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Blog :: 2016

10 Tips for Protecting Your Home During Holiday Travels

Keeping your home safe during holiday travels.

I hope you all have a safe and relaxing time during your travels this holiday season.  It’s crucial that we all have time to recharge and recognize what’s important in life.  We only go around once, so it’s important to savor what we have. With that in mind I want to take a minute to share my top 10 tips for protecting your home during holiday travels. Quite often in the run-up to a vacation, people neglect to take simple steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of theft or vandalism.

You’ve probably covered your bases already, but just in case, here are some very basic precautions you can take:

  1. Have someone collect your mail and newspaper daily.
  2. Leave shades and blinds in normal positions.
  3. Put at least two lights and a radio on automatic timers.
  4. Have someone leave trash at your curb on garbage collection day.
  5. Have someone park a car in your driveway occasionally. If you leave your car outside, arrange to have it moved every so often.
  6. Leave a key with a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency. Let the neighbor know where you are going and when you are expect to return, also leave them a way to get in contact with you in case of an emergency.
  7. Lock all windows and doors before you go. Do not forget to double-check basement and garage doors.
  8. On extended trips have someone to maintain your landscaping, (grass mowed, leaves raked, etc.)
  9. Consider turning off your home’s water main to prevent damage from a burst pipe.
  10. Be careful how much you check-in on social media while on vacation. If your privacy settings are incorrect you might reveal to strangers your home is vacant!

Stay safe this holiday season and have a blast on your holiday getaways!

A Must-Have Financial Calculator

A Must-Have Financial CalculatorTrying to figure out your budget and need that one must-have financial calculator? I might have what you've been looking for. As we all know financial health and stability depends upon making informed decisions about loans, debt, taxes, savings, and more. Unfortunately, most people (including first-time homebuyers!) lack a true understanding of how to apply math to help them clearly understand these essential areas.

While there are many specialized calculators out there for a particular area (say debt, or mortgage payments), there are few which consolidate all of the most popular financial calculators in one place. Not to mention, you can chalk up quite a bill paying $2-$5 for each independent calculator you may need.

Recently I discovered CalcMoolator, a handy online collection of calculators which also has easy-to-use apps for both iOS and Android devices. The most popular calculators include:

  • Auto Lease vs. Buy
  • Auto Loan Estimate
  • First-Year Baby Costs
  • Estimate Your Credit Score
  • Pay Off My Credit Card Debt Sooner
  • My Lifetime Earnings
  • Salary to Hourly Wage
  • Rent vs. Buy
  • What If I Pay More?
  • Mortgage Payment Estimate

Check out CalcMoolator for yourself: http://www.calcmoolator.com/

Thinking about getting your “financial house in order” before you buy real estate? Let’s connect! Call or text me at (617) 899-3162 or email me at mpallares55@gmail.com. I'm here to help.

How To Enjoy Your Fireplace Safely This Fall

Fireplace Safety Tips

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. And this goes for both your wood-burning and gas fireplaces.

Here are some safety tips to help you enjoy your fireplace safely this fall: 

  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Guard against sparks. Sparks may periodically leap from your fireplace, so use a screen to prevent them from landing on rugs or nearby furniture.
  6. 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 me help you find just the right one. Simply call or text me at (617) 899-3162 or email me at mpallares55@gmail.com. In the meantime, may you and your family enjoy this great fall season.

 

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Farmers' Market

Making the most of your local farmers' market.

With the rise of sustainability and “locavore” movements, farmers’ markets are growing in popularity almost everywhere you look. Farmers’ markets are a great way to lay hands on some of the freshest fruits and vegetables while supporting farmers and their families right in your community. My personal favorite is the Roslindale Village Main Street Farmers’ Market held in Adams Park on Saturdays. (For details, check them out at http://bit.ly/2d88HFY)

Though you might not be aware of it, there’s probably a farmers’ market near you, too. A good place to start is the Local Harvest website (http://www.localharvest.org/) which can help you find a variety of markets in the U.S.

If you’ve never shopped a farmers’ market before, don’t be intimidated! Below are some helpful tips to make your experience fun, affordable, and convenient:

1. Be sure to bring small cash bills (and change, if you have it). Typically ATM/Debit cards are not accepted. Payment is usually handled at farmers’ stands, not through a check-out line.

2. Having your hands free is a big plus, so consider carrying a fanny pack for securely storing your money. (Prevents you from having to put your wallet down...a big reason wallets get lost!)

3. Old strollers can make for handy shopping carts, plus they fold up nicely for transport to/from the market. Don’t forget any reusable bags you may have at home, too!

4. Don’t haggle for small lots of fruits and veggies. Looking to buy a big box? Then you might suggest a deal.

5. Some of the best tasting fruit may not look waxy and “supermarket fresh.” Don’t let this deter you. Often quality fruit from the farm is never shipped to supermarkets because it’s fragile. Handle gently, and don’t be afraid of minor cosmetic flaws.

6. If you want to ask farmers lots of questions, try to time your visit for very early when the market isn’t slammed.

7. Remember that fresh means seasonal! Go with an open mind, not a “must have” list. Part of the pleasure is discovering what’s at its peak and getting creative with ingredients.

Have you been to a farmers’ market in your own neighborhood? I’d love to hear what your favorites are! Leave your comments here.

Need A Hand? Let My Network of Contacts Work For You

 

Usually when agents start talking about referrals, people assume they’re hunting for new listings or more buyers to represent. This isn’t one of those posts! In fact, I wish more people would come to me looking for referrals in the community. My network of contacts is ready to work for you.

A good real estate agent knows people in the community you can trust, and I’m always happy to provide the connection. If you think about it, agents pretty much interact with all of the people dedicated to protecting, improving, or maintaining your biggest asset: Your home. Whether it’s a local insurance agent, an honest contractor, or a crack crew of yard and maintenance people, agents are great sources of “who you should know.” (We’re also reliable sources of locals-only community info!)

It’s too bad that agents are often involved only in the sale or purchase of a house. I prefer to think of myself as a lifetime consultant to my clients, and providing the names of people I would stake my reputation on is simply a part of my ethical obligation to serve. So, by all means, if you’re looking for someone in the neighborhood, do drop me a line or just call or text me. I’d be more than happy to help: You can always reach me at mpallares55@gmail.com or (617) 899-3162.

Michael A. Pallares

at Andrew Mitchell & Company

617-899-3162 | mpallares55@gmail.com Offices in Concord & Marion, Ma