William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Life at Home: What's Your Recycling IQ?

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

You might be patting yourself on the back for how good you’ve become at recycling around the house. But not so fast…there's a right and wrong way to recycle, and if you’re doing it the wrong way, you may be doing the environment more harm than good.

According to Republic Services, Inc., not following the proper steps when recycling can lead to contamination. A contaminated can or bottle tossed into the recycling bin can come into contact with other recyclables, like paper or cardboard, and potentially contaminate the entire batch. Fortunately, there are three simple steps you can take to recycle safely:

1. Completely empty the container by removing any food or liquid.
2. Clean the container by rinsing it with a small amount of water.
3. Dry the container by shaking out excess water and letting it air-dry before placing it in the recycling container.

In addition to properly prepping your recyclables, here are some other ideas to do more recycling, more efficiently, at home:
  • Think outside the box. Just because something can't be thrown in the recycling bin, it doesn’t mean it can’t be recycled. Think about reusing items instead of recycling them, and donate gently used books to libraries and schools, clothing to Goodwill, toys and DVDs to hospitals.
  • Check out local networks like Facebook Marketplace, town tag sales or Freecycle for getting rid of larger items, like furniture and tools.
  • Encourage recycling around your home by placing bins and containers in strategic areas, i.e., a large box in the laundry room for clothes that no longer fit, a collection bin for paper in your home office, and a plastic container on your patio or deck for bottles and cans during an outdoor gathering.
  • Be sure to check with your town regarding what can and cannot be recycled, like bottle caps. In some cases, the caps contain different chemicals, which your local program may not be able to recycle. 
For more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

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Painting Project in the Works? Consider the Colors of 2018

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

When it comes time to refreshing our walls with a new coat of color, we all have our favorite hues. But it’s always worth taking a look at the colors the experts choose as trending shades for the year ahead. The editors at remodeling.com compiled the 2018 picks from the top paint companies. So before you spread the drop cloth and don your coveralls, consider whether any of the following fashion-forward colors will work in your home:
 
The Green Hour: This blue-green with a healthy wash of gray from Dunn-Edwards can pass as a neutral shade, but also lends a moody or dramatic look to a room. If you’re looking for something light and airy, this isn’t it.
 
Black Magic: This choice from Olympic Paint is a shade of black that offers striking contrast when used for trim and accent furniture. You can also consider painting one or two walls in this color, depending on the size and purpose of the room in question.
 
In the Moment: Another blue-green hue, this one comes from Behr, and offers a softer, more pastel option. This versatile shade would work equally well in a bedroom, kitchen or living room—and is a nice gender-neutral option for a baby’s room.
 
Deep Onyx: This shade from Glidden is another twist on black, offering a classic, timeless approach, just like “a little black dress,” as the firm’s marketing department aptly describes it.

Caliente: Just like the name implies, this fiery red from Benjamin Moore will quickly heat up a room. It's perfect for a large dining room or any room that can handle a bright pop of color.

Oceanside: Yet one more take on a blue-green, this color from Sherwin-Williams is very deep and intense, just like its namesake.
 
If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

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Before You Set Your Alarm, Make Sure That Black Friday Deal Is Really Worth It

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

For better or worse, the American Thanksgiving tradition now includes a midnight run to the nearest department store or electronics retailer in the hopes of nabbing the ultimate Black Friday deal. But before you join the masses in this shopping madness, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises doing the following to make sure the deal you worked so hard for doesn’t turn into a disaster.
  1. Is the discount really a discount? Make sure that the price wasn’t inflated before the store offered a percentage off. For example, if there's 20 percent off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), that’s not much of a deal. The MSRP is a much higher price than what the store would normally sell the product for.
  2. Read the fine print. Some Black Friday sale items may only be available in limited quantities or during specific time periods. In other words, you may need to line up before the store opens to even have a chance of scoring a specific deal.
  3. Be aware of the return policy. Before you purchase, make sure you’re able to return the sale item if it turns out not to be what you wanted or if you find it cheaper somewhere else.
  4. Be safe online. Lots of Black Friday deals are offered online, as well. Be sure to pay with a credit card as opposed to your debit card—your credit card is protected in case of fraudulent activity, whereas your bank account is at risk when using your debit card—and look for the padlock icon in the browser to make sure you’re on a secure site. 
Finally, the BBB reminds us that there are many holiday shopping deals to be had beyond Black Friday. Consider Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, as well as local craft and gift fairs. Of course, the best way to avoid overspending this holiday season is to create a budget, make a list and stick to it. Remember, the most thoughtful gifts usually don’t come with high price tags...or any price tag at all.
 
If you'd like more homeowner information, please contact me.

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5 Ways Your Smart Speaker Can Help out Around the House

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

From Google Home to Amazon Echo, smart speakers are hitting the market in droves. But while they seem like the next “must have,” what do they really do? And do you really need one?
 
First things first, according to WhatIs.com, a smart speaker is a wireless and smart audio playback device that uses several types of connectivity for additional functions. The original purpose was to wirelessly deliver audio content from your media library, i.e., songs from your Spotify playlist. Many have evolved, however, to now feature voice-activated digital assistants and to also be able to operate home automation programs. The term “smart speaker” now specifically refers to those speakers with voice control.
 
But how can a smart speaker improve your life at home? Here are just a few of the tasks you will be able to use it for (which will vary according to model and artificial intelligence (AI) used):
  1. DJ your next party. Place a few smart speakers in several rooms of your house, including your yard or patio, and have the same playlist piped throughout the entire expanse of your party.
  2. Control your audio-visual needs. Smart speakers may be able to end the madness of multiple remote controls, let alone the confusion regarding how to operate said remotes.
  3. Make you more energy efficient. A key component of your smart home automation, you can enlist your smart speaker in adjusting your lights and your heating and cooling system. When used wisely, this can help lower your energy bill.
  4. Organize your day. You can use a smart speaker in much the same way you use Siri—to remind you of items on your to-do list, appointments on your calendar, and give you directions to wherever you’re headed.
  5. Buy and sell real estate. An increasing number of apps will become available through smart speakers that will help you search for and buy homes in your area, contact real estate agents or visit open houses. 
As with all technology, the applications and possibilities of smart speakers will only continue to evolve, so it might be worth taking one for a test drive.
 
Hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any real estate information, please contact me.

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6 Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

Traditional real estate wisdom may be telling you to hold off selling your home until after the holidays, but there are plenty of good reasons to list your home right now. Consider the following:
  • People who are looking for a home during the holiday season are most likely pretty serious about making a move. In fact, they may be in a bit of hurry. Putting your home on the market now might result in a faster sale at a higher price point.
  • Between family gatherings and holiday parties, you’ve probably got your home in bright and shiny, tip-top shape for entertaining. What better time to show off your home to prospective buyers, too?
  • In most areas of the country, yard maintenance decreases during the wintry holiday months. While you may have to blow a few leaves and clear away some snow from walkways, you won’t have to worry about keeping the lawn mowed, the garden beds weeded and the flowers blooming as you would if listing your home in the spring and summer.
  • The end of the year is usually a slower time for real estate professionals, so you will get lots of attention from your agent if you decide to list your home during the holiday season.
  • You will also have less competition in terms of other homes on the market, allowing your home to stand out more to prospective buyers.
  • You can stage your home to make an emotional connection to the holidays. Work with your real estate agent to tastefully decorate so that prospective buyers envision themselves hosting loving family celebrations in your home during the holidays. Stay away from overtly religious decorations and stick with decorations like small white lights, natural evergreens and a few shimmering metallics. An evergreen- or cranberry-scented candle will also emphasize that home-for-the-holidays feel. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

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In this Edition: Listing During the Holidays May Lead to a Faster Sale at a Higher Price Point

November 17, 2017 2:57 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines six reasons why you shouldn’t wait until after the holidays to list your home. Other topics covered this month include simple ways your smart speaker can improve your life at home and how you can up your recycling IQ to ensure you're not doing more harm than good. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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Let Your Photos Take Center Stage

November 17, 2017 8:33 am

One of the many great things about today’s smartphone cameras is that they allow you to take high-quality photos anywhere, anytime. The wide range of filters and settings turns amateurs into fashion photographers, travel reporters and SoHo artists.

The bad thing about this newfound accessibility to photography, however, is that most of those photos never make it off your phone. Once you take them and share a few on social media, they often get lost in the ether of the Cloud or some drive on your PC. Here are some creative ways to bring your favorite photos out from their digital recesses and into the world for you and others to enjoy on a regular basis:

Set up slideshows as screensavers on your laptop and desktop computers. You can even use this feature on your smart TV and let the slide show play when friends and family are gathered for the next holiday.

Make an annual photo book. Gather the best of your photos for a given year and flow them into an annual photo book. People will be more apt to pick up a hard copy of the year’s highlights as opposed to scrolling through your phone.

Make separate albums for special trips you’ve taken. After all, your vacation to Fiji deserves more than a few shots on Facebook or a fleeting image on Snapchat.

Get artsy with your favorite shots. Have them printed on canvases or framed as posters to showcase in key areas of your home.

Put endearing shots of friends, family and pets on everything from pillows and throws to mugs and calendars. That way you’ll be reminded of who matters most every time you use these functional items.

Consider going old school and making photos a social occasion. Invite a few friends over for a slide show of your European vacation or of your newest grandchild, and serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Invite them to connect their device to view their latest life event too.  

These ideas will help make your photos what they’re intended to be: precious memories of the people and places that matter to you.

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Property Claims Satisfaction Surges, Even As Catastrophes Escalate

November 17, 2017 8:33 am

Although recent property insurance claim calls have escalated with fires, flooding and storm damages being reported all over the country, overall customer satisfaction among homeowners filing property insurance claims has reached a new all-time high.

The latest J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study notes this surge in insurance customer satisfaction corresponds with a 10-year high in catastrophic events, which are typically associated with lower satisfaction scores.

The study measures satisfaction with the property claims experience among insurance customers who have filed a claim for damages by examining five factors (listed in order of importance): settlement; first notice of loss; estimation process; service interaction; and repair process. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale with the overall Customer Satisfaction Index reaching a new all-time high for the study.

The largest single driver of the improvement is the settlement factor, which encompasses the fairness of the settlement amount, followed by estimation process and service interaction.

Following are some of the key findings of that 2017 J.D. Power property claims study:

- The West posts the largest improvement nationwide, amid a period where the toll from wildfires has yet to be fully reconciled. A handful of states with more volatile weather claims — most notably Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts —  post flat to declining scores.

- Weather-related claims elsewhere achieve the highest overall improvement in claims satisfaction, with high wind- and hail-related claims leading the way. However, water-related claims, which tend to take longer to resolve, are linked to lower overall satisfaction scores.

- High wind and hail claims are the most frequent weather-related claims in this year’s study, and both are correlated with relatively high satisfaction scores, regardless of total cycle time. Water-related claims, by contrast, are associated with the lowest satisfaction scores. On the whole, water-related claims score 39 points lower than hail-related claims.

- Slow resolution time is the primary driver of lower scores for water-related claims, with the time it took to a settle claim receiving a rating that is 0.40 points lower (on a 10-point scale) than other claims types for water-related claims.

Source: www.jdpower.com

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5 Ways to Ease Holiday Travel

November 17, 2017 8:33 am

The hustle and bustle of travel during the holiday can be a major headache. To help ease your journey, MultiVu offers the following tips for smooth driving and flying this happy holiday season.

Do your homework. Before you commit to a travel plan, comparison shop. Use a travel review site such as Booking.com to cross reference lodging, car rentals, wellness retreats and more to make sure you're getting exactly what you expect before you pull out that credit card.

Protect yourself. From hurricanes to earthquakes, there's a lot that's not in our control. But something that is? Protecting our travel investment with travel insurance coverage. Travel insurance can reimburse your non-refundable expenses if you must cancel a trip due to sickness or injury and most importantly, it'll cover you for medical emergencies that may happen while you're traveling.

Lighten the load. During the holidays, consider sending unwrapped gifts in advance to your destination to lighten your load and wrapping them upon arrival. Pack a capsule wardrobe so that you can mix and match your outfits, and find out if laundry services are available at your destination so you can do a light load while on the road. Wear your heaviest clothing item, like a knitted sweater or peacoat, to lighten the weight of luggage or leave more room for packing. Think about things you don't need, and consider going more natural to save weight: hair dryer, hair spray, your entire skincare lineup (maybe just take the moisturizer and sunscreen in travel-sized containers and a mini makeup kit),

On the go games. Traveling with a brood? The best kid games on the go are the ones without small pieces and that don't make a lot of noise: cards, coloring, reading books are great. Car games that require rider participation are also a wonderful way to keep kids entertained and don't require any packing.

Source: MultiVu

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Ward Off Identity Theft This Holiday Season

November 15, 2017 8:33 am

Identity theft is a scary thought year-round, but during the holidays, the last thing you want to deal with is the headache and hassle of a stolen identity. Consider the following safety precautions from IdentityForce.

Be Charitable without Giving Access to Bank Accounts. Conduct research before donating to a non-profit. Be wary of a charity that uses a name closely resembling a well-known organization. If donating online, avoid crowdfunding or only donate to those people you know personally as it is extremely difficult to verify where your donation is going.

Volunteer Your Time, Not Your Identity. Many food banks or soup kitchens require a driver's license or a background check before volunteering. If sensitive personal information is required, ask about their privacy and data security practices. Also, do not sign open-ended consent forms. If this is mandatory, confirm that the forms are encrypted.

Don't Let an Online Shopping Scam Fool You. Avoid buying from merchants operating websites that are not secure. Hackers may set up websites designed to look like those of a legitimate seller. Before purchasing from them, research the organization and check with the Better Business Bureau. Additionally, look for the HTTPS and lock symbol in your browser address bar.    

Proceed with Caution When Applying for a Seasonal Job. On a job application, include only your name, address, telephone number, email address and relevant job history. Do not include the SSN, date of birth, or driver's license number. If an employer requests that information before granting an interview, ask to withhold the information until an in-person interview is possible.

Don't Overshare on Social. Hackers will try to sell stolen identities on the Dark Web, and often the gateway to gain access to personal information can be via social networks. When posting online, do not provide specifics. Social media identity theft relies on seemingly inconsequential details that can be linked together. The more dates, names and facts shared, the easier it is for thieves to impersonate your accounts. Also, remind friends and family not to share their personal information.

Source: IdentityForce

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