Home Garden November 29, 2022

Best Places in California for Dog Owners

woman and her dog in one of the best places in California for dog owners

It’s not easy to pick the right home when there are a couple of friendly paws following you. Pet owners know that going house-hunting can be complicated, as there are more conditions to add to your wish list. However, once you find the most suitable home for you and your furry friend, it all becomes worth it! Looking for a home should start with picking a great location. Luckily, if you’re moving to California, there are plenty of amazing places to choose from. This guide will help you narrow the options and focus only on the best places in California for dog owners. Browse our list of top dog-friendly locations and start the house-hunting process as soon as possible!

Why is California a great choice for pet owners?

Even though it’s not the state with the highest number of pet owners, this doesn’t make California less dog-friendly. In fact, the Golden State is in the top 10 pet-friendly states, which surely is a bonus if you’re moving here with your furry friend. There are many dog-friendly restaurants, hotels, and stores across the state, as well as some amazing dog parks, but also the great outdoor location you can together go hiking, running, and more. Furthermore,California makes a great place to live for a number of different reasons:

  • Easy access to the ocean – not only you’ll live close to a beach, but your dog will also love spending time near water. Most Californians live along the coast, and there’s no need to explain why this region is the most densely populated;
  • Amazing weather means more opportunities to spend more time outside. Californians enjoy a lot of sunshine throughout the year, but the climate can vary depending on the region;
  • Promotion of healthy and active lifestyle – residents of California truly value the active lifestyle, and living here makes it easy to maintain such habits;
  • A booming economy and great job opportunities in numerous industries.

California truly makes a safe and free place to live. With all the sunshine, amazing local wines, and tasty food, there’s not much we can say against your decision to move here. But let’s see the best locations you should consider as a pet owner coming to the Golden State

a dog owner reading a book

Why not enjoy together with your canine friend?

San Francisco

This amazing city is probably the highest-ranked city for pet owners. The place has a reputation as a very dog-friendly city in California, which makes it a great choice if you’re moving to this part of the country. There are plenty of dog parks around the city, dogs are allowed on public transportation (BART and MUNI), there are many dog-friendly cafes and restaurants, and finally – you’ll have no trouble finding a home here. The pet-friendly accommodation is not a rare thing in San Francisco, especially around dog parks and similar dog-friendly locations. Some of the best dog parks include Alta Plaza off-leash park, Golden Gate Park, Upper Douglass dog park, Fort Funston, and more.

a girl and a husky in a dog park

Dog parks are essential in the best places in California for dog owners.

Los Angeles

The City of Angels is surely one of the top choices when it comes to the best places in California for dog owners. It’s not only a great place for celebrities and the entertainment industry; it’s actually one of the most dog-friendly places in the country. Dog owners will find it easy to spoil their furry friends with amazing outdoors but also include them in their everyday activities as most places allow pets. However, living in LA comes with a higher price tag, so be sure to plan everything right to make your move as cost-efficient as possible. Hire an agent to find you a home according to your budget, as LA is the second-most-expensive city in the country. When it comes to moving, Affordable Reliable Moving Company suggests you don’t look for the cheapest option, as those often turn out to be bad-quality or even fraudulent ones. Instead, do some research and pick a team with reasonable prices but with many satisfied customers, as well.

Sacramento

If you’re looking for a great job and have a dog at the same time – Sacramento might tick off most of your requirements. The capital of California is a great place to live, but it’s even better if you can experience it with a furry friend. The city also has a great location, as you have easy access to many of California’s top attractions and destinations. Furthermore, Sacramento offers a high-quality lifestyle at a lower price – it’s more affordable than some other big California cities. Sacramento has 3.1 dog parks for every 100,000 residents, over 100 dog-friendly restaurants, and a couple of shopping centers that allow pets as well. It’s not a difficult decision to make and move here for good!

Santa Barbara

The American Riviera is a place where both you and your dog can enjoy it with all your senses. Santa Barbara is a city on the central California coast where people move for its amazing weather and similarity to the Mediterranean. It’s loved by outdoor enthusiasts as there are many natural attractions, which is another sign you should consider finding a home right here.

Moving with your dog to California

Picking a location and finding a home is one part of the process. You also need to organize a move with your pet, and sometimes it can get challenging. Here are some tips for an easy and safe dog-friendly relocation:

  • Start preparations on time – let your dog get used to all the boxes around the house, so they don’t get nervous when the moving day arrives;
  • Stick to your pet’s routines – try not to change your dog’s daily routines and ensure less stress for your companion. Moving with a dog can get hectic, so try to make this transition as seamless as possible for them.
  • Be patient – it can take a while for your dog to get used to the new environment. Be patient and keep them safe at all times, as running away from a new home is, unfortunately, a common thing during the adjustment period.
woman with a dog on a bench in one of the best places in California for dog owners

New environment can make your dog nervous.

Finally, don’t forget to inform yourself of all the laws and regulations that apply to come to California with a pet. Get all the necessary vaccination, as well as documents necessary for this move, so you avoid unnecessary complications. It will ensure a peaceful journey to your new home in one of the best places in California for dog owners.

 

Ready to Sell? November 29, 2022

Tips to prepare your garden when selling your house 

First impressions count when it comes to viewing a property, so it’s vital that you present your home carefully when you put it on the market – this applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Follow these three handy tips for preparing your garden when selling your house.

  

1. Make it tidy but not too tidy

Naturally, you’ll want to tidy up your garden by mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, removing weeds from flower beds and tidying away kids’ toys or gardening paraphernalia. This helps to optimise space and shows that you take care of your property. However, you want to make sure your garden feels lived-in so potential buyers can imagine themselves using the space. 

It’s okay to leave large play items like swings and trampolines in place if they’re in good condition and they don’t swamp the lawn, particularly if your home is likely to be popular with families. Lawnmowers, strimmers, leaf blowers and other large pieces of equipment should be stored away, but a barbecue could remain in situ if your garden has a dedicated area for it.

2. Check your neighbour’s garden

Potential buyers might be put off if your neighbour’s garden is very messy or overgrown, particularly if it’s very visible from your property. If this looks set to be a problem, you could politely ask your neighbour to tidy their garden up and offer to lend them a hand. They may be lacking in time, physical ability or equipment and simply need a little help to get on top of it. 

Similarly, if there are shared or adjoining areas with neighbours, make sure these are clear of clutter. If you have adjoining fences or hedges, chat to neighbours about repainting or tidying them up. They may be unwilling to spend time or money on these things if they feel they won’t benefit, so be prepared to cover the costs or do the work yourself in exchange for access via their property if necessary.

3. Create an inviting seating area

Having access to outdoor space is really important for our wellbeing. In fact, 94% of adults feel that spending time outside is beneficial for their physical health, and 82% feel that being in nature makes them happy. This is why so many people are keen to find a property with a garden. However, it’s vital that the garden feels inviting so that potential buyers can see themselves spending time there. 

It’s a good idea to set up a seating area in your garden if you don’t already have one, and to dress the space if possible. For example, you could set up some lighting and a few candles, and add some cushions to chairs or benches. If you’re working with a very small garden and there isn’t space for furniture, consider laying out some blankets and cushions on the ground instead.

Invest in your garden for a faster sale

A well landscaped home can increase the value of a property by up to 15%, so it’s always worth spending a little extra time on those all-important finishing touches. By investing time and money in your garden now, you can reap the benefits when buyers are willing to snap up your property for a higher price.

Moving October 13, 2022

Buying a House in California from Out of State

A view of San Diego city in California with skyscrapers in the distance

San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities to live in California.

Have you decided to move to California? If you crave sunny beaches, warm weather, and great oceanview, then you made the right choice. Known as the Sunshine State, California is well known for its warm climate and urban lifestyle. It is also one of the biggest states in both size and population. This, however, also makes the costs of living higher. Here are some things to consider before buying a house in California.

Prepare your current home for the move

Moving into a new home is stressful enough, even more so when moving into a different state. You already have your hands full enough as it is. Properly preparing for the move will make your moving process far more manageable.

On top of this, there are things to consider if you sell your current home. It would help to make your home presentable for sale and pack all your belongings. This can get messy, with a lot of boxes cluttering your home.

Experts at Best Long Distance Movers advise finding a moving company that offers storage services. Companies with such services provide you with a secure space for your belongings. You can keep your boxes and non-essential furniture in these storage units to make your home more presentable for sale. Storage units also help you keep organized, so you don’t forget anything during the move.

Mello-Roos taxes

Certain areas within the state fall into this particular form of taxation. Such places are called a Mello-Roos Community Facility District (CFD). The taxes paid for by these areas are used for the maintenance and improvement of the area’s infrastructure. The money is used to build and maintain schools, parks, roads, etc. If your desired house is located within a Mello-Roos district, inform yourself how much you will be paying in taxes.

Hire a good real estate agent

This goes for both selling and buying property. Don’t underestimate an excellent real estate agent. A good real estate agent will make finding suitable buyers for your current home much more manageable. They will be able to get you a better deal for your house and sell it faster. This is especially important if you need to sell your home before moving to California.

A real estate agent helps a family with buying a house in California

A good real estate agent will make selling and buying a house much easier.

On the other hand, this is also true when buying a house in California. You will also want a reliable agent who will make sure the place you are trying to purchase is worth the price. Finding a good real estate agent in California might be more critical because it’s a new state for you. It may have some laws your state doesn’t, and a good agent will be quite acquainted with them. This will save you from unpleasant surprises in the future.

Hire professional movers

Moving between states on your own will cost you a lot of money. Because of this, you should consider hiring a moving company. Moving companies are equipped with proper vehicles for moving that can do it all in one trip. It will be both cheaper and less time-consuming than doing it all by yourself.

A professional mover moving boxes out of his van.

Professional movers will make sure your items reach your new home as safely as possible.

Prepare your budget for living in California

California is one of the most expensive states to live in. This might be an issue if you come from a more affordable state. That is why you should check and compare the price differences. You can do this via the Internet or take a ride to California and explore yourself. Look at the prices of everyday things you will need. For example, check the coffee prices in cafés. Visit the local markets and check daily food prices like bread, fruit, and vegetables.

As mentioned above, living in California is not going to be cheap. It is a very urban state with a thriving economy. Before moving to California, you should plan out the process accordingly. Learn about the living costs. You might need a little more time to gather enough savings for your move. Moving into a larger city will also mean spending more time commuting. You might have to consider getting one if you don’t have a car.

Get to know the neighborhood

Following the advice above and traveling to California, you can also visit the neighborhoods. You can use this occasion to check the houses you found for sale online. You can see their areas and see if they fit you. It will help you decide which home you like best if you can’t choose between multiple. Also, it is better to see the house in person. Only so much a picture online can show, and there might be things you don’t like about it. Only seeing it in person can paint you the whole picture.

A row of colorful houses in a Californian neighborhood.

Finding the right neighborhood for you and your family is very important.

If you are moving with pets, you can look for parks and other pet-friendly areas. Look for nearby schools if you are moving with children. If you do sports, look for local gyms, bicycle roads, jogging tracks, etc. Get to know your future neighborhood before moving there.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are many things to consider before buying a house in California. The most important thing to remember is to plan everything out beforehand. Get all the information you can about the state, your house, the costs of living, and so on. The Internet is an amazing tool for that, but you can also do it in person. A good moving company will save you both gas and time than doing it yourself. Finally, hire a good real estate agent to get the most out of your old home. Good luck with your move across the states!

For additional information contact Paul Burrowes at paul@burrowes.com

Real Estate Development October 6, 2022

Four Types of Lucrative Real Estate Developments and How to Get Started

Multi-Unit Buildings

Image via Pixabay

Real estate development can be a personally and professionally fulfilling path. In addition to the potential profits you stand to gain, you can enjoy the satisfaction of watching raw land evolve into a useful structure. Of course, some structures are more useful than others, and you want to be sure that you invest your effort into a development that will be lucrative.

Find your dream property with realtor Paul Burrowes. Schedule a consultation!

Top Residential and Commercial Development Types

  1. Retail space. According to experts, it’s expected that 25% of malls remaining in the U.S. will close in the next few years. Contrary to the picture this may paint, though, brick-and-mortar retail is alive and well. Developers should research open-concept structures that are increasingly popular.
  2. Apartment complexes. An apartment complex is generally defined as any structure that contains four or more residential units. Some complexes are massive, though, with sprawling streets and hundreds of units. No matter how big your complex is, you can make major profits by renting out units or selling the structure to an investor.
  3. Warehouse facilities. A warehouse facility is a comparatively simple structure to develop. If you’re looking for a way to build a large-scale structure and make big profits, this is it. According to statistics, the average monthly rent for a warehouse is $0.85 per square foot. Though this is typically less than a residential property, it would likely cost less to construct.
  4. Storage units. Never underestimate the need for storage space. People everywhere need more storage, and real estate developers are in a prime position to meet this need. This type of development is also one of the cheapest to invest in, which means that profit margins may be greater.

How to Become a Real Estate Developer

Before you consider the best developments for your portfolio, you should ensure that you have what it takes to succeed as a real estate developer. You may need to complete an educational program or get licensed depending on the state you are located in. You may also need to develop your ability to pick a promising piece of land.

Partnering with professionals such as builders, engineers, and contractors can help you bring your vision to fruition. At some point, you may find that your development business has grown to the point where it makes sense to bring some contracting or construction functions in house.

Keep Your Developments Safe With the Right Lighting

Regardless of what kind of development you choose to construct, you should invest in its safety by installing ample lighting. A structure that’s poorly lit could be at an increased risk of criminal activity so illuminate parking garages and areas with proper lighting. In addition to minimizing the risk of crime, the right lighting can make it easier for drivers to see in areas with tunnels. If any pedestrians are walking in the garage, lighting will protect them from being struck, too. Various options are available—look for lighting that maximizes area coverage while providing energy efficiency.

Find the Right Development for Your Portfolio

Choosing the right type of development is just as important as choosing the right piece of land. Both can be a challenge, though, even for the most experienced real estate developer. Invest in lighting for your properties and work with local professionals for your work. With patience, diligence, and hard work, you can build a real estate company to be proud of.

Find your dream property with realtor Paul Burrowes. Schedule a consultation!

Ready to Sell?Uncategorized September 27, 2022

7 Ways to Make Your Move Less Stressful

A couple preparing for a move.

Most of us probably shiver at the thought of having to move houses – packing up everything in boxes, clearing up your home, transferring all of your belongings to a different place, and starting over sounds incredibly overwhelming and time-consuming – and it is. However, it’s nearly impossible to avoid stress in this kind of situation altogether. Here are some tips you can consider to make your move less stressful and as smooth as possible.

1.    Make your home organized and presentable while living in it

Keeping your house clean and organized before moving will make your job much easier when making the actual move. Not only will you have less work to do, but it will also help you sell your house faster.

It’s important to stage your home to be presentable and appealing to potential buyers. Although this sounds logical, it is a pretty tricky ordeal – keeping your home staged and prepared for selling while simultaneously living in it can be very difficult. You will need to say goodbye to keeping your clothes all over the chairs and beds, not removing the cutlery from the table after finishing lunch, and all the other things we do every day but take for granted. Apart from keeping it organized, you should ensure your home is always kept clean.

Make your home organized and presentable to make your move less stressful.

Keeping your home clean and organized before the move is a good idea.

2.   Make a moving checklist

There are so many things you need to do when you’re moving out – will you be able to remember them all? Although no one doubts the power of your memory, it’s probably best to ensure that you have everything you need to do written down, so you don’t miss a step or forget something – making a moving checklist can help you make your move less stressful from the get-go.

3.   Declutter and depersonalize

Decluttering is an important step to cover if you want to make your move less stressful. You can gain several benefits from making sure your home is decluttered and depersonalized. The two most obvious ones are:

A less cluttered space can give off the impression that a house is more spacious. Most people would find a pleasant and spacious home more appealing than one cluttered with unnecessary furniture and other items.

Removing personal items such as family pictures and other things is a good idea. The potential buyers of your home would prefer to picture themselves living in the house. Leaving your family pictures up would make this fantasy harder and could, therefore, potentially deter them from deciding to buy the house.

Decluttering home before putting it on the market to make your move less stressful.

Decluttering and depersonalizing your house can prepare it for a stress-free move.

4.   Clear everything away and put it in boxes

Now that your home is decluttered, you may want to begin putting your items away in boxes. You could then put them in a storage unit or any other place spacious enough to hold them. Of course, this step isn’t smooth sailing either. You should not take it lightly to spot and prevent possible issues from occurring. Some of the mistakes when packing for storage that may happen to include:

  • Choosing the wrong kind of boxes (too small, too wide).
  • Overloading them.
  • Not labeling them correctly.
  • Not labeling them at all.

These mistakes can lead to misplacing, damaging, or even losing your precious items – which you will want to avoid if you wish to make your move less stressful.

5.   Hire a good real estate agency to help you

Another question in a situation when you want to buy or sell a home is whether you need to hire a real estate agent to help you out. Sure, hiring an experienced and professional real estate agent will make your move less stressful. It is, however, an additional cost for you. So – summed up, is it worth it?

This is up to you to decide, but here is a helpful tip. A good agent could help you save money. This is possible because they know the right people who can help you finish the job – someone to help you get your home staged for potential buyers, excellent and reputable movers, a contractor, and so on. Furthermore, a good real estate agent also has a good knowledge of the market and the prices – so they will make your search for a new home and put your home on the market much easier.

6.   Find the best moving company

Hiring people to help you with your big move is an important step, and there are several factors you need to consider. First, ask yourself whether you need to hire movers and what budget you have at your disposal for hiring them. As Zippy Shell Louisiana suggests, the best way to determine if you can make a move yourself (possibly with help from friends or family members) or if you need to hire movers is to assess the size of your move. Naturally, if you are moving to a reasonably near house, and you have a car and some friends at your disposal – you might want to consider saving money and doing it yourself.

Hiring movers when moving houses.

Hiring movers can be essential to make your move less stressful and faster.

7.   Give yourself time

The most helpful tip to make your move less stressful is to give yourself time and take it slowly. Although it sounds very logical, it is something that we tend to take for granted. Naturally, you can’t avoid stress during the moving process, but you can make sure you ease the tension at least a little bit by giving yourself more time to complete the move. Most of us overestimate our speed and capability and underestimate a situation’s difficulty and challenge. No matter how easy you think the move will be – always make sure to give yourself enough time to complete it – or, if possible, more than just enough time.

Free Digital Download – Home Buyer’s Guide

Free Digital Download – Home Seller’s Guide

Staging September 13, 2022

8 Home Staging Tips for Pet Owners

a woman reading home staging tips for pet owners with her dog

Home staging does a big job when selling a house. It ensures you accentuate all the right features of the property and make buyers fall in love with the place as soon as they come in. However, home staging can be slightly more complicated if you have a pet. Your lovely fur friend can make your home messier, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve with home staging. For that reason, this is a helpful guide for you – here are the 8 home staging tips for pet owners you shouldn’t forget when selling your property.

Why is home staging important?

If you haven’t sold a home before, you may not understand the importance of home staging in the sale process. A house will usually spend less time on the market if adequately staged. Potential buyers will decide to make a purchase a lot faster if the property is ready for them to move in. Also, after decluttering and removing all the personal items, your home will not give that awkward feeling to potential buyers. No one viewing a house for sale wants to feel like they are snooping through other people’s belongings. Finally, a staged home can get you a better deal, too – buyers are willing to pay more for a house they liked the moment they saw it.

How to stage a home with pet residents – home staging tips for pet owners

Pets are cute and offer their owners a beautiful friendship and many mental and physical health benefits. However, if you keep them in your home, you can expect more mess than homes without pets. This can be an issue when presenting the property to people who might not understand what it’s like to live with a pet. That’s why we prepared the eight most home staging tips for pet owners.

1.     Treat the critical spots

Start with the problematic areas first. Make sure you deal with any spots, stains, scratches, or damage to your rugs or furniture before anything else. Puppies love chewing things, while cats enjoy sharpening their claws on the furniture. Dealing with these ‘traces’ of sweet crimes will ensure potential buyers don’t think you haven’t maintained the place properly. However, if there are pieces of furniture you can’t fix, it’s best to remove them from the property. Rockstar Pro Movers recommend taking such items to a storage unit until you figure out what to do with them. They’ll remain safe, and you’ll make your home ready for buyers.

a white dog on an armchair

You will need to cover up the mess your pet made.

2.     Remove any sources of bad smell

It is tremendously important for a home to smell nice when potential buyers come to see it. This is particularly important for properties that include pets as residents. Remove any sources of foul smell, such as food bowls and dog beds, but also other things that may not be related to pets – ashtrays, dirty garbage bins, etc. It’s essential to make sure the space smells fresh and feels nice. How your home smells can either be a bad first impression or why people feel good once they come in – choose the right thing to do.

3.     Give your carpets and furniture a deep-clean

Another source of bad smell can be the carpets and furniture in your home. So, if you’re a pet owner, be sure to refresh carpets, rugs, and seating furniture, as these can acquire the smell of the pets. You can have them professionally cleaned for best results or refresh them yourself with a cleaning solution or with some vinegar and baking soda.

4.     Vacuum every little corner

Pet hair and dust or dirt your pets might bring from the outside can present a threat to the overall opinion of the potential buyers. That’s why thoroughly vacuuming the floors and carpets is essential and regular maintenance afterward. It’s okay for your pet to shed and that you’re used to it – but you should know that not everyone likes having pet hair all around their homes. So, if you want to sell the house fast, ensure your property is suitable for most people and their lifestyles.

a woman vacuuming for staging her home

Vacuum any pet hair that might be visible.

5.     Remove any personal items – and the ones of your pet

Depersonalization of a home is one of the basic steps of every home staging process. Removing personal items such as family photos, religious or political items, etc., is vital, so buyers don’t feel like snooping through your home once they come to see the property. However, home staging for pet owners should include a couple more things on this list – pet toys, photos of you and your furry friend, leashes, pet beds/cages, etc.

Remember: don’t throw away the items your pets use; replace them with new ones after you move into a new home. The moving process is stressful for pets, and one way to keep them calm during this is to have all their favorites by their side. The familiar smell will help them stay peaceful and accustom to the new environment a lot easier.

A person handing over a ball to a dog

Remove your pet’s toys when you are staging your home.

6.     Clean the windows

If your pet loves to look outside, they often press their cute noses against the glass. This can result in multiple window stains, so clean that up before buyers arrive. Remove paw prints or saliva from all areas, but be especially careful when ti comes to glass and reflective surfaces.

7.     Take care of your yard

Finally, taking care of your curb appeal also belongs to the home staging process. Pet owners should pay attention to cleaning up their yard from all the things their pets may have left and ensure buyers don’t step into something smelly.

8.     Keep the house in good condition – find a temporary home for your furry friend

The best way to keep your home in good condition until the perfect buyer comes is to find temporary housing for you and your pet. This way, you can prepare the property and keep it clean until the sale is final. Think if your pet can stay with a friend, a family member, or another place where they’ll be comfortable and peaceful. This way, you’ll make sure that these home staging tips for pet owners are not in vain and that your home is spotless.

 

Moving September 2, 2022

7 Reasons to Move to California with Your Family

Three pairs of shoes on a doormat.

California – it’s one of the biggest and most populous states in the USA. Famous for its national parks, cultural diversity, and great life opportunities, California is also known as the Golden State. Over the years, it has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists and those looking for a place to settle down. There are so many things that make people love this amazing state and come there for good. Today, we will talk about the top reasons to move to California with your family.

1. Great living options

One of the biggest concerns every person has when moving to a new place is whether or not they will be able to find a perfect neighborhood for their family. And, if children are part of that family, then the responsibility is even bigger.

Well, when you come to live in California, you won’t have to worry about that. You will find so many great neighborhoods all over the state. With a good real estate agent, you will easily choose the one that suits best you and your budget. The cities are rather safe, and their residents tend to be warm and kind.

Great neighborhoods are one of the reasons to move to California with your family.

Find your new home in California.

California has a strong, active, and diverse community that creates a healthy atmosphere for raising your children. What’s more, this is a state where everyone feels welcome, no matter where they come from, what they believe in, or what ethnical or cultural group they belong to. California’s diversity is well known all around the world.

2. Healthy and relaxed lifestyle – one of the reasons to move to California with your family

When it comes to healthy living, California is among the top ten healthiest states in the whole USA. Everything in California reminds you how important it is to remain healthy and in good shape. From the various restaurants that promote organic and fresh food to the numerous outdoor activities encouraging for people of all ages. And then there is also California’s exciting lifestyle. It really seems relaxed and balanced. Sometimes it looks like people in California are rarely in a hurry.

This is more than a good reason to move your family home there. And if you haven’t found your movers yet, check out bestcrosscountrymovers.com and choose among the best.

3. High-quality education

After moving to a new state, one of the top priorities for every parent is finding a good school for their kids. Well, if you move to California, this will be easy. The educational system in this country is of really high quality. Starting from great primary and secondary schools to excellent opportunities at the well-known University of California. Both public and private colleges are reputable and offer a great number of different programs.

A teacher is speaking to the class.

Make sure your kids will have a bright future.

4. Job opportunities

If you realize your income cannot cover your expenses after calculating your home-buying budget, then maybe it’s time to find a new job. California is the place for you. Finally, it’s called the state of opportunities for a reason.

California is an economically strong state. In fact, it has the biggest economy in the nation. That opens a large number of job opportunities every year. The leading are film and technology industries, while healthcare, tourism, and agriculture are constantly growing. One thing is for sure, living in California opens doors to having a good job, a good life, and a promising future. And that is one of the top reasons to move to California with your family.

5. The weather

The best thing the new residents, especially those who have come from some colder states, love about California is its beautiful weather. In this state, it’s warm and sunny during most parts of the year. Precisely, for more than 260 days a year. Summers can be pretty hot, and winters are relatively mild, with snow only in some parts of the state. Those are great news for all the people who love spending time outside.

And, if you are among the interstate newcomers, don’t bother about moving to California by yourself. Look up the best interstate movers in California, and find the right team to assist you along the way.

6. Nature everywhere

California is a heaven for all nature lovers. Every part of this state is rich with beautiful natural landscapes. You’ll see mountains and forests, beaches and deserts. And, on top of everything else, nine national parks. All of that leaves great opportunities for exploration, family weekends in nature, and endless moments to relax and enjoy the beauty. A healthy atmosphere where the whole family will charge their batteries. Furthermore, if you manage to create your own little garden, your new Californian home will be your family’s realm.

7. Numerous funny activities

One thing is for sure. If you come to live in California, you will never feel bored. Throughout the state, there are several excellent everyday activities. Most of them are outdoor, and they are alluring for every generation.

  • First of all, there are great beaches, mountains, and valleys. No weekend can go without them, whether you’ll go swimming or just have a nice family picnic in nature.
  • California is a state with some of the best theme parks. Starting from Disneyland to Magic Mountain and Legoland, those would be places where your kids will create some of the best memories.
  • Great music festivals all over the year offer amusement for all family members.
  • Although there are only several parts of California where you can find snow in winter, they all have someexcellent ski resorts.
A family is having a picnic.

Spend some great family moments.

Family relocations are serious and responsible moves. Not to mention that it’s not easy to choose where to start over. However, it may be that these several reasons to move to California with your family helped you make up your mind. Make your first steps, and see why everyone is so much in love with this state.

Writers info:

My name is Tina Michael. I live in New York City, and I am an artist. I like long walks in nature because they inspire me to work. I also write short stories and blogs on various topics.

Senior Housing August 17, 2022

Downsizing for Seniors

Downsizing is often the best option for seniors who want to cut costs or have medical problems requiring constant care. Selling their homes could provide them with additional funds to cover their retirement and other medical expenses. It also relieves them of managing a house, which in itself can bring stress and risk of accidents. There are many options available for senior care.

It is important that seniors understand their options to find a place best suited for their care needs and still allow them to thrive physically and mentally. Caring.com has created a few guides with an online directory to help seniors navigate the nearby assisted living facilities in California.

The sunny state of California offers miles of sandy beaches, rolling mountains, and beautiful weather year-round, making it a top retirement destination. Overall, it ranks 24th in the nation on Caring’s Senior Living Report based on factors such as access to health care, crime statistics, and regional air quality. In the Quality of Life category, California is ranked second in the country for its high number of public libraries, parks, and public transit options. The state is home to world-class medical facilities, including UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. It also has a range of long-term care options for those who need help with daily activities, including over 7,400 assisted living facilities. For older adults who need long-term residential services, assisted living rates come in several hundred dollars higher than the national average at $5,250.

These guides provide more information on assisted living rates in California and how costs compare throughout the state, to nearby states, and to other types of care within California. It also lists some statewide nonprofit and government resources to help older adults obtain care, a summary of Medi-Cal benefits, and an overview of the regulations that govern assisted living facilities in the state. Click the below links to learn more:

Home Garden August 8, 2022

The Role of Landscaping in Boosting Your Property’s Value

A view at how landscaping will contribute to boosting your property’s value

A view at how landscaping will contribute to boosting your property’s value

 

Homeownership is more than just going through the buying process and moving in. Once you jump into the real estate market, you should pay close attention to how you maintain your property and how to maximize the return on investment. Landscaping is one method of boosting your property’s value, and this guide will tell you all about it. Find out the importance of investing time and money into quality landscaping and how it will pay off if you decide to sell your home.

What’s landscaping?

Landscaping is changing the way land around your home looks. You can improve its aesthetics by planting flowers, shaping plants, and maintaining the lawn, but also improving the fence, driveway, walkways, and other parts of your home outdoors. Cultivating your property’s landscaping takes a lot of work, but the results can be fantastic.Let’s find out all the benefits of landscaping for making your home an investment that stands out on the market.

landscaping

Polished outdoors gives insight into a great indoor space.

Maximizing curb appeal

Taking care of your home on the outside will ensure you maximize the curb appeal. This is crucial in selling a property, though sellers often underestimate it. Curb appeal is what makes the first impression on the buyer and sets their attitude positive or negative. A well-maintained home will attract high-quality buyers who will notice all the details and truly see the property’s value. Also, the curb appeal adds to the neighborhood’s aesthetics and inspires others to do the same, making the area look better.

Landscaping helps to sell the property more successfully

As we mentioned, how your home looks on the outside will make the first impression on the buyers. That’s why you should know that high-quality landscaping will do wonders in boosting your property’s value and attracting buyers willing to pay more for a beautiful home. This makes landscaping one of the crucial factors for a fast and successful sale. Not only can you expect buyers to contact you faster, but you can also expect to get a better offer. Landscaping surely boosts the value, which affects the price of the property.

You can create additional living space

Probably the most obvious way of landscaping adding to a property’s value is that you can create additional living space. Outdoor space has become increasingly important to buyers. With many of them working from home these days, people pay more attention to such details. They want more room for a home office and outdoor space to enjoy family gatherings, invite friends over, etc. Building a personal sanctuary at their own home, where they can relax surrounded by beautiful greenery and flowers, will make your property a favorite in the local listings.

A patio

Buyers will love the fact they can enjoy the outdoors of their new home.

Landscaping is an investment that will last

One thing you should know about landscaping – it never goes out of style in the real estate world. Unlike some other interior and exterior trends, investing in landscaping will pay off whenever you decide to do it. It can be more or less important for different buyers, but a high-quality property landscape will always be an advantage on the market.

Simple rules of great landscaping for boosting the look and value of your property

Making the most of your sale can be easy if you know what to focus on when improving the property’s landscaping. Here are some tips for all the homeowners who want to make their property a favorite among prospective buyers.

Power wash all the surfaces

Sometimes, we can’t see how dirty your paved surfaces are until you use a power washer to clean them. It can make a huge difference and bring back the old shine to your driveway, decks, patios, fences, etc. Keeping the outside clean will convince the buyers that you take care of your property well.

Remove the weeds

You shouldn’t stop at power washing the paved surfaces. Cleaning the green surfaces is also important. Remove any weeds, and use a fertilizer that will also provide weed control and save you time.

Water your plants regularly, but also right before the appointment with the buyer

Watering plants is essential to keep them looking good. However, don’t forget to water them a bit before your potential buyer comes to see the property. Freshly watered plants look amazing and show they are well-maintained.

A garden in the sun

Remove all the excess plants for a tidy garden.

Keep the grass short

Mowing is extremely important when landscaping for sale. Keeping the short grass controls unwanted plants and makes the space look tidy and attractive. However, many homeowners struggle with keeping the natural grass green at all times, so they opt for artificial turf infills. It’s a very convenient option you should consider if you want a perfect lawn that requires little maintenance and looks good whenever a buyer decides to stop by.

Use colors wisely

Greenery is impressive, but a pop of color will give an additional dimension to your garden. However, if you add color wisely, you can make the space more elegant and tell the buyer that you care about every little detail. Think about how you add flowers and try to make a theme that will make all the other features stand out.

Use mulch for an extra polished look

Mulch can be a beneficial friend when landscaping. Use it around trees and flowers to make it look like a professionally landscaped yard.

Final words

Does landscaping help in boosting your property’s value? Absolutely! But it also gives a unique look to the house, making sure buyers remember it well when going through listings. Great landscaping makes a property stand out in the neighborhood. It also helps buyers notice other great features of the house and makes them see why it’s the perfect place to create a new home for their loved ones.

Smart Home July 26, 2022

Is Your Internet Set Up Ready for These Awesome Smart Home Gadgets?

Yet you cannot just install everything and call it a day; you also need to make sure you have a home internet connection that can handle everything and deal with all relevant functions. You need to make sure your home network is sophisticated enough and wide-reaching enough to encompass all your devices. And you need to make sure you are adequately informed about taking care of your devices properly.

Fortunately, we will be discussing all these topics in the article below, so keep on reading.

Is Your Internet Service Fast Enough?

It can be a major problem if your internet connection cannot handle all your new and fancy equipment , effectively making it a waste until you get it fixed or upgraded. That is why it is paramount that you check these things before making major upgrades if possible.

And the first thing to think about, even before you start considering the needs of a smart home, is whether you have enough speed for your home in general. Did you have difficulties loading this relatively simple page? Does your family have to effectively take turns using the internet? Is streaming without buffering a dream for your household? If so, then you will likely need to upgrade your service plan or even switch providers before you can reliably get a smart home setup prepared.

Otherwise, there is a good rule of thumb for how much speed you need. In general, you need about 5Mbps of download speed for every dozen devices in your home. Note that’s the total number of devices, not the number of types of devices. This will be an important distinction to make later when you’re installing smart bulbs and speakers.

The exceptions to this are devices that stream. In this case, the media and definition of that media will decide the need. If you have devices that record video and send it elsewhere, you should have an extra 5Mbps for each one available. You can lower this requirement if you’re willing to accept lower video quality (not necessarily a good trade off where security is concerned).

If you have a broadband connection with download speeds of 100Mbps, you should not have to worry about speed unless you have an entire home filled with smart devices. Less than that, and you might want to work out the math above.

Do You Have Full Network Coverage?

No matter how fast your connection is, it isn’t going to help very much if your network can’t reach some of the devices in your smart home, even if your network’s speed can compensate somewhat for a poor connection at the fringes. Devices require a consistent and reliable connection to work to their fullest potential, which you and your family deserve for the investment you are putting in.

To make sure you have full coverage, make sure of the following:

  • First off, walk around your home and start testing to ensure that you have coverage throughout it. You can easily do this with a speed test app and your smartphone, although most devices will work.
  • You might have coverage everywhere, but speeds might get slow or the connection inconsistent in certain areas of your home, so make sure to test along those lines as well.
  • You may wish to install additional routers or WiFi range extenders throughout your home on top of the modem you are using. You can also install a mesh network to have even coverage. All of these have different price points, so do some research and determine the most comfortable solution for you.
  • If you want to extend your smart home benefits out into your yard (and there are certainly benefits to doing so, but more on those later), then it might get a bit trickier, if still possible, and there are a few ways to approach the problem.
  • If you have a smaller yard, you can simply install a router or more powerful range extender near the exits in your home, taking care to make sure there’s as good of a signal as possible in the area.
  • Larger yards might want to look into outdoor shielded solutions and more specific gear designed to extend your WiFi signal outdoors .

Additional Factors on Top of Download Speed

It is not just download speed and general coverage that matter when it comes to making sure your home is all set for smart home technology. You may also wish to consider the following:

  • Make sure there is nothing that could interrupt or otherwise interfere with the signals going through your house. While it is unlikely you have sheets of led lining the walls, there may be some positional adjustment of the furniture needed to optimize your setup.
  • You will need to make sure your devices will work properly with each other and with your network. Unfortunately, with so many devices on the market and the number of potential issues, there is simply no way for us to go over every potential issue. However, with a quick search, including the problem and the device name(s), you will likely find an answer.
  • You may need to give one device control and make the others have less functionality, so there is no confusion.
  • A smart home hub discussed later in the article, can solve many of these potential problems.
  • Yet while we raise this concern, significant issues and incompatibilities are somewhat rare , and the worst you should experience is some inconvenience.

Where to Get Started with Your Smart Home?

While you should generally work with what you feel most comfortable with or what you know you’ll use the most, there are a few items and sub-setups that you might wish to install or research first, both to get the most mileage from your setup and the most day-to-day effectiveness.

Digital Assistants

While some people may just think of Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, in truth, these programs are tied to a variety of smart home devices that can effectively act not only as basic internet access points handled by voice commands but also hubs for the rest of your smart home. This makes a digital assistant an excellent option for those not knowing where to start with your smart home.

We will be talking about them a bit more when we get into smart home hubs, but for now, simply know that connectivity and integration are key. These digital assistants make those steps so much easier and more intuitive. With them, you can often link smart home functions to voice commands, more easily get information and status reports, and more.

What if you are worried about privacy, intrusiveness, or confusion regarding your digital assistants? Just make sure you check the possible settings first and work with an arrangement you know you will be comfortable with. If you are not feeling ok with a setup and thus do not use it, that is as bad as not having one in the first place.

Smart Home Hubs

A smart home hub becomes increasingly necessary the more smart home devices and gadgets you install in your home. Yet what exactly does it do? You can think of it as a translator for all your smart home devices, allowing them to work together even if they are not all made by the same manufacturer. They are not perfect, and they might not make every combination workable, but they will make things much easier for anyone operating your household.

There remains a vital question in the discussion, though: which one should you get? That depends partly on the brand of devices you plan on using and which aspects of a smart home hub you deem most important. Ultimately this can be a complicated decision, and we cannot provide a catch-all answer, but you can consider the following:

  • Do you want something that acts purely as a smart home hub or something like Amazon Echo that may have other uses? Some hubs can also act as smart speakers.
  • How many different devices will you plan on managing , and do you have plans for further expansion?
  • What design are you looking for? Will a potential hub stick out like a sore thumb in your living room?
  • How do you like the app or web interface?

Once you find the right balance, you will be glad you invested in a smart hub. They won’t be too stressful on your home internet setup and could even save bandwidth through improved understanding and efficiency of your setup.

Your Heating and Cooling Systems (Smart Thermostats)

One of the most common examples of the utility of a smart home is the smart thermostat. It allows you to either adjust the temperature at home remotely or to let you program it remotely for a regular schedule (programmable thermostats aren’t strictly smart home devices, but there’s a great deal of overlap). You can also monitor the situation from your smartphone with an app quite easily.

There are also be air conditioning units or modifications to existing units to that allow for remote control and programming of your air conditioning, so that you can not only enjoy a cool home after you take a trip out but so that you do not have to waste energy most of the time you aren’t home to enjoy it.

Your internet set up will find that these systems do not take up much bandwidth. Still, you should make sure that you can always maintain a consistent connection, so there are no malfunctions that accidentally turn your home into a sauna or icebox (even if there are failsafe measures to prevent this).

Smart TVs

A smart TV can certainly be considered a smart home device, given its many uses in the home and the likelihood that it is one of your living room’s centerpieces. And as the years have passed us by and most TVs sold today are smart TVs, they have improved their ability to connect, and there are devices with digital assistants and voice commands installed.

Connecting a smart TV to anything else is an easy process, given that most of them are designed for households that do not have many or any smart devices.

As for what you need to keep one working properly, a regular WiFi network should work, given that many people keep their router in the living room and the fact that a connection isn’t entirely necessary in the first place for the TV to work.

Additional Entertainment Devices and Speakers

It is nice not to have to use a remote or to use a different remote for every single device in your home. And while you may not consider devices such as Amazon’s Echo or similar products from other tech giants primarily smart home-related devices, they most certainly are. These devices can let you play music or books from command and more (often other functions described elsewhere in this article).

Smart speakers and smart home entertainment systems can also easily connect with other devices throughout your home. Have you ever wanted to play and control music throughout your home? With a smart speaker setup, the wiring does not need to be hard, and you can get extremely high-quality sound throughout your home.

On top of these options, things like gaming consoles might also be considered part of a smart home, given their many uses.

There are many variations of these devices (far too many for us to go over), but if you’re wondering if your connection can handle them, first double-check to see if your connection can handle the media they’re streaming. If this is the case, the smart home aspects of the device should not be an issue.

Smart Lighting

While a simple light switch probably doesn’t need too much replacing, there is so much more you can do with the lighting in your home if you know where to look and are willing to embrace smart lighting technology.

And automated lighting and things such as motion detected switches have been around for a long time. Yet those technologies do not even mildly compare to what is available today. With some forms of smart lighting often involving both bulbs and more advanced controllers or switches, you can control the exact dimness and color of the light (perhaps to help you get some light while still trying to help out your sleep cycle).

As with most smart devices, lighting won’t be a significant drain on your network’s resources, but if you install a dozen smart bulbs in your home, you will want to account for them, and they might affect an already slow network.

Smart Doorbells and Camera-Based Devices

The smart doorbell is an excellent innovation that allows you to see who and what is going on at your front door, either when the doorbell rings or when the device detects movement in the area. There are a few variations, but all of them can help with home security and allow you also to make sure your packages are safe.

Those systems that allow you to communicate with someone on the other side can be a wonderful solution to some of the problems presented by lockdowns and social distancing needs while also enabling you to stay safely behind a locked door if you wish.

Additionally, there are smart baby monitors that allow you to keep tabs on how the babysitter is doing or just check on the baby from the other room. There are also smart security cameras that are explicitly for this purpose. If there is a use for a camera in your home, then there is a smart home device that will cater to it.

While useful, these devices can be some of the most bandwidth-intensive objects in your smart home, as you might expect with a video feed. You should plan on having 5Mbps available for every device regularly using a camera in your smart home.

Smart Plugs

How do you make a “dumb” device a smart device? While you might not be able to get the nuance of control available with a specific smart device, smart plugs are your next best option. The most obvious example could be a fan or air conditioner you set to always on and then remotely turn the power to it off and on (as long as this can be done safely). Effectively, if there’s an electrical device that you can change in this way to benefit your household, a smart plug is what you want, especially for the price (you should never have to pay more than $20 a unit).

Smart plugs also commonly allow you to check your power usage from that outlet, time usage for certain devices, and more. Experiment to see what the best potential set up for your home can be.

However, much like smart bulbs, you should make sure your home has full internet coverage, so you do not have to deal with annoyances and slow or unstable connections. Additionally, like smart bulbs, having many of them in the home can add up on the taxing of your bandwidth, so just stay aware of how many you are using.

Protecting Your Setup and Yourself

Now that you have an idea about what you want and what you might need internet-wise to set things up, you should look at the security side of the equation. Set up also means that you should make sure nothing happens to your devices once they are installed. This means preventing damage and securing your devices from a privacy and cybersecurity standpoint.

Security

Naturally, you don’t want these devices to get stolen (coincidentally, you can almost certainly connect a home security system to a smart home setup, allowing you to monitor your home situation from anywhere at any time), but that isn’t the primary focus of what we’re talking about here.

Instead, we want you to think about your privacy and data security. Try the following:

  • Be careful about voice commands and the information you could be giving away with them. If you’re providing passwords and other sensitive information clearly to Alexa in your apartment building, can you be so sure that the person in the apartment next door or below you isn’t able to write it down and use it against you later?
  • While you should not have to worry too much about it, do check the privacy policies of the products and programs you use related to your smart home. Everyone has their own comfort zone and lines in the sand when it comes to online privacy, and you should not compromise those to get some more functionality or convenience. The worry about it will undoubtedly outweigh the benefits you receive.
  • Make sure your smart home devices are not compromised and specifically put extra effort into protecting related control devices and accounts . Would you like the idea of someone outside of your home being able to control your thermostat or use the cameras in your home? Most companies will be careful about security, but some less known and reputable brands might cut corners. Make sure you do not.

Preventing Damage

These are mostly expensive devices you’re working with, and the last thing you want to happen is for them to break unexpectedly or in a way that could damage other parts of your home (or break at all, to be entirely honest). And while most smart devices aren’t inherently dangerous, their malfunction could cause problems such as communication errors with other devices in your home or sudden shutoffs. For these reasons, you are going to want to minimize the risk of damage.

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Keep smart home devices out of the reach or access of pets (with perhaps the exception of smart pet feeders) or small children. As you likely know, your pets certainly do not care about how valuable or important devices in your household are, and small children are liable to bump into things or use items as toys.
  • Keep them out of the way of potential water damage as well, with the exceptions of water-resistant or waterproof items, which may very well be meant for use in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Keep dust off and clean them regularly. While this will not affect performance terribly, you’d hate to think your device was malfunctioning only to learn a smudge or buildup of some sort was interfering with the signal.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many factors when it comes to setting up a smart home, and some of them can be a bit difficult to adjust for if you do not have them already. The outcome and time saved can absolutely be worth the initial investment, especially if you plan on keeping up with smart home technology and sticking with your home for years to come. We hope that this information has proven helpful to you and encourage you to return to this page as you move forward with each step of your check and setup.

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

Follow us on Twitter: @InternetAdvisor

 

Uncategorized July 20, 2022

How to Know You’ve Found the Right Agent in California

A real estate agent showing a home to a happy family

Whether you plan to buy a home or sell it, you need a real estate agent. In the first case, a real estate agent will help you find your dream home, a home that suits your budget and all the things on your must-have list. In the second case, they will help you sell your home quickly, easily, and for the best price possible. However, let us warn you – for an agent to do all of this, they must be professional, reliable, and a Californian. In other words, they must be right! But, in the sea of Californian real estate agents, how do you know you found the right one? Well, that is why we are here. That is, we will share with you some advice on how to know you’ve found the right agent. Thus, if this is something that interests you, keep on reading.

You Like Being Around Each Other

Real estate agents are not only there to help you sell or buy a home. They are not there to help you stage your home while living in it or even to help you inspect a home either. They are there to make the process of home buying and selling as pleasant as possible. And the only way for them to do this is to make you feel good while being around them.

Of course, your real estate agent doesn’t have to be your best friend. You don’t have to have a strong relationship. You just have to look at them as a person of trust who will treat you well and who you don’t mind telling anything real-estate-related. If you have an agent that fits this description, that is how you know you’ve found the right agent

A couple talking to a real estate agent.

Your real estate agent must simply make you feel good.

They Are Available

This one just goes without saying. One of the best ways to know you’ve found the right agent in California is when you are working with somebody who is always available and responsive. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should call your agent in the middle of the night and expect him to answer your questions immediately. But, it means that you can always reach him during working hours. Moreover, if they are with another client and can’t see you or answer your call immediately, it also means that they will reply as soon as possible and never leave you waiting for too long.

Don’t hesitate to require this quality of your real estate agent. After all, you are paying for his time and for his services! This also applies to making an interstate move to California once you buy a home – you will know that you have found the right team for the job if you see they are responsive. The same goes for contractors, handymen, inspectors, and all other people you plan to hire to make this buying and moving-in process easier.

They Asked You to Get Pre-Approved First

Many buyers leave mortgage-related issues for after they have found their dream home. But, this is a mistake – and all good real estate agents know it. Once you have found your dream home, you need to act swiftly if you don’t want somebody else to ‘grab’ it. And, you won’t be able to act swiftly unless you are pre-approved. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is something that might take weeks or even months – have that in mind the next time you start viewing homes for sale.

Speaking of finances, that is something you should also assess before viewing homes. If you don’t plan on getting a mortgage, assess your loan options or savings. Your real estate agent can help you with all the financial calculators out there. Still, you must be the one making the decision on how much you can actually spend on a home.

A calculator and a notepad on dollar bills.

Know how much you can spend on a home before you hire the right agent!

The Right Agent Is Always Honest, Even When it Hurts

You know, when you walk into a store and try something out – sellers will come and say anything to make you buy that something. They will say how amazing you look, how that piece was made for you, etc. They will do everything in their power to make you buy their product. Unfortunately, that can often happen with real estate agents! There will be some agents who always say nice things, always sugar-coat the reality, and praise every decision of yours. If you found an agent of this kind – run. A good real estate agent will always tell you the truth – even if it hurts you and even if it hurts him. Once you come across an agent that seems honest, real, and straightforward, you’ll know you’ve found the right agent in California!

Again, the same thing applies to movers and to all other companies you hire to help you find, move in, and settle in. Experts from mod-movers.com suggest that you should have an in-person meeting with them to make sure they are “real.” So, for instance, if you want to hire them to help you out with your interstate move, go to their headquarters first and be sure to have a long list of questions ready. Then, ask all of those questions and listen to the replays carefully. Just like agents, they should give you the answers even if they think you will not like them.

The right agent talking to clients.

The right agent is always honest with you.

The Right Agent Is Not Just Reactive but Also Proactive

Some real estate agents are just reactive – they have a meeting with you, they listen to your wishes, and they act upon them. But, that is not a good sign. You’ll know you’ve found the right agent in California, or anywhere else in the world, if that agent starts being proactive. If they ask questions, give you suggestions, develop new ideas, etc. This is especially important if you are buying or selling a home where you are unfamiliar with the market. Your agent is the one that should be proactive and advise you on what you should and shouldn’t do. If they just stay reactive, you might make a buying or selling mistake.

We mentioned some of the things that might help you know whether you’ve found the right agent in California, but you already know that there are many more. However, the most important among them all is your ‘gut.’ Always listen to your gut – don’t hire anybody that seems suspicious and inexperienced, and remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Senior Housing July 1, 2022

What to Look for in a House if You Plan to Age in Place

Two senior women being friendly

If you are looking to relocate and plan on making that your final moving experience, there are certain things to consider. As you grow older, your needs change, and your home should meet those requirements. Various factors will influence your future needs, but you can do some things to make sure aging in place is made more comfortable for you. We will present you with some essential things to look for in a house if you plan to age in place and help you set up your home to accommodate your future self.

What to look for in a house

You might feel that your current home is too big for your current needs or requires too much maintenance. Perhaps with age, you have found that you prefer a smaller and cozier environment or one with fewer upkeep requirements. However, as Verified Movers suggests, senior relocation can be a tough time. It is often emotionally and physically demanding, and you should look for a way to manage moving anxiety while also searching for your dream house.

Check out the neighborhood

Before picking a new house, make sure to get a good feel for the neighborhood. Try and take a stroll through the area. An area with wide sidewalks and level terrain will mean that you can take walks when you feel like doing so without straining yourself too much. This, in turn, means that you will be able to have a more active social life, and it will be easier for you to visit neighbors and have them visit you.

Keep your feet on the ground

Try to find a house that has all the necessities on the ground floor. This means you should look for a home with a master bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room on the ground level. Stairs might not present a problem for you right now, but they become harder to climb with age, and any tumble you might take could have serious consequences. You should also avoid steps, so if possible, look for a house with level flooring. You might even want to consider making some alterations to ensure easy access to your home to avoid tripping hazards, such as removing door thresholds or making sloped entrances instead of steps.

Always look on the bright side

Lighting is another crucial factor to which you should pay attention. Look for a house with plenty of natural light and enough lighting fixtures to ensure that your home is always adequately lit. Our eyesight will probably deteriorate with time, especially with the amount of screen time that has become a part of our daily lives. Having a properly lit home will help ensure that you see what you are doing, where you are walking, and any potential obstacles. Another alteration you could consider is installing additional light switches as well as focused lighting in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, or darker hallways.

Make your bathroom both appealing and practical

We all like an aesthetically-pleasing bathroom, but it needs to be practical too. Consider replacing any bathtubs with walk-in showers. Add stools in the shower so you can sit down if you need to. You might want to add grab bars in the bathroom, something you can hold onto and that can support your weight.

Additionally, some homes have non-standard toilets installed. These are comfort height toilets that are slightly higher than regular ones, making sitting and getting up much more manageable.

Look for a low maintenance home

When checking out a potential new house to age in place, pay attention to the materials used in the home and the landscaping. Durable, long-lasting, high-quality materials might be a bit more expensive than their low-end alternatives, but there is a good reason for that. These materials will last longer and require less maintenance and effort on your behalf later on.

In terms of your new home’s exterior, gardens that have native plant species in them require less landscaping work than those with exotic plants. Also, if a sprinkler system is present, this will make your life even more comfortable.

Pay attention to the furniture

People often overlook furniture and installations such as kitchen cabinets when viewing a house, but this is something you should keep in mind. Pull-out drawers and cabinets will give you easier access to whatever you are storing in them. Drawers also tend to be more user-friendly than cabinets as they won’t require as much bending. Countertops and washing machines can be elevated to reduce the amount of bending required too, which might seem unnecessary at the moment, but with age, crouching and getting back up becomes more and more difficult.

Don’t take the fun out of functionality

The simple fact that you are looking for a home to age in place does not mean it cannot be the house you have always wanted. There are so many designs and modifications available for just about every aspect of your home that you shouldn’t sacrifice what you want for what you need.

Making your house senior-friendly will make life in it at a later stage more comfortable, but it will also enhance your current life in the house and make it more pleasant. Many smart devices are available to make your daily chores and tasks even easier. These devices can be pre-programmed to complete specific tasks at set times. Such tasks include washing, turning on the heating or cooling system, switching lights on and off, and turning on the sprinklers, just to name a few.

Prepare for the move

As a senior, it is essential that you be properly prepared for the process of moving to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. So, start planning a couple of months in advance. While you look for a perfect home for yourself, begin to search online for a senior moving company. Be sure to contact a few and get their estimates for your relocation. Compare them and settle for the best fit for you. Sort through your belongings and decide what is going with you and what you will donate, sell, or throw away.

Final words

Moving to a house that you plan to age in can be emotionally challenging and time-consuming work. There are many things to consider, from your medical history and possible future needs to looking for the perfect neighborhood and getting all you need and want. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, as this can be a new beginning for you. Just remember to team up with a reputable real estate agent that will help you find the perfect home for you to age in place.

Uncategorized June 1, 2022

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Might Be Neglecting

the exterior of a house

We all love to have our home clean with its features functioning well. But let’s face it – maintaining a home is hard work. There’s so much to do, so it’s not unusual if you forget a task or two. However, the risks of getting into big financial trouble lie in undermaintaining the property. Houses need constant care to minimize the chances of sudden repairs and surprise costs. Also, real estate experts can have an easier time selling a home in good condition. Buyers notice an undermaintained house quickly, which leads to a lower price or spending more time on the market. This guide will remind you of some home maintenance tasks you might be neglecting. Take a look and include them in your routine.

1.    Cleaning gutters

Gutters are very simple – if they are clean, they will do their job successfully. Otherwise, you risk improper water flow, clogged gutter damage, and leaks. Depending on the surrounding of your home, gutters can be filled with leaves, branches, pinecones, fruits, and more. Be sure to clean the gutters once a year or before and after the winter season.

an owl on a roof

Gutters collect all sorts of things during the year, which block the water from running.

2.    Test the sump pump

We often neglect systems in a home, such as sump pumps, as they ‘always’ work. However, if a problem occurs, it can damage your home, as it can flood your basement. Testing your sump pump is one of the home maintenances tasks you might be neglecting, so here’s a reminder to do it a couple of times a year. The best way to see if everything is working is to fill a bucket with water and pour it around the sump pump. If everything is working correctly, the pump should turn on when the water reaches the right level. If you notice something different, be sure to call a plumber.

3.    A roof inspection is one of the home maintenance tasks you might be neglecting

Probably the most underestimated home maintenance task is the checkup of the roof. Even though it’s protecting our home at all times, we forget about it. Your roof is something to check at least two times a year, before and after the cold days are over. This is when you can truly see if the roof is ready for autumn and winter, but also do the spring checkup to see if there’s any damage after the cold season.

How to check the roof? A visual check is often enough to spot any moss build-up, moved nails or shingles, curved shingle lines, etc. Also, clearing the gutters can show the roof damage and see if any roof parts are collected.

roof in the rain

Roof inspection is one of the home maintenance tasks you shouldn’t forget.

4.    Foundation check-up

A winter season with rain, seismic movements, and other factors can easily damage your foundation. Foundation repairs can cost a couple of thousands of dollars, so on-time checkups are a great way to prevent unnecessary expenses. Even the most minor cracks in the foundation can be a sign of severe damage, so be sure to consult a professional if you have any doubts.

How to check your foundation? You can do several things to make sure your home is standing on a strong and healthy base. Walk around and see if there are any wall cracks or leaning, warped floors, changes in windows and doors, and your chimney. All of these can show potential foundation damage, so invest an hour of your time in preventing severe problems and finding a suitable home warranty service. Be sure to compare different options to pick the best deal for your home and ensure lower repair costs in case of damage. The offers will depend on the age and condition of your home, so take everything into account before making the right decision.

5.    Cleaning fans around the house

Your ceiling fans, bathroom fan, and kitchen exhaust collect a lot of dust and grease over time. However, this dirt is not visible, so it’s often neglected in daily cleaning sessions. Include these items into your monthly cleaning routine to avoid the spread of allergens all around the house.

a vacuum cleaner

Update your cleaning routine with the home maintenance tasks you might be neglecting.

6.    Take care of your fridge

Not cleaning your fridge well can increase your electrical bill and affect the food’s quality. It’s vital to clean condenser coils behind the fridge, as they often collect dust, cobwebs, and more. They stop the fridge from releasing excess heat, leading to overheating and spending more energy than necessary. Also, other tips will help your fridge last longer:

  • Cleaning the seal on the door 
  • Not blocking the vents 
  • Clear the excess ice in the freezer part 
  • Don’t use the highest setting for cooling 
  • Don’t leave the fridge open for too long 
  • Regular cleaning of shelves and other inside parts.

Regular maintenance of your kitchen appliances will ensure they last longer, but they will also be more energy-efficient and won’t increase your bills.

7.    Replacing batteries in all the alarms in your home

If you’ve been lucky not to have any problems setting off your alarms, you probably forget to replace their batteries and see if they work. You never know when an accident can happen, so your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety gadgets need to be working properly. Check them regularly every couple of months and maximize the safety of your household. Furthermore, experts from consumeropinion.org advise comparing different security companies to get the best security system for your home. Professionals can raise the security levels of your home to the maximum level, installing and maintaining security systems for you.

Conclusion

Taking care of a house indeed takes a lot of time and energy. Cleaning, repairs, and small household renovations are the reality of homeownership, which can sometimes be overwhelming. However, you should know that it’s all worth it. The feeling of belonging to a home and having your own safe place is priceless. Owning a home is the dream of many families, so we shouldn’t underestimate this privilege. We hope this guide will remind you of all the home maintenance tasks you might be neglecting and help keep your home in great condition for a long time.

Ready to Sell? May 2, 2022

How to Stage Your Home for Sale While Living in it

A 'home' mat in front of the door.

Staging is a must when selling a home. It is a must because it helps us sell our homes faster and helps us sell them for the highest price possible. And the best part of staging is that it doesn’t take a lot of your time and money – all it takes is following real estate trends and a little bit of creativity. So, stage your home, move out, and let the real estate agent do the rest! However, we understand that it is not always possible to move out before selling your home, so that raises the question – can we live in a home during a sale? The answer is YES! You just have to know all the tips and tricks on how to stage your home for sale while living in it!

Declutter and Downsize Your Belongings 

Nobody likes decluttering. Nobody wants to get rid of things they have been collecting for decades. But have you used those things lately? Or are you planning on using them shortly? If the answer to both of these questions is negative, then you need to declutter and downsize. Get rid of all the things you are not using which are cluttering your space. You can give them to some of your relatives, donate them to a charity, sell them online, or (if completely useless) throw them away.

And, don’t make one of those common decluttering and downsizing mistakes and try to hold on to something – if you are not using it, say goodbye to it. Doing this will help you stage your home better, and it will help you pack your items with more ease later on. Just think about it – the fewer items you have, the less you will have to pack.

Pack Some Personal Things 

When decluttering and downsizing your home, you will keep all of your personal things. Those will be things such as family heirlooms and memorabilia, travel souvenirs, your family’s photos, etc. It would be best if you hid these! Having a lot of personal things inside the home you are trying to sell will make it hard for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. And in return, it will make it hard for you to sell your home. Thus, depersonalize your home as much as you can. Pack up all your personal items and place them in storage, for example. Or, place them in your neighbor’s garage or family member’s spare bedroom.

You can also hire professional movers to pack these things for you neatly and carefully. Having them pack your precious belongings will prevent damage to your home when moving, and it will protect your floors and walls in the process. It’s essential yet easy to prevent potential mishaps that might occur while packing and transporting – you just need professional assistance. Thus, hire them ahead of time and figure out all the details. You will need all the help you can get when trying to stage your home for sale while living in it.

Clean and Keep It Clean 

You can spend thousands of dollars on renovating and staging your home, but it will all go to waste if it is dirty and messy. Thus, to get your home ready to sell, you need to clean it deeply and thoroughly. Clean from top to bottom, and don’t leave any cabinet or corner behind. A clean home will show the buyers how well you take care of it and how much potential it has. So, make cleaning a top priority when selling your home.

However, it is hard to clean and stage your home for sale while living in it. Pets will bring the dirt inside, your children will mess up all the decorations, dishes and laundry will pile up, etc. All of this is bound to happen, so don’t worry. You have to make sure your home is deep cleaned (professionally) at least once before putting your home on the market. And, of course, you need to make sure everything is in its place right before the open-house event starts.

Keep Your Cabinets, Closets, and Drawers Organized 

You are wrong if you think that buyers will not peak into your cabinets, closets, and drawers. They are not doing this because they are nosy, no. They are doing it to see how much space you have in there. That is, they want to see whether their stuff can fit there. So, if you don’t want to shock them with your mess, organize these places. This is one of those things you can do when still living inside your home during the staging phase.

Moreover, if you have too many items inside cabinets, closets, and drawers, items that you plan on taking with you to your new home, consider packing some of them. That is, have those same professional movers pack them and store them. And, while they are packing the things that you don’t plan on using right now, use this time wisely to organize what is left inside those areas.

Fix the Little Things

If you want to stage your home for a successful sale, you should avoid big projects such as kitchen and bathroom renovation, replacing the roof, upgrading the floors, etc. It is almost impossible to live in a home undergoing such significant transformations. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make some of those home improvements that add a little value. For example, you can repaint room by room. Or, you can upgrade lighting fixtures, replace the hardware, landscape, fix what is broken, etc.

As you have seen, it is more than achievable to stage your home for sale while living in it. So, don’t exclude staging just because you still have to live in that home. Just think about how staging can increase the value of your home by up to 15%! And, if you don’t know how to start staging your home, consider asking professional stagers or real estate agents for some advice – nobody can advise you better than them.

Real Estate Development April 29, 2022

Santa Cruz County to Extend Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Fee Waiver Pilot program through June 2023

Santa Cruz County CA Agenda Item DOC-2022-401
Consider adoption of resolution to extend Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Fee Waiver Pilot program through June 2023, and approval of proposed new ADU Incentives Program, and related actions as outlined in the memorandum of the Interim Director of Planning

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

1)              Adopt Resolution (Attachment A) to extend the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) fee waiver pilot program to June 30, 2023;

2)              Approve proposed ADU Incentives Program as described in Attachment B; and

3)              Authorize the Director of Planning to enter into a contract with a qualified program administrator for administration of the proposed ADU Incentives Program as described in Attachment B, in fiscal year 2022/2023.

Executive Summary

The County Board of Supervisors (Board) launched two ADU pilot programs in 2018 to incentivize and assist in the development of ADUs and directed staff to report back at the conclusion of the pilot period with an evaluation of the effectiveness and results of the programs. Staff provided that report on December 7, 2021 and consulted with the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) on January 12, 2022, and March 2, 2022. Staff recommends extending the current fee waiver program for one year and creating a new ADU Incentives Program for a three-year period.

Background

Board of Supervisors Actions

The County initiated two ADU pilot programs in 2017-2018: a pilot ADU fee waiver program for ADUs of 640 square feet or less, and an ADU forgivable loan program. These pilot programs were intended to increase the local affordable housing stock by incentivizing and supporting the development of ADUs. Due to the concurrent enactment of several new state laws streamlining the development of ADUs and decreasing the cost of permits, and historic decreases in mortgage interest rates, the impact of these County programs has been limited and/or difficult to evaluate, as detailed in the staff memo to the Board dated December 7, 2021.

On October 30, 2018, the Board approved Resolution 241-2018 authorizing a three-year pilot program starting January 1, 2019, to waive certain permit processing fees for ADUs of 640 square feet or less in floor area. The purpose of the program was to encourage the development of smaller ADUs, which are considered “affordable by design.”  The fee waiver did not have an income or needs-based test and did not require that ADUs be deed-restricted as affordable units. The loan program was also implemented, offering loans of up to $40,000 that were forgivable after 20 years.

The Board requested a status report on the performance of these programs, which was provided on December 7, 2021 (Item 85, see link attached). At that time the Board directed the Planning Department to review and develop, in consultation with the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC), a recommendation for alternative ADU Incentive Program(s), and report back to the Board no later than April 27, 2022.

Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) Actions

On January 12, 2022, the HAC heard a presentation by nonprofit agency Hello Housing on ADU incentive programs operating in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several other agencies and members of the public involved in ADU programs participated in that meeting. The HAC heard public comment and provided the input to staff to retain the fee waiver program, allow the loan program to sunset, and launch a new technical assistance program. Minutes of the meeting are provided in Attachment D.

At the March 2, 2022, HAC meeting, the HAC considered staff’s proposed new ADU Incentives Program (Attachment C) focused on technical assistance and containing a version of the fee waiver program, now targeted to moderate-income homeowners and those willing to build ADUs that would be deed restricted for affordable rents. The proposal was developed based on input received from commissioners at the January HAC meeting and recognition that the need for design, construction and permitting assistance was a significant hurdle to potential ADU builders that was not being addressed. The HAC considered the proposed program, heard public comment, and voted unanimously (excluding one absent commissioner) to make the following recommendation to the Board (Option 2,as listed in the Staff Memorandum to the HAC):

2. Approve ADU Incentives Program as described in Attachment III, to be funded and launched in Fiscal Year 2022/23 as a three-year pilot program, with the following modification specified by the HAC:

Continue the current ADU fee waiver pilot program, and increase the allowable ADU size for the fee waiver to 750 square feet (consistent with the size threshold for impact fee waivers).

Draft Minutes of the March HAC meeting are provided in Attachment E.

At both of its 2022 meetings, the HAC expressed strong support for the existing fee waiver program and the new proposed technical assistance (TA) program, and agreed that it made sense to sunset the loan program, for the reasons provided to the Board in December. Members of the public also expressed interest in the proposed technical assistance program.

Analysis

Technical Assistance (TA) Program

The proposed program included outreach and education available to the general public, and TA for homeowners wishing to develop an ADU. Homeowners would have to meet eligibility criteria to join the TA program, as described in Attachment B, in order to focus the program on those properties most feasible and reasonable for ADU development, and on affordability criteria to enable the program to target less-resourced homeowners and homeowners willing to create deed-restricted ADUs that would be offered at affordable rents. Affordability criteria would also allow the program to be funded with special Housing Funds, rather than the County General Fund.

TA would include the following services:

•              Feasibility assessment of the property, review of local codes

•              Coordination and guidance with all aspects of ADU planning and construction: design, cost estimating, contracting, insurance, budgeting, and financing

•              Support with permit applications and permitting process

•              Construction management

•              Landlord training and tenant matchmaking

As presented to the HAC in March, the proposed program included a version of the fee waiver program, in this case combining the waiver with the TA program and extending the waiver only to income-qualified property owners and those willing to deed-restrict their ADUs. Following the March 2, 2022 HAC meeting, staff revised the proposed ADU Incentives Program to remove the needs-based fee waiver component, based on the HAC recommendation to extend the existing fee waiver program instead, as explained below. Please see Attachment B for further details on the final proposed TA Program.

Fee Waiver Program

At the March HAC meeting, staff recommended allowing the existing ADU fee waiver program to sunset on its current end date of June 30, 2022, for several reasons, and that a modified program that includes a means test for eligibility be substituted. A modified program would be targeted to the homeowners for whom the waiver would make the most difference in the financial decision of whether to construct an ADU and could be funded by affordable housing funds rather than the County General Fund.  The existing program cannot be funded with housing funds because it is available to all property owners for ADUs smaller than 640 SF, regardless of income and assets, and because the resulting ADU is not required to be deed-restricted to guarantee it will rent at an affordable level. Please see Attachment C for further details on staff’s March recommendations to the HAC.

During the March HAC meeting, commissioners expressed strong support for the existing fee waiver program in its current form, without any income-screening or affordability restrictions on the new ADUs. That strong support was articulated in the HAC’s recommendation to the Board, excerpted above.

Following the HAC meeting, staff further explored the HAC’s recommendation in light of the performance of the waiver in incentivizing small ADUs relative to the cost of the program. Staff understands the HAC support for the current fee waiver program. Nonetheless, most ADUs built today, particularly new detached units, will cost $400,000 and up, depending on size. Conversion ADUs and JADUs can cost less, however those can still cost several hundred thousand dollars, depending on how much retrofitting of the existing structure is required to meet current codes.

The Planning fees waived through the fee waiver program represent a very small percentage of the total cost to develop an ADU (1% to 5%), so it is unclear, based on limited data available, whether these fee waivers are making a key difference in the property owner’s financial decision about whether to construct, and at what size. Further, the pilot period of the existing program coincided with passage of new state laws that significantly streamlined the process for ADU development and expanded the situations in which new ADUs could be developed. The number of ADU applications increased during this period, but it is difficult to attribute this increase to the fee waiver program alone, given so many other changes to the process.

For this reason, staff is now recommending a modest revision to the HAC’s recommendation, which is to extend the fee waiver pilot program in its current form for one more year, after which the effectiveness of the waiver and the cost of the program can be re-evaluated. Staff also recommends that the ADU size threshold that qualifies for a waiver remain at 640 square feet, rather be increased to 750 square feet. Staff initially recommended the increase to 750 square feet so that the County fee waiver program would use the same size limit as is used in state law for various fee exemptions and other incentives, to minimize confusion. However, upon further analysis, it is recommended that the threshold not be changed, so that permitting trends in ADUs within this size range can be tracked consistently across the 4-year period of the program. Maintaining the 640 SF threshold would better reflect any impacts of the fee waiver program, which is the only incentive that uses that 640 SF size limit.

Financial Impact

The recommendation to extend the current fee waiver program for one year will cost the General Fund an estimated $76,000 in waived fees for Planning Department permitting services. This amount may be higher or lower, depending on how many ADU permit applications in the applicable size range are received during the year.

Staff estimates that the recommended new ADU Incentives Program (Attachment B) will cost approximately $711,000 for a three-year period. The program goals include assistance in completing development of 18 to 20 ADUs through partnership with participating homeowners. Funding for this program is available in the Affordable Housing Impact Fee (AHIF) and Subdivision In-lieu Fee funds, as shown in Attachment B. Staff requested a total of $711,000 in appropriations for this program, including costs for administration of the contract, in the Planning Department’s FY 2022-23 Requested Budget.

Body

Strategic Plan Element(s)

2. Attainable Housing: A. Affordable Housing and C. Local Inventory

The recommended actions implement Strategic Plan elements 2A and 2C by providing incentives and assistance for the development of ADUs by and/or for lower- and moderate-income households, and/or small ADUs that are affordable by design.

Working From Home April 26, 2022

Online Office Safety: 11 Work At Home Security Tips

Online Office Safety: 11 Work At Home Security Tips

For the past few decades, as the digital revolution expands, more and more people are working from home than ever before. In fact, the percentage of American workers who did their jobs from home has been growing steadily since 2000, reaching an all-time high of 5 percent just last year.

However, as we know, the year 2020 has prompted rapid growth in the number of people working from home as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions to abandon their offices and turn their dining rooms or spare bedrooms into workspaces.

Yet even as some businesses start to open back up, including offices, many companies are electing to allow their workers to continue working from home at least through the rest of the year. This may still extend further even after the virus is successfully contained. Recent estimates indicate that around 20 percent of companies will make their pandemic work-from-home policies permanent, representing a significant change in how we work.

For many, this is welcome news. But working from home comes with some risks, as your home network tends to be less well protected against cyber criminals than a corporate one. Implementing the right defenses is essential to keeping yourself and your company safe, and below, you can find out everything you need to make sure your home office is fully secure.

Cyber Security Threats in 2020

Before going into the specific things you can be doing to maximize your home office’s security, we wanted to discuss the various threats that are out there so that you can better understand why these measures are necessary and what they do.

There are many different dangers out there, but the most prevalent include:

Hacking and Data Theft

Hacking just means that someone who does not have the authorization to access a system manages to get into it, which almost always leads to data theft. Hackers want things such as credit card numbers, bank information, login details, social security numbers, and anything else valuable they can get their hands on and then sell for a profit.

The typical line of thinking is that hackers tend to go after larger companies as that’s where the useful data is (and also because they can get more information with one hack, increasing their efficiency). But these large companies also tend to have the strongest defenses, making them the most difficult to hack.

As a result, small businesses are increasingly becoming the preferred target for hackers and other cybercriminals, mainly because their defenses tend to be weaker, yet they still hold valuable data. In fact, around 43 percent of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. The logic is that it takes the same amount of effort to hack several small companies, and produces more results than trying and hack into a big company.

If you thought you were safe because you work for a small company, “no one would bother to hack,” know that this is no longer the case, and you need to be taking cybersecurity as seriously as everyone else.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a cybercriminal assumes your identity and then does things on your behalf. In a worst-case scenario, they get a hold of your social security number and other personal details. They then use this information to withdraw money from your accounts, make charges to your credit and debit cards, and even open up new credit lines that could get you into real trouble with creditors.

If you’re working from home, identity theft becomes even more of a concern because if your identity is stolen, cybercriminals may be able to gain access to your company’s servers, compromising its data and potentially costing a lot of money.

Viruses, Malware, Ransomware, and Worms

While all slightly different, these are all programs that make their way onto your computer, usually because you click a bad link or open a dangerous spam email. They do various things to your computer. For example, ransomware will literally hold your device “hostage,” shutting it down until you either hand over sensitive data or give money.

Malware is more common and can often go undetected. It slows down your computer, and at best is a nuisance that can get in the way of your productivity. At worst, it can take personal information off your device and send it to people who will use it to steal from either you or your company.

Cyberbullying

Not typically thought of as a cyber threat, cyberbullying is quite prevalent in our society, and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just something that kids do. A study by Pew found that around 40 percent of adults have experienced some sort of online harassment, and 75 percent of adults have reported seeing it taking place around them.

If you’re new to working online, it’s essential to be aware of how you’re interacting with others. Comments or jokes that might have gone unnoticed, or were better contextualized, when spoken in the office, can seem aggressive or harmful when typed out in a message.

Being aware of this is vital to protect yourself (cyberbullying is a crime, and even if you’re not convicted in a court of law, it can lead to termination) and those you work with. Both are important aspects of keeping your company moving forward.

The Reality of the Threats We Face

Now that you have an idea of the threats that are out there, here are some numbers that should help drive home just how serious this issue is and why it requires so much of your attention.Cyber Attack Facts 1[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

Whether you’re new to working online from home due to the pandemic, have been at it for a while, or plan to continue to do it moving forward, all of these numbers should be concerning. However, the last four are particularly troublesome. They point to the massive expense a cyber mistake can force your company to incur, and they also indicate that you, as an employee, are the one most likely to be responsible for such a mistake.

Don’t let this strike fear into your heart. If you take the proper steps to protect yourself in your new home, then you can be sure that you won’t be the one who brings on this data breach that could have catastrophic consequences for not only yourself but also your employer.

11 Work at Home Security Tips

Now that you are aware of the threats that you face when working from home, as well as their prevalence and potentially catastrophic consequences, it’s time to look at what you can do to make sure your home office is secure.

1. Review Company “Work From Home” Policy

When you begin to work from home, the very first thing you should do is review the company’s existing “work from home” policy. This should include all the information the experts have deemed necessary for you to know about the dangers you might face, and there should also be plenty of information about best practices you can use to make sure you’re safe.

These policies will typically provide instructions about passwords, data sharing, access, authentication, and more. If you read through it and come across things that aren’t entirely clear, then make sure to speak up and ask for clarification; your entire company’s cybersecurity might be resting on it.

A copy of this policy should be given to you once it has been established that you’ll be working remotely. If it’s not, ask for it. If it doesn’t exist, then you should speak with your manager about making one since a document like this is often essential to making sure employees are educated and informed about what they need to be doing.

2. Make Sure Everything is Password Protected

Although they seem simple, passwords are a huge component of cybersecurity. They act as the first line of defense against potential hacks or other unwanted access attempts, and not using passwords is equivalent to leaving the front door of your house unlocked. Ignoring them means cybercriminals will be able to get past your first safeguard without much issue, significantly increasing the chances of a full-on hack and data breach.

When we say password protect everything, we mean everything. This means your computer, laptop, smartphone, and all of your accounts. Make sure you’re mixing up the passwords you’re using, i.e., you’re not using the same one for multiple accounts, and that you are practicing good password habits, which include:

Four Aspects of Good Password Habits 1

  • Overall, setting passwords and following good habits is easy to do, but it is one of the most significant defenses you can use against hackers and other cybercriminals.

3. Lock Computers Not in Use

One good habit to adopt is to make sure that you’re locking your computers when you’re not using them, especially those you’re using for work. This means either turning them off or using the lock feature found by pressing “CTL + ALT + Delete.”

For those who have lots of experience working in an office, this is probably not something new, but it’s reasonable to think you don’t need to do this when you’re at home. Getting into this habit will ensure that you never leave your devices vulnerable to attacks from hackers and other cybercriminals.

4. Improve the Physical Security of Your Home Office

Now that you’ve moved into a home office, you need to accept that there might be additional threats you didn’t face before, such as a break-in. Of course, we all don’t want to think this is possible, but there is no limit to what cybercriminals will do if they’re chasing after what they perceive to be valuable information.

As a result, you will want to take some steps to ensure the security of your office. This includes making sure there is a working lock on the door, installing locks on desk drawers and filing cabinets, and making sure computer screens are not visible from the outside.

Of course, if you live in a secluded area where there’s no chance someone sees inside your home, this last step might not be entirely necessary. Still, those living in bigger cities where there are more prying eyes would do well to ensure they’re working in privacy while in their home office.

5. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a security feature offered by lots of companies and organizations providing online services. All it means is that you need to go through two identity verification stages to gain access to your account. Usually, this means entering your username and password and then providing a code that is sent to your phone or email (which you have provided) to confirm you are indeed the person you claim to be.

This is particularly effective because while hackers might be able to get past your password if they are really savvy, it’s almost impossible for them to guess this second part, making it that much more difficult for them to get access to your account. It’s also a great way to detect when your account is under attack; if you get a code sent to your phone when you haven’t tried to access that account, you know something is up and can take swift and effective action.

However, while many places are now offering this service, it is often not put into action until you yourself activate it, so you will need to seek it out and actively set it up, which we cannot recommend more that you do.

6. Train Yourself to Detect Phishing

As we’ve already mentioned a few times, phishing is one of the main ways hackers and cybercriminals do their dirty work. For those who don’t know, phishing is when hackers use emails or other disguised messages to look legitimate so that you will willingly hand over sensitive information. Other forms of phishing, such as spear phishing, target specific individuals and are often much more personalized, making them more effective.

Some good examples of phishing attacks can be found below. One is made to look like a message from Netflix, and another is designed to look like something from Amazon. They show just how good hackers can be at what they do and why they can dupe so many people into handing information over that they should be safeguarding.

Netflix Phishing

Amazon Phishing

[Image Source]

  • As a result, you need to learn how to be extra vigilant so you can spot phishing attempts and keep yourself safe. Some things you can do to spot phishing include:
    • Double check the sender address in an email. Fake emails will often come from somewhere different and not from where communications from that company typically originate.
    • Hover over links you’ve been asked to click on to see if they really lead where they say they do.
    • Look for spelling mistakes or other errors; hackers are notoriously lazy.
    • Do a quick Google search to see if the claim being made in the email is real. If it’s not, there’s a good chance that the company in question will have issued a statement.
    • Familiarize yourself with the different policies being used by the services with which you have accounts. Some say they would never ask for credit card information in an email, so if that’s happening, you know it’s fake.

    Learning how to spot phishing is a bit of an art, and it takes practice. Luckily, to help you, Google has put together this tool to help teach you to spot phishing. Play around with it so that the next time a suspicious email comes through, you can spot it.

    We should note that your email client’s spam filter should catch a lot of this, but plenty of stuff still sneaks through. Don’t think that having spam filters activated is going to completely protect you from the many different threats out there.

    7. Use Anti-Virus Software

    Anti-virus software is pretty much a no-brainer when it comes to keeping your home office secure. It will identify threats as they come up, guide you to safe websites by alerting you when you’re visiting one that isn’t secure and help you remove milder versions of malware while minimizing the damage they can do.

    For PC users, the need for anti-virus software is even greater, but this doesn’t mean Macs are entirely safe. In this case, it’s probably best to speak with someone at your company. They may have a preferred software they want you to use, and if this is the case, they should be able to provide it for free or at the very least at a discounted rate.

    8. Ensure Your WiFi is Protected

    The security of your home WiFi network is a key part of your overall home office security strategy.

Ensure Your WiFi is Protected 1

9. Download a VPN

One thing you may want to consider is installing and using a virtual private network (VPN). These programs encrypt your WiFi connection, which puts up another layer of security and also hides your online activity, helping to improve privacy and keep hackers away.

Depending on the size of the company for which you work, doing this may be a requirement to be able to work from home. But even if it’s not, it still might be something to consider as it will make your network that much more secure.

One thing to note is that using a VPN will likely slow down network performance, so you might not want to use it constantly, or you may want to look into upgrading your connection so that using this security feature won’t slow things down.

10. Ask About Data Encryption

Encrypting data on your computer means that it can only be accessed by those who possess the key that unlocks the encryption. It’s typically used as a safeguard in the event a device is stolen; the person who has it would be unable to access the information stored on the device.

For those using a company device, there’s a good chance this is already installed and activated, but you may want to ask if there is anything you need to do to make sure it’s appropriately set up. If you’re using your own device, there’s a good chance it does not have this feature, so you may want to find out if this is something you should set up to make sure you’re fully protected from any possible threat.

11. Back Up Files Regularly

Losing files is frustrating and can be dangerous if they happen to fall into the wrong hands. If your computer does come down with a virus, sometimes the only thing you can do is wipe the hard drive and start again. All of this means that if you haven’t backed up your files, this can be catastrophic.

So, set up a system to make sure everything is regularly saved somewhere else. You can either do this manually using an external hard drive or by using a cloud service. If you do it manually, set up a reminder on your calendar to remember to do it frequently. Should you choose to use a cloud service, you can usually automate this, but maybe speak with someone at your company to ensure you’re using a service that meets their security standards.

Enjoy the Security of Your Home Office

Working from home provides tremendous benefits to those who have the opportunity to do it. However, as we’ve established here, it can also expose you and your company to a wide range of threats. But this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to take advantage of the many perks of remote work. Just implement the security strategies discussed here, educate yourself about newly emerging threats, and remain vigilant at all times.

Ready to Sell? April 8, 2022

8 Home Improvements That Add Little Value

: Big home improvements that do not add value.

If your house isn’t brand new, you probably have a list of improvements you’d like to make. Renovating your home can increase its usability, coziness, and aesthetic appeal. And if you ever decide to sell the property, all of these criteria are critical. While some renovations are worth your time and money, some aren’t, and if you decide to sell your property, you may be dismayed to realize that you won’t recoup your investment. There is nothing wrong with making your ideal home a reality. But you have to be aware of the home improvements that do not add value.

1 Upgrades on utilities

You can’t ignore the maintenance that comes with owning a home. It is critical to upkeep the boiler, plumbing, and electrical wiring in a home. You should invest some money in repairs, especially if they require hiring a professional to help you out. However, upgrades of these systems do not add value. They only keep it at the average comp. It’s better to save your money and do something else, like getting a new coat of paint, if the systems in your house are already in good working order.

2 Massive Landscaping Projects

If you go overboard with landscaping, you’ll waste your money and lower the value of your home. Spending on exotic plants, flowers, and trees will not add more value to your house. Instead, aim to remodel your backyard on a budget and find cheap ideas to spruce it up, as that’s all you need. For example, you can lay down sod to make your lawn look lush and beautiful. Add some splashes of color with simple decorations, or paint your fence. These small details will surely add value to your property and attract potential buyers.

3 Lighting

When you’re selling a house, you might think that it’s okay to splurge out on things such as lights. After all, when you’re preparing your house for sale, you’re most likely doing it according to your own perception of what the buyer might want. And you’re right to think about lighting! Buyers want homes with lots of light, especially if it comes from windows that face the sun. However, they will not pay for your pricey lighting enhancements. There is no need to spend large sums of money on fancy lighting fixtures that will not increase the value of your home. Replace expensive chandeliers and high-tech lights with more affordable options- pricier isn’t always better!

4 Garage conversions

It can be tempting to upgrade the garage into an additional useable room, such as an office or another living area. In most cases, however, this isn’t a worthy investment. Adding a room at the expense of a garage isn’t something everyone wants to do. It might also be a huge undertaking. The number of other renovations you will have to do will be stressful enough. And what you want to do is make home renovation simpler, not more complex. You should find ways to ease the process with more straightforward and affordable touch-ups. Garage conversions are costly and lengthy home improvement projects that do not add significant value.

5 Incorporating a sunroom

Most of us love the spring season and the sunshine it brings. And if you’re someone who likes getting their home ready for spring, building a sunroom might seem like a good idea. However, adding a sunroom won’t be worth it in most cases. A sunroom addition is one of the projects with the most negligible influence on resale value. An aesthetic sunroom can help you attract buyers, but it’s just one of those home improvements that do not add value. Instead of building one, brighten your walls and remove any drapes or curtains. This way, you will brighten up your home without an expensive sunroom construction. Not to mention how much time and energy you will manage to save by forgoing this time-consuming renovation project.

6 New floors

New floors can be pricey, and buyers may not like your material of choice. If you have wood flooring, have them sanded and coated instead of refinishing them. If your tiles are cracked, and you need to replace them, play it safe. Remember that your taste won’t necessarily match the buyer’s taste. So it’s best to go with a neutral pattern without any flashy colors.

7 Wall-to-wall carpeting

Even though new carpeting is still a selling point in real estate listings, homebuyers may be put off by the prospect of having all of their rooms covered in it. Due to its ability to trap allergies and the chemicals used to manufacture it, carpeting is becoming less popular among families with children. Excessive carpeting in your home might lower the value of your property. Most buyers nowadays prefer the shine of hardwood floors. That being said, restoring or installing hardwood flooring is almost always preferable.

8 A swimming pool

Swimming pools are among the most common home improvement projects that do not add value. Pools are costly to install but no less expensive to maintain! A pool may deter prospective purchasers due to the additional costs and the safety hazards it presents. Buyers with pets or children, or older couples looking to retire will rarely go for a pool for these reasons. It’s better to use the backyard space as a blank canvas for your potential buyers. Some of them will want space for their dogs or children to play. Others might wish to create a barbecue area to hang out in. Nevertheless, they will imagine the kind of space they want, which might increase their will to buy.

Final words

Some things you might think are desirable when, in reality, they do not add value to your home. We hope this guide has helped you identify those home improvements that do not add value. Think about that when you want to sell your house and before making any home improvements. If you plan to sell your home soon, it’s best to keep it neutral. Do a minor touch-up here and there rather than splurge on unnecessary features. Happy remodeling!

 

Working From Home March 17, 2022

The 12 Best Work From Home Gadgets And Accessories

If you’re reading this, we assume you already have a computer and basic desk for handling your work, but what else might you need? What can help you get through the day and make sure you are doing your job well despite perhaps being in a different environment from normal? While you need to bring focus and discipline to the table, fortunately, you can also order other parts of the equation online.

We aren’t here to pick out specific products for you: you know your aesthetic and tastes better than anyone else, and you might have slightly different needs than other people. We do not even know how much space you have in your home office.

What we do hope to do is give you some new ideas about what you can put in your home office (or makeshift home office) to make your days just a bit brighter and a bit more stress-free. There are all sorts of products made for the work-from-home professional. With greater numbers than ever before in the last year or so, companies have focused on providing for the needs of this growing class of people.

So, without further wait, here are 12 options and product types you might enjoy getting for your workspace or home to make things just a bit easier:

1. An Ergonomic Office Chair

You probably have a chair. In fact, you might be sitting in it now, but is it a good chair? Is it a chair you are comfortable sitting in for eight hours each day, even with breaks? Because sitting constantly is not good for the back or your health in general , and sitting in a poorly constructed or shaped chair is only going to have consequences down the line. Therefore, perhaps before anything else, we recommend you take care of yourself and invest in an ergonomic office chair built to last and built to support you.

A few clear brand names will stand out, such as Herman Miller and Steelcase. While you may think paying more than a few hundred dollars for an office chair is a little ridiculous, think about how many hours each day you spend in your current chair. Isn’t lessened or removed back pain (either now or a decade down the line) worth $1000 or so? The best chairs come with long warranties and are sturdy, so you will likely not need to get another one for yourself anytime soon, making it an excellent investment.

Outside of getting a good model, you will want to make sure that your chair is suitable for your height and weight, is adjustable to at least some degree (this should be the case with nearly any high-end office chair), and will be good for your flooring. You do not want your chair’s wheels digging into your floors, though there are mats that can help with this.

If you think a good chair is out of your price range, you have a few options:

You could get a cushion or other accessories to make your current chair a bit more bearable or comfortable. You will likely need to adjust it frequently, and the benefits will not be as substantial, but your back will still thank you for it after the end of a long day at the home office.

You can search the used market to see if there is something available. People might replace perfectly good chairs regularly. Just make sure to give it a test sit and adjustments first before handing over your money.

While you might not have the customization options found on a specialist site, you can often find quality chairs on a site like Amazon or eBay that are new but pre-built. You might not get exactly what you want, but you will pay several hundred dollars less and get a fantastic chair.

2. A Standing or Adjustable Desk

While we are confident you already have a workspace set up for yourself, have you considered a standing desk? Either at home or in the main office? As mentioned, sitting all day is not good for your health, and just standing while you work can make a world of difference, reducing the resistance to get moving when you feel the need. Additionally, some people might feel like they have more energy and get more done as a result.

We do not suggest that you get a standing desk that only operates as a standing desk. This is rarely practical, and there will be points where you will need to sit down to get work done. On top of this, standing all day is not necessarily healthy either . Instead, we suggest that you get an adjustable desk and rework your setup to make sure all is well with it (this will be easier for people with laptops), and you can change positions a couple of times each workday.

When getting one, make sure to measure your height and the desk space you will need, as many adjustable desks are on the smaller side. Make sure it is easy to adjust (or else you will risk not doing so), and ideally, make sure it fits well into your home office décor. Since their surge in popularity, we find that they are easier to come by and more affordable for the average person.

3. A Second Monitor

We cannot stress enough the usefulness of getting a second or even third monitor for your home office. While you might have been getting by just fine with just a single monitor, you can drastically increase your productivity with one. Writers can keep their notes and research on a second screen, anyone working with art and design can keep up a reference, and anyone who might need to work with multiple spreadsheets or calendars at once can make quick comparisons, improving job efficiency.

Whether your workplace thinks you need a second screen or not, you will never want to go back once you set yourself up with one. It does not even need to be of the same quality as your current one, though note that massive differences in resolution or size might be disorienting to some. A best-case scenario is one in which you have multiple of the same monitor.

Alternatively, switching to a sufficiently large monitor can perform the same relative task if you can split the screen up properly (easier with modern operating systems, though you probably need a desktop setup). It might not be as easy to use, and it is not as natural as splitting things between several monitors, but it’s an option.

While some would say that putting up something on a second screen can be distracting, all you need is the self-discipline to turn it off when you aren’t using it.

4. Wireless Charging Stand

Keeping your phone and other devices plugged in while working can be a hassle, and you might not have all the wires needed to keep everything in reach. Also, having an arsenal of cables for every device seems like a pain. Instead, invest in a wireless charging station for your home office so that you can use your phone and take it with you when needed, and it can charge on the pad otherwise. You can answer calls faster and look up information more efficiently. As for the time to maximum charge, the difference will be hardly noticeable considering how quickly all options charge phones and equipment these days.

When getting one, make sure that it is compatible with as many of your devices as possible. While you should choose your devices on other criteria, and you certainly shouldn’t needlessly replace them, keeping this compatibility in mind when picking your next upgrade might be something to keep in mind as well.

They come in the form of pads, actual stands, and other shapes and sizes, depending on whether you want to charge multiple devices at once or keep it as compact as possible.

5. Compact Fitness Equipment

While the standing or adjustable desk might be one step, sometimes fitness might require a little more. Getting out to the gym can be a tricky prospect for many, even before lockdowns temporarily closed them. There is probably not adequate room or aesthetic desire for a full treadmill in your home office, but you can put in some well-designed workout equipment in there or think about bringing it in. You do not want to let yourself go just because you aren’t leaving the house so much!

Some Ideas Might Include:

  • Adjustable free weights can conveniently be stored away when not in use. They might be a little more expensive than a pair or two, and you might need a little time to get used to them, but a good set can last you a lifetime, keep you challenged, and not take up too much space.
  • If you have a little more space, you can get a foldable exercise bike. Some of them might not have all of the features or options that a more dedicated bike would, but you can store it easily and still give yourself a good workout during a break (or while listening to a call if you can keep yourself from getting winded.)
  • Depending on what you wear to the home office, you might not always be dressed for it, but rolling up a yoga mat and keeping it handy can help you relax and stretch if needed.
  • If you want to get a little workout in while you work, you can get an under-desk elliptical. The smaller it is, the better, so you do not bump your knees and have plenty of space left under the desk.
  • There are plenty of smaller devices and equipment that take advantage of your body weight, allowing you to do pushups against the wall, use your door as a frame, and more! There are full-on suspension training kits that only require a door, a bit of setup, and your personal strength.
  • Above all else, the internet is your friend if you are looking for a short workout in your home office. Just search for what you have in mind, and you can get a full workout with the above tools if you so desire.

6. Improved Lighting

Sometimes your home office is not in the best-lit of places. Perhaps it is in a repurposed basement or a room with only one or two windows. Maybe you start work before dawn or after sunset. In any event, good lighting results in good work and less of a headache later.

We would note that you should be cautious about its use at night if you want a good sleep schedule, as some lamps and bulbs can trick you into thinking that it is still daytime out.

If lighting is important to you for webcam reasons and you want to look your best when making a presentation, try improving your space with something like a ring or selfie lamp. They are designed to make you look your best in different conditions on camera. With it, you will not look shadowed or overlit, making presentations and talks easier for you.

Alternatively, if you want to splurge and have complete control over the situation, having adjustable lighting and smart lighting installed in your home office (or home in general) can be a great choice. With an app or included remote, you will likely be able to control the brightness and warmth of the light, turn on or off everything without even getting up from your seat, and even change the color of the lights in your office if you have the correct bulbs. It’s a bit of an investment compared to cheaper bulbs, but they tend to last long, and you will notice the difference if you experiment.

7. Blue-Light Blocking Glasses

While some apps and programs can block blue light from your computer on the inside, a pair of blue light glasses might help you keep your eyes healthier and less stressed while you continue to work, even into the evening. The blue light from your computer might be stressing your eyes. People simply aren’t meant to be exposed to it all day, especially if you are taking more computer time due to the ongoing pandemic (it can be difficult to think of things to do that are not related to a screen in some way).

These glasses are not too expensive; you can probably find a basic pair for less than $20. They come in plenty of designs and styles so that you can easily find a pair that fits well (and perhaps over the pair you already need. Their design has gotten better over time, so you can still see what you need to when working. At the very least, try them out and see how you feel after a week or two.

8. A Fan or Air Purifier

The air quality at home might not be like that at the office, and sometimes that means it is worse in one way or another. Having a dedicated air purifier for your office, especially during allergy season, can make work much easier. Even if it is not a severe problem, breathing in cleaner air will make a difference over the day and make you feel better.

This is another case where you get what you pay for. We suggest that you make sure not to get the cheapest model and pick something out that will be good for the room you are in, ideally quiet enough to not be distracting, and that uses a HEPA filter . Other factors might come down to personal preference and needs, as well as space concerns.

You might want to invest in a nice fan outside of an air purifier if you do not already have one or do not have an air conditioner installed in your office. The summer is coming, and working while cooking is no fun. Keeping fresh air available can keep you from getting tired or easily distracted, and some people might like the white noise a fan can provide.

9. Noise Cancelling Headphones or Earbuds

Whether you have noisy kids in the other room, a neighbor who always seems to mow the lawn at precisely the wrong time, or you, unfortunately, live near an airport or some train tracks, you know that loud noises can be incredibly distracting and ruin your workday. For these situations, we recommend noise-canceling or noise-dampening headphones, which can effectively put you in your own little world while you keep them on.

You might be able to find a model with a microphone attachment if using them in meetings is a concern. However, we recommend getting a dedicated microphone if you are looking for the best sound quality for whatever reason. As far as sound quality is concerned, many models have excellent sound quality (perfect for chill music while working). Just remember that you are getting what you pay for.

If you do not like the bulkiness of headphones or are on the move more often, then perhaps some noise-canceling earbuds might do the trick. In most cases, they will not be as effective, but you will be able to move around more easily and not feel like they are burdening you.

10. A Coffee Maker, Tea Maker, or Blender

If you know the virtues of coffee, this one is self-explanatory. You might have one already set up and use it every morning. How often do you use it? Could you get a better one now that you are spending more time at home and less time at coffee shops? If your coffee maker is older, now might be the perfect time to get something with smart features (wake up to hot coffee every morning), additional settings or controls, or just the ability to make more coffee at once for the true addicts.

If you want something a little fancier, there are espresso machines and latte makers available as well. While they might be pricey, using them to replace going out for your drinks will quickly make up the difference. A little bit of research, and you can be your own barista.

For something a little milder for any time of day, you can invest in a tea maker or electric kettle that can prepare and keep warm some great tea. Tea is easy to order online, and investing in some great blends or options can genuinely give you something to look forward to alongside work every day.

If coffee is not your thing and tea is just not to your taste, perhaps healthy smoothies (or less than healthy ice cream milkshakes) are perfect for you instead. While you might want to source some nice ingredients for yourself, you can use frozen fruit when needed in the summer. There are tons of recipes online you can use, and while you might not keep it in the office, you’ll quickly turn it into a daily necessity. You can even make them a pitcher at a time if you don’t want to spend time every day making them.

11. A Mini Fridge

While you are working from home, you might not think about getting a mini-fridge for your home office or workspace, but it can be an excellent option if you are trying to stay focused and want to keep your lunch or snacks chilled for when you need them.

We understand your workspace is sacred, and if you leave it, opportunities for distraction are more likely. By keeping yourself away from other people and loading up the mini-fridge each morning with your intended options (or perhaps a few cold beverages of choice), you can keep on task and get done earlier.

Alternatively, if you are just looking for some cool water, perhaps getting a water cooler might be your best option. If you drink bottled water anyway, getting larger refillable jugs by delivery can save you money and have less environmental impact than getting many smaller disposable bottles. You might even be able to get hot water out of them for tea or for soothing your throat after a long meeting.

Whatever you pick and whatever size you get, just make sure to maintain and clean it regularly and to use it to make healthy choices if at all possible.

12. A White Board

Having a physical board or sheet that can display your goals, ideas, or major to-do items can be extremely helpful and keep the most important things at the forefront of your mind. Even the act of writing these things down every day can help you focus and be part of your morning ritual. While a sticky note or two can often do the job, we find they are too often ignored and that they can constantly get in the way, big enough to cause a nuisance but small enough to be easily lost. Similarly, digital notes and reminders can be all too easily canceled and forgotten.

Yet a giant message to yourself hanging right in front of you and visible whenever you lookup? That might be a bit more effective.

What size of board you get and where you put it is up to you. Ideally, you can find one that you can mount on the wall with no hassle, and you can keep it clean as needed (so keep it within easy reach).

Conclusion

There are, of course, so many other trinkets and gadgets you can look into, with similar lists to this reaching more than 50 products. We wanted to provide a closer focus on the soon-to-be essentials and items that can improve your quality of life on a day-to-day basis. We hope that at least a few of the things or item types here piqued your interest and that you will go shopping (online or otherwise) for them soon.

Remember that investing in yourself and your work is absolutely worth it. If you are still working from home now, you are likely in it for the long haul. We wish you the best of luck and hope you can keep your workplace fresh and productive!

.


To click on your state to view provider information and availability in your area.

 

Ready to Sell? March 17, 2022

Is Your Home Ready to Sell? Tips to Get Your House Ready for the Market

open house

Image via Pixabay

You’re starting a new chapter in your life, and you need to change where you live. That’s exciting, but it’s also stressful. How are you going to sell your existing home? What can you do to prepare your house to sell quickly? Everything seems to need an update, a repair, or a touch of inspiration. How do you choose where to focus your time and money?

Here are a few tips from David Lyng Real Estate.

Ask a Realtor

Local real estate agents know your housing market; they know what is selling and what is not. With their knowledge, they can tell you the best staging options to help your home sell quickly. They can also help you decide on the right updates to improve the market value of your home.  Use these tips to start a list of possible updates and staging options to review with your agent.

To get a head start on the process, you can use online real estate listings to see how other homeowners in Raleigh have staged their homes for the market. This can give you a good idea of which trends are attracting buyers so you can focus on what’s working.

Start with Curb Appeal

Begin on the street. You need to take a critical look at your landscaping. Have the shrubs become overgrown? How does your lawn look? Maybe you aren’t a flower person, but it is a good idea to plant flowers for those pops of color that make a house feel like home.

Also, take a close look at your doorway and the path leading up to it. Everything needs to sparkle and shine. Maybe a new coat of paint or new door hardware? Placing solar-powered outdoor lights along the path to the front door gives a warming glow. Finally, put out a new welcome mat that invites potential buyers into your home.

Exterior repairs and general maintenance are a must for selling your home. A poorly maintained and messy exterior sets a negative tone for potential buyers. They begin to wonder how well you’ve taken care of your home’s interior before they even open the door. Check your gutters and downspouts, and ensure windows and screens are clean and in good repair.

Declutter and Depersonalize

Cluttered spaces give the impression of insufficient space. If that’s the case for your home, then you need a plan to get organized — and that often begins in the entryway. If your entry is a dumping ground for shoes, boots, backpacks, and briefcases, create a place to put them or find a place to stow them. Do you really need three pairs of boots in your entryway?

Today’s buyers want organized closets and drawers; they don’t want to see clothes tossed on the closet floor or an overflowing laundry hamper. Messy spaces can leave an impression of poorly organized spaces and careless ownership. Consider renting a storage unit for excess items if you don’t have sufficient storage space in your home.

Also, remove personal items such as family photos and knick-knacks. You want potential buyers to see themselves in your home, and that’s often hard to do with pictures of you and your family on mantels, walls, and display shelves. The same holds for those cherished knick-knacks. Your collection of teapots or farm animals may be the envy of your friends and family, but they only intrude on your buyers’ vision of themselves in your home.

Decluttering your home is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce your child to an allowance. By helping you with this project, you could reward them with money, treats, or a fun activity. You can even use helpful allowance apps to let you slowly introduce the idea to your kids.

Create a Blank Slate

After you’ve removed all those personal items and clutter, create a blank slate that is still warm and inviting. Getting that balance right requires a careful assessment of your interior space.

Take a serious look at your floors and walls. To get that blank slate, you need to neutralize (or at least tone down) your color scheme. Changing paint colors is an inexpensive way to update your home and create a backdrop for buyers to imagine their possessions in your space.  Painting removes the signs of pictures on your walls or other personal items you’ve removed.

Clean everything. From ceiling fans to baseboards, it is essential that your home shine. Consider hiring a cleaning service to keep your home spotless. Also, don’t forget the trash. Be sure to clean all trash cans and remove trash promptly to keep odors at bay. Use odor neutralizers and scented candles to make your property smell fresh.

With your interior and exterior list of repairs and updates, you’re ready to sit down with a realtor to set priorities. Real estate professionals like Paul Burrowes know what buyers are looking for in your area and can recommend where to focus your energies when trying to sell a house.

Uncategorized March 10, 2022

7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Spring

Flowers on the table – a great way to prepare home for spring.
We have stepped into March, and that means only one thing – spring is around the corner! Now is the perfect time to de-winterize your home. So, say goodbye to warm sweaters and cold weather and let in the warm fresh air of spring in your life. We’re talking beautiful flowers, a colorful palette on the walls, and refreshing scents – everything that screams life and blossom will do the trick. In the spirit of things, in today’s article, we will talk about seven ways to prepare your home for spring. Grab yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s scroll!

Reorganize your closet

Let’s start with the most dreaded chore – closet reorganization. This is a task most people love to put off, and we understand why. It takes your valuable time and bores you out of your wits – we get it. However, putting the winter clothes in the back and the spring ones in the front of your closet is an incredible mood booster. Once you see all these light pieces in beautiful colors, you’ll feel much happier. And, once the spring jitters overwhelm your body, you’ll actually feel good about completing this chore.

And, this is a perfect time to declutter. The best way to do this is to look for things you can get rid of, donate, or even recycle. If you have many winter coats and jackets that you won’t be wearing until next winter, we suggest that you think about renting a storage unit.

There are many reasons to rent a storage space, and you should definitely opt for this solution if you want to keep all your winter clothes safe but don’t have enough room in your home. This way, you’ll both prepare your home for spring and make extra space for other stuff.

Give your bed a makeover

Next, you’ll have to make some changes to your bedroom. For instance, those flannel bedding and faux fur blankets may seem snuggly in the winter, but now the weather is warming up. We recommend you use sheets that are made of a more breathable percale or sateen. Additionally, replace bulky throws with something lighter and thinner. This should be one of the first signs of spring in your home.

Add a pop of color

Leave the winter’s dreary behind and let the sunlight in with a pallet of bright colors to welcome the spring season. Giving your space a fresh coat of paint makes everything feel brighter and healthier right away – much like spring mornings themselves. Pastel colors are perfect for interiors and give off a cheery springtime vibe. They go with many different colors in the home and are a terrific way to revitalize a worn space, ranging from mild green to soft yellow. If a full room makeover isn’t in the cards, adding color through soft furnishings like rugs or pillows is a good alternative.

Additionally, if you’re into wallpapers, now it’s a perfect time to make them a part of your home decor. Going with cheery spring prints and bright colors is a great way to prepare your home for spring and refresh your home!

Bring refreshing scents into your home

Spring scents can help you emerge from your winter slumber and get your home ready for the spring season. Lemongrass, bergamot, and orange are classic spring notes, while floral aromas like iris, jasmine, and rose can help brighten your spirits after a long winter. Yes, the days are becoming brighter. However, a shimmering candle flame or a diffuser may still create a warm ambiance in the spring. This is precisely what you need to get in the spirit of things and set the perfect spring mood in your home.

Get your garden tools ready

Spring is an excellent time to examine the winter damage, repair broken tools, sweep the lawn of any fallen debris, and clean up your shed. It may not be the first spot that comes to mind while spring cleaning, but it certainly shouldn’t be neglected.

So, as spring approaches, it’s critical to organize our garden sheds to create room for all the knicks and knacks, tools, and equipment we need to store. Organizing and making maximum use of the space using racking, hooks, and shelves is a terrific place to start. We recommend putting goods that “live together” in categories and labeling segments, so you know where everything is stored. This will keep you from having to turn the shed upside down every time you need to undertake some yard work.

Make your garden guest-ready

Nature is beginning to resurrect itself. While it may still be too chilly to dine outdoors, now is the perfect time to tend to your garden so that you’ll be ready when the weather warms up. So, jet-wash the patio, mow the lawn, clean (or refinish) any worn-out patio furniture, and fix up the garden beds and borders.

Moreover, consider dividing your garden into zones if you have the room. Ideally, you’ll have a designated area for relaxing (sunbeds, a patio sofa, and a hanging egg chair), as well as a separate place for dining (bistro sets are ideal for small areas). Finally, add stylish elements to your outdoor space, such as a garden reflector, lanterns, and outdoor rugs. In no time, your garden will be ready for your friends and family.

Style your home with flowers

Magnolias, hydrangea, tulips! Bringing these beauties into your house serves as a lovely reminder of how things are beginning to blossom outdoors. If you’re anything like us, making your home ready for the spring season is all about decorating your house with flower arrangements that cheer you up, even if it’s only a handful of daisies from the garden. Alternatively, you may purchase a spring wreath or create your own with your favorite wildflowers. It’s just a huge mood booster, and it creates an inviting atmosphere that everybody will enjoy.

Are you ready to prepare your home for the spring?

Spring is coming, and we couldn’t be more excited. If you’re cut from the same cloth, then it’s time to embrace this season in your home. With these seven ways to prepare your home for spring, you’ll be more than ready on March 20th to enjoy the beginning of the best season to the fullest. Think colors, flowers, refreshing scents, eating breakfast al-fresco, and clothes without layers. This all sounds amazing, right? So, roll your sleeves and get to these tasks one by one because spring couldn’t be closer!

For more content about real estate, moving, and downsizing, visit the David Lyng Real Estate blog.