Realtors

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Chrishaun

chrishauns@meierrealestate.com
LIC: 10401284301
469 7th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018
P: 3473722829

Lori

lbecker95@gmail.com
26321 Nw Frwy, Suite 100, Cypress , TX 77429
P: 832-656-4878
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Melodie

melodie@melodierice.com
LIC: 200905114
4949 Meadows Road #100, Lake Oswego, OR 97035
P: 503-902-4777

All Articles


Is Probate the same thing as a Will?

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Is probate same as will

No.  A will is a written instrument to outline property distribution upon death. Probate is the procedure whereby wealth, or title to each specific asset held in the name of the decedent, is transferred into the names of the beneficiaries named in the Will or to the heirs in the case where there is no Will.  First, a Will must qualify for admission to probate.  Generally, a testator must be of a certain age, usually 18; must not execute a Will as a result of undue influence or fraud; and must be mentally competent to make a Will.  If the decedent had a valid Will, it is admitted to probate upon application by a proposed executor or administrator.  If the decedent had no Will, the estate is still subject to estate administration; however, title is transferred to the heirs as set forth by state law.  Certain assets, such as property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, insurance proceeds and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and revocable trusts are called non-probate assets and do not go through estate administration.

 

Probate is a court supervised process and state law sets forth the exact procedure to be followed.  The executor generally files an inventory with the court listing the fair market value of assets and debts.  Notice to creditors is part of every probate, in order to notify them of the death so they may file a claim for unpaid amounts owed to them.  Once all claims, debts and taxes have been paid, the estate can be closed after the executor has filed an accounting and final report with the court.  Distribution to beneficiaries can now be made, although in many cases a partial distribution can be made before the estate is closed.  Many states provide simplified procedures for small estates or estates where the assets pass entirely to family members and all beneficiaries consent to the simplified administration.

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What does it mean if a property is in Foreclosure?

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Foreclosure is the legal or equitable enforcement of a mortgage, deed of trust, or other lien through legal proceedings or pursuant to a power of sale clause in a mortgage.  Discussed here is a foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust.  Foreclosure typically occurs when the mortgagor, or debtor, has defaulted or failed to perform an obligation imposed by the instrument such as a mortgage.  The ability to foreclose a mortgage often is limited by state law.  In Iowa, for example, a mortgagee may foreclose a mortgage by judicial proceedings or non-judicial voluntary foreclosure.  Foreclosure terminates the rights of the debtor/mortgagor in the real estate except for such statutory rights as redemption, mandatory mediation or other rights allowed by law.  Once foreclosure has been accomplished and all the rights of the debtor/mortgagor in the real estate are extinguished, the mortgagee holds title free and clear of any claims by the mortgagor.

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Must any Transfer of Property be in writing?

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Yes, an agreement, contract, conveyance, sale, or other transfer of real estate, or an interest in it, usually must be set forth in writing and signed.  The writing requirement is found in a body of law, sometimes referred to as the “statute of frauds.”  This law makes oral or verbal transfers of real estate unenforceable.  The written document setting forth the terms of the sale or transfer is referred to as “an instrument.”  Simply put, an instrument is a written document.  To be enforceable, a sale or transfer of real estate, including an encumbrance such as a mortgage, must be evidenced by a properly executed instrument.  Some examples of instruments affecting real estate include: contracts, deeds, leases, mortgages or deeds of trust. 

 

A possible exception to the writing requirement occurs where one or more of the parties to the agreement have partly performed their obligations under the contract and strict enforcement of the writing requirement would be inequitable or unfair.  Another exception occurs where one or both sides to an oral agreement admit the terms of the contract and agree to put it in writing or agree that it will be enforced.

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The proper way to conduct a Live Virtual Open House.

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With so many individuals desiring an open house that is accessible via live video feed, there is a need for essential pointers regarding conducting the live video open house.  To ensure a professional live video, you will need the correct equipment.  In that regard, you may want to use a wearable video camera headset, which is connected to your cell phone, to create a “House Hunters” worthy live tour.  Because you are going to be directing live virtual tours for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, you will appreciate equipment that is comfortable and hands-free to allow you to focus on key features of the home.  You can find portable headset cameras at any online big box store or ordering service.  This allows you to keep your phone in a pocket or to carry it but not hold it up for an hour, which can wear you out.


Sample Wearable Video Cameras:
https://images.app.goo.gl/mbqaLYCzWk7y3pRw8

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WWZRPB6?pf_rd_r=5YN4MREATEEQYN6ZZ9VF&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee


If you are not comfortable using a wearable video camera, make sure you use a tablet or an ultrathin laptop that you can carry for approximately 45 minutes to an hour on battery power. The weight will be of significant concern because you will be walking from room to room, showing online guests areas of the home that can't be seen in the images or amateurish pre-canned video tour provided.  The drawback to using a laptop is the weight and the fact that the distance for Bluetooth is limited.  A cell phone offers greater portability and will afford you better flexibility to move more freely around the home.  In fact, some cell phones have a better data plan and signal than what can be found with the home owners’ WIFI.  The only major downside to using a cell phone for full video is the battery life may be limited to 1 to 1½ hours of use. 

Once you have the proper equipment for a live virtual open house, you will need to determine the type of WIFI the home owner is accessing.  In some cases, the home owner will give you access to their WIFI so you can utilize the bandwidth for a better live video tour.  However, if the home is unoccupied or is brand new construction, you will need to review the strength of your cell phone data plan.  If you are on a budgeted data plan, you could eat up a lot of data hosting a live video open house.  You may want to check out various cell phone carriers to ensure you have either unlimited data or a special data package that you can use for your live video open house. 

After you have assessed your camera, device, and bandwidth, there are a few pointers to review before you start your live virtual open house: 

  • Do a practice video call to verify the equipment is working properly.
  • • Have an agenda for the virtual video tour to ensure you highlight all areas of the house.
  • • Keep your virtual tour productive. Limit side conversations to ensure you finish on time.
  • • Don't be late to start the live video open house; this could appear unprofessional.
  • • Set objectives regarding what will be accomplished in the live virtual video tour.
  • • Dress appropriately. Avoid stripes or busy patterns, which interfere with camera focus.
  • • Avoid jewelry that moves and makes noise, which can interfere with the microphone.
  • • Be aware that your hands will likely be seen; keep them well-manicured or at your sides.
  • • If the house is well lit, try using base powder to cut down on the glare from your skin.
  • • Speak clearly and towards the microphone.
  • • Make eye contact with the screen, not the camera, to avoid appearing disinterested.
  • • Use names, if given, to direct questions to specific people if there are several attendees.
  • • Don't speak over people or interrupt.
  • • Don't focus the camera too closely on your face or objects in the house.
  • • Try not to pan or tilt the camera too much during the live video tour.
  • • Avoid making excessive background noise, like rustling papers.
  • • Turn off beepers, watch alarms, and cell phones.
  • • Don't leave the live video open house while the camera is on unless absolutely necessary.

Now you're ready to follow the three easy steps below to conduct a live virtual open house!


STEP ONE - Log In:

 

 

STEP TWO - Post Property on Social Media:

 

 

STEP THREE - Start a Virtual Open House:

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How to provide a Virtual Open House after the wake of COVID-19.

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How can a home owner, who is intent on selling their home, provide a safe alternative to an open house when the coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone's mind?  An essential part of the home purchasing process is the experience of seeing a variety of homes and comparing them via open houses.  The majority of home owners are concerned about how to sell their home without opening themselves up to a traditional open house and unnecessary exposure to viruses or run-of-the-mill bugs from the general public.  Because of COVID-19, standard practices are no longer considered safe or even comfortable. Home owners are caught between opening their homes to the public to allow a larger swath of potential buyers the opportunity to view the inside of their home or allowing a much smaller ‘by appointment only’ group of qualified buyers a peek inside.

What if there was a way to keep the open house concept, but in a more restrictive environment, without losing the potential to sell a home? What if individuals could tour a home live, but through their home computer, tablet, or Android phone with the help of the real estate agent hosting the open house?  HouseList.com makes this now possible with virtual open houses.  The first and only real estate listing service to allow Realtors or home owners to present a live virtual open house. Utilizing this service would eliminate the potential of a home owner and potential buyers from becoming infected with any number of viruses or unintentionally infecting others when showing no signs of illness. Videoconferencing open houses are so easy to set up through HouseList.com. When a potential buyer spots a for sale sign and an open house sign in your yard, and sees you’re listed on HouseList.com, they can access a video address, unique to you, that can be viewed on a home computer, tablet, or Android phone.   

Because of the improvements in videoconferencing technology, which have made almost any cell phone and tablet capable of portable videoconferencing, anyone can visit HouseList.com and click on the virtual open house link to initiate a video chat with the realtor hosting the virtual open house - without downloading any software or registering for the video service. The realtor can host a virtual open house through HouseList.com for one person or for several potential buyers at one time.

This new virtual open house service provided by HouseList.com is just another ‘tool’ to make the home selling and buying process as safe and streamlined as possible.  It also keeps the looky-loos at bay and satisfies the curiosity of others. And when a home owner is ready to begin taking serious offers, the realtor can show the house in person to bona fide buyers. Now, how it works: (Get Started)

Step One: Realtor or property owner must log into their account on HouseList.com and add the property they want to feature in a virtual open house. (See tutorial on listing a property: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzZgzjMYUhI&t=6s)

Step Two: Click on ‘Manage’ at the top of the page within the menu.

Step Three: You will see a list of all your properties.  Find the property you want to feature in a virtual open house and click the ‘Edit” button after that property. 

Step Four: Once you have selected the Edit button after the appropriate property, you will see two buttons listed at the bottom of the individual property listing. 

Step Five: The Virtual Tour button will guide you to a wizard where you will type in the date and time of the virtual open house.  Please follow the instructions, and click ‘Add Tour.’

Step Six: Once Step Five is completed, you will have an Open House Online button on the property listing you are featuring.  Please go to the live page to review the listing.
 

Step Seven: Remember to post the video tour on the same day as the open house. It will make it easier for you, the home owner or Realtor, to control the Video Tour of the open house. (You can copy the listing link in the URL address bar of your property for future Video Tours of the open house so it doesn’t appear until you’re ready.) 

Step Eight: After you have posted the video of the open house, you can either copy the link that has been created and post it on an address bar or you can visit the live listing on HouseList.com to see how it looks. 

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What is the difference between a Warranty Deed and a Quit Claim Deed?

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A Warranty Deed is the transfer of real estate from one person to another, which warrants good and clear title to the real estate transferred. This means that the grantor (the person issuing the Warranty Deed) will defend and guarantee the worthiness of title to the grantee (the purchaser or person receiving the property) against any persons or entities making claims against the property.  In many states, a Warranty Deed often includes some or all of the following covenants: seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances, and defense of title against all claims.

In a Quit Claim Deed, the grantor transfers to the grantee all the right, claim, or interest in the real estate that the grantor possesses. It does not contain any of the covenants or warranties found in a Warranty Deed. It does not covenant or warrant that the grantor's interest in the real estate is valid, but simply transfers any interest, claimed by the grantor, to the grantee.

A Warranty Deed provides a buyer of real estate property far more protection than a Quit Claim Deed.

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What is the difference between an Offer to Buy Real Estate and a Real Estate Contract?

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It is important to note that an Offer to Buy Real Estate and a Real Estate Contract are not the same thing.

An Offer to Buy Real Estate or a Purchase Agreement are contracts between a buyer and a seller agreeing that a sale of real estate will take place in the future between the parties. It usually includes the purchase price, the description of the real estate to be sold, the identities of the parties, the date when the sale will be closed, and when possession of the real estate is to be transferred to the buyer. In most Jurisdictions, an Offer to Buy Real Estate or a Purchase Agreement is not the actual conveyance or transfer of title.

A Real Estate Contract is an agreement to transfer the title to real estate to a person, at some specified time in the future, contingent upon that person completing all payments for the real estate at the set purchase price. The Real Estate Contract contemplates and outlines the execution of a deed in the future.  The seller is known as a vendor and the buyer is known as a vendee.  The vendor gives a deed to the vendee once the vendee has performed their obligations under the contract. Until such time, the vendor retains title to the real estate.

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Can a landlord enter a residence?

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A landlord may give notice in order to: inspect the premises; make necessary or agreed upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements; supply necessary or agreed upon services; or to exhibit the premises to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.

 

For residential tenancies, the landlord must give twenty-four (24) hours’ notice, except in the case of emergencies. Each jurisdiction may have specific additional requirements for notice to enter.

 

The time requested for access must be reasonable.  The tenant must not unreasonably withhold consent or access to the landlord to enter the premises.

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Can a landlord ask a tenant to leave a residence?

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If the tenant breaches the lease, the landlord may bring an action for possession of the premises and/or damages.  For residential tenancies, the landlord must first give notice.

To serve notice upon another means to inform that person that certain acts or events have occurred or will occur in the future.  Ordinarily, notices required by law must be served via restricted certified mail or personal service by a sheriff’s deputy or constable’s deputy or a private process server.  In certain circumstances, posting of a notice at the premises is allowed. Each jurisdiction may have specific additional requirements for such a notice.

Notice may be given to a tenant for failure to pay rent when due.  Usually, a three (3) days’ notice is required if the lease is to be terminated due to the non-payment of rent.  

Also, and typically, for any material noncompliance with the rental agreement or the obligations imposed by law, which materially affect health and safety, a thirty (30) days’ notice may be given specifying the breach(s) and stating that the lease will be terminated in fourteen (14) days if the breach is not remedied.

For failure to maintain the premises in a manner that materially affects health and safety, the landlord must first give a fourteen (14) day notice.  If the breach is not remedied, the landlord may enter the premises to perform repairs and may then bill the tenant for the repairs.  Each jurisdiction may have specific requirements for notice to terminate the lease.

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Décor Ideas for Any Room!

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Use What You Have - Many times we become so accustomed to seeing things in the same place we don't consider their potential in another area or room of the home. Rearranging furniture and décor can give any space a new look.

  • First consider how you use the space. Do you find some rooms are used all the time and others hardly at all? Frequently used spaces can easily become cluttered. Perhaps there is something you can move to a less used space to bring new purpose to that area. Convert a scarcely used nook to a game table or move a small bookshelf and add a lamp next to that comfy chair no one ever seems to sit in. Think outside the "box" of your previous layout.
     
  • Similar to the point above, consider some of your larger pieces of furniture. Moving a piece out of the room into another may help free up space in one and redefine another.
     
  • What is the flow of your rooms? Do pathways from one doorway to the next make sense? Perhaps everyone seems to be ducking in front of the couch to get by the TV when there is room to move the couch away from the wall. Contrary to popular belief, the couch does not need to go against the wall!
     
  • Take established pieces and reinvent them. No, the modular sofa does not have to be one formal island in the center of the room. Break it up and add lights, or end tables to help recharge the room.
     
  • Besides furniture, consider what you have hanging on the walls as well. Do you have old paintings that no longer appeal to you or the space? Do you have new photos that you can't seem to find a place for? If you are rearranging furniture, take pictures off the wall first. You don't want to be boxed in with the idea to leave wall space for this or that. Afterwards, look at the new blank walls and consider the possibilities. If you are not rearranging furniture, still take the pictures down. Leave them down for a couple days and come back to look at the room as fresh as possible. What do you really miss being up there, what would you like to add, or perhaps, do you prefer a more blank, uncluttered wall?

 

Color Me New - A splash of paint can go a long way! Repainting walls can be a lot of fun and the best part is that if you don't like it you can just paint over it! Of course, today there are great programs at the do-it-yourself stores that help you customize colors and paint styles before you begin. And painting doesn't have to stop at the walls!

  • Repainting the ceiling can help to brighten a room considerably.
     
  • If you have old painted trim, you may want to consider splashing on a fresh coat of paint or changing the color altogether.
     
  • Painting old furniture can reinvent it and is something kids can get involved with if redecorating their own room.
     
  • There are paint sets out there to help repaint anything with a surface. You can give any end table, lamp or bookshelf a new antiqued look. For example, we had some white metal dining room chandeliers that clashed with our house. It was easy to dismantle them and paint them with a rusted look, and this saved us buying chandeliers that would otherwise have cost $200 a piece! I admit, we did this with the thought that we would replace them "down the road," but since their makeover they have stopped being an eyesore and we have even received compliments on them - most didn't realize they were painted until we said something!

 

It's ALIVE! - Plants can do wonders for the home. Some believe that you should have a plant in every room. Large potted plants can help give life to blank corners or help set up the outline of a nice path throughout a room. Smaller potted plants can add color to the window or shelf. It must be admitted that, although a nice idea, not all of us have a green thumb - and lack of light may doom some of our green friends from the beginning. Many of the silk plants these days look very real, however, they are not for everyone. Another alternative is fresh cut flowers. Get enough small vases and one bunch can be used throughout the home to greet you everywhere from the bedroom to the kitchen.

 

Instant Relatives - "Instant relatives" is a phrase my friend uses for the photos of people in the new frames you buy. If you bought a frame 6 months to a year ago and still have those "instant relatives" you don't know staring at you, then you have just found one of the easiest home décor projects! If you don’t have new frames, they are an inexpensive way to help any room. And remember, all of the frames on one wall don't have to match; sometimes the mix and match look of your décor is what can give it personality! Once you have some frames you like, fill them with memories or art you enjoy having around you. Today it is easy to enlarge photographs and add effects to them. Enlarge one of your favorite photos of Scotland or collage your last family vacation. Fill the frames with photos of family, friends, vacation scenery, art prints, artwork by the kids, favorite postcards or cards, the list can be endless if you let your imagination run; make it fun!

 

Facelift Under $20 - Many times just adding a few small pieces can help a space. At many stores, you can find: candles, sconces, mirrors, frames, framed art, plaque art, photo holders, statues, ornate boxes, pillows, table runners, etc. Any of these smaller items can be combined to add a unique design to your space. Also, many stores package themed art (southwest, modern, Victorian, African, etc.) to help you create the design for the space you want. These series often go on sale as one design set makes way for another, leaving you a chance to find some great decorations with a little planning and patience.

 

Just Hang It! - The softness of fabric in a room can make a major mood change. Drapes are one of the easiest ways to change the look of a space. You can get drapes relatively cheap these days. I have both purchased and made my own drapes and consider it a draw. I was able to get better fabric quality when making my own, but the time and headache (I'm not a sewing expert) did cancel out some of the ease of just buying them. Others have been smarter than me and buy a fabric they want, simply seam the edges and then hang them freely over the curtain rods. Another consideration would be bamboo or roman blinds - some find these a more colorful and cheaper alternative to standard blinds.

 

Camouflage the Old - Covering up what you already have can be a great alternative to buying new furniture. Covers for sofas, tables and chairs can help introduce new colors and patterns into your room. Again, you can make these items yourself or purchase them. Unless you are proficient with the sewing machine, it may be easier to purchase some of these items. Sometimes even cushions and pillows can help cover up worn spots or add color to a drab space. While we are covering things up, you may also consider using rugs to cover up and change the pattern/color or old floors. Especially for older hard wood floors or Pergo, this can be a great way to modernize your room.

 

The Finer Details - Other features that can be changed on a small scale but effect a room on a large scale are your hardware and fixtures. Changing the hardware on cabinets can reinvent your kitchen or bathroom. You can also replace fixtures such as light casings, towel holders, toiletry and soap holders, etc. Changing these items can help transform the room from modern to antique or vice versa. Many stores sell fixture sets that can be a quick and easy facelift to any bathroom.

 

Just Say No to Clutter - Finally, one of the most effective ways to redecorate your home is to get rid of clutter. This doesn't just mean picking up bits of paper. This can also mean getting items to help you organize. Many stores offer beautiful baskets, tins or other containers that can be used to organize your madness. Adding a bit of shelving, a chest, a large basket or an ottoman that opens up for storage are just a few ways you can change the look of the room and give yourself storage space. Changing a room from cluttered to organized can have a dramatic effect on the décor and overall feel of the space.

 

Redecorating your home on a small budget can include inventive uses of what you already have and inexpensive updates to your room such as paints or wall hangings. Obviously, we have only touched on a few methods here. Hopefully this list helps you think outside the box and consider other ways you may utilize the spaces in your home. Still want to see more? Check out a few of our suggested links below. Happy decorating!

 

Further Reading:

About.com

If you long for a beautiful home, you have come to the right place! Learn about home decorating, get tips for projects, find directions for how-to's, and advice from About Guide to Interior Decorating, Coral Nafie. Take a look!

Behr.com

Get interior design ideas from dozens of articles and hundreds of images.

BHG.com

Join us for truly inspiring decorating ideas, easy projects, step-by-step how-to’s, practical home improvement tips, remodeling ideas, and home plans -- from Better Homes and Gardens family of magazines.

CountryLiving.com

Home decorating ideas, craft projects, home accents, renovation tips and more country style from Country Living magazine.

Do-It-Yourself.com

Decorating and painting is a key ingredient to a beautiful home. Before you begin decorating or re-decorating your home, learn more about painting techniques and preparation, selecting paint colors and finishes, decorating and designing trends, and interior décor, accents and furnishings. Home decorating has never been easier!

HGTV.com

Learn more about decorating and interior design ideas, projects and how-to from videos on Home & Garden Television.

KatieBrownHomeWorkshop.com

This is the official website for Katie Brown and the Katie Brown Workshop. It is the place to shop and buy Katie Brown books and provides information regarding lifestyle and domestic guru, Katie Brown and answers any questions you have about Katie Brown’s books, products, columns, Podcasts, or her televisions shows including the Katie Brown Workshop on Public Television.

MarthaStewart.com

Different ideas from her show and magazines.

RealSimple.com

Magazine and TV show about simplifying your life. Includes home solutions, meals, and special features.

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What is a Power of Attorney?

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Power of attorney

A Power of Attorney is an instrument which authorizes one person to act as another’s agent or attorney-in-fact.  The attorney-in-fact need not actually be a licensed attorney.  The Power of Attorney may be for a performance of a specific, definite act or duty, or it may be general in nature.  It may be for a specific time period or for an indefinite time period.  It may be revocable.  If not revoked, it usually expires when the person granting the Power of Attorney dies.  A Power of Attorney may grant the attorney-in-fact authority to convey or mortgage real estate.  If this is so in a given state, the Power of Attorney must be written, signed, and otherwise executed similar to a deed.  The Power of Attorney should be recorded in order to put others on notice as to the powers of the attorney-in-fact.  (Please see specific state for details and/or differences.)

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Famous properties that were found to be HAUNTED.

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Perhaps it wasn't the wind that slammed the door shut, and there isn’t a flesh and blood body connected to the footsteps down the hall? Or maybe it’s just a great marketing ploy for bed & breakfasts and historical societies because people enjoy the idea of a good haunting? Not everyone believes in ghosts, but the stories and histories behind many haunted homes can be just as enticing as their "spiritual" residents. Below is a short list compiled of famous haunted homes and buildings in America. Dim the lights, sit back, and enjoy a little Halloween-flavored fun by flashlight while learning a little history along the way!*

*Many haunted houses seem to get their start from murder or untimely death. Although we have not gone into graphic details here, please note that if you search the names of the haunted homes in this article, some sites go into much more, sometimes gruesome, detail.

Alcatraz Island - San Francisco Bay, CA

The History: Not a house per se, but people "lived" there. Alcatraz started as a military fort in 1850. It was used as a military prison and then a federal prison after 1934. In 1963, the prison was closed due to the cost of operations. As a prison, Alcatraz had a reputation of being a hard place to live, where prisoners were "shut away" rather than rehabilitated. Punishments could be harsh, such as restricted diet, solitary confinement, and hard labor. There were the now infamous solitary cells like the "strip cell" and the "hole" that even made the most hardened prisoners think twice about breaking any rules.

The Haunting: This place was generating ghost stories even before being shut down. Guards retell odd tales of ghosts attacking inmates or making noises. Today, there are still many haunting "hot spots" on the island. There is the utility corridor where three escapees were gunned down; this doorway is now welded shut but many say there is the sound of clanging against the door; perhaps something, or someone, wants out? There are also reports of running in the corridors, voices in the cells and medical ward, and screams from the dungeons and isolation units.

How to see it: Tours are available of the island and complex. Depending on the time of year, you may have to use a different ferry system to get to the island. 

Driskill Hotel - Austin, TX

The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995.

The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke and turning lights on and off. There is also the ghost of a small girl, the daughter of a Senator who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball; she can still be heard bouncing the ball today.

How to see it: The hotel is open to guests today and offers all kinds of luxury and pampering.

Franklin Castle – Cleveland, OH

The History: Hannes Tiedemann, and his wife, built the house in 1865. Unfortunately, they lost four children in a short amount of time leading to some speculation of unnatural deaths. The house architecture aids in the mystery of the house as there are secret passageways and hidden rooms throughout. There are also rumors of Tiedemann having affairs that led to jealousy and, ultimately, murder. One of the most tragic tales is that of Tiedemann hanging his niece to put her out of her misery from insanity or to punish her for her promiscuity.

The Haunting: Past residents have heard a small child crying and heard footsteps in the corridor. There is also claim of a "woman in black" who can be heard choking in the tower room. Lights can be seen swinging around, and some objects have been moved or thrown.

How to see itToday the mansion houses a private club restricted to members and their guests. It was rumored, at one time, that they would eventually start giving tours of the building.

Heceta House - Yachats, OR

The History: Built in 1894, the house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Many families, over time, occupied the house, which included a post office, school, and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of hauntings.

The Haunting: The ghost who haunts the house is named Rue, a woman from the turn of the century.  Many believe she is the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs, and she is said to be an extra caretaker of the house.  She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game.  She didn't want people playing cards in her house!

How to see it: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its’ interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the presumed presence of a ghost, they have said that guests have told them of strange encounters. 

Hickory Hill House - Equality, IL

The History: This house was built in 1842 by an evil man named John Crenshaw. Although it was illegal to own slaves in the state of Illinois, it was legal to lease slaves from slave states to work in salt mines. John Crenshaw took advantage of this fact and leased slaves from nearby states to work in his salt mines. Most horrific of all, it is said that he would kidnap free African Americans and force them to work in his mines and eventually sell them into slavery. All the slaves were kept in the upstairs attic in horse stall-like cells that opened to one large corridor. John Crenshaw had a particularly nasty reputation for cruelty and abuse.

The Haunting: The house opened as a tourist attraction in 1930, and many claimed to hear the desperate rattling of chains and muffled cries from the attic. The house had the sinister reputation that no one could spend a full night in the dwelling without leaving in fear. In 1978, a reporter named David Rogers was the first to spend a whole night in the house.

How to see it: Currently, the house is protected by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and is closed to the public.

Lemp Mansion - St. Louis, MO

The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full-time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922, when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances, and three other men of the family committing suicide inside.

The Haunting: With three suicides and a questionable death, one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion could have arisen, but the family’s tragic history of tales doesn’t end there.  A rumor existed that William Lemp had an illegitimate son who suffered from Down Syndrome and was kept hidden in the attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion. Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away, so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today.

How to see it: Spend the night, or take a tour if you're too scared.  The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant for those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. 

Lizzy Borden House - Fall River, MA

The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and later acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality.  Even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior.  And, of course, there was the creation of the rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an ax; Gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done; Gave her father forty-one!”

The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed, and a woman, perhaps the same one, can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment, such as lights and cameras, experience some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in, if you dare.

How to see it: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour, or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University!

Myrtles Plantation - St. Francisville, LA

The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794, but stories of hauntings didn’t start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder, that of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the hauntings. Most seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that’s because the house is so haunted, some kind of explanation needed to be made.

The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a young woman in a green turban, who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim the woman is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared, as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano.

How to see it: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night.

Villisca Ax Murder House - Villisca, IA

The History: On June 10, 1912, the Moore family and two overnight guests were brutally murdered. The ax murder of two adults and six children horrified the community and its story still horrifies people today. Regardless of the unprecedented effort of police, detectives, and neighboring departments at the time, the case remains unsolved to this day.

The Haunting: The most common account seems to be of children's voices in the house. Things will also move unexpectedly, and lamps won't stay lit regardless of there being no breeze in the home.

How to see it: Tours of the home are available through the Olson Linn Museum. They also offer night tours, but these must be arranged in advance.

Waverly Hills Sanitarium - Louisville, KY

The History: Although this is not a house, it has such a grand reputation for being haunted, we thought to include it. Waverly Hills opened as a hospital for tuberculosis patients in 1926. Tuberculosis was a dreaded killer of the time, and most of the patients who entered the hospital would die. It is estimated that at the height of the epidemic, a patient died every hour. This large complex had a long tunnel nicknamed the "body chute" where the bodies were transferred to a train at the bottom of the hill. It was covered so patients would not be disheartened by seeing the number of dead being removed from the hospital. Because Tuberculosis was not well understood, there were many experiments that occurred.  Some of the experiments were beneficial, but others were brutal and led to tales of mistreatment. In 1982, the hospital was shut down under allegations of abuse.

The Haunting: The tales of hauntings started after the hospital was shut down and fell into disrepair. Transients, vandals, and kids would break into the facility. Stories began to spread of small children playing in the halls, lights going on when there was no power, doors being slammed, voices crying out, and various other ghoulish goings-on. One specific spot of activity, room 502, is on the floor where the mentally ill tuberculosis patients were housed. This room was the nurses’ station where two nurses committed suicide on separate occasions for reasons unknown.

How to see it: There are tours run by the Waverly Hills Historical Society. Tours must be arranged as this is a private site and trespassers will be prosecuted. Overnight tours can also be arranged in advance.

Whaley House - San Diego, CA

The History: This house was a home, granary, court house, theater, ballroom, billiard, school, and polling center.  Before the house was built, criminals were hanged on the site. Once built, the house had the tragic history of one of the Whaley girls committing suicide inside.

The HauntingThere are many ghosts in the Whaley House. There is "Yankee Jim" who was one of the criminals hanged at the site. He now stomps around the house with a heavy step and even the first family, the Whaley's, reported hearing him in the house. Thomas Whaley, the first owner of the house, has been seen lingering around the upper landing. Thomas' wife, Anna, also wanders the downstairs and the garden. There are a few other apparitions, and even a little fox terrier ghost dog that is seen on occasion!

How to see it: This house is now a museum and is open for tours on most days.

White House - Washington D.C.

The History: The White House became the home of our presidents in 1800, with President John Adams being the first resident. There have been many presidents and first ladies in the home, and some have decided not to leave.

The Haunting: President Abraham Lincoln is the most popular ghost with the most sightings. The first to see him was First Lady, Grace Coolidge. He has also been spotted by guards and guests. Other presidents who like to make an appearance are President Benjamin Harrison, President Andrew Johnson, President John Tyler, and President Andrew Jackson. First Ladies who have made appearances include Abigail Adams and Dorothea Madison. There is also the apparition of a black cat, which has been said to be seen before national tragedies, such as the stock market crash of 1929 and before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

How to see it: You can still visit the White House today for a tour.  

Winchester Mystery House - San Jose, CA

The History: Sarah Winchester, daughter-in-law of Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifle, began the construction of this house in 1884 and kept the project going until her death 38 years later. The legend says she constructed the house continuously to confuse the bad spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. In the end, it had 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, and various oddities, such as doors leading to a sudden outside drop or staircases leading to the ceiling.

The Haunting: Some of the ghosts are said to have been invited by Sarah Winchester, as she is said to have held a séance with them every night to determine the construction for the next day. Reports of footsteps, doors closing and opening, cold spots, and other paranormal behavior have been reported. Some skeptics in the ghost hunting world, however, believe the mansion is more of an oddity than a true haunting ground.

How to see it: The mansion is open to tours. You can select a standard tour and see 110 rooms and their various oddities and details, or you can go on a behind-the-scenes tour and see how the house functioned. 

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I just made a property purchase. Do I need a Will?

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There are very few people who do not need a Will.  If the state intestacy statute (state laws that set forth who inherits without a Will) provided for the exact distribution of a person's property as they would choose, then perhaps a Will would be unnecessary.  However, even a Simple Will does much more than simply provide for distribution of property.  Parents with minor children need to appoint a guardian to care for the children in the event they die while the children are minors.  Without this designation, anyone could apply to the court to be a guardian of the children. Also, trusts for minor children can be set up to provide fairly for children of different ages and circumstances.   Likewise, a Will appoints an executor to handle the estate, decide which assets should be sold or retained, file tax returns, and provide for an orderly distribution of the property.  Again, without a Will, anyone can apply to the court to act as administrator of the estate.  For those individuals with estates approaching or exceeding $600,000 in value, a Will not only distributes the property but can provide estate tax planning designed to minimize federal and state death taxes.

 

There are certain estate planning devices that are commonly referred to as Will substitutes.  The goal of a Will substitute is usually an attempt to avoid the probate process, although many times this is not accomplished because, through inadvertence, not every asset is covered by the Will substitute.  Joint ownership with right of survivorship is the most common.  When property is jointly owned, it passes to the joint owner at the death of the other joint owner, regardless of whether or not there is a Will.  There are limited circumstances where this is suitable as a Will substitute.  One situation might be where a surviving spouse has only one child and wishes to leave all property to that child.  In certain cases, spouses may own all of their property as joint tenants with right of survivorship.  This may be acceptable until the death of the first spouse to die, but then the surviving spouse must begin the estate planning process all over to dispose of the property at their death and certain estate tax planning benefits may have already been lost.

 

Revocable trusts are also used as Will substitutes, although generally a person with a revocable trust also has what is known as a "pour over" Will.  Trusts are a complex area beyond the scope of this topic.  Briefly, trusts can be attractive for those who desire that the details of their estate not become a public record at the time of their death.  The time involved in transferring assets to beneficiaries can sometimes be expedited with a trust.  For larger estates, the fees involved with a trust may be less than the administration fees required through probate; however, this will vary greatly depending on the state.  Also, a probated Will provides an established procedure for creditors to file claims and for heirs to contest the distribution under the Will.  However, these claims can also be asserted against a trust, but there is not a procedure set forth at time of death.  There are also many complexities involved with a trust that in many cases offset the perceived benefits.

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Can a Restrictive Covenant prevent me from using my property any way I want?

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It depends on the kind of restrictive covenant but, yes, you could be prevented from using your property however you see fit. For example, building certain types of fences, adding a satellite dish or parking vehicles in your front yard or more than a couple cars in your driveway could all be prevented by a restrictive covenant. A restrictive covenant is an agreement that acts as a limit or prohibition of certain uses of real estate. For instance, restrictive covenants for a residential subdivision may limit the use of the real estate in a subdivision to exclusively residential use. Some restrictive covenants may define the maximum and minimum square footage of homes that may be built or may set forth further limitations regarding construction of other buildings upon the premises.

Restrictive covenants must be in writing and must be signed to be enforceable. To be effective against subsequent purchasers, restrictive covenants must be recorded. Typically, restrictive covenants run with the land, meaning that they will continue to apply to the real estate property even after the original owner at the time of execution of the restrictive covenant transfers it to another person. Therefore, if property is purchased that has restrictive covenants, the buyer may be subject to those restrictions.

Most states do have limitations as to the length of time the restrictive covenants may run. These limitations may be found in statutes, sometimes referred to as stale use acts. To be enforceable, restrictive covenants must be clear-cut and explicit. Courts will often refuse to enforce restrictive covenants that are vague or ambiguous. Please see specific state for details and/or differences.

NOTICE: Restrictive covenants prohibiting sales of real estate to minorities have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.

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How To Sell A Home During The Slow Season? Try Multiple Listing Services.

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Timing is everything when listing a home for sale.  There are always lucrative times to sell and nonprofitable times to sell.  For example, attempting to sell a home after the summer can be problematic.  It never fails that summer comes and goes quickly, and then people are already talking about the beginning of the school year, college football, and holiday shopping.  What this means is that potential home buyers become distracted with other priorities.  If there are a few homes in inventory that haven’t sold in the first 30 days, everyone begins to wonder what might be ‘wrong’ with them.  So what options do Realtors have to keep their homes at the forefront of potential buyers’ minds?  The best approach to keeping properties fresh is to try multiple web listings, supplementing existing ones with new services; this keeps the property in a "Just Listed" status even when the property has been listed on another site for over 30 days.
 

Suggested site to list your home: Try HouseList.com 1st  

 

Keep It Fresh

Always keep your eyes open for new real estate listing services.  The worst thing to do is to depend on one listing service to release your properties all at once to a bunch of MLS sites.  If the properties don't sell in the first 30 days, prospective buyers question the value of the property and your listings starts to drift down on many of these online services.  The longer your property sits unsold on the market, newer properties start to appear above your listing.  You need to keep the property fresh and take the extra step to find additional online real estate sites to list your property.  

 

Diversify your Listings

It’s important to add a property to more than one listing service at different times.  Most listing services are interconnected and will list all the new properties at once.  So once your property has been submitted to one MLS listing, it will appear on 5 to 10 other sites at the same time.  This will diversify your property listing at one time, but it exhausts many listing services all at once with the same listing date.  Before you realize it, the new property you just listed has dropped to page 2 or 3 on several sites all at once.  This isn't true of every site, but is generally what happens with most real estate listing services.  So if you find other real estate listing services that are not all tied together, you can restart the listing clock on each new website as a single listing.  This way your property will always show new somewhere online.  

 

Get More Viewers 

Another great benefit of using several different online listing services is that you promote your property to a bigger audience of prospective buyers.  Not all home buyers will see your property on the same site, and serious home buyers will scour the internet for the best deals.  Some buyers purposely look for homes on listing sites that don’t display a repeat of what they just saw on the main listing services.  They know that good deals don’t always appear on the first several sites that show up on search engines.  

 

Keep Costs Down 

When listing a property, it’s always beneficial to avoid spending too much money on multiple services.  To keep your cost down, always be on the lookout for great listing services that will list your properties for free or at a very low cost.  There are a lot of sites that review real estate websites that list your property for free or at a reduced cost, and we’ve listed some of these sites below so that you can review them and decide for yourself which sites are the best to list your property to a larger audience.  Happy House Listing!

 

Suggested site to list your home: Try HouseList.com 1st  

 

 

Additional Sites to List Properties:
https://moveuprealestate.com/30-websites-post-your-real-estate-listings/

https://retipster.com/real-estate-listings-post-ads-free/ 
https://www.isoldmyhouse.com/for-sale-by-owner-websites/ 
https://www.seodennis.com/fsbo-for-sale-by-owner-websites/

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Does an Easement affect property value?

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It depends on the circumstances. Generally, it does not; however, each situation is different. A common example of an easement is when a utility, such as an electric company, has access on and/or over a property. This is a grant for utilities to maintain their services. Another example of an easement is when a driveway is paved on your land for the benefit of an adjacent property, allowing them use of your land to access theirs.

Basically, an easement is a right granted to a person or entity for limited use of real estate, or a portion of it. It can be for a general use or for a particular purpose. The real estate subject to the easement is sometimes referred to as the “Servient Estate.”  If a person is purchasing property that is subject to an easement, it may be a servient estate. An example of an easement is a right-of-way for the ingress and egress (access) to property. In other words, the right to travel across a portion of the servient estate in order to reach or leave the “dominant” real estate. Therefore, it is important to determine if an adjacent or nearby owner of property has the right to cross the property in order to enter or use their property if there is an easement established.

Easements may arise from agreement or by operation of law. An agreement for an easement is typically set forth in writing and is signed by the parties agreeing to it. Easements may be for a set period of time, but often run with the land. This means that even if one of the parties agreeing to it conveys or transfers his/her real estate, the easement still applies to the real estate affected by it whenever a new party takes ownership.


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7 Easy Steps To Building A Powerful Web Presence.

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Today, the benefit of building a strong online presence is no longer in question. Indeed, the internet provides consumers 24/7 access to even the smallest of businesses. Real Estate professionals are no exception as they navigate the new challenges of transitioning their traditional service via phone into the addition of a web presence.

7 simple tips to ensure your website is moving in the correct direction:

 

1. SSL Certificate - add security to your website.
2. Mobile Friendly - over 50% of visits to your web page will be mobile.
3. Good Content - search engines look for original content.
4. Positive Site Links - receiving links from information friendly sites is key.
5. Clean and Easy – quick, simple, and to the point websites help attract users.
6. Contact Information – Ensure people can get a hold of you.
7. Powerful URL – a clear reflection of your business brand.


Need help?  CLICK HERE!
 

First - SSL Certificate.

Having an SSL certificate for your website provides you with basic security protection and gives your visitors confidence in your business when visiting your site. In addition to security, having an SSL certificate of https for your website will help you with search engines. Since mid-2018, it is a requirement from the major search engines, such as Google, to label your site as secure, and gives you an extra ‘bump up’ in your search standings.

 

Second - Mobile Friendly.

With over 50% of online visits to your website coming from a mobile device, you will need to have a website that is friendly to both a pc and a mobile phone. In addition, if your site is mobile friendly and loads quickly, the search engines, such as Google, will give you a boost in the searches. The reason it’s a good idea to review your old website is that allot of sites that were built before 2016 weren’t worried about mobile phone viewing, so they appear to be behind the times. Make sure your website is not stuck in an outdated platform.

 

More info:

http://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet
https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7808-google-search-ranking-mobile.html

 

Third - Good Content.

Having useful information on your website that can be used by a visitor is very important to build a strong client relationship. In addition, good content will also help you with search engine results. If it’s original and has some practical aspect for the average web surfer, it will also appeal to your clients. Having content that highlights your experience or offers helpful tips from your field of work will allow your clients to get a better idea of who you are and what you do. If you’re confident enough to share some ‘tips of the trade,’ you’ll be rewarded with more client views and better search results.


More info:
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en

 

Fourth - Positive Site Links.

Having positive sites link to your website is still a good idea to help build natural searches for your information. Links from other sites are interpreted as guides for the search engine crawlers to more quickly find your information. Even having links to your site for quick tips about your trade can have positive effects on your website. It’s still better to have outside sites link to yours than having no links back to your site at all. The best way to encourage sites to link to yours is by observing what others in your industry have done and research who they are working with on links.

 

More Info:
https://www.websolutions.com/blog/3-types-of-link-building-that-will-boost-your-sites-search-ranking/

 

Fifth - Clean and Easy.

Ensuring your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate is always a good way to sell your services on your website. First impressions are extremely important to individuals visiting your site. If you can get information to your visitors quickly, they will not get frustrated and leave prematurely. Make sure your information is plainly laid out and displayed in a way that keeps your visitors moving through your site in an even flow. If your site is cluttered with too much information, visitors will be overwhelmed and you may lose potential clients.

 

More Info:

https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/remove-from-your-site/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/simplify-your-website-with-the-kiss-rule/

 

Sixth - Contact Information.

This is one of the most obvious and important aspects of a website. Putting your contact information in an easy to read format and on as many pages of your site as possible should be your number one goal when building the site. Potential clients will need your email and phone number to contact you. If you do not have that readily available, they may get frustrated and look for someone else. Too many sites neglect to display contact information and instead hide it and, unfortunately, end up losing potential business opportunities.

 

Seventh – Powerful URL.

A clear domain name that reflects a company's brand or services is a valuable commodity. The savvy business can take advantage of new gTLDs and avoid disputes with companies in other geographic regions that share a similar name. Consider a few of these pointers as you search for your new domain name:

 

  • Use your Name Brand: If you have a trademarked name, see if you can acquire this name first. If not, you may want to use your firm name or professional name and title. Utilize what you’ve used in brochures and other advertising so you don’t have to rebrand. Be careful with a domain name that describes a service. For example, a name like "DUI-Buster" can be limiting and may not appeal to all potential clients. However, if you specialize in one service and want something your clients will remember, go for it!

  • Keyword Search: Consider trying several keywords in a couple search engines and review the results. This test can help you see if a certain key term is overused. This does not mean you cannot use the term; just realize that you may have to spend more time and money for search engine optimization.

  • Consider Location: If you are certified or licensed to work in only one state or region, you may want to consider a more localized nTLD like .us which can include state or city.

  • Check the Domain Name's History: Using sites like the Internet Archive you can look at the history of a domain name that was used before. Check out screenshots and history to make sure the previous owner didn’t create any bad press that could be associated with your new site.

  • Keep Trying: If you find that someone has your domain name see if there are other variations that will work for your business. You can also check to see if other gTLDs are available. If you still want your first choice do some research before you contact the other business. Does the other business have a legitimate trademark and presence or is it a squatter waiting for a paycheck? In the first case you may have to settle for another name, in the second you may have a good case—just be patient and do the research first!

So, let's get started!   More Info

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Ideas to Make Your House Pet Friendly

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For many, bringing a pet home is the same as bringing home new family. Pets easily find their way in our hearts with their playful antics and friendly companionship. When you first bring a new pet into your home it is imperative that you are willing to make some adjustments to your living space. This article is aimed at giving hints for all who have pets or will have pets in their home. Preparing your home and yard for your new pet is important to their well-being and your ease of mind. The focus will be discussing animals that are out most of the time, like cats and dogs, that are more likely to get into some mischievous fun. However, many of these tips and hints will work for most of the four-legged friends we bring into our home.

Most of the tips will seem like common sense, however, when the new pet is roaming around it may slip our mind to check for common place hazards. Many times, we take for granted that things are safe or wouldn't interest animals. However, the puppy running down the hall with a roll of toilet paper would beg to differ!

Let's get your home and yard ready so it is safe for your pets (and also not a free going playground waiting for destruction and mayhem)!

Part I: Preparing Your Home

When bringing a new pet to the home the last thing anyone wants to think about is cleaning and proofing their home. However, taking a little time to do so will prevent headaches and possible heartaches. It will keep your pet, prized possessions and your sanity intact. This is true whether you are bringing home a new pet or adjusting an older one to a new home. Or, perhaps, you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of losing possessions to a pet who has never had boundaries set up in your home. Whatever your reason, these tips will help proof your home for the new, old and mischievous pets in your life.

Think Below the Knees 
Get down on all fours and look around at the same level as your pet. There is a whole other world down at their viewpoint!

  • Think low! Remove objects on low shelves, coffee tables, and anywhere else that is easy access. Anything destructible, such as paper, books, anything made of cloth (i.e. laundry). It is much easier to 'chew train' a pet if they do not learn a bad habit of "where to look" for destructible goodies when you aren't looking.
  • Also think about food and snacks. Don't leave pop cans, candy wrappers, crumbs or anything else on a low counter. Leaving out these delicious tidbits can easily lead to "counter surfing".
  • Since kittens and ferrets may actually have the ability to walk on your counters, make certain to keep an eye on them when cooking. You may have food on the counter and the stove burners on - both can be dangerous. If you are a messy chef you may have a very happy kitty, but it could be dangerous if you don't keep an eye on them!
  • Speaking of food and snacks, make sure if you have smaller pets, like mice, that they are out of reach to your new puppy or kitten. Don't forget your fish - sometimes the idea that the aquarium is invincible can be tested.
  • Smokers - do not leave cigarette butts where pets may reach them. If eaten it can lead to nicotine poisoning and the filters aren't good on the digestive system.
  • Children's toys can be great fun for pets too! Make sure your kids realize they may lose their toy if it is left out and unattended. Also, many toys may have small parts or can be easily broken into small parts by your pet which can be dangerous.
  • Overall keep you place picked up of daily messes. For example: Newspaper whether read or not is still fun to shred and eat. (Same goes for the mail!) Just got home from shopping? Put away the bags! Plastic bags can be either chewed and swallowed (pups) or can suffocate some pets accidentally (kittens & ferrets).
  • Sometimes pets will eat something that will require surgery to remove. Small objects to watch out for include rubber bands, balloons, beads, buttons, Q-tips, sewing needles, thread, staples, string, pantyhose and coins - to name a few!
  • Medication should never be left around the house. Make sure it is secure - just like with children!
  • Keep heating vents covered. Many pets love to snuggle up to these and you don't want your pet falling in.
  • Smaller pets like ferrets should be blocked off from holes and other hideaways - you don't want them to find a comfy spot and not come out! Also be certain to check under recliners before moving them as your pet may find it a nice place to hide out.
  • Plants should be moved to higher ground or blocked. Watch out for vine plants that your pet might grab and bring the whole thing down. * Some household plants are poisonous to pets. Here are a few: aloe vera, amaryllis, caladium, holly berries, lilies, mistletoe, mums, and poinsettias. For a complete listing check out the Poisonous Plants resource links.

Playtime! 
Unless they are sleeping, or eating, they are playing!! Some tips to make this non-stop action fun and safe for both of you!

  • Keep an eye on your pet at play with certain toys. Some toys don't hold up to your pets hunting prowess and become shredded in no time. Toys with squeakers are fun but many pets will work hard to remove them if you're not watching. Just keep in mind if you are in the other room, you may never see them devour their cut-up prey! A solution would be to have toys for when you can see them and more durable toys for when they are in the yard, other room, or you are not at home.
  • Also watch older toys. If they don't fall apart, they may actually be worn into sharp edges, don't let your pet play with damaged toys, they can cut themselves easily. Look before you step when playing with all our small pets. Try this pattern "Turn, Look, Step"
  • Some small animals such as rabbits are chewers and it normal to give them various chew toys such as: Cardboard boxes, empty oatmeal containers, bird toys, cardboard paper towel rolls, things to shred. Try to keep them away from your wooden furniture - they love wood! Instead wood sticks are available at pet stores.

Road Blocks 
If they can't reach it, they can't eat it, scratch it, or all out destroy it!

  • Don't forget the garbage! Take the garbage outside or make sure you can close it away in a closet/room where pets cannot reach it. Not only will they make a mess rifling through all the goodies they can also hurt themselves if there are any rough objects they rifle through.
  • Keep some rooms closed. It is perfectly reasonable for there to be certain rooms that pets may not visit unless supervised. One obvious choice would be the bathroom (remember that puppy running down the hall with toilet paper - cute - but after the 20th time said pup turns from cutie to lil'-demon). If you don't have a door to a particular area look into getting a child gate or blocking it off with other materials. If you have a mixture of pets you may not want them to be able to access certain areas of each other's space. A prime example is keeping kitty litter from dogs, some seem to find the "deposits" tasty snacks. In this instance you can set up a roadblock for the dog that the cat can still easily climb over.
  • If your pet is especially good with its nose or paws you may want to get childproof latches. They will work well to keep them out of lower cabinets in your home.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet, especially if you use strong cleaners. Small, curious pets may fall in and pets taking a drink can be poisoned by cleaners - some of them even contain anti-freeze!
  • Speaking of cleaners, here are some examples of cleaners that are really dangerous to your pets (to name a few!): ammonia, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, rat/bug poison.
  • Keep electric cords out of reach or secure them to baseboards. When first home, keep an eye on where your pet is at all times. Some may try chewing on the cords. You can deter this with a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple", a mix of vinegar and water, or hot sauce. Or even better, block access to them altogether.
  • Speaking of cords, watch those drapery cords as well. Tie them up so all your window treatments aren't pulled to the ground.
  • Many animals are attracted to fire. The light of a candle or the heat of a fireplace will pique their interest. Make sure candles are never left unattended. For the fireplace make sure Fluffy knows just how close they are allowed to get for a good snooze - warm is good, singed is bad.
  • Keep the upstairs windows and any cellar doors shut. Young pets are just like children with their curiosity but can easily misstep and fall.
  • Be careful when working in the garage. It is best to keep them out and make sure you clean up thoroughly! Such toxins like anti-freeze are very lethal to pets - a drop the size of a dime can be lethal! (You hear a lot about anti-freeze, not only is a small amount incredibly lethal, anti-freeze is also sweet smelling and tasting to pets - they will seek it out!!)
  • Watch out for open dresser drawers, closets and other nice dark places. Kittens are especially curious and many are drawn to these make-shift dens. Have you heard about the kitten jumping in the dryer? Its not a urban legend, be alert and check before you shut the door.
  • Another warm place that kittens like to snuggle is on a car engine. If your kitten has access to your car (or the neighborhood cat for that matter) it may help to pound on the hood of your car and honk your horn. If you don't want to do this every day try to limit access to your car.
  • One of my favorite words of advice when watching out for the sleeping kitten: "Locate your kitten before you sit down on the sofa or use the recliner." (Of course, depending on your house rules, that may go for your other pets too!)

Table Manners
Don't feed table scraps to your pets. Many times people don't realize that some foods okay for us can be toxic or hard on the system for animals.

Some foods to be aware of: Alcohol, Chicken & Turkey Bones, Nutmeg, Apples (stems & seeds), Chocolate, Onion Apricots (seeds), Coffee (grinds & beans), Peaches (seeds),  Avocados, Dairy Products (large amounts), Pears, Baking Powder, Fatty Foods, Plums,  Baking Soda, Garlic, Potatoes (peelings & green,) Broccoli (large amounts, )Grapes, Raisins, Cherries (stems & seeds), Macadamia Nuts, Yeast, **Tobacco, although not a food, ingestion can be poisonous

Holiday Playground
The holidays are fun for everyone - including your pets!

  • Decorations should be up high or in rooms that pets have limited access.
  • Any holiday lights should be treated the same as other electrical cords. Get it out of the way or secured so your pets don't accidentally trip over them. Also keep a lookout and make sure they do not chew on them; again a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple" will work.
  • Other holiday items to keep from you pets include: metal ornament hooks, popcorn strands, tinsel, angel hair (it is spun glass), and decorative artificial snow or tree flocking - to name a few.
  • Don't forget that holiday plants like holly berries, mistletoe, and poinsettias are poisonous!
  • Fourth of July fireworks are fun for us but many pets find all the racket frightening. One suggestion is to have treats nearby and give them treats whenever there is "Boom!" so they associate the noise with happier things (mostly used for dogs). Another thing to keep in mind if you are leaving for the festivities, don't leave pets alone out in the backyard. They may panic and do things they normally wouldn't do like digging their way out!
  • Many holidays include house guests that are not familiar with your pet or household rules. After introducing your guest to your pet, make certain you let your guests know not to leave doors open, feed table scraps or any other important household rules. If there are a lot of guests you may want to arrange a quiet place for your pet to retreat.

Home Alone 
What do they do when you leave the home? Preferably it doesn't involve eating the couch!

  • Before you leave for a long day at work it is important your pet is calm. For dogs a good walk in the morning may be necessary. For cats a little play time will help with bonus energy. Teach your pet tricks and have them perform for you before you head out. Our pets sleep more then we do and getting rid of morning energy will help them settle for a nap while your out earning money to spend on them.
  • If you have a really active breed you may want to look into a dog daycare or walking service for a couple days out of the week. Taking your dog to a pet daycare is like taking them to camp. They get to romp with other dogs and usually come home tired and ready for a good night sleep. Many find that a few days out of the week is enough to hold them over on the days in-between.
  • Crates can be lifesaver when you are gone. If you have pet that is still undergoing training and is not sure of all the rules, a crate or restricted room is a must.

Cautionary tale on the restricted room - we placed one of our pups in a room in our house as we went out to get a bite to eat. There was no furniture in the room except for her crate with her toys. When we came back she had climbed the crate and chewed the metal blinds on the window and also proceeded to dig up part of the carpet!

Part II: Preparing

Your yard is fun place for you and your pet to enjoy the outdoors. Maintaining your yard for your pet is relatively easy. There are some hazards that you will want to watch for and prevent. Not all of your pets may enjoy your yard to its fullest, some may stay in pens or restricted kennel/runs. The tips below address pets that have more freedom. These pets roam a fenced backyard or around the perimeter of your house (i.e. Dogs & Cats). In addition to proofing tips we offer some ideas about making your yard more enjoyable. Sometimes you may have a small space or areas you really don't want Fido to excavate. Read on for a checklist of ways to make your yard safe and entertaining for your pets.

Yard Maintenance
When maintaining your yard you want to keep your pets in mind.

  • When working on the yard keep pets indoors. Our dogs like to chase the lawnmower - bad idea - so they now watch from inside. Some pets may be just the opposite and try either to attack the mower or try to escape in a panic - equally bad idea. Besides the lawnmowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and other loud tools should not be used when pets are around.
  • Be careful with other tools such as shovels, rakes, spades, etc. Some pets may try to "help" you do the yard work and can inadvertently be struck by these items.
  • Review the chemicals you use on your yard. Weed killers, bug killers/bait and other chemicals can be poisonous to your pets as well. Some you may still be able to use, however, you may need to let the yard sit for x amount of hours before letting your pets back out. Symptoms of poisoning usually include: vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes convulsions or unconsciousness.
  • Keep your yard clean of waste. Especially with puppies, they can get in the habit of eating their waste. Besides, you will both enjoy your yard much better if it is not covered in poo mines! For cats you should have an outdoor litter box. This will be easier to clean and prevent the cat from laying waste to your (or your neighbor's) flowerbeds.
  • Remove any ladders, tools or stacked piles (i.e. wood), etc. that young pets may try to climb or knock over. If you do keep the stacks in your yard, check that they are secure and cannot roll onto your pet. Consider carefully what you plant in your yard. Plants that can cause complications include: Rhododendron, Japanese Yew, Lilly of the Valley, Peach and Cherry Trees (pits) to name a few. See our links to Poisonous Plants for more details.
  • You may want to try to keep your yard clear of the bee family by getting rid of nests on your property. Your dog cannot escape bees flying through the yard, but cutting down their numbers may help. All dogs are naturally allergic to bee stings. Depending on the location of the sting they may have to visit the vet for medication. If it is on the mouth/head it can lead to swelling and difficulty breathing.

The Kingdom 
Your pets will make your yard into their own domain. Make sure their kingdom is safe and enjoyable. 

  • Check the fence of the yard for holes or gaps that may be an easy escape. Make sure your gates are locked and secured and guests and children know to do so as well.
  • It is best not to have any young pets around water unattended. If you have a pool or pond make sure to watch them around this area carefully. Some trainers even suggest teaching pets how to get out of the pool or pond early on, sort of a "Swimming 101" for the pet in case they get into trouble when your back is turned. If your pet does get into a pool, make sure they get a bath so none of the harsh chemicals can effect their skin and coat.
  • Most pets are sun lovers. If your pet likes to "sunbathe" keep an eye that they don't get too hot. Signs of heat exhaustion include: restlessness, panting excessively and drooling. The worst case scenario is the pet collapsing and eventually falling into a coma. To counter it, wrap them in a damp cool (not cold) towel and go to your vet or animal hospital. In hot weather keep plenty of water. Refresh and refill it often. If you keep food outside as well make sure it does not sit too long. The heat may cause it to spoil and flies may contaminate it.
  • Make sure you have shade in your yard. You may even want to add a structure such as a doghouse for your pup to rest
  • Ask your vet to recommend a flea & tick prevention plan right for your pet. Depending on how much your pet is outside, where it goes, etc. you may need more preventive tools. It is imperative you ask your vet as many medicinal solutions are measured by your pets size, weight, age, etc.
  • Your pet may like to make or find a burrow to rest in. Block off crawl spaces under sheds or decks. You don't want them to get trapped or hurt by any debris you cannot see underneath.

Ideas for your Pet Friendly
Yard Below are just a few ideas of things you may do to improve your yard for your pet.

  • Placing markers around your yard for your dog to potty on or for your cat to scratch on can help save some of your other trees. Start by blocking the trees you want to save and place toys or treats by the markers you want them to use. Eventually you can train you pet to have a habitual like for that particular log(s)!
  • Prepare digging spots for your pets. For your dog it can be a small area of dirt and sand where you keep toys to encourage him to be there. For cats you can have one container/pot with catnip or another enticement. By keeping them interested in their designated digging spot they will learn to have fun there and leave the rest of your yard alone (most of the time!).
  • If you don't want your dog in your flower bed try a wooden or stone fence. Some dogs will learn to stay out of the area due to the road block, however you may need to supplement the roadblocks with additional training.
  • Dogs are going to do their rounds around "their" territory. This will leave worn paths in the grass. You may want to lay a nice stone path on their route to beautify it.
  • Continuing with a dogs tendency to make paths, for smaller yards you can make a maze path for them. Using placing flowerbeds and other structures you can create a winding route for them for their territorial routine.

Conclusion

Pets are a wonderful addition to the family and home. Taking time to proof your house and yard will make both of your lives a lot easier. It may seem daunting at first that there are so many things to do for or keep away from your pets. However, after a while your pets will learn the house rules. You may even be able to reclaim certain areas of the house as your pet matures and understands not to destroy your things. For example, our dogs don't touch the laundry anymore and we can leave books on low shelves without them getting even a sniff of interest. You will find many of the hazards you watch for you will begin to do so naturally. Eventually you won't even realize your new habits. It is simply part of the lifestyle change that happens as it is always an adjustment to bring animals into our home. Just know that you can be pro-active, you'll have far fewer headaches in the long run and in the end you will have great company and lots of fun!

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What does it mean when a property has a Mortgage on it?

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A mortgage is an instrument giving an interest in real estate from one person, the "mortgagor," to another person, the "mortgagee," to secure a debt or liability. Depending upon the laws of the particular state, a mortgage may create a lien or it may actually transfer title to the mortgagee who holds it in trust pending payment of the debt or obligation.

In the sale of a property, the mortgagee (lender) will have any debts they are holding be paid first before any proceeds of the sale go to the mortgagor, who is usually the home owner. To make sure this transaction goes smoothly and all parties to the transaction are paid, an escrow agent will handle the funds for the buyer to make sure all debts, liens, and obligations of the property are paid before the seller receives their funds and the title of the property is transferred.

Mortgages may contain various clauses specifying the rights and obligations of the parties. The parties may agree upon the terms as they wish so long as those terms do not violate state law. The mortgage must be in writing and must be signed. At the very minimum, the mortgage must contain the names and addresses of the parties and of the person who prepared it, a description of the real estate subject to the mortgage, the amount of the debt secured by the mortgage, and the due date. Additional provisions often seen in mortgages include: representations and warranties, provisions for payment of taxes, maintaining insurance on the real estate, specification when default occurs, acceleration clauses, foreclosure, redemption, attorney’s fees, and due-on sale clauses.  Please see specific state for details and/or differences.

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What happens if I have a Judgment Lien on a property?

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A judgment is a final decree, decision, order, or other ruling by a court determining the rights and obligations of the parties to a lawsuit. A lien is a claim, interest, or right to property or a portion of it for payment of a debt or liability. A judgment lien is a lien arising from a judgment, which gives the holder of the judgment the right to levy upon or seize the property of another to pay off or satisfy the judgment subject to rights of exemption or redemption belonging to the judgment debtor.

In many cases a lien on property must be removed before the sale of the property may commence. Otherwise, at the time of the sale of property, the judgment lien will be paid out before the home owner receives any funds.

Levy or seizure of property pursuant to a judgment lien usually is done through a writ of execution issued to a sheriff or constable directing him/her to seize a property and sell it, usually through public sale.

In most states, a judgment becomes a lien upon real estate located in the county where the judgment was entered when registered in the county where the real estate is located. It becomes a lien on real estate located in other counties or districts when registered in the county where the real estate is located. Typically, the lien lasts ten (10) years from the date of entry of the judgment. The judgment may be renewed by petitioning the court. 

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Why is my neighbor talking about Adverse Possession?

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Adverse possession is the taking of title to real estate by possessing it for a certain period of time.  Title means ownership of real estate.  The person claiming title to real estate by adverse possession must have actual possession of it that is open, notorious, exclusive, and adverse to the claims of other persons to the title.  By its’ very nature, a claim of adverse possession is hostile to the claims of other persons.  It cannot be hidden but must be open and notorious in order to put other persons on notice as to one’s claim for possession of the real estate.

A claim to title by adverse possession often must be made under color of title.  Color of title means a claim to title by way of a fact, which, although on its’ face appears to support a person’s claim to title, is in some way defective and falls short of actually establishing title to the real estate.  An example of a claim made under color of title would be a deed whose execution was defective or is in question.  Another example is a claim arising from another person’s Last Will and Testament.  Yet another common example is where two or more persons have received separate deeds to the same parcel of real estate.  For More Information Please Click Here

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House of the Future

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What better way to begin the new year than to take a look at the future. In particular, the technology and innovation behind homes of the future. There is no doubt that as technology changes so many aspects of our lives it will soon also effect our personal sanctuary. Last year we looked at how computers were changing how we watched television. Other simple pastimes such as reading are also affected by computers and software notebooks that change our libraries. Music collections can now be slimmed down from plastic CD to bits of data on our computer. But what about the home structure itself? How will new technology effect how we use energy, water, communications and the natural environment surrounding the home? What might the homes of the future look like? Below we take a look at some of the more fast approaching changes to residential buildings that we might see take hold in the next few years.

Homes with a Brain - The new smart homes integrate new technology while keeping flexible for future innovations. A central command for everything from lights, security, and temperature control to entertainment features such as TVs, computers, and music are all connected to one central powerhouse that can be accessed from anywhere in the home. Programming options will allow you to set the home to various tasks based on the time of day. Imagine waking as the blinds open to the sun in your room, the kids are all woken for school by the house using lights and/or radio alarms, the coffee is already brewed and the security system turns off the evening protections so you don't set it off as you grab your morning paper. At the end of your day, the house checks that all the lights are off for you, all the doors and windows are locked, the security system is on, and maybe the refrigerator tallies its contents so it can remind you in the morning that you are running low on milk.

  1. Automated Climate Control - Homeowners with newer heating and cooling systems already know the benefit of automated temperature control. Currently the system can check the temperature and adjust to the ideal climate you preprogrammed. In the future, these systems will be even smarter. Look for future heating and cooling systems to respond to more than just temperature. They will also adjust according to sunlight and wind - perhaps your shades will automatically close against a setting sun. Climate control will also become easier by zone or area. You can control heating to the bedrooms at night in the winter while balancing the rest of the house so you are not paying to heat empty rooms.
  2. The Efficient "Big Brother" - Smart homes of the future will help us monitor how we use energy and resources. With a fully integrated home, families can examine how they are using and wasting energy, water, etc. They can then easily determine where they can make changes to make their homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
  3. Smart Appliances - These futuristic appliances can tell when your dishes are clean and will stop washing automatically. Your laundry will also only run until the rinse water is clean which will moderate water use and shorten cleaning time. Or better yet, instead of running the whole timed 60 minutes, the dryer will stop as soon as your clothes are dry.

Solar Energy - Recent oil prices and environmental concerns have created a resurge in the use of solar power. The new solar panels are not the same ones from the 70s. Instead, new solar panels on the market collect more photovolatic energy and are easier to install. Many homes are already including a few solar panels on the roof to offset energy costs. Setting the panels at the right slop towards where the house receives the most sun exposure is key. Even in a sunny state like California, consumers should realistically expect only a 50-75% savings at this time. But this is still substantial! Just imagine, as technology improves, so will our ability to use the sun's energy.

Wind Energy - Harnessing wind energy for a single urban residence is in a much more experimental/infancy stage than solar energy. But in the future, wind energy may help offset your energy costs just as much. Traditionally, wind power has been on a large scale and usually used rurally because the size of the turbines. But there are innovative thinkers already creating compact wind turbines for the urban resident. A recent example is the Clarian Jellyfish that is no more obstructive than a TV antenna on the roof.

Wireless Energy - Various forms of wireless energy are still under experimentation. Some are already proven to work in models - such as the WiTricity created by MIT Professor Marin Soljacic. In the future, using electromagnetic induction, microwaves or even lasers, energy may be transferred without the use of wires. In cases such as electromagnetic induction, the transmitting energy is reportedly safe to humans as energy moves from the power source to the receiver at a resonant frequency that matches each other but not other items in the environment. At this point the idea is that homes will still be connected to the city power grid, but all the devices in the home would be powered without wires. Imagine never having to charge your cell phone again or hanging a television on the wall without any wires. To read a bit more, click here.

Phones - Will your home in the future have a standard phone line? Many customers have been dropping phone line use in favor of wireless options - in fact, last year it was estimated that one in every five homes only uses wireless phones.* In addition, homes are now using more Internet phone and communication options such as video conferencing. Homes in the future may not be built with a standard phone line as more users switch to an IP based or wireless phone plan. Already many businesses are cutting costs by either not upgrading or not installing these phone lines for reconstruction or new construction projects. Starting with the business sector first, it may only be a matter of time when the phone line becomes optional for new homes.

Security - Many of the gadgets from the movies are now a reality for the everyday consumer. It is becoming easier to set up cameras around your home that you can access from any computer on a secured site. Add to this new electronic locks that allow you to lock/unlock your home online - perhaps you forgot to lock the doors this morning but can now do so from work or you want to let your neighbor in to bring in the paper while you're on vacation. And yes, these new locks will let you track which doors are opened, when and, in the future, by whom. You can already get fingerprint readers that will limit access to computers and/or your home. Some of the new model homes also include iris scans that make keys almost unnecessary.

Space - In the cities our available living space can be limited and will be even more so in the future. For urban living, therefore, it makes sense that our living spaces take on multiple functions. Tucking away what is not in use and creating efficient use of space is a common element many urban homes are adopting. For example, compact, built-in furniture features can help turn a living room into a bedroom or dining room. Perhaps suburban and even some rural homes will adopt some of these innovations as they give evidence of their cost effectiveness. Homebuyers may use urban designs to lower energy bills and the cost of building or remodeling a home. However, large homes will not disappear overnight and design will not change in most of the country until these slim urban concept designs prove their efficiency without sacrificing comfort.

Plants - Plants can help make a room more appealing and complete. In the future, plants may also be used to facilitate cleaner air in the home or to help clean waste water. Plants already can act like a carbon filter and help in taking gases such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde out of the air.* Maybe start this today and get a spider plant which is reported to work on both of these gasses. Currently plants may also be used around the home to help slow chemicals from storm runoff, safely adsorbing chemicals and creating clean waste. In the future, as more ways to treat water through phytoremediation are developed, this technology may become more accessible and plants may take a greater role in helping remove toxins from the water coming in and out of our homes.

Sprinklers - Okay, so not as impressive as say wireless energy, but the new sprinkler systems are still pretty neat - and cost effective. New systems allow for thinking sprinkler systems that will water the lawn only as needed. Set to read the amount of rain already received - you won't see automated sprinklers on during a rainstorm again!

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