest rates, has actually become a welcome high point among many still uncertain lows.

After an almost stagnant spring, home sales rebounded in May and June. New construction rose to 16.6% in May and then continued to rise to over 17% in June. Pending home sales showed the highest one month gain since the NAR (National Association of Realtors) started tracking numbers almost 20 years ago rising an amazing 44.3% in May.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, this is good…no great news!!

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Beware the Scammers!

This is a reprint of an article on the “Equifax.com” website regarding protecting yourself during this challenging time from scams and financial predators trying to take advantage of people’s stress, vulnerabilities, confusion and fear. Taking the time to read this could save you and those you love even more frustration now and as you pursue buying a home in the future.

“COVID + Credit: New Scams Put Identity at Risk during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Reading time: 10 minutes

Federal, state and city governments have taken steps to provide financial help to Americans during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some bad actors have used the recently relaxed eligibility requirements for state and federal aid to unleash new scams, stealing the identities of the people who most need help.

Watch out for these new scams making the rounds during the Covid-19 pandemic:

Covid-19 Scam #1: Stolen Federal Stimulus Payments

Federal stimulus payments have proven to be an easy target for scam artists. In April, as part of an effort to get checks to those in need, the Internal Revenue Service launched a portal to assist in funds distribution. Through this tool, eligible persons who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 are able to enter basic identifying information so the government can more easily distribute their stimulus payments.

Per IRS guidelines, users have been asked to provide a range of personal information, including:

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type of account and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you received one from the IRS earlier this year
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) and their relationship to you or your spouse

Though the relatively simple data requirements are helpful for many Americans, the limited and basic nature of the information makes it easier for scam artists to claim checks that do not rightfully belong to them. Basic personal information can be stolen in a variety of ways, including through data breaches, fake websites asking for personal information, scam calls and phishing emails, all intended to trick unsuspecting Americans just trying to keep up with a deluge of important information.

Covid-19 Scam #2: Scam Artists Impersonating Government Agencies

It’s difficult to know who is really behind the email or phone call you’ve just received. In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has reported a rise in fake emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other organizations claiming to offer information on the Coronavirus.

The FBI warns not to click links or open attachments from senders you do not recognize, as those actions can unlock malware and allow scammers to either steal personal information or lock your computer and demand payment. Consumers should also be wary of visiting websites or using apps claiming to track Covid-19 cases worldwide, as criminals are using these portals as a way to deliver malware to phones and personal computers.

Covid-19 Scam #3: Delivery Scams

If you’re older or immunocompromised or if you’re taking care of someone who is, you may need to have items like groceries or necessary medications delivered to your door. Ordering from a trusted source online is a safe way to go, but beware if someone you don’t know well offers to help.

Some scammers may offer to purchase and deliver your supplies but never return with the promised items while taking off with your money. As a general rule, it’s safer to ask for help from a friend or family member or to use a trusted delivery service.

Covid-19 Scam #4: Waylaid Donations

Donating to aid organizations such as your local food bank or hospital can help make a difference during the pandemic, but make sure your money is going where you intend it to. Sadly, the FBI has noted an increase in phishing emails that ask consumers to make donations to local hospitals and charities, or to access Covid-19 testing kits, cures or vaccines that are fake.

Protect yourself by researching your charity of choice before opening your pocketbook. Don’t make a donation in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, as these are common ways scammers ask for money. Verify legitimate charities at givewell.org or charitynavigator.org and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information on how to avoid donation scams. Never click on any links or download any information from an email sent by someone you don’t know personally.

Covid-19 Scam #5: Fake Zoom Invitations

Bad actors have started preying on those working remotely by sending fake Zoom invitations to bogus online meetings in an attempt to steal passwords. Pay attention to the wording of the messages you receive. If someone “demands your presence” or threatens to terminate you if you don’t attend, chances are it’s a scam. Make sure any video conference invitations you accept are coming from someone you know at your organization.

If you do click the link in a bogus message, you’ll generally be directed to a webpage that looks similar to a legitimate Zoom meeting screen but, in reality, is a page designed to get you to input your email password. Carefully review any messages sent from unfamiliar accounts and the webpages of any links you open. Be sure to reach out to your employer for clarification if you sense something is suspicious about a Zoom invitation you’ve received.

Covid-19 Scam #6: Bogus Offers for Vaccinations and Home Test Kits

Currently, there is no federally approved vaccine or home test for the Coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped scammers from peddling their goods to worried Americans. If you’re concerned you may have contracted the virus, contact your doctor and ask about testing availability in your area. To help better protect your identity, never share your medical information, Social Security number or health insurance details.

How to Better Protect Your Identity from Covid-19 Scams

While you can never guarantee that your identity will be fully protected, here are five steps you can take right now to ensure your identity is better protected:

  1. Frequently check your savings, checking, credit card and other key financial accounts for unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
    One of the best ways to help better protect your identity is to make sure you’re constantly up to date on the status of your financial accounts. Even setting aside five minutes per week to review every charge or withdrawal can make a difference in swiftly recognizing a threat to your identity. For your bank and credit card accounts, sign up for email or text notifications with your financial services providers, so you’ll get an instant notification if a charge is made.
  2. Contact your bank as soon as you notice any suspicious activity on your account.
    If you see any item prompting concern on one of your accounts, contact your bank immediately. Explain your situation and ask about your options, which may include canceling your active credit or debit cards and being reissued new ones. Talk with your bank or credit card lender for more information on the specific remedies available to you.
  3. Frequently change your online passwords to better protect your information from data breaches.
    The internet age has certainly provided many benefits amid the Covid-19 pandemic: You can now order groceries and stay in contact with friends and family while social distancing from home. However, an unintended consequence of moving secure information such as your telephone number or address to mobile apps that make life easier is that your personal information is now stored on more platforms than ever. If hackers access these systems, they could obtain your secure information without your knowledge.To combat this problem, set up strong passwords (unique to each account) that have more than eight digits and include upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one symbol. Set a reminder to change all passwords periodically, whether that’s annually, once every six months or as frequently as you can reasonably manage.
  4. Remove personal information from your social media accounts.
    The more information scammers can glean from simply looking at your social media accounts, the easier it may be for them to steal your identity. Start by reviewing the privacy settings for each of your accounts and update them to remove excess information if need be. To reduce the risk of someone impersonating you, keep your mailing address, email address, phone number and other personally identifying information private.
  5. If your identity has been used to cash your stimulus check or apply for unemployment or other benefits, file a report with the relevant authorities.
    Unfortunately, recent reports show that identity thieves have targeted those in the most need of financial aid during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you suspect that you have not received the aid you are eligible for because you are a victim of identity theft, contact the relevant local or federal authorities.

It’s unfortunate that bad actors are taking advantage of a pandemic to steal people’s identities, but you can take steps right now that can help better protect your information from thieves.”

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Historically Low Interest Rates!

This month, August 2020, Fannie Mae has announced historically low interest rates:

30 yr. mortgages 2.88%

15 yr mortgages 2.44%

With the pandemic still coursing the world, this has been a challenging time for many with regard to buying or selling a home. With this new announcement, if you’ve been considering selling, this is a great time to take that step. Inventory is low and demand by those who are in a position to buy is high. If you’ve been thinking about buying and have the ability to do so this is an amazing opportunity for you. With rates so low, you can qualify for more home or perhaps if you haven’t been able to qualify before, now you will have options.

Yes, for many this is a scary time, but an old proverb says, “If you have an advantage offered you, take advantage of it!”

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The Virtual Staging Advantage!

So your home is vacant but the cost of having someone come in and stage your home is prohibitive for you. So what can you do? Virtual Staging!! This is a cost effective alternative to having a “stager” come into your home, create a plan, bring in furniture, have a crew set it all up and then have to do so again to pick it up when your home has sold. Those cost can run into the thousands or tens of thousands depending on the size and grandeur of your home. Virtual Staging takes advantage of new and evolving technology to allow potential buyers to view your home online, fully staged and then if they choose, to walk through physically to get a sense of the vacant space for their own furnishings.

At this time, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have chosen to not go to homes personally until they have completely walked through online. As good as photographer may be, still photos are the least effective when people are online shopping because they often do not adequately show the depth or dimensions of your rooms. Being able to see furniture in the photos gives people a better sense of flow and space.  Image result for Free Images of Virtually Staged Rooms

There are many options and prices available to you so rather than just take a company’s word for their quality, make sure and shop around. A simple search titled “Virtual Staging” will yield numerous results so relax, take your time and be diligent. Ask for addresses of homes they have staged that you can view online instead of what they’re showing you on their website. Look at the real effects they’ve created and not just what a commercial web designer may have built into their website.

As always, buyer beware. Then once you’ve done your due diligence and had your home virtually staged, get ready for buyers to be ringing your bell!

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Summer Activities Amid the Chaos!

With the pandemic still causing cities to shut down their activities (little league, softball, soccer, swimming pools, etc) and parks being closed, the challenge for parents, especially of small or elementary school age children is vast. How do you keep your kids occupied and active without losing your own mind in the process? Below are a few ideas that will hopefully help your summer be filled with more fun than folly!

  •  Stock up on crayons, sidewalk chalk, real or faux sand (saves you that mess real sand traveling indoors AND can be used indoors without causing a mess). The key is to be involved with them by creating fun drawing or painting projects for them to accomplish. Then once they’re finished allow them to present and post their artwork.
  • So they’re getting sufficient fresh air, plan outdoor activities or games (slip and slides are fairly cheap and kids love them!) Use the sidewalk chalk to create a Hopscotch game for them and their friends. No friends around? Take a break and play with them!! Great for the health benefits for them and you!
  • Set up running races, pin the tail on the donkey, water balloons and other easy to do party games. Take a walk through the dollar store and check out birthday party games and duplicate or use the packaged ones, again at a minimal cost.
  • Don’t have a swingset but kno w your kids are missing playing on them at the park? Go to sites like Letgo, Mercari, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace to find used items for sale. You can find some amazing finds on these sites. I know someone who bought a $1500 wood swingset with a climbing wall, slide, treehouse and monkey bars (similar to the one shown) for a couple of hundred $$. Great deal at the time and an even greater once the kids got stuck at home.
  • Plan sunset bike rides or walks as a family to not only enjoy each other’s company but also to help them exert those last bursts of energy so they go to sleep more easily.
  • Another great and well received activity is Movie Nights. Indoor with pillows, blankets, jammies and popcorn is always a fun time for the whole family. Or a great distraction for you if you need to get some things done as once the movie starts they rarely even know you’re there anyway.
  • If you have a large white sheet and a projector, outdoor movie nights are fabulous!!
  • Go camping and/or hiking. Fresh air AND a great time of family togetherness.
  • Have quiet time activities arranged as well because as I’m sure you will agree, if you have more than one child, they will get on each other’s nerves so allow them to go to their own rooms and read, color, write or simply relax and take a nap.
  • This is a great time for your child to become a pen pal. They can write letters (physical in the regular mailbox letters so their screen time is limited) to grandparents, great grandparents or friends they haven’t seen for awhile. They will be excited to place their letter in the mailbox and even more excited when they get some mail back addressed directly to them!

This could go on and on but you get the idea. Be creative. Be thoughtful. Be involved. Be Happy!!

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Summer Travels? Be Safe, Secure & SOLD!

Often during the summer, even though your home is on the market, you still do a lot of traveling to weddings, reunions, family picnics and family vacations.  You might only be gone over a weekend or perhaps a week or two.  So what can you do to ensure that your home is secure while you’re away from home? Here’s a few tips.

  • It’s great to put your lights on timers but it’s a mistake to use one that illuminates the same lights at the same times every day. A better choice is using timers that can be set for different times each day and to not all go on at that same time. You want it to appear that you are randomly moving from room to room throughout the day and evening.
  • There are numerous systems with apps now that you can purchase that allow you to control your lights from wherever you are. If you travel a lot, this may be the best way to provide yourself with a stress free trip.
  • To ensure safe and protected showings while you’re gone take a few simple steps: Leave a container of masks, booties and hand sanitizer (and/or gloves) by your entry door so buyers take necessary precautions while viewing your home. Note your listing that masks are required and to please avoid touching items in the home while walking through. Also put a note by your door as they are leaving to please take their masks, gloves, booties etc with them and dispose of them properly outside of your home.
  • If you’re road tripping in your own vehicle, see if a neighbor, friend or family member can stop by at different times while you’re gone and pick up your mail or just hang out for short periods of time so there are cars in your driveway while you’re gone. If the live nearby and can leave their car in your driveway overnight once in a while even better!
  • In the past it’s been suggested that you have your mail delivery stopped while you’re gone. This can be an ok idea but keep in mind that you are letting people in the local post office with whom you’re not acquainted know that no one is home. Better to have someone pick up your mail or if it drops through your mail slot, just gather it up when you get home.
  • This may be the most important tip. DO NOT POST on social media that you are heading out to your reunion or someone’s wedding or that you’re anxious to hop on that cruise…..WAIT and when you return you can post that you just got back and what a great time you had. Still get to share but do so wisely!
  • Don’t be afraid to let your local police department know that you’ll be gone and ask if they can periodically patrol your street and keep an eye on your home. They really don’t mind doing so.

With a few well thought out plans, you can enjoy your summer journeys while still marketing your home and feel safe and secure all the while!