8 House Staging Tips for Busy Parents

The realization that you need to stage your home can be a tough one for parents. It is a challenge keeping a house pristine and clutter-free for a few hours, let alone several weeks. However, staging a house with kids does not have to be a logistical nightmare. All it takes is some patience and organization.

Hire A Pro

This is not in everyone’s budget, but if you are willing to spend the money and you really do not have any idea where to start with staging, you can hire a professional. This does not come cheap – the national average cost is $959 – but it does remove a lot of the pressure and guarantees that your home is picture-perfect for buyers.

Embrace Minimalism

You are going to have to clear out a lot of clutter to stage your home, but do not be tempted to just pack it all up without going through it. This is an opportunity for you to declutter and simplify your life, so embrace this part of the staging process.

Adults may be more onboard with the idea of “purging” stuff than kids, so you might need a strategy to get them to embrace toy minimalism. Zen Habits has a great list of tips for doing this.

Compromise With Your Children

Moving can be hard for kids, so it is important for parents to learn to compromise. Is your child upset that you want to repaint their bedroom walls a neutral white? Agree to let them choose whatever color they want in the next room. You may also want to take some steps to make the move easier on them, like making a memory scrapbook of the house or visiting their favorite neighborhood spots.

Take The Kids Out

An easy way to minimize the amount of mess the children make is to keep them outside of the house. Organize fun family activities on weekends, or if it is summer, just encourage them to play in the yard. Your family outings do not have to be expensive or exhausting.  There are plenty of fun and free activities that can keep the kids out of the house, such as going to a library or finding a new playpark.

Give Out Chores

Include your kids in the maintenance process. Keeping the house clean during the weeks when it is being viewed is going to be a big undertaking, and it should not be up to you alone. Create a chore chart and assign responsibilities to each child, even if it is just keeping their room tidy. If you are not sure about what jobs you can give them, this age-appropriate chore chart by Molly Maid can help.

Become A Stain Expert

Kids make messes. As a parent, you have probably come to accept this. However, buyers may not feel the same way, and you need to be able to tackle that grape juice stain on the carpet or the crayon marks on the sofa. Learn to get rid of any stain, from baby food to permanent marker, using a small selection of basic household cleaners.   

Master The Art Of The Quick Clean

Last-minute viewings do happen, so have a strategy in place for getting the house ready in a moment’s notice. Your last-minute cleaning list should include picking up everything off the floor, sweeping and vacuuming highly visible areas, making the bed, wiping down the kitchen, and taking out the trash.

Don’t Forget Curb Appeal

Don’t underestimate the value of a nice-looking front yard. Good landscaping can add anywhere between 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent to your sale price, so it literally pays not to neglect it. Parents can start by clearing the front yard of any children’s toys, old bikes, and other outdoor clutter. Then, rope in your kids for a gardening session, planting a couple of flower beds for a touch of color.

Remember that the more you commit to home staging, the more likely you are to sell your home quickly. It is a bit of effort, but ultimately you are better off working to keep a staged home for a few weeks than to keep waiting for a buyer for several months. Besides, there are worse things than living in a clean and clutter-free home.

Move like a Pro

Moving to a new home, no matter how close or far, is always a stressful experience, regardless of how many times you’ve been through it. There’s so much planning to do that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Then there’s the unknown, the fear that something will go wrong, belongings will be lost or broken, or you won’t have enough help to get through it all. In most cases, it’s probably best to go with a professional mover unless you happen to have your own moving truck and lots of sturdy moving equipment. There are just too many advantages to letting the pros handle it. You’ll have more than enough to contend with, given all the cleaning, packing, decluttering, and final logistical arrangements to be made.


Some people prefer to box everything up themselves, either because they feel safer handling their own belongings or because they’re trying to save money. In general, when amateurs pack their own stuff, they wind up overspending and making inefficient use of boxes and packing material. Movers have both the training and experience to pack quickly and make the most efficient use of space. Movers can handle a packing job in a few days, while you could end up taking weeks to get it all packed up and ready to go.

In Good Hands

Professional movers are also well-practiced at safeguarding customers’ precious and fragile items with heavy-duty wrapping material and packing tape. That means not only packaging but loading and unloading them safely come moving day, which means they probably can handle it more safely and effectively than you could. In case you’re still iffy about the idea of your Tiffany lamps and antique mirrors being handled by rough hands and muscular arms, bear in mind that all of your belongings are insured.

 Tools of the Trade

Moving is about more than boxing, packing, and loading/unloading. You need the tools of the trade to make everything go smoothly. That means two-wheel and four-wheel dollies (which you can buy on Amazon for $39.99), as well as sturdy metal ramps and hoisting straps. The better the tools, the better the move will go. If you’d rather not purchase the tools needed to facilitate the move, look for a moving company that offers everything for one inclusive price.


In general, moving companies provide estimates based on mileage or the nature of the moving service being provided (for example, if it includes storage as well as moving). Obviously, a local crosstown move will produce a lower estimate than if you’re heading out of state. Shop around, and always meet with a representative who knows what services will be required and what they’ll cost before signing on the dotted line. In Irvine, you’ll likely pay $69 to $120 per hour for two movers after a two-hour period.

Storage Facilities

A long-distance move usually requires special services and considerations. For example, if you arrive at your destination later than expected and, for some reason, you can’t get into the house or apartment, the moving company will store your belongings in a special storage space for the short or long term. That way, you don’t have to worry about your stuff sitting in the back of a truck or getting broken into. 

Packing up everything you own, loading it, and hauling it to a new and unfamiliar area is enough to give most people butterflies in their stomachs. If you have an entire household to move, lack equipment, and don’t have time to handle it all yourself, a professional moving company is a more convenient option than risking going it alone. Plan ahead so you have time to get enough estimates.

How You Can Adapt to Handle Big Repairs

Being a homeowner is something many people aspire to, yet it comes with its own unique set of responsibilities and hazards. You have to factor in major repairs as well, which can quickly escalate into the thousands of dollars, so you must be prepared should the worst happen.

Rainy Day Funds

When you rent, the property owner is the one responsible for all repairs, both large and small. That means when you own a home, the burden falls upon you to handle these repairs. If you don’t have a rainy day fund, and you need major work done to your roof because of a catastrophe or lack of maintenance, you may be out between $4,900 and $14,100 for a replacement. Depending on the material of your roof, you should expect replacements every seven to 30 years, on average. If you have an aging home, it may be sneaking up on you, especially if you notice any visible damage. You should start saving with each paycheck to ensure you can afford whatever repairs and replacements fall into your lap.

Home Insurance

Most mortgages will require you to purchase homeowners insurance, but you must establish what your policy offers and what you will be liable for. The three main types are dwelling coverage, contents coverage, and personal liability. Dwelling protects the property itself but isn’t totally inclusive, whereas contents will cover what you put inside, such as furniture and electronics. Personal liability will handle any bodily injury suffered due to accidents. Yet, depending on your state, you may not have the coverage to ensure your home is protected. This is another reason why you need an emergency fund.

FAIR Plans

FAIR plans were created by the government but are managed by home insurance companies. These plans provide coverage for people living in areas like California and Florida that might otherwise be impossible to insure. They are pricey, however, but they can be worth it should a natural disaster strike. What’s more, this coverage may be required for your mortgage. However, you cannot get one because you live in a dangerous area; you will have to take the proper steps to mitigate the chances of experiencing a disaster.

Invest in Warranties

One way to save money and protect your assets is to get home warranties when they are offered. If the boiler that comes with the home has one in place, it is wise to extend it once it expires so you do not need to spend thousands for a replacement should something go wrong. This applies to all large appliances and electronics, but doubly so for ones that are essential to your household, such as boilers and water heaters. By adding warranties or extending existing ones, your savings and credit remain safer and intact.

Pick Your Contractor

Part of mitigating the price of repairs is finding a suitable contractor for the job. Do thorough research before you choose someone, and it benefits you to know what, exactly, you want done to avoid additional charges. Whomever you choose should be fully licensed and be willing to work out a payment schedule with you if costs escalate. Always get multiple bids, and do not simply go with the lowest, as they may not give you the quality that will last. Instead, look at reviews and use word of mouth to find reputable workers. Lastly, never go with a contractor who pressures you to get things done immediately or demands a cash deposit. Those are signs that they are not reliable; instead, they are probably looking for a quick buck.

Owning our very own property is a dream come true. However, that dream can cost us a fortune if we don’t plan and prepare for pricey repairs. Save up, get the right policies, and know how to find a good contractor to ease your mind, and let you enjoy this wonderful occasion.

Orange County Gems

Owning property in California?s premier Orange County
neighborhoods is a dream for many homebuyers. Here quality of life abounds with
never ending days filled with sunshine, outdoor activities that promote a
healthy lifestyle, and the magic of the original Disneyland right around the
corner. Whether you are looking for the perfect starter home in Tustin or a
breathtaking Newport Beach coastal villa, Orange County has what you need.

Toast of the Town in Shady

Rows of luxury homes are speckled across carefully
maintained greenery and private golf clubs behind Shady Canyon?s gated
entrance. This Irvine neighborhood, boasting 16,000 acres of wildlife
sanctuary, is as exclusive as they come. If a private elevator, covetable lawn,
and access to all the top notch amenities of a gated community are what you
seek, consider investing your future in Shady Canyon.

Living Large in Westpark

With a nationally recognized award-winning school
system, Westpark is the ideal place in Irvine for a family to settle down and
start fresh. Bill
Barber Community Park
, a 42-acre recreational area, is a local
gathering point that features tennis courts, an amphitheater, and picnic
gardens among many other amenities for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Nearly Coastal in Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde is one of five unique neighborhoods located
in Costa Mesa, California. Just five miles away from Huntington State Beach.  The close proximity to Fairview Park and
Costa Mesa Golf Course makes this a popular area for families. 

Hip in the Westside

Slightly less expensive than its neighbor to the North,
Westside is an up and coming Costa Mesa neighborhood known for its trendy cafes
and warehouse turned art galleries enticing the younger home buyer. Head to the
Lab Anti Mall for a break from the old fashioned shopping centers of the 90s;
here patrons can stroll amongst unique shops and salons,
take a nap in a bean bag, or appreciate local artwork entwined with the outdoor
malls construction.

Budget Friendly in North Tustin

Just a thirty-minute drive from Irvine, the
neighborhood of North Tustin has all the small town charm with big city
conveniences. This District of Orange County is also nestled near freeways,
making transportation a breeze for residents on the go. Join in the active
outdoor lifestyle with theme parks and beaches right around the corner. Whether
you?re looking to purchase an affordable ranch style home, or splurge on a
redwood cabana with breathtaking views of nature at work, it?s a good time to
buy in North Tustin, with desirable homes selling for at or below list

Luxury Calling at Pelican Hill

The quiet gated community of Pelican Hill in Newport
Beach features a number of resorts and the ever so exclusive Pelican Hill Golf
. Owning a home in this area is akin to being on a permanent
vacation, with sweeping views of Newport Harbor and exquisite grounds with
sparkling fountains that radiate exuberance. The Mediterranean style shopping
center at Crystal Cove is outfitted with catered dining experiences and
boutiques stocked with the latest in fashion trends.  

Oceanside in Lido Isle

Originally, a sandbar off Newport?s coastline, Lido
Isle was developed into a man-made island in the early to mid-1900s. Now a
thriving community of 1800 residents with access to Lido Isle Clubhouse, a semi-private
boating and yacht cooperative, this posh Newport neighborhood is optimal for a
lover of the wide open ocean. A short drive over the island?s connecting bridge
will land you in Lido Village, a premier shopping and dining area with coastal
views. With tennis courts, yacht clubs, and sailing classes for children, this
neighborhood promotes a vibrant and active lifestyle.

Buying a Home Before Marriage? 3 Money Talks You Need to Have First

An increasing number of couples are signing mortgage contracts before they ever sign a marriage license. According to MarketWatch, the number of unmarried couples aged 24-35 buying homes rose 4 percent between 2005 and 2017. And while buying a home before marriage can work out, it?s more complicated than buying a house as a wedded couple.

Unmarried couples who don?t make the right financial considerations could find themselves arguing their way through the homebuying process or end up in financial trouble if the relationship ends due to separation or death. To protect their relationship and their finances, unmarried couples should ask these three questions before buying a home.

How is our credit?

Married couples are privy to their spouse?s financial information, but unmarried couples could unearth surprises when applying for a mortgage. Although unmarried couples complete separate mortgage applications, both partners? finances affect the mortgage size and rate they qualify for. If one partner is hiding a shoddy credit score or a pile of debt, it will come out during the mortgage application process when they can?t get a competitive loan or are denied entirely.

Couples should discuss their finances with complete transparency before pursuing a mortgage. When financial challenges are out in the open, couples can work together to resolve them and achieve their goal of homeownership.

What can we afford?

Agreeing on a budget before shopping saves couples a lot of disagreement. However, couples who use mortgage estimates on websites like Zillow and Trulia to set their budget aren?t getting the full picture of what a home costs.

Couples should include these expenses when calculating how much home they can afford:

  • Closing costs, typically three to five percent of the mortgage
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Primary mortgage insurance (PMI) if putting less than 20 percent down
  • Repairs and upkeep averaging one to two percent of the home?s value annually
  • Realtor commissions when selling, typically six percent
  • Homeowners association (HOA) fees.

Once couples understand what they?ll be spending each month, they need to decide how they?ll split the costs. Some couples contribute to the down payment and homeownership expenses equally, but many split costs proportionally based on each partner?s income. Again, this is a question to answer before getting financially entangled with a mortgage.

How will the title be held?

Married couples are joint owners in their home by default. Unmarried couples, however, must decide how they?ll hold title to the property.

One option is to have one person be the sole owner. However, the American Bar Association advises against sole ownership if both partners are contributing to the purchase and upkeep, as it leaves the non-owner with little recourse if the relationship ends or the sole owner dies. Many young couples also need both incomes to qualify for a mortgage.

Couples who intend to be co-owners of their home have two options for how they hold title:

  • Tenants in common: The property is owned by both parties according to percentages of ownership. Upon sale of the home, each person receives that percentage as their share of the proceeds. If one person dies, their share is passed to heirs.
  • Joint tenants with rights of survivorship: The property is owned by both parties in equal proportion. If one person dies, their share in the property passes to the other partner.

Joint tenants with rights of survivorship is usually the preferred option for committed couples. However, couples who prefer to leave their estate to a child or other heir may choose to be tenants in common.

There?s a lot to consider when buying a house with a romantic partner, from the size and style of your future home to the neighborhood where you want to live. However, the most important questions couples need to ask are the financial ones. That?s especially true when buying as an unmarried couple, as unwed couples don?t have the same legal protections as spouses. By addressing these questions before buying, unmarried couples can achieve their dream of homeownership together.

Technology?s Ever-Increasing Role in Real Estate

In years past, prospective homebuyers would scour newspapers for listings, drive through their dream neighborhoods looking for sale signs, and spend entire weekends touring homes listed for sale. Their real estate agents would assist their clients by providing listings that would eventually turn into showings via open houses and scheduled appointments.? Today, with the rise of technology everything has changed.? Technology and the rise of big data are putting more power into the hands of prospective buyers, allowing them to obtain more information, and in turn allowing them to gain more control of their home-buying experience.

Technology has given the layman access to information and listings that were exclusively controlled by real estate agencies and their respective MLS.? Because of this, one would expect the use of realtors to be in decline with the advent and progression of technology, but the opposite has occurred. In fact, studies have shown that the percent of buyers using realtors has increased since the introduction of these new technologies.

Unlike many other professional and commercial fields, the application of technology has boosted job necessity in real estate; however, the realtor?s job description has quickly changed in order to keep up with the development of apps, data marketing tools, and more. Keep reading for more information on the role technology has played and is playing in real estate.

1. Mobile Apps

New real estate smartphone applications have given homebuyers more accessibility to real estate listings than ever before. All properties for sale are available at buyers? fingertips, cutting out the need for a realtor to send listing to their clients on a daily or even hourly basis. Instead, mobile app users receive notifications when properties that match their search criteria appear on the market, giving them instant access to new listings. In hot markets where sellers are in the driver?s seat, this has encouraged quicker sales and greater competition between homebuyers vying for their desired properties.

2. Virtual tours

In the early days of internet technology, properties listed for sale included property stats, a handful of images, and information on how and when one could see the listing in person. Today, that has all changed. With new 3-D technology and virtual reality, homebuyers can have the experience of touring a home without ever stepping foot in the property. This is an excellent feature for those looking to buy in other cities or countries, and benefits the seller as it may require fewer showings to get their property sold.

3. Online listings

While this technology is less recent, online listings have made the process of buying property far easier on buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Because listings share important data like tax and purchase history, school ratings, neighborhood information, and detailed information about the property, the buyers are equipped with enough background information to ensure their interest before they see the property in person, meaning less time spent for all parties involved.

4. E-signing services

With the introduction of technology comes the elimination of paper contracts. As electronic signatures becomes the norm, DocuSign being a great example, completing property sale transactions is easier than ever.? Printing out huge packages of closing documents, which were sent back and forth between the buyers, sellers and closing agency is now expedited by providing their signatures digitally saving them time and money for all parties, and making the process more streamlined to boot.

5. Access to data-driven insight

Despite having an organized and consolidated data system, humans are sometimes unable to notice complex patterns in the real estate market. Before big data and artificial intelligence, sometimes markets would shift out of nowhere: The sales of in-demand neighborhoods would slow or an undesirable neighborhood would skyrocket in sales. With technological advances, these changes are becoming more detectable, keeping realtors at the pulse of the ever-changing real estate market.? In addition, this trend is also putting more information and power into the hands of real estate investors, who are benefiting from the data by allowing them to match properties to their criteria more seamlessly.

6. Lead management

As with every industry, real estate depends on proper lead management. Through marketing campaigns and other programs, realty companies analyze their clientele and generate ideas on how to best attract new customers, and how to manage the process. Artificial intelligence has made lead management even more effective and provides greater insight on how to best define realty companies? target market and reach through marketing and advertising. This has aided realtors in pre-sales, post-sales, advertising, and more.? Here are a few lead management software options that benefit real estate agent with better servicing and managing their client?s needs, as well as automating their internal business operations.

7. Property price calculations

Artificial intelligence is taking the question mark out of list prices. Before big data and artificial intelligence, listing your property was a very difficult proposition.?? Prices were chosen based on general information at hand: How many bedrooms the property has, how large the lot is, how desirable the neighborhood is, the home?s square footage, etc. Today, the price of listings is calculated precisely with the use of artificial intelligence. Using a pool of data provided by recent listings and sales, technology is able to determine a clear-cut listing price based on transportation, infrastructure, environment changes, improvements, neighborhoods, etc.

Buying a New Home in Retirement: A Guide for Seniors

Buying a new home in retirement gives you the opportunity to downsize, invest, and make valuable lifestyle changes. Whatever your reason for moving, make sure you have the knowledge and tools to make your move a success. The following guide explores how to navigate your financial options, address challenges, and find the home that’s right for you. If you want to start your real estate journey off right, keep reading!

Know What Your Home Is Worth

A thorough understanding of your financial options will help you make educated decisions during the selling/buying process. A great place to start is by researching the average listing price of homes in your area. You can do this by exploring local real estate listings and finding homes that are similar to yours in location, size, age, and upkeep. Say you live in Irvine, California, and discover that the average selling price of a home is $837,000. Knowing the average market price of comparable homes in Irvine will help you determine a listing price and provide you with an estimate of how much you could make in a sale. Additionally, knowing the potential sale price of your home will influence your budget for a future home.

Ask a Real Estate Agent

Asking for help and clarification from industry professionals is one of the best investments you can make during the moving process. Real estate agents are incredibly knowledgeable of the intricacies of home sales/purchases and will work with you to set a sale price, find prospective buyers, and negotiate offers. Your realtor will also handle the majority of the complex paperwork pertaining to property taxes, transfer taxes, and invoices. Real estate agents also work with clients to find and purchase a new home (there?s a reason 90 percent of home sellers use a real estate agent).

Talk to a Mortgage Broker

Mortgage brokers assess your finances, gather documentation, and offer advice on types of mortgages. If you have concerns about obtaining a mortgage, a mortgage expert may be able to mitigate your concerns by offering valuable information and advice. During this process, it is important that you are asking the right questions and that your broker is providing you with clear answers. Don?t be afraid to ask how their mortgage application process works and what type of experience their team has. You might consider asking for clarification about how much their services cost, what interest rates they can offer, and what your monthly payments will be.

Find the Right Home

Once you have consulted a real estate agent and a mortgage broker, it?s time to start searching for the perfect home. Most people begin by identifying the location they want to live. Consider asking yourself the following: Which location has the best weather? Who do I want to live near? Do I need to be near any particular services (hospitals, doctors, shopping centers, public transit, etc.)?

After you have identified your dream location, make a list of what your ideal home looks like. Maybe you want a yard, guest bedroom, garage, and large kitchen — write it down and search for homes that align with your list. Your real estate agent can work with you during this process to find homes that fit your individual needs.

Think you have found the perfect home? Connect with a home inspector who can identify any structural damages and recommend repairs and improvements. The report your home inspector gives you can help guide your final purchasing decision.

Buying a new home is a great opportunity to start fresh, change scenery, and enhance quality of life. While the real estate world can seem complicated, there are numerous experts who can answer your questions, address concerns, and explain confusing topics. Don?t let yourself be held back by industry jargon or complex financial information — ask for advice, get answers, and plan for the future. Best of luck on your journey to a new retirement home!

Spring in Orange County

The last bits of snow are melting, the days are getting longer and the birds are singing louder. Spring is right around the corner, and Orange County is a great place to celebrate the season. There are the warm waters at Newport Beach, the parks of Irvine and arts and entertainment in Costa Mesa. The following are ideas for where to take the family in spring:

Newport Beach

From sun-seekers to the seasoned surfer, Newport Beach has options for everyone.

This year marks the 19th annual Newport Beach Film Festival. The 10-day festival takes place in April, and it includes more than 300 short and feature length films. The festival features a Family Film Series, which has programs geared toward toddlers and tweens. The series includes animated films and student films, and there is live entertainment and autograph sessions.

Kids will enjoy cheering on their favorite team at the annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race. The race is commonly referred to as ?N2E,? and it takes place April 27-29. More than 200 sailboats participate in the 125-mile overnight race that launches off Balboa Pier and ends in Ensenada, Baja California.

N2E kicks off with the Balboa Village Fest. The festival takes place in Fun Zone, which has a Ferris wheel and an arcade among other attractions. It includes the Taste of Balboa, where visitors can try signature dishes from area restaurants and live music performances.

Children can learn how to tie knots and play with chalk through activities provided by ExplorOcean. The festival is free to attend, and food tickets are available for $1.

The park at Crystal Cove is an ideal spot for long walks on the beach. It includes three miles of coastline and about 2,400 acres of protected land. Take the kids to the tide pools, which are teeming with starfish, anemones and other sea life. Afterward, check out the shops in the seaside cottages.


This city is one of the newest and safest in Orange County. Its home to a growing business community as well as the University of California, Irvine campus. The suburban layout includes several large parks with fields for outdoor sports.

March marks the beginning of the Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tours. The tour starts with a lesson on their farming methods and a history of the farm. Visitors can taste fruits and vegetables of the season, and learn how they grow. The tour ends with a stop at the strawberry patch, where visitors can pick and eat their own. Leave some space in the fridge, as people can bring home up to one pound of strawberries.

The Orange County Soccer Club starts their regular season March 17. The team plays at UCI Anteater stadium and tickets start at $14 each. The team has signed international players with experience under the belts, such as 2016 USL Cup winner and Trinidad and Tobago youth international Noah Powder, former Danish Superliga champion Thomas Enevoldsen and Greek Super League defender Kontor Owusu-Ansah.

Children can learn more about other cultures at the Irvine Korean Festival. The festival takes place in May, and it is free to attend. It includes traditional Korean cuisine, art and musical performances. Kids can make their own crafts and learn from participating exhibitors.

Costa Mesa

Originally a series of farms and apple orchards, Costa Mesa served as the site of the Santa Ana Army Air Base during the 1940?s. Today the area is known for its several shopping destinations, as well as its performing arts center.

Kids will have a ball at the annual Pet Expo. This event is the largest pet and pet product expo in the world, featuring more than 1,000 animals. Visitors can touch and hold lizards, snakes and tarantulas at the Reptile Show. See how high and how far dogs can jump at Splash Dogs. Or cheer on rescued sea lions as they shoot hoops and balance balls at Sea Lion Splash. Tickets are $15 for general admission, and $10 for children 10 and under.

This April, the Orange County Fair and Event center is hosting Imaginology. Kids and parents can come together at this event and learn more through science, technology, engineering, art and math programs. This year?s competitions include a steampunk hat contest, 3-D printing and wood and metal arts. The event takes place over three days, and it is free to attend.

Fairview Park covers more than 200 acres, and it includes several trails for walking or biking. The park is full of local wildlife, such as the Burrowing Owl and White-Tailed Kite raptor. It also has Vernal Pools, which are wet in the winter and dry in the summer. The pools support several plant and animal species that are rare or endangered. They are especially pretty in the dry times of spring, as wildflowers are in full bloom.

Home Energy Conservation

Conserving energy in your home helps you save money as well as preserved the energy resources the earth provides us. Below are some tips on how to conserve energy in your home.

Green Lighting

  • If you are not using lights, then turn them off.
  • Purchase compact fluorescent bulbs that lower energy consumption considerably. You can begin by replacing the bulbs which you frequently use most of the time in your home as you work your way to replacing them all.
  • Make your older kids who live with you handle the electricity bill. They will ensure lights which are not in use are turned off to minimize the electricity bill.
  • Avoid placing lamps next to the thermostat. The thermostat detects the heat emitted from the lamp and this may alter the frequency in which your air conditioner or furnace will run.

Heating and Cooling

  • Alter or clean your furnace and air conditioner filters on a regular basis to maintain the heating and cooling systems functioning at optimum efficiency.
  • Set up a programmable thermostat to control your heating and cooling systems for situations when you have left the home.
  • Have your heating and cooling systems checked once in a while to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Examine windows and doors to check if they require new weather-strippers by moving a lit candle next to the perimeter of the window or door. A flickering flame is a sign that you should set up new weather-strippers. Avoid placing the candle near curtains and blinds.
  • Stay away from waterbeds that consume plenty of energy to heat during cold seasons. If you do possess a water bed, insulate its surroundings as well as cover it with several blankets to trap the heat in.


  • Adjust your water heater to a low power-consuming option or have a service expert come and set it for you.
  • Set up a proper insulation blanket to cover your water heater.
  • Select cold or warm cycles instead of hot cycles because heating the water uses majority of the energy during laundering.

Refrigerators and Freezers

  • Ensure your fridge door gasket seals tight. You can try it out by placing a piece of paper in the closed door. Tug on the paper to check whether it comes out too easily. If it does, you should replace the gasket. Carry out the examination at multiple locations along the door. An alternative examination method is to place a flashlight in the fridge then close the door. If you see light leaking out then you should have the gasket replaced.
  • Allow hot food to cool down slightly before placing it in the fridge.
  • Set up your fridge away from direct sunlight or near your oven.


  • Turn off the burner or oven right before the food is fully cooked.
  • Utilize a pressure cooker when possible.
  • Place a lid on pans to cover them when you are cooking.
  • Utilize a microwave instead of an oven, range, or toaster when it is possible.

How to Build Relationships with Neighbors

If you are on bad terms with your neighbors, then your life may get increasingly difficult over time. However, making the effort to foster good relations with them has several benefits. The neighborhood will be friendlier, safer, nicer and more comfortable to live in. Here are some tips on how to build good relationships with your neighbors.

Introduce Yourself

Regardless of whether you are new to the neighborhood or your new neighbors are the ones who recently moved, it is important to introduce yourself. You can do this by simply saying hello, offering a welcoming gift as well as asking or giving information about the surroundings such as asking the days on which the garbage truck comes by or giving directions to the nearest store. Introducing yourself is essential because it creates a good first impression of yourself to the neighbors as well as creates a positive foundation from which you and your neighbors can get to know each other.

Take into account your neighbors? lifestyle

You should learn more about your neighbors such as what they do for a living and their schedules. This can allow you to avoid certain conflicts with them before they even begin. For example, if your neighbors work at night then quiet mornings are essential to them. If they have young kids then quiet evenings are very essential to them. Likewise, provide them with information that will assist them into taking account your lifestyle.

Give your neighbors a heads up when throwing a party

When you are organizing a party, make sure you give your neighbors sufficient warning such as informing them the time it is going to start and the duration you expect it to take. Give your neighbors your phone number in case they need to ask you to turn it down. Plus if you get along well with your neighbors you can ask them to come to the party and fun as well. During the party, make sure you uphold your agreements and request your guests to be mindful when leaving.

Communicate with your Neighbors

Make sure you put in the effort to touch base with your neighbors to keep them updated. If you are planning to do anything and you think that it may affect your neighbors then give your neighbors a heads up in advance and try to control what you are doing to a minimum. You should be approachable and friendly with your neighbors. Let them know that if there is anything that you do that bothers them then they should feel free and comfortable enough to approach you about it.

Be vigilant of your surroundings as well as theirs

You do not need to be in a neighborhood watch committee to keep a lookout for anything suspicious near your neighbor?s property. If you are having serious doubts about something suspicious then call the police to rapidly deter any criminal behavior.

Avoiding Real Estate Mistakes

If there is something that life has taught us over the years is that things can and will go wrong. This applies to real estate as well where you can expect things to not go according to plan on plenty of occasions. Here are some of the things that may go wrong with a real estate sale.

House Sitting for Too Long

One thing that can go wrong in real estate is a seller?s house sitting for a very long time on the market without anyone buying. As time goes on and the house is still sitting on the market, the seller is continuously spending money on it to cover the mortgage payments on a regular basis. The longer the house sits, the higher the chances that the seller may need to lower their asking price to make the house more appealing. This means apart from having their house on the market for a long time and costing them a considerable amount of money during that time, they will have to lower their price and forgo the money they would have gained from their initial asking price to ensure that they make a sale.

The Buyer Failing to Meet their End of the Deal

Another issue that occurs several times is deals failing to go through. A seller can list their house and have a buyer ready to make the purchase but then something goes wrong. The cause could be anything such as the buyer may die, lose their source of income, or even have buyer?s remorse. Signing the contract does not completely guarantee a successful sale. There may be a clause in the contract that gives the buyer an option to back out of the deal if they are not pleased with something. Several buyers shall need to sell their current home so that they can buy a new one. If such a clause is in the contract where the buyer must sell their own home first before buying another and they are unable to sell theirs then the seller?s sale will not go through.

Problems with the Property ?

At times the issues are not with the buyer but with the property instead. If the home has mold, termites, cracks in the foundation or a similar issue, then it may sufficient to prevent the sale from being made successfully.

Third Party Interference

At times, the property checks all the boxes and the buyer is looking forward to make the purchase, however, there are third parties involved in deciding the deal. The third party could be lenders or title companies which may have stipulations in their contract in which the buyer or seller are unable to meet. The third parties may also make mistakes such as misplacing important paperwork. The restrictions or mistakes of third parties may be sufficient to make the sale fail.

Fortunately, it is possible to avoid some of these issues. It may not be possible to prevent them all but proper preparation can save you a lot of trouble and ensure you deal goes smoothly.

How to Spot Trends in Real Estate

The people who steadily make money in real estate have a great understanding of the market. These people know the various locations and their history, the developments that are underway and those being planned as well as the infrastructure. They are well informed on the places that may be ideal for investing in real estate. Staying two steps in front of the competition in real estate means you must do your research well. For someone new to real estate, it might be intimidating. We want to give you tips that will help you spot the trends early on.

Look for a Catalyst

One indication that an area is on the rise and that it will be appealing in the future is the development of new infrastructure. Once you spot new roads and schools under construction, it is an indication that the community is preparing for a growth spurt. It is very beneficial and profitable to invest in a community which is growing. Furthermore, specific kinds of developments such as new shopping centers could be highly desirable to homebuyers and may assist in keeping the tax base low.

Identifying new developments may be as simple as looking out your window as a driving. Indications of land clearing, surveying or the start of construction in and around major roadways are clear giveaways. You can also spot widening of traffic lanes, installation of turnaround lanes and setting up of new traffic lights. These all point towards an expected increase in traffic flow. You can also consult your local government or contact road and building departments. They should be informed of any significant projects scheduled to start within the region. Real estate agents may also be aware of the new projects which are about to kick off.

Study Tax Alternatives

If a town has high property tax or steadily increasing property tax and the town next to it has low property tax then the town with the lower taxes will normally have a greater demand. Real estate agents or brokers may assist you find out the areas that have the best and worst tax structures. You may also contact a local tax assessor for a specific region to disclose the amount the town charges in taxes for its buildings. You should also find out the last time the region was assessed by the township. If reassessment is meant to occur in the near future then property tax may rise.

Also, keep an eye on towns and communities that are becoming overcrowded. Indications may be inferior roadways or academic institutions filled to capacity. If the local government lacks the capability to cater for all these people then there could be inadequate amenities. People will opt to move out of that are and look for better places to live. Alternatively, the local government may need to carry out some major constructions to cater for the large number of people. To pay for the construction, it will need tax dollars to fund it.