Prepping Your Home Appliances for Thanksgiving

Turkey Day is right around the corner! Thanksgiving means great food along with great company – while spending a LOT of time in the kitchen and other common areas. If you’re planning to host Thanksgiving this year, here are some tips to prepare your home and kitchen to minimize your stress this holiday.

Prep Your Oven

This may be an obvious one, but can you imagine anything more disastrous than discovering your oven isn’t working properly on the big day? Before you begin to prepare for cooking, start first by cleaning your oven’s interior with an oven cleaner or natural home cleaner. For a natural home cleaner, mix equal parts of water and baking soda to create a paste. Spread paste onto the oven’s interior and let sit for at least 12 hours. In the meantime, soak oven racks for at least two hours and then scrub and wash with soap. After 12 hours of the paste sitting, wipe clean with damp cloth. If you have trouble getting off the paste or tough grease stains, spray white vinegar onto the area which will cause baking soda to foam and be easy to wipe clean. Once your oven is sparkling clean, it’s time to check your oven’s temperature. Pre-heat your oven to the temperature you’d like to test, then check the temperature on the oven thermometer inside. If you don’t have an oven thermometer, you can also test your oven’s temperature by using sugar.

Check Your Vents 

Many people don’t even realize how important their kitchen exhaust fans are until there’s a breakdown. Since you’ll likely be using your stovetop as well as your oven on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen’s exhaust fan has maximum ventilation. An easy way to diagnose if there’s an issue with your exhaust fans is to turn them on and listen. If you hear the exhaust fan’s motor make an unusual “whirring” type of sound, it may be due to the fact that the motor is struggling to keep the fan running. When it gets to this stage, it’s likely the motor will burn out and its best to have the exhaust fan replaced. On the other hand, if you hear a rattling sound from your exhaust fan – this may be a sign that there are loose or defective components that will have to be corrected. In either case, it’s best to have a professional come inspect the fans to further diagnose the problem. If you don’t hear any of these sounds, but would like to test how well your kitchen’s exhaust fan is working, you can take a single square of toilet paper and put it up against the fan. The fan should suck the toilet paper up and should stay attached to the fan. If it doesn’t stay attached, it’s likely that your exhaust fan is not working properly.

Clean The Ice Maker

The ice maker is another oft-neglected household appliance that may need some attention before all your guests are using it for their drinks. Ice makers can sometimes become polluted with flavors from all the food in your refrigerator and freezer (unless they have separate climate controls). Be sure to check your refrigerator’s water filter – which is usually connected to the ice maker and water dispenser on most refrigerators. These filters should be replaced every six months if you use your water dispenser and ice maker on a frequent basis. Filters can be replaced through the refrigerator’s manufacturer or can be found at most home improvement stores. After replacing your water filter, clear out the existing ice. Clean the ice container with warm soapy water and dry completely and let it fill up with new fresh ice. Keeping your ice maker clean will assure there is no debris or minerals, two main causes of musty taste and health problems. Your Thanksgiving guests will appreciate your fresh, ice-cold (pollution-free!) drinks.

After The Meal                  

If you didn’t appreciate your dishwasher already, you’ll surely be grateful for it when you have company over on Thanksgiving! There will be mounds of dishes and utensils just waiting to be washed. Make sure your dishwasher is thoroughly cleaned and maintained before Turkey Day. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your dishwasher a thorough deep clean, now is the time to do it.  Wipe down the interior door, scrub the door gasket with a soft toothbrush, and clean the filter. Remove the racks from the dishwasher and check the sprayer arm nozzles for any clogs and clean them as necessary with some toothpicks or pipe cleaners. When the spray arm nozzles are clean, they will spray better and make your dishes sparkle. Run a cycle of vinegar in your dishwasher to remove any soap scum and to get your dishwasher completely ready for an easy Thanksgiving clean up.

By our Preferred Vendor, Choice Home Warranty.

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Tish Mills 2022 Kitchen Trends

The kitchen is truly the heart of the home.   Today this is truer than ever, especially since most people have spent the past year living, working, and playing at home.  The kitchen has become the gathering place for the family and now again friends and guests as well.    This space more than just functional place now – it’s command central.

One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the open floor plan is now segueing to less of a public space.   Many new builds and renovations are including a way to delineate the space or even close it off, so that the kitchen is its own room with the opportunity to connect as much or as little as wanted at any given time.  Being all home together during Covid brought back the idea of needing individual spaces rather than one big open concept space.  The kitchen is no exception!

From a design perspective, we are seeing that kitchens are taking their cue from the more maximalism approach of design in general.  Their role is more than just function they are a part of the overall design aesthetic of the home.

White kitchens will always be classic, so have no fear that you need to rip out your white cabinets!  But they are not trending in most new kitchen designs.  Rich woods like walnut and oak are coming to the forefront, along with bold color for either an entire kitchen or the accent areas like islands, and bars.

The back kitchen or large pantry is a consistent request now.  These spaces allow for less or no upper cabinets, giving the kitchen more of a designed room look and less like a traditional kitchen.  Many small or secondary appliances are being moved to the back hidden areas.

Mixing materials are key when it comes to how the kitchen is pulled together.

Think of beautiful woods , natural stones, event plaster and concrete.  Metals are very strong showing up on hoods, door fronts and even fixtures.   They are not necessarily shiny any longer, we are now using more of a rich range of bronze finishes.   The solid surface plain countertops are out and are being replaced by bold, strong color and veining of some of the new Quartzite that have hit the market.  A whole house color scheme could come from some of these exciting stones.  They either replace a backsplash or set the tone for the tiles used and accent colors within the cabinetry.

The kitchen definitely reflects the personality and aesthetic of the homeowners today.  It is time to splurge on that light fixture that was reserved for the Dining Room in past times, and can now hang in all its glory over the island.

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors, a preferred vendor of The Meridian Real Estate Group, is an award-winning interior designer who has been working with clients in their homes for more than two decades. She believes that it is essential to put together a cohesive plan for your home renovation before you get started that can be carried out by the team of experts you assemble. www.harmoniousliving.net

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For more info, contact:
Beth Dempsey – Images & Details, Inc.
203.962.3235
[email protected]
 Photos provided by Chris Little.


HARD VS. SOFT CREDIT INQUIRIES

When you get a copy of your credit report, you’ll see more than just your current and historical credit accounts. You’ll see your payment history, including any payments made more than 30, 60, and 90 days past the due date, along with your account balances and credit limits. You’ll also see credit inquiries.

A credit inquiry is simply an instance where you or a third party has looked at your credit report. Some credit inquiries can have an impact on your overall credit scores, but not all inquiries are so consequential. There are two types of credit inquiries – a hard and a soft inquiry.

Soft inquiries are common and somewhat frequent. The most common type of soft inquiry is one where a creditor is curious about offering you a new credit account, so they check your score to make sure you qualify. If you’ve ever received an offer for a credit card that’s preapproved, that company has done a soft inquiry on your report.

Other types of soft inquiries include potential employers checking your credit, or when you check on your own score. It’s important to understand that soft inquiries have no impact on your credit, but they will be noted on your report and can be done without your consent.

Hard inquiries occur when you apply for a loan, credit card, or mortgage and you’ve given written consent to a creditor to check your scores. Several hard inquiries in a row for a credit card can negatively impact your score, as this type of action may give the impression you’re scrambling for credit ahead of some financial hardship. Multiple hard inquiries in a row from an auto, mortgage, or student loan lender are less likely to have a negative impact. In these instances, reporting agencies are more likely to assume you’re “rate shopping,” and the multiple inquiries are viewed as a single inquiry.

Hard inquiries stop impacting your score after a year’s time, but they will remain on your credit report for 24 months. While inquiries do play a part in assessing an individual’s credit, they represent only about 10% of what goes into a credit score. Things like making payments on time and your overall debt burden have a far greater impact on the health of your credit reputation.

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Zillow To Shut Down iBuying Program Zillow Offers

The move should take several quarters and will also result in Zillow reducing its workforce by about 25 percent.

Just weeks after it paused new iBuying, Zillow on Tuesday made the startling announcement that it plans to shut down its iBuying operations altogether.

The move should take several quarters and will also result in Zillow reducing its workforce by approximately 25 percent.

The company made the announcement in an earnings report, saying the company plans “to wind down Zillow Offers, the company’s iBuying service in which Zillow acts as the primary purchaser and seller of homes.”

Company founder Rich Barton added in the report that “we’ve determined the unpredictability in forecasting home prices far exceeds what we anticipated and continuing to scale Zillow Offers would result in too much earnings and balance-sheet volatility.”

“While we built and learned a tremendous amount operating Zillow Offers, it served only a small portion of our customers,” Barton continued. “Our core business and brand are strong, and we remain committed to creating an integrated and digital real estate transaction that solves the pain points of buyers and sellers while serving a wider audience.”

The report goes on to note that winding down Zillow Offers will likely take several quarters and involve laying off 25 percent of Zillow’s workforce.In a tweet shortly after the report went live Tuesday, Barton described “a tough day at Zillow.”

Tuesday’s earnings report shows that iBuying has been extremely costly for Zillow. While the company pulled in $1.7 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2021, it also lost $328 million. Virtually all of those losses were from iBuying; the report shows that the Homes segment of the company actually lost a total of $422 million during between July and September. That loss was offset by profits Zillow’s internet, media and technology segment. However, the quarter ultimately reversed a trend from recent periods in which Zillow reported profits, not losses.

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National Apartment Investor To Double Dallas HQ With New Lease

S2 Capital CEO Says New Tower Will Give Company ‘Top Notch’ Site To Recruit Younger Workers

A national apartment investment firm has decided to more than double the size of its corporate headquarters in Dallas with a new office lease at a yet-to-be-built tower near the city’s bustling Uptown neighborhood with plenty of planned amenities, which its CEO says should attract talented young executives to the growing firm.

S2 Capital, which has made a name for itself investing in value-add apartments but has recently acquired newer and higher-end real estate, has leased 25,000 square feet of office space, the entire 18th floor, at Harwood No. 14, a new office tower landlord and developer Harwood International is building at 2801 N. Harwood St. between Victory Park and Uptown. The firm is only the second tenant to lease space in the tower after global law firm Haynes & Boone signed a lease for 125,000 square feet in August.

“We felt Harwood did everything top notch and did it the right way,” S2 Capital CEO Scott Everett told CoStar News, adding the city’s Knox-Henderson neighborhood was also considered during the nine-month real estate search. “This fit into what we were looking for and felt like we found a place we could truly grow into in the next 10 to 20 years. This is a place a younger person would want to be, and we felt it would help us attract talent.”

The 32-year-old chief executive said the office tower’s site provides proximity to both Uptown and downtown Dallas without having employees travel through the city’s busiest business districts thanks to the nearby Dallas North Tollway. He said employees can also easily catch concerts and Dallas Mavericks games at American Airlines Center just blocks away, making it even more appealing to a younger crowd.

Bret Hefton, a managing director with JLL who represented S2 Capital in its search for a new headquarters, said amenities to attract and retain employees were imperative in that search.

The 27-story, 360,000-square-foot office tower’s design is heavily influenced by nature, according to architect Kengo Kuma, with a two-story lobby that blends indoor and outdoor features. The tower’s amenities include a rooftop and sky garden, open-air pocket gardens and about 17,000 square feet of retail space at street level.

The new Harwood office space is also more than double the size of S2 Capital’s current corporate office in Dallas’ Preston Center. That gives the firm, which employs roughly 40 workers, room to grow with enough space for more than 100 executives, Everett said. His team is already looking for some temporary space to lease to help it accommodate its growing workforce until the new tower is built and the office space is built out, he said.

The decision to lease space at Harwood No. 14 comes as S2 Capital, which has invested $6 billion since it was founded in 2012, is nearing the end of what has already been a busy trading year. By year-end, the firm plans to sell 21 properties in Florida, Texas and Arizona and buy eight properties, including five scheduled to close this week, in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix.

S2 Capital expects to move into Harwood No. 14 in May 2023, months after construction is scheduled for completion in January 2023.

For the Record
JLL’s Bret Hefton represented S2 Capital. Kelly Whaley and Hannah Mesh of Harwood International represented the landlord and developer Harwood International. Tokyo-based Kengo Kuma & Associates is the design architect for the building, with Corgan and HDF also serving in various capacities.

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Housing Starts Faltered In September Amid Supply Constraints

Multifamily housing starts dipped 1.6% in September following a month in which the sector delivered surprising gains while single-family housing starts remained steady from the previous month.

Multifamily housing starts dipped 1.6 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,555,000 following a month in which the sector delivered surprising gains, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s September 2021 New Residential Construction Report. Those starts were still 7.4 percent above the September 2020 rate of 1,448,000, however.

Meanwhile, single-family housing starts remained the same from the previous month at a rate of 1,080,000.

Labor and material shortages have continued to hamper builders’ progress, Kelly Mangold, principal at RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, told Inman in a statement.


What Is the One Thing That Instantly Updates Your Home Providing the Ultimate First Impression?

The Atlanta housing market is slowing down a bit and bidding wars are not as brutal as they were 6 months ago, however if your home is an A property and priced right, you will likely have multiple bids in a short amount of time. In a November 2020 blog article I outlined in detail suggestions how to get your home to A property status (if interested, read here…), but one thing I neglected to mention is this month’s focus.

What is one thing that instantly updates your home and provides the ultimate positive first impression? Replacing your garage door(s).

Every year Remodeling magazine releases a study known as the “Cost vs. Value Report” that highlights home improvement projects with the most return on investment (ROI). For three consecutive years, “replacing a home’s garage door” has been listed among the two best projects a homeowner can undertake to recoup investment upon selling the home.

According to their 2020 study, a homeowner will recoup 94.5% of the value of replacing a garage door.

In the past, garage doors were given very little attention by homebuilders and were pretty basic; blank panels of wood or aluminum slapped onto the front or side of a house. But somewhere along the way manufacturers realized that by slightly tweaking the designs, these doors could offer not just utility but greatly enhance the aesthetic appeal of the home’s exterior.

Now there is a wide selection of design choices to choose from and one of the most popular and enduring ones has been the carriage door. This provides a charming and elegant look to an otherwise somewhat bland part of the house. Prices range from the high hundreds for aluminum doors to several thousands for the heavier and more stately wooden doors. There are now even ‘smart’ garage doors but for the purpose of this article, I’m simply focusing on optics and first impressions.

But what if you don’t have the budget to spruce up your home to this degree before listing it? There’s another option that gives the impression of a carriage door that is much less expensive…magnetic hinges and handles you can attach to your existing door. These run under $20 on Amazon and instantly update your garage doors.

I’ll end on a personal note, we upgraded our garage doors shortly after moving into our current home and to this day I contend it was possibly the smartest $1,200 we could have spent. Not only do we get to appreciate them as homeowners, but when it’s time to sell we will definitely have a curb appeal advantage most of our competition won’t.

So there you have it, an instant face lift for your home which will set you apart from other listings in an easy and appreciable way.

By Holly A. Morris, Realtor

The Meridian Real Estate Group

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WHY FALL IS THE BEST TIME FOR PLANTING

Spring is often thought of as the best time for planting, but do you know that plating in fall offers some significant advantages for your garden? In fact, marketing ploys aside, fall is the best time for planting and starting a garden!

Below are some reasons why fall is the best time for planting perennials, trees, and shrubs in your garden:

The Weather is Perfect for Planting

The cooler weather in fall is easier for the plants and gardeners alike. The ground isn’t semi frozen and not too dry and the weather isn’t too warm or cold. The plants won’t get too stressed because they won’t be subjected to extremes in weather and hence can recover faster after planting.

You Won’t Have to Plant Right After Buying Plants

There is no need to plant right away because you won’t have to worry about plants drying up or the ground being too hot. As for trees, planting them when they’ve lost their leaves is actually better because they won’t have to exert energy growing leaves and can focus on growing roots. This is the biggest fall advantage, helping the plant grow better roots so that they’ll have energy to display gorgeous foliage and blooms come spring time. The fall to spring transition is quicker than waiting for a full year before getting to see the results of your handiwork.

Lower Maintenance Effort

You won’t have to water as much in fall, so that’s less maintenance effort from your part. You will also not have to baby sit new plants and fret about whether they will survive or not because of the overall milder weather.

A good tip for planting in fall is to water the plants in their pots a few hours before you transport them to their new homes. This lets them soak up water and be better prepared for planting. Water the hole they’ll be placed in too before planting.

It is Easier to See Where to Plant Best

Fall allows you to see sparse areas of your garden that need more plants. It is the best time to plan out next year’s garden and start planting it. You’ll know exactly how the other plants look like and how much space they take when they got foliage and blooms, allowing you to add pops of color where you know you need it.

Bargains in Gardening Supplies

Gardening supplies are typically at their peak prices in spring but are cheaper in fall when some shops even close their business for the winter. Shop for non-perishable supplies, seeds, and maybe some bulbs in fall. You can probably get gardening tools at discounted prices and perhaps some fertilizers, netting, pebbles, and similar things. Watch out for sale in pots, too!

 

Credit To: Brad Miller

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6 Things People Say About Buying a Home Today That Actually Aren’t True

You’ve probably heard about some of the challenges of buying a home these days. Stories are splashed across news sites and whispered among friends and neighbors, about homebuyers mired in insane bidding wars, going way over asking price, and still not getting the house.

Daunted and dejected, homebuyers have also heard heaping earfuls on what to do, from “wait it out” to “waive your home inspection” and other extreme measures. Yet amid this frenzy of well-meaning chatter, the thing to remember is that real estate markets can change quickly, and much of what you’ve heard may not even be true—at least, not anymore.

“A lot of homebuyers are coming in with some trepidation because of the media hype around the market,” says Chris Arienti, broker and owner of Re/Max Executive Realty in Franklin, MA. “The market has been such a seller’s market, and there’s a million offers on homes. While that was true six months ago, we’ve seen a cooling-off period.”

To help homebuyers navigate this ever-changing terrain, here’s a look at six myths you’ve probably heard about buying a home, and why they might not necessarily be the reality right now.

1. ‘It’s a bad time to buy a home’
Even though there are fewer homes on the market, higher prices, and intense competition, experts insist that, despite the odds, it’s actually still a good time to buy a home. For one, the market is finally starting to soften. Combine that with low mortgage rates, and this spells a fantastic opportunity.

“Interest rates are at a historic low,” says Tony Rodriguez-Tellaheche, owner and managing broker of Prestige Realty Group in Miami. “If you can get a 30-year fixed-rate loan at an all-time low, it makes all the sense in the world to purchase property right now.”

2. ‘I’ll have to waive a home inspection for my offer to stand out’
Though it’s a risky move, many potential homebuyers have waived home inspections recently as a way to speed up their purchase and make their offers more attractive to sellers. But by now, most buyers have begun to change their tune on this.

“As the market is starting to change, we are seeing fewer homebuyers being this aggressive, although competition still exists,” says Jason Gelios, a real estate agent with Community Choice Reality in Southeastern Michigan.

Arienti agrees, saying buyers in his market are insisting on home inspections again, and using the inspection as a way to negotiate repairs or the home’s price, something few we3. ‘I’ll need to bid tens of thousands over list price’

Over the past year, median home prices have soared to nearly $360,000—18% higher than last July, according to the National Association of Realtors®. As such, bidding over the asking price is something most buyers still need to consider, says Scott Bergmann with Realty ONE Group Sterling in Omaha, NE.

Yet buyers aren’t offering as much over asking today as they were a few months ago.

Over the summer, in his market in Southeastern Michigan, Gelios says buyers were offering more than $40,000 over the list price and waiving appraisals.

“Fast forward to September 2021, and we are still seeing offers over asking price, but not that many compared to several months ago,” he says.

Rodriguez-Tellaheche says he’s seen buyers offer up to 40% over the asking price (and sometimes still not land the home), but now it’s more like 10% above the list price.

4. ‘I’ll end up in a bidding war’
Bidding wars for real estate have been common in 2021, as there have been more buyers than homes on the market. Some buyers were left disappointed when their bids didn’t make the cut.

While the market is still competitive, Arienti says homes in his area aren’t receiving as many offers these days—maybe one or two instead of dozens from a few months ago. That’s leading sellers to adjust their expectations.

Still, some buyers may still need to bid on several homes before getting an offer accepted, so Arienti urges buyers to not get their hopes up too high about a home until they have a sales contract in hand.

5. ‘I’ll need extra money to cover an appraisal gap’
Mortgage companies typically require a home appraisal before approving a loan. But when a home appraises for less than what a buyer offers to pay, the buyer is often stuck paying the difference, known as an appraisal gap.

Rodriguez-Tellaheche says that over the past few months, it’s become common for buyers to pay for the appraisal gap, as many were submitting offers a lot higher than the home’s list price. Many buyers making cash offers waived appraisals altogether.

Yet waiving appraisals and agreeing to cover appraisal gaps aren’t happening quite as much anymore.

“A lot of buyers just got fed up in the spring, and they hopped out of the market,” Arienti says. “That changed the stance of a lot of sellers.”

6. ‘I need a perfect credit score to get a loan’
Today more than ever, a high credit score and a solid financial history are necessary for getting pre-approved for a mortgage. But this doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect.

Bergmann says he often encounters homebuyers who think they need a credit score in the 700s.

“Although a 700 or above does help your interest rate, it is not a requirement for most lenders,” he says. “If you have a 640 or above, you could potentially be pre-approved; you may just have a higher interest rate.”

If your credit score is a little lower and you’re offered a higher interest rate, you can purchase mortgage points to lower that rate. In his area, Bergmann says a point costs 1% of the purchase price and lowers the interest rate by 0.25%.

“So if you have the ability to save up and are worried about your interest rate, save up at least one point so that you can buy down your interest rate,” Bergmann says. “This will save so much more money in the long run.”re doing earlier this year. And for good reason: Waiving a home inspection can be risky for buyers since they’re responsible for any repairs or maintenance issues that come up after the sale.

Cushman Wakefield Recently Put Out It’s Global Key Findings Report On Predicting The Return To The Office

Cushman Wakefield recently put out it’s Global Key Findings Report on Predicting the Return to the Office. Here’s what they had to say, and do you agree?
 
• As of September 2021, approximately 40% of all global office workers have returned to the office. China is leading the return with over 90% back. All other regions of the world examined in this study fall between 27% and 40% of employees in the office on any given day. 
 
• The latest COVID-19 projections indicate that global infections related to the Delta variant will peak in October or November 2021 and then trend lower. This is consistent with the pattern that COVID-19 has displayed throughout the pandemic—new cases often surge for two months before trending back downwards. 
 
• At the current rate, most of the world will achieve herd resiliency—i.e., over 70% either vaccinated or infected— by Q2 2022. Herd resiliency will be achieved first in Canada (Q3 2021), followed by the U.S., Europe and China—all in Q4 2021. The rest of Asia Pacific will vary by country, but as a region overall, it is likely to lag by a quarter or two (Q1 or Q2 2022). 
 
• In our study, if our assumptions hold true, we conclude that most office workers globally will be able to return to the office in the first quarter of 2022. Regionally, the return will be led by Greater China, followed by Europe, then the U.S., Canada and finally the Asia Pacific region. Again, timing will vary within countries.

SMART DEVICES TO PROTECT YOUR HOME

Some smart gadgets are designed to save you money, save you time, or save you trouble. But alongside these convenience-related uses, there are also plenty of smart devices with a more serious goal: To keep your property and your family safe. If you’re ready to smarten up on security, here are four technologies to consider bringing into your home.

Locks. A smart lock is the first thing most people think of when they think of smart home security, and is one of the most practical security devices on the market. You eliminate the risk of locking yourself out of the house, while also making it easy to remotely lock the door if you forget to do it when you leave the house. You can also give access to others, such as a house sitter or childcare provider, and remove that access easily when it’s no longer needed. Similarly, you can get smart garage doors with the same features.

Timed lights. For many years, people have been deterring burglars by using timers to simulate an occupied house while they’re away. Smart technology has taken this concept to the next level: Some smart plugs allow you to not only schedule your lights, but even include a vacation mode where lights will be turned on and off at random intervals for an especially convincing performance.

Security cameras. These days, smart security cameras like Nest or smart doorbells like Ring are accessible to your average homeowner. Not only does a visible camera deter break-ins, but these features can allow you to easily see who’s at your door before opening it, or capture video if something criminal occurs.

Detectors. Not every risk to your home is a potential break-in. Plumbing problems can be incredibly expensive for homeowners, and a smart leak detector can help you catch them before they get out of hand. Some more intensive systems can even enable you to remotely shut off your water in case of extreme leaks. Smoke detectors and CO2 detectors have also gotten smarter, offering more informative warnings when they detect a problem than your typical battery-operated detector.

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Supreme Lending. Thank you, Cale Iorg, Senior Loan Officer NMLS# 1121662, for this information.

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Simple Tools to Pick Up Fall Leaves

Like clockwork, each fall as the first batch of leaves fall, towns and neighborhoods roar awake with the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers.

It’s the annual battle of weekend warriors versus the leaves—and you know what’s at stake: not only is the debris an eyesore and a nuisance, especially if your leaves blow onto your neighbor’s clean lawn but if you stall, a mantle of snow might cover them and smother the grass. That means more work for you come spring.

What Happens If You Don’t Pick Up Leaves?

If you don’t pick up fallen leaves, they could end up harming the grass and killing the yard. So it’s important to clean up the yard regularly, especially in the fall.

The Best Tools to Collect Leaves

Gas leaf blowers, and their far quieter battery-powered cousins, can be handy to direct a pile of leaves. But as fast as they can be, nearly as quickly you can make more work for yourself by launching leaves the wrong way. And there are a few uses for leaves in the garden, for things like mulch.

On a small lawn, you could chop them up into fine bits with a lawnmower and let them decompose in the lawn. But for homeowners who like to bag leaves for disposal, simply piling leaves doesn’t help get them in bags.

When it comes to getting leaves into bags, we’ve found the best way, after you’ve piled them on the lawn or the street with a leaf blower or a trusty rake, is to use a system that makes them easy to get onto a tarp and then into your bag.

The Best Leaf Tarp

EZ Lawn and Garden 6×4-foot Leaf Hauler Sport

This tarp has some smart features that make it easier to use. Handles along the outer edge make it easy to reposition, but the ones along the narrow edges are perfect for picking up the loaded tarp, folding it over like a taco, and then tipping its contents into a bag or pail. Stiff corners and tent-pole-like rods give it enough structure so filling it is easier.

Specifications

  • The 6×4-foot size holds 24 square feet of leaves, or about four wheelbarrows full
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Has a pair of stakes built in to keep the tarp steady on a lawn
  • 90-day warranty

Pros

  • Makes loading leaf bags easier
  • Better than a regular tarp when transporting a pile of leaves by dragging it
  • Built-in structure prevents leaves from blowing right out of the tarp
  • Easy to wash off with a hose

Cons

  • The 6×4-foot size might be a bit too small on larger properties with several mature deciduous trees

The Best Leaf Chute

KwicKan 33-55 Gallon Portable Instant Container

This simple piece of bendable plastic makes it much easier to load leaves when working solo. Stick it into a paper or plastic bag, up to 55 gallons, and it will flex open to a “U” shape and hold the bag open plenty wide for you to put in leaves by hand, by shovel, or using a tarp. Works for just about anything you put in a bag, like lawn clippings or trash.

Specifications

  • Made from 0.06-gauge ABS plastic
  • Handles on all sides makes it easy to grab
  • Smooth corners won’t rip bags.
  • 47×28-inch size is easy to store flat against a wall
  • No warranty

Pros

  • Makes cleaning leaves a one-person job or increases the efficiency of everyone’s work if you use two
  • Flexible plastic won’t rip bags and is easy to use
  • Can be used for opening bags throughout the year

Cons

  • If you do chip an edge, it can snag bags and cause ripping

The Best Leaf Shovel

Razor-Back 36-inch D-Handle Aluminum Scoop

A shovel for leaves might sound odd, but if you like to push leaves out into the street before collecting them or have a bunch of wet leaves to pick up, a shovel you can push along the road makes filling bags easier.

The key is to have the bag wide open and a shovel with a head narrow enough to fit inside. This aluminum scoop won’t rust, and while it can also move rocks, soil, granulated lawn amendments, and compost, it makes short work of a pile of leaves.

Specifications

  • The head is #14 size made from rust-proof aluminum
  • The D-shaped handle is generously sized and comfortable
  • The ribbed 15 1/4-inch-wide pan increases durability without adding weight
  • The 58 1/2-inch-long shovel, made with a hardwood shaft and handle, is a comfortable size to use
  • Lifetime limited warranty

Pros

  • Large pan but the shovel is easy and comfortable to use
  • Durable design for use all year long
  • Makes it easier to collect leaves if you tend to blow or rake them into the street

Cons

  • The head might make it harder to fill narrower paper leaf bag openings

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