How to make your holiday event stand out


How to make your holiday event stand out
When you open your home to family and friends this holiday season, you want to give your guests the best impression possible. But, it’s likely that you might not have everything that you need to accommodate your visitors.

Hosting a large gathering is not something you do every day, so many of the necessary items are not things you’ll have sitting in your kitchen cabinets, garage or basement ready for use. Fortunately, you won’t need to break the bank buying everything you need. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your home, your local rental store will be able to help.

Here are a few things you can do to make your holiday event one to remember:

* Not enough seating? Consider renting some tables and chairs. It’s better than having to haul the card table up from the basement and offering your guests a cold folding chair.

* Set your table with the latest styles of linens, china and silver. If these aren’t items that you, or another family member, has at their disposal, find them at  your local rental store.

* Don’t forget that elegant lighting and centerpieces will go a long way to creating the perfect look and feel for your special holiday event. Small things like this can make a huge difference in the ambiance of your gathering.

* Add some extra flair to your event and have a champagne fountain or margarita machine on hand. These types of fun rental party items make for a special surprise for your guests.

* The outside of your home is the first impression. Make sure that your outdoor decorations are just as elegant and beautiful as the ones inside.

* If you’re hosting a particularly large group, it may be difficult to keep food hot when it comes time to dine. Renting food preparation items, chafing dishes or other warmers will ensure every one of your guests enjoys a delicious dining experience.

To get a better idea of what types of items you can rent for parties and to locate a store near you, visit www.rentalhq.com. Think it sounds out of your budget to create a perfect event? Not necessarily. Your local rental store has everything you need and can offer service and advice to help eliminate stress. You’ll also save money on items you will be using only once.

Courtesy of BPT

Is a surveillance camera right for you?


Using%20surveillance%20cameras%20for%20your%20home
Many people turn to surveillance cameras as a way to make their home and office more secure. There are so many different types of security measures on offer, however, that it can be hard to know which is the right type of equipment for your needs. This article explores the different security measures and tools available and what the advantages and disadvantages of each of them are.

CCTV cameras can be attached to the outside of the building, can be placed over the door step, can be placed inside or can be entirely hidden from view. There are even dummy cameras available that provide a good deterrent aspect but don’t actually incur any additional cost of filming. All cameras that can be seen work well as a deterrent. A burglar is far less likely to break into a home when there is the chance they will shown doing so on video surveillance footage. CCTV cameras don’t necessarily sound an alarm however if security is breached in some way. In this respect they may be able to film a crime being committed but they won’t necessarily be able to put a stop to it. Having the footage available however does mean there is more chance of getting your things back if they have been stolen.

Burglar alarms are another way that people add security to their homes. These have a large number of problems however. First of all burglaries are usually very quick and the perpetrator can be long gone by the time the police or a security firm have arrived on the scene. Secondly the alarm can in some cases be stopped by simply locating the control panel and breaking it. Cats and other animals can also sometimes trip the alarm when they jump through an open window, which can cause problems for everyone.

The ideal solution is to have both surveillance monitoring of some kind as well as a motion sensor, this way you get the best of all worlds. If this stretches the budget too far however then it is better to simply go with some kind of camera equipment. This provides the best value for money in terms of security. In the past it was just the wealthiest members of society who were able to afford security equipment such as cameras, but these days the prices have come right down and now everyone can benefit. Nanny cameras and hidden indoor cameras are another very popular type of security surveillance. Camouflaged cameras can allow you to see things that you would otherwise not be privy to. Parents like to be able to check their nannies are caring for their children well, employers like to be able to check everything is just as it should be in the workplace.

Another scenario in which hidden cameras are ideal is for the use of gathering evidence. If you are being targeted or victimized, having hard evidence to show the police can mean something can be done. Without the proof however the police may be hesitant to take any real action. There is no doubt that cameras are a valuable and versatile security tool. Surveillance can assist in a number of different ways to keep everyone safe and free from harm. If you are unsure of what type you need the first step is to define what exactly you want the security camera for and then decide how much you are willing to spend.

When you search online you will find a host of companies offering surveillance camera equipment and monitoring devices. Make sure you buy from a reputable company with a good website. There is more choice online than in high street shops so it is best to buy your equipment here. From a wildlife camera to tracking devices, go online to find out what is available and get the best prices.

by: Kathryn Dawson 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6339.shtml

Renovation loans give homebuyers an edge in a competitive market


(BPT) – In the past, homebuyers could choose from a bounty of properties on the market. However, things are starkly different. In many locations throughout the United States, inventory of homes for sale is at historic lows, creating a seller’s market where multiple buyers get into bidding wars over move-in-ready homes.

“Move-in-ready homes may be selling like hotcakes, but older homes or damaged properties are often passed over,” says Margaret Kelly, CEO with RE/MAX. “This is a big opportunity for smart buyers who are willing to overlook cosmetic or other imperfections.”

If buyers can look beyond aesthetic characteristics like paint color, hardware and floor coverings, they may discover a diamond in the rough, especially if the home is in the neighborhood where they prefer to live. For example, if they like the overall design of a particular home, but the kitchen is old and the deck needs major repairs, a renovation loan can help them purchase the property while upgrading the kitchen and outdoor space exactly how they want them.

“Many homebuyers are surprised you don’t need a ton of money in the bank to fund improvements,” explains Kelly. “A special type of loan called a renovation loan is ideal for these types of homes because it covers both the cost of the mortgage and repairs.”

Renovation loans can also help buyers who want to purchase in a particular neighborhood where most home prices exceed their budget. Properties that need work are typically listed at a lower cost and often go unsold, creating an opportunity for people willing to make improvements. Buyers can use a renovation loan to get into the neighborhood of their dreams, quickly build equity and customize a home to their personal preferences.

Several variations of renovation loans are available. FHA renovation loans are called 203(k) loans. How much money you want to borrow and the kinds of improvements you plan to make will determine which of the two 203(k) types you need. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have their own specific types of renovation loans.

Requirements for the borrower, the amount you can borrow, and the overall structure of the loan are different for each program. Typically, the loan is based on the estimated home value after improvements, and buyers will need to get bids from licensed contractors to help determine the total loan amount as well as a timeline for the work to be completed.

Because finding a home and getting approval of a renovation loan can be complicated, it’s wise for buyers to work with a real estate specialist who has experience in these types of sales. For example, RE/MAX agents lead the industry in professional designations and many have experience working with buyers who want a renovation loan. Visit www.remax.com to find an agent in your area.

“A renovation loan really does give homebuyers an edge in today’s competitive market,” says Kelly. “It’s definitely something to research and determine whether it’s right for you.”

Courtesy of BPT

​Nutritional tips for packing brain-boosting school lunches


(BPT) – Parents know kids can’t concentrate when they’re hungry. But did you know that what children eat – especially in school lunches – can also affect their ability to focus, learn and behave well in the classroom? Packing your children’s school lunches is a great way to manage their nutritional intake and help feed their ability to learn.

It will take some creativity, however, to ensure you pack lunches that not only meet a child’s nutritional needs, but also his or her taste preferences. Keep these tips in mind as you’re packing your child’s nutritious lunches this school year:

* Brain-building foods: Research supports the ability of certain foods to enhance cognitive function. Foods like fish and nuts, which contain brain-building omega-3 fatty acids, can support focus. So tuna fish salad not only supplies protein, but is also brain food. Not every child is a fan of fish, so look for other kid-friendly options like a handful of nuts. From pistachios and almonds to walnuts and peanuts, a serving of nuts not only contains healthful fats, but also a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin E.

* Fill-them-up foods: “Empty calories” are empty for several reasons, including how quickly they can leave children feeling hungry again after they’ve dined on nutritionally poor calories. Foods that are high in protein and fiber, such as a sandwich of deli meats on whole grain bread, can help kids feel full longer and provide them with nutrient-rich calories.

* Liquid power: Sugary sodas are notorious sources of empty calories. One can of regular soda, sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, packs about 150 calories, adding up to the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Consider packing lunches with more nutritionally valuable beverages like skim milk or water. Skim milk is low in calories and contains calcium and potassium. Water, of course, contains no calories at all and is the best source of hydration.

* The choice is yours: Making sure kids get the nutrition they need while providing the great taste they love can be a challenge. A classic sandwich can achieve both if you choose ingredients wisely. Hormel® Natural Choice® pre-packaged deli meats provide kids with familiar favorites, such as Honey Deli Ham, Oven Roasted Deli Turkey, Roast Beef and Rotisserie Style Chicken Breast, that are 100 percent natural and free of preservatives and additives. Low in fat and free of trans fats, Hormel Natural Choice meats have no MSG, gluten or artificial ingredients. When paired with other nutritious options like whole grain breads, and a side of fresh fruit with non-fat yogurt as a dip, a sandwich of Hormel Natural Choice deli meats can be the foundation of a nutritious lunch. You’ll be amazed how simple making a better choice can be.

* Kid-friendly presentation: How you present lunch can encourage kids to eat it. When it comes to packed lunches, a great presentation could be as simple as having one or two favorite lunchboxes on hand and allowing your child to choose which one he would like to carry today. Or, it could be as inspired as creatively arranging a sandwich and sliced veggies to mimic a smiling face when he opens his lunchbox at school. Remember, kids love color, so providing a colorful mix of foods can be very appealing to them. It also gives you the opportunity to incorporate the concept of a rainbow of nutrition, and the value of eating foods from all colors in the spectrum.

With the right recipe of creativity, fun and nutritious foods, parents can be confident they’re packing school lunches that will keep kids full and happy throughout the school year.

Courtesy of BPT

The best kind of home improvements: high-impact, low-maintenance

(BPT) – Yes, everyone knows making home improvements are a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people – whether they’ll admit it or not – the answer is “no.”

The best home improvements are the ones that not only enhance your home’s value and livability, but also require little work from you afterward to keep them looking great and functioning well. If you’re looking for high-impact, low-maintenance home improvements, consider these popular projects:

No-leak skylights

When it comes to an improvement that brightens your home, enhances its indoor air quality and boosts energy-efficiency, skylights deliver. Unfortunately, early skylights had a reputation for being leaky – a problem that simply doesn’t occur with modern, no leak, energy-efficient skylights. Pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal shield that surrounds any opening in a wall or roof) work with all types of roofs, from shingles to metal, to ensure a properly installed skylight won’t leak.

Need further low-maintenance points to make the case for adding a skylight? Not only do modern skylights keep water out, they’re energy efficient as well. Energy Star-qualified, no leak solar-powered fresh air skylights, like those from Velux, deliver fresh air through cost-effective passive ventilation. Adding remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allows you to easily open or close a fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun hits that part of the roof, boosting the skylight’s energy efficiency by 39 percent. Keep the shade open during cold weather to admit warmth and reduce heating costs. A 30 percent federal tax credit on both products and installation costs makes a skylight project even more appealing. Visit www.veluxusa.com for a tax calculator to show your savings for a new installation or replacement skylights and a skylight planner app to show exactly how skylights and blinds will look in any area of your home.

Lighting upgrade

Older light fixtures not only look dated, they often use outdated, inefficient bulbs and are lacking in the energy-efficient emphasis that comes with newer fixtures. Upgrading lighting throughout your home is a great way to ensure you won’t have to think about it again any time soon.

If a total lighting redesign is out of the question, you can still make your existing light fixtures lower maintenance simply by swapping out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with newer, electricity-sipping versions. Options like CFLs and LEDs provide all the light of incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. Energy.gov says Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer. Imagine the time, hassle and money you’ll save not having to replace bulbs constantly – especially in lights that get a lot of use, like porch lights, or that are hard to reach, like the chandelier in your two-story entryway.

Vinyl siding

Wood, fiber cement, stucco, brick – there are nearly as many types of exterior siding as there are colors to paint it. When it comes to low- or no-maintenance siding, vinyl remains the gold standard. In fact, more new homes are built using vinyl siding than any other type of siding product, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute.

While early versions of vinyl siding earned criticism for being less lovely than wood, even those less sophisticated versions had staying power; it’s possible to find homes in use today sporting vinyl siding that was added to the house a while back.

Vinyl siding never needs to be painted, and when properly installed provides exceptional shielding from the elements. New technology has made modern vinyl siding look better and last longer without fading issues associated with older versions of vinyl. It requires basic cleaning, and overall maintenance demands are much less than other types of siding. 

Courtesy of BPT

Which comes first: The real estate deal or the buyer’s list?


This question is kind of like another question where people can’t seem to agree on the answer; “Which came first; the chicken or the egg”? Real estate investors all have a different opinion when they are asked whether you should find a deal first or start a buyer’s list and then find a deal.  For me, the answer has always been “the deal.” If you have a great deal, you can always find a buyer for it.

I had someone email me recently that said they had wanted to begin wholesaling houses for a couple of years, but he just couldn’t bring himself to buy that first investment property. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to sell it. This man had spent a number of years learning the business, but had become paralyzed with fear over this prospect of putting a house under contract that he wouldn’t be able to sell.

If you are just getting started and you find yourself having the same problem, here are 4 tips for you.

1. Know What a Good Deal Looks Like

This is no doubt the hardest part when you are brand new. You almost always pay too much for your first couple of deals. Before you sign on the dotted line, run your potential deal by someone that is an experienced investor. Marginal deals are hard to sell.  If you have any doubt about the numbers or the area where the house is located, just walk away and find another deal. There’s always another one around the corner.

2. Know Where Investors Like to Buy

It won’t do you any good to get a house under contract at a great price if it is in an area where investors don’t like to buy.  Ask experienced rehabbers and landlords where they like to buy. Be sure to find out what types of properties they like, and the price range they prefer. In general, you will be pretty safe in bread and butter neighborhoods; the kinds of neighborhoods for first time homebuyers.  In my area there is a market for more expensive houses, but there are fewer investors in this group.  Buy houses that would work for either a rehab that would be sold to a retail buyer, or a home that would make a great rental and they will always be in demand.

3. Put an Escape Clause in Your Contract

This is vital especially when you are brand new.  Make the deal subject to inspection or partner approval. This is your safety net. It will make it easier for you make offers with confidence.

4. Begin Immediately to Build Your Buyer’s List

There is nothing like having a good buyer’s list to call or email when you have a property you want to sell quickly. It is truly a wholesaler’s secret weapon.  These folks will be loyal repeat buyers if you always have great deals for them, and if you conduct your business with them in an ethical manner 100% of the time.

Implementing these 4 tips will make it easier to make those first offers and get your first few houses under your belt.

Finding a Buyer for Your Deal

There are a number of ways you can quickly find a buyer for the property you have under contract even if you don’t have a buyer’s list.

You can take the deal to your local REIA group where you will find a group of people that are looking for their next house.  At my monthly meeting, we have a table set up for vendors and for folks that want to put out fliers about properties they have to sell. This is usually the first place people head after signing in.

You could list the house on Craigslist. I have sold several properties there, but I would rather much sell to someone at my REIA group; they are usually more experienced investors.  But even if they are brand new, they will almost always be educated to some degree if you find them at this meeting. Most investors are more than willing to help them if they can close the deal.

Concentrate on getting a great deal, and you can be sure you will find a buyer.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon’s Website: http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com

Courtesy of BPT