How to Make Your Home Baby-Friendly

17 Jan

You may not have kids right now, but chances are you may be entertaining guests one day who do. You can put your guests at ease and do your best to protect their little ones from harm by investing in some modest pre-visit baby proofing. Here are some sound strategies to make their visit low-stress and safe:

 

Mind the Power and Appliances

Outlets are enemy #1. Baby fingers are like magnets for electricity, so splurge on some plastic outlet covers which fit snugly into those empty sockets. If you have any multi-socket power strips around, be sure to cover those as well (or elevate them out of harm’s reach). Depending on the age of your youngest visitors, some may be able to reach knobs and buttons on appliances like your stove. Exploring hands can accidentally turn on the gas, so if you think your kitchen will be vulnerable, invest around $10 on stove knob covers.

 

Make Some Rooms Off-Limits

It may not be practical to baby proof every inch of your house, so make certain zones baby-free by using gates. Sturdy, simple, pressure-mounted gates will protect certain passages and prevent you from making any permanent holes in your wall. Alternately, use door knob covers to make even unlocked rooms less likely to be prone to an infant invasion.

 

Fight Falling Objects

Babies are all about testing gravity, and as they try to bring themselves upright, they’re liable to tug on anything within arm’s reach. This might include your entertainment center, bookshelf, floor lamps, or other furniture. Are there any precarious pieces which might tumble down and seriously injure a child? Consider pieces on top of shelves (like decorative glassware) which could be shaken down through modest force.

 

Curtail the Cords

Power cords and curtain (or blind) cords can cause falls, entanglement, or even strangulation. Tie these up out of the way or too high for a baby to reach from the floor.

 

Get Down and Look Around

A baby will put anything in its mouth. That will include choking hazards, dropped medications, or stray chemicals such as rat poison or cleaners. Shift your perspective to the floor and look for anything suspicious.

 

Some homes are more kid-friendly than others. If you’re looking for a great home for little ones, we can help you find one today!: (321) 308-0336; CapriceAtwell@BHHSFloridaRealty.com

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Adding an Independent Living Area to Your Home

3 Jan

Years ago, it wasn’t so uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same home. Sometimes these were aging parents moving back in with their kids, and other times they were college students getting their finances in order after graduation. Many homeowners utilized extra space in their home to create independent apartments or separate living spaces. Though they go by many common names (in-law unit, granny flat, garden cottage, basement apartment), these types of spaces are known as ADUs, or Accessory Dwelling Units.

 

If you have extra space such as an above-garage loft, or extra land where you could build a freestanding structure, you might be interested in adding an ADU to your home. Even if you don’t have a family member in need of the space, they can be great for hosting out-of-town visitors or earning extra income from short or long-term rental agreements.

 

While communities have different rules regarding ADUs and their permitted uses, there’s a high likelihood that you can find a pathway to adding one to your property if the idea appeals to you. According to AccessoryDwellings.org:

 

“Flexibility in housing makes sense for environmental, lifestyle, and financial reasons. Though many people buy houses and live in them for decades, their actual needs change over time.  But the way that houses are currently built doesn’t reflect those changes, especially the way households may spend decades with just 1 or 2 members.  Many American houses are too big for 1- or 2-person households, which is too bad, because size is probably the biggest single factor in the environmental impact of a house.

 

If you have a reasonably sized house, and an even more reasonably sized ADU, you’ve likely got a pretty green combination with some social benefits as well.   You could have your best friend, your mother, or your grown kid, live with you.  This kind of flexibility and informal support could really help as the nation’s population ages.  Most people want to stay in their homes as they age, but finances and design can be problematic.   An ADU could help aging people meet their needs without moving.”

 

(Source: https://accessorydwellings.org/what-adus-are-and-why-people-build-them/)

 

If you’re interested in exploring ADUs, be sure to check out AccessoryDwellings.org for an extensive library of resources on the topic.

 

If you’re looking for a home with an existing ADU, or want to find one with land or enough space to create an ADU, we’d be happy to help you find one ASAP. Just reach out to us today: (321) 308-0336

How to Stop Robocalls

15 Dec

We’ve all been there. You’re just sitting down to dinner or your favorite Netflix binge and the phone begins ringing. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably gotten used to screening a lot of calls because so many are robocalls. You know the kind and you know the drill: Political ads, solicitations, scams. You pick up saying “Hello? Hello?” and then comes that eerie pause which tells you you’re about to hear a pre-recorded message.

 

It’s a rude waste of your attention, and yet many of us can’t just get rid of our home phone line. While you can ignore the call, often they call multiple times a day or every day of the week at the same time. The problem is widespread.

 

In early 2013 the FTC held a contest to combat the scourge of robocalls. The winner of that contest was Nomorobo, a free service which can check incoming calls to your phone lines against a massive blacklist database of known robocall sources. If Nomorobo detects a robocall, it screens the call much like the way internet web forms use CAPTCHA graphics to make sure you’re human. If the caller is a bot, the call never makes it to your phone. (Nomorobo will ring your phone once to let you know a call has been blocked.) Bingo! Peace and focus are preserved.

 

The service is free, but your phone provider must be able to provide a feature known as “Simultaneous Calling.” The Nomorobo website provides a form which quickly allows you to determine if your carrier already provides this service. If not, you can request it be added.

 

You can learn more about Nomorobo here:

http://www.nomorobo.com/

 

We love to share tips and tricks to make our lives more hassle-free. If you’d like to keep up with tips like these as we find them, get in touch with us today:

 

(321) 308-0336; CapriceAtwell@BHHSFloridaRealty.com

How to Enjoy Your Fireplace Safely this Season

29 Nov

Fireplaces are one of the coziest amenities in a home. But they can also bring on terrible disaster if they’re not maintained properly and used wisely. Here are some essential tips for fireplace safety.

 

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Gathering the family around a crackling fire can be one of the joys of the coldest months… or it can be a nightmare. It’s one thing to be seated cozily on the couch while the firewood glows, and quite another to be standing on the curb in the cold watching the fire department trying to save your home.

 

More than 14,000 fires begin each year in fireplaces, and fires are the cause of nearly $900 million dollars in property damage. Don’t be a victim because of shoddy maintenance or careless usage of your fireplace. This goes for both wood-burning and gas fireplaces.

 

Here are some tips to maintain your fireplace and protect your life:

 

  1. Before the coldest months set in, get your fireplace inspected. Remember, most inspection companies will be very busy during the winter, so try and secure an inspection at least a month or so before you anticipate using your fireplace heavily.

 

  1. Inspect your fireplace before you use it. Take a flashlight and look in the flue. Look for obstructions. Check for cracked bricks, missing mortar, or other signs of damage. Be sure to clean out any ashes and dispose of them in a metal-lid trash can.

 

  1. Burn properly. This means using seasoned hardwood (which avoids creosote accumulation), and burning logs on an approved rack or elevated grate. Also, don’t burn trash, cardboard, or other debris in your home fireplace.

 

  1. Keep the area around the fireplace clear. Don’t put your Christmas tree near the fireplace, or anything else which is liable to combust. If it’s flammable, keep it safely distant from those flames.

 

  1. Guard against sparks. Sparks may periodically leap from your fireplace, so use a screen to prevent them from landing on rugs or nearby furniture.

 

  1. Don’t leave the house with a fire burning. Extinguishing a fire before you leave is common sense, so don’t leave those burning logs unattended!

 

Would you like a home with a fireplace? Let us help you find just the right one:

 

(321) 308-0336; CapriceAtwell@BHHSFloridaRealty.com

Protecting your college student’s possessions at school

12 Sep

If you have a son or daughter heading off to college this fall, you’ve probably sent them along with most of their most prized possessions. Laptop, stereo, smartphone, mountain bike… it all adds up to several thousands of dollars of personal gear.

 

So what happens if they get robbed? Will you be stuck for the replacement costs, or are they covered on your homeowner’s insurance policy?

 

Believe it or not, the insurance policy on your home might just cover what your kid takes to school. But there’s a catch: Many policies only cover the student if they live in a dorm on campus. If they’re in an apartment or house on their own, you might not be covered.

 

One alternative to covering your student’s possessions while they’re away at school is renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is a very affordable way to make sure you’re not out thousands if there’s a break-in. For as little as $15 – $20 a month you can have a bit of piece of mind you won’t find yourself in the Apple store again plunking down for a new Macbook Air.

 

A few notes:

 

  1. Your student won’t be covered by their roommate’s policy. Policies are specific about covering a single policy holder.

 

  1. A renter’s policy can also include liability coverage, much like your homeowner’s insurance.

 

  1. Taking inventory of possessions and keeping detailed records (with photos and serial numbers) is essential. It provides helpful evidence of ownership in the case of a claim.

 

You’ll want to talk to your insurance agent about your specific situation, needs, and your policy. Don’t overlook this opportunity to protect your student and your wallet.

 

Need a referral to an insurance agent? We can help recommend a few we know and trust: (321) 308-0336

Create a Florida Room for Summer Fun

4 Jul

Some summer hours are too beautiful to be ignored. Whether those dewy dawns before the sun is at full strength, or the long evening hours when the heat bleeds off the day, there are times when being outdoors is a tremendous pleasure.

But this doesn’t mean you always want to spread out a blanket or a lawn chair. In fact, creating a “transitional space” which blends outdoor living with indoor amenities is a great way to maximize the season. The Florida room is just one of those spaces.

Florida rooms are typically situated in the rear of a home, sometimes connected to the home by sliding glass doors. The Florida room is usually a covered space with flowing outdoor fabrics and durable, luxurious “indoor” style furniture such as chaise lounges, couches, ottomans, and even coffee and accent tables. Walls give way to curtains. It often includes a dining space or even a protected (or moveable) entertainment center. Bluetooth music systems with outdoor speakers are also a nice touch.

If you see yourself spending a lot of time outdoors, you might consider supplementing your Florida room with an outdoor kitchen. A good grill, an outdoor sink in a stone or other durable counter surface, and some built-in refrigeration for drinks is a great way to upgrade your Florida room.

The Florida room is one of the hottest trends in home design right now. If you search Google images for “Florida room,” you’ll find hundreds of design examples from down-home country living to lavish, Mediterranean-inspired decor. Pinterest and Houzz are also great places to research Florida room styles.

The beauty of the Florida room is that it can be scaled to meet your budget. Even a modest transitional space with some cover and cozy furniture can make a small home feel larger and improve your quality of life.

What does your dream Florida room look like? What are your must-haves and your nice-to-haves? How would you like to use your Florida room?

If you’re looking for a new home with the ideal space for a Florida room, we’re happy to help you with your search. Let’s talk soon: 321-308-0336; CapriceAtwell@BHHSFloridaRealty.com

Wire Fraud Warning Advisory!

20 May

Real estate transactions routinely involve the transfer of large sums of money, typically through wire transfers. Given the electronic nature of these transactions, they are somewhat susceptible to fraud. The loss of funds and the dream of homeownership for a buyer or seller can be absolutely devastating.

Recently the National Association of Realtors(R) issued a warning about a sophisticated wire fraud scam. According to this article on the NAR website (http://www.realtor.org/articles/urgent-alert-sophisticated-email-scams-targeting-the-real-estate-industry):

“Criminals are hacking into the email accounts of real estate agents or other persons involved in a real estate transaction and using information gained from the hack to dupe a party into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hackers often send an email that appears to be from an individual legitimately involved in the transaction, informing the recipient, often the buyer, that there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions.  Following the new instructions, the recipient will wire funds directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.”

First and foremost: Exercise extreme caution when sharing transaction information with anyone. Email is not necessarily the best way to communicate wire information, for example. Doing so by phone, to a verified, trusted number is a far better strategy.

Second: Confirm and “last minute” changes with parties involved, preferably on phone or in person.

Third: Never, ever click on links in email messages without absolute confidence the sender is valid and the destination is clear. Often scams will attempt users to “click here to review the document” or “click here for a private message.” Remember: No context = no click!

If you suspect you may have inadvertently fallen victim to this scam, contact all banks involved immediately, as well as anyone directly involved in the transaction.

Security is everyone’s responsibility. While we may rely every day on the conveniences electronic communication affords us, don’t hesitate to slow things down and protect yourself with a little extra human interaction.

Have questions about real estate transactions? We are happy to help guide you through the process. Contact us today: (321) 308-0385; www.BHHSFloridaRealty.com