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5 Signs You’re Working With a Top-Quality Real Estate Agent

If you’ve bought or sold a home before, you already know that not all real estate agents are created equal. In fact, the differences can be great, with skills, professionalism and knowledge varying greatly from one individual to another. Here are just some of the ways you can discern whether or not you’ve found yourself a top-quality agent:



1. They clearly communicate what to expect.
The real estate process can be confusing and overwhelming. A great agent will clearly explain what you can expect to happen at each stage of the process so that you’re not caught off guard. This is particularly important if you’re a first-time homebuyer or seller. You should feel informed, secure and confident with your agent as you embark on the real estate journey.

2. They are transparent and honest.
You never want to feel as if you’re being given selective information, or, worse, flat-out lied to. You know you’re working with a great agent if they’re uncompromising about telling you the truth—even when the news is bad. If your agent is providing information that negatively affects their pocketbook—or risks blowing the deal altogether—that’s an even better sign that this is a professional who values their reputation and honesty above everything else. This is the type of agent you want to work with again and again.

3. They treat you like a celebrity…even though you’re not.
A great agent gives all their clients the same amount of care and attention regardless of the size of the deal, so whether you’re buying or selling a sprawling mansion or a tiny condo, your agent should be advising you with the exact same level of intent and enthusiasm, and be just as available for your questions and needs. Remember, all real estate agents have a fiduciary duty to put their client’s interest before their own.

4. They’re active on social media.
Top-notch agents are using social media to not just promote themselves and their listings, but to truly engage with their friends and followers by sharing useful information about real estate trends, market statistics, community events, and more. They also participate in social media in order to stay engaged in their clients’ lives. Social media is a way for them to get to know you—and for you to get to know them beyond business.

5. They’re a part of the community.
The best real estate agents are in the business because they genuinely care about the communities they serve. So, if you see your agent out and about volunteering at school, participating in local fundraisers, or sharing good times with others at community concerts and festivals, that’s a good sign that they’re in this business for the right reasons.

If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a real estate professional who embodies the above traits, be sure to give them a great review online and pass their information along to friends and family members. The best agents live by referrals, so be sure to share the love!

 Source: Real Estate Express

Summer Safety for Your Furry Friends

dog playing fetchWarm weather is a great time to get your pet active outside. And while the park, lake or trail may be calling your name, you should also take safety measures to ensure everyone has a great time – your furry friend included.

“Summertime is the perfect time to head outside and have fun with your pets,” says  Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “But when it comes to things like hot temperatures and water activities, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind to keep pets protected.”

Consider the following tips from PetSmart.

Understand overheating behavior. “Dog owners should call their veterinarian immediately if during or after outdoor activities they notice excessive panting, sluggish or unresponsive behavior, vomiting or bloody diarrhea, or bright red or pale, dry gums as these are all signs of overheating and possible heatstroke,” says Freeman.

Stay indoors when temperatures soar. Staying indoors during particularly hot days is often the best option. If your dog must be outdoors, ensure they have plenty of shade, ample fresh water and a kiddie pool filled with fresh water for cooling dips.

Protect those paws from pavement. High temperatures means hot pavement. To protect sensitive paws from burning pavement, take dogs for walks on grassy areas and during the early morning or late night hours.

Watch the water. Summertime pet fun also means trips to the beach, pool, lake or favorite swimming spot. Pet parents should pay careful attention to ensure pets are safe during water playtime, especially around yards and pools that aren’t gated.

“Dogs may seem like natural born swimmers, but the truth is they need training just like people,” Freeman says. “I also always recommend having a gated pool when there are new puppies or geriatric or blind dogs in the home as they can fall in the pool and not be able to get out.”

Never leave home without ID. A leash is always a good idea out of the water, along with a collar and proper identification. “It’s important to make sure your pet is microchipped and that it is registered with up-to-date contact information,” says Freeman. “Dogs are especially prone to escaping during the summer months due to fireworks and storm anxiety.”

Source: Petsmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.

John and Barbara Gandolfo – Top Agents

Century 21 American Homes would like to congratulate John and Barbara Gandolfo who have just been featured in Top Agent Magazine.

With nearly half a century of combined experience, husband and wife Brokers John and Barbara Gandolfo have what it takes to make their client’s real estate dream come true. The pair’s sincere, friendly, and welcoming demeanor, along with their impeccable work ethic and vast industry knowledge, have endeared them to their many buyers and sellers on New York’s Long Island.

While any agent can sing their own praises, the actual proof of a job well done is in the reviews they receive. As Premier Agents on Zillow.com, they have been the recipients of scores of five-star reviews, including this one: “My family and I had the pleasure of using John and Barbara Gandolfo to sell my family s home. They were amazing! Always available to answer calls and all of our questions. They really made us feel like we mattered to them. I cannot say enough good things about them. They are a real class act! Thanks again, John and Barbara.”

When they aren’t working, John and Barbara enjoy nothing more than spending time with family and friends. They are also committed philanthropist, and donate frequently to their company’s charitable organization, the Heart of American Homes Foundation. They also provide frequent support to in-need members of the community.

For more information about John & Barbara Gandolfo, call 516-779-8423 or email JohnGandolfoSells@gmail.com

Source: https://topagentmagazine.com/top-real-estate-agents-in-new-york/

Give Your Home a Modern Makeover

Even if your home has seen a generation or two of living, creating a contemporary new look may not require a full-scale renovation. The key to creating a more modern feel is all in the details.

Many of these elements can be tackled one by one so you can transform your home into the modern marvel you desire on a timeframe and budget that fits your lifestyle. If a contemporary home is your ultimate goal, start with these key features to create a more modern look.

Lighting

modern lighting fixture

Dingy lighting and dim rooms are the antithesis of modern design. A contemporary space is airy and bright, and the lighting fixtures often help set that tone. Replace outdated fixtures with modern alternatives that boast sleek lines and finishes. Add more fixtures, including table-side task lighting and floor lamps, to brighten a room with limited natural light. Have some fun with the lighting by incorporating colored or textured globes that allow the fixtures to become focal points of contemporary design rather than functional afterthoughts.

Windows

modern windows

When it comes to curb appeal, windows play an essential role in the overall aesthetic. Old, outdated windows are a tell-tale sign of an aging home, so when you’re planning for a modern exterior upgrade, be sure to include the windows as part of your plan. An option like Milgard Trinsic Series vinyl windows offers an expansive viewable glass area and a narrow frame to help you embrace modern home design. Not only do they provide even sightlines for clean, unobstructed views, they’re manufactured for maximum durability and energy efficiency and require little to no maintenance.

Walls

freshly painted walls

No matter the color, a freshly painted space simply feels new. For a true contemporary style, honor simplicity in design and keep colors on the lighter side. However, don’t be afraid to introduce a pop of color in the form of a bold accent wall or even wallpaper that makes a statement. A good rule of thumb: maintain a simple palette of no more than three shades to incorporate a truly minimalist, modern atmosphere.

Doors

modern doors

The entry and exit points to your home are more than functional features; think of them as a canvas for making a bold design statement. For the patio, consider a sleek and contemporary door with a frame profile so narrow you’ll hardly know it’s there. For example, Milgard offers a contemporary Trinsic Series sliding patio door with the maximum available viewable glass area and an optional narrow handle that blends seamlessly into the frame to lend a modern flair. The doors are also ideal for low-maintenance living; the durable vinyl frames don’t absorb moisture or require painting.

Hardware

modern cabinet hardware

Even the smallest details matter when it comes to contemporary design. You may not need to replace or update your cabinetry, but you’ll most likely want to select hardware that fits a more modern motif. Avoid weathered and overly polished finishes in brass or nickel, and opt instead for selections like matte black, gold and copper, which are all well-suited for contemporary kitchens. Don’t be afraid to mix and match for a bit of an eclectic look, such as different pulls for the upper and lower cabinets or a unique style for drawers.

Source: Milgard

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

Barbara Mullaney – Top Agent Magazine

Century 21 American Homes would like to congratulate Barbara Mullaney – Long Beach.

Barabara Mullaney, featured in Top Agent Magazine

Barbara was also featured recently in Top Agent Magazine. Barbara launched her real estate career in 2002. When she first started, she worked in real estate during the day, while waitressing and bartending in the evenings. She had such an affinity for the business that she was soon able to focus solely on being a full time agent. As an individual agent, Barbara has achieved the honor of receiving the prestigious Century 21’s Double Centurion Award, is ranked #2 out of all the Century 21 agents in the Metro NY area, and ranks #33 out of 55,000 C21 agents in the entire United States.

The Barbara Mullaney Team sold over $37 million in Real Estate this past year. It is also important for Barbara to give back to the community where she lives and works. Most recently, Barbara and her team hosted a fundraiser as guest bartenders to raise money for Long Beach Reach, a nonprofit organization that helps people with addiction and mental illness. “It’s a fun way for people to get together for a good cause and to raise awareness,” she explains. Also this past year, Barbara played basketball with other community members against the Harlem Wizards to raise money for the local East School Elementary PTA. “It was a lot of fun, especially because of the excitement and entertainment it provided for the kids!” she says. She also contributes to the Christmas Angel, an event that supports Long Beach families in need. Other charities close to her heart are Easter Seals, Make A Wish Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer. She
and her team are passionate about supporting Long Beach residents and
anyone in need.

mullaneyteam

Source: TopAgentMagazine.com

Barbara has appeared in two episodes of HGTV’s Island Life where she
showcased the city of Long Beach on national television and helped buyers
to find their dream home.

To learn more about Barbara Mullaney, visit www.c21amhomes.com/barbaramullaney, e-mail realtor.barbara@gmail.com, or call 516.582.6096

5 Steps for Game Day Party Success

Whether you have been planning for months or you’re inviting guests the day of, hosting a huge crowd on game day requires a bit more than RSVPs and a welcoming setting. Whether a “huge crowd” to you means five guests or 50, starting out with a plan can help make the day more enjoyable for everyone.

To help make your game day soiree a success, knowing which snacks are top picks for the event might make shopping a little easier. The experts at Frito-Lay North America conducted the inaugural U.S. Snack Index – a poll that surveyed Americans for insights on which snacks rose to the top for consumers this year – to share what guests want on game day.

Get Organized From Guests to Groceries. From sending invites to selecting the snacks you’ll serve, start by organizing your thoughts and writing down the details. For starters, create a guest list so you’ll know exactly how much food and drink you’ll need to buy and map out your grocery list for a stress-free trip to the store.

Game Day Setup. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you can rest assured many game day viewers will plan to share images of their spreads on social media. To make sure your game day setup is ready for primetime, start by decluttering your space, arranging furniture for ample seating and laying out the picture-perfect snack table so guests can reach for snacks, plates, napkins and utensils with easy access.

Snacks for All. While it may be first instinct to feel like you need to cook crafty dishes and artsy snacks, that may not necessarily be important to game day guests. In fact, according to the index, nearly all game day party-goers will enjoy snacks during the competition, and 80 percent of viewers said they’ll eat either potato or tortilla chips. Chips aren’t the only thing to consider. Score big with your guests by picking the perfect pairings, like salsa for tortilla chips, which ranks as the most popular dip overall, or French onion dip, which is the most popular choice for dipping potato chips.

Encourage Fun for Everyone. Of course, the game is the reason for the party and the center of attention, but the fact is it’s possible not every person in attendance is a sports fan. By bringing out board games or cards and setting up tables in adjacent rooms, you can encourage a fun environment for everyone at the party. Plus, by creating a secondary station away from the TV, you’ll allow for non-sports conversation without upsetting the diehards.

Keep it Simple. Generally, game-day watch parties are of the more laid-back variety. This no-fuss attitude carries over into party snack prep, as more than half of viewers surveyed in the U.S. Snack Index prefer to prepare simple recipes whether they’re hosting or attending. On top of laid-back snacks, more than one-third of consumers polled plan to simply put snacks in the closest bowl rather than planning out a social media-worthy snack table.

Source: Frito-Lay

Published with permission from RISMedia.

3 Tips for Packing More Efficiently for Your Move

Moving can be a stressful experience. While some things can be prepared in the weeks leading up to the move, packing and moving out in a single day can still be a challenge.

These packing tips can help you avoid common issues and save you time and effort:

Plan Ahead
Before your move, it’s important to buy all the boxes, tools and packing material you’ll need. Make sure to purchase more than you think you’ll use to avoid running out on moving day.

Create a toolbox of things that you’ll be using to help you move. This should include sticky tape, plastic bags and anything else you think you might use. This box should be the last one you close and seal once you’re ready to leave your old house.

Also, create a clearly labeled box for priority items—small appliances, tableware and medicine—which may be used on move-out day and which will need to be accessed quickly when you reach your new home.

Garbage can be difficult to deal with when leaving. It’s best to prepare methods ahead of time to deal with trash, such as organizing enough garbage bags and space allocated to keep it.

Reducing the amount of unnecessary items you have before your move can help to minimize this problem. Perishable items like food should be eaten or disposed of before moving out, and borrowed or rented items returned.

Have a Plan for Move-Out Day
Start by packing the belongings you use least, such as those in storage. Pack room by room while labeling the boxes according to their contents and the room they came from. Keep the boxes in separate groups so they’re unpacked together.

You can save space by packing smaller items into containers you already own, such as baskets and suitcases. However, don’t fill cupboards and other pieces of furniture as they likely aren’t secure and can be damaged.

Delicate items such as art pieces should be wrapped in plastic sheeting, covered with bubble wrap and placed in a closely fitting cardboard box. Wrapping plastic sheets around furniture and other belongings can also protect them from dirt, dust and moisture during the move.

Fragile boxes should be marked and filled with protective packing so that the items can’t move within the box. Very delicate or important personal belongings should be taken with you in a personal bag or stored safely in your vehicle.

Pack an individual bag for each family member. Be sure to include essentials such as toiletries, personal items and a change of clothes, which can help keep you organized and comfortable when you spend the first night at your new house.

Stay Safe
Take apart any furniture that can be dismantled to save space and make packing easier. Screws or other equipment from the furniture can be kept in a clear plastic bag and taped to the furniture or kept securely.

Boxes with books in them can get quite heavy. Remember not to over-pack them, and consider filling up remaining space with lighter items like linens.

Packing lighter items in large boxes and heavier items in smaller boxes can help to keep weight consistent. Heavier items should be packed into boxes first. These heavier boxes should also be packed first into your moving truck, closest to the ground.

Gas cylinders should be emptied and have their valves left open. Any flammable liquids such as paint thinners and other chemicals should be used or disposed of before your move, as they can be dangerous to transport.

With the right preparation and some helpful tips, your move-out day will be a stress-free experience. Which tips will you use? Let us know in the comments below!

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Daniel Defendi is a writer and researcher within the moving industry, and recommends Adlam Transport for more help and advice. You can catch Defendi on LinkedIn to discuss this piece.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 DIY Winter Home Repair Hacks

Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption.

If you’re like most people, your home is your single largest investment, so it’s common to be apprehensive about tackling home repairs if you have little experience. However, learning to do some basic home maintenance is a smart way to protect and maintain your home’s value without having to locate, schedule and supervise a contractor.

These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.

Painting. There’s no time like the dull, dark days of winter to realize how dim a room may be. When you’re spending more time indoors anyway, it might as well be for a productive purpose, like adding some life to a dreary room. Whether you update the entire space or simply add an accent wall, painting is a low-cost, entry-level way to enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal.

Seal air leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has a half-mile of gaps and cracks where air and moisture can enter, and these air leaks account for 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home. Filling gaps and cracks brings immediate savings while making the home more comfortable and environmentally friendly. It actually takes little time or skill to fix air leaks, which are especially common around doors and windows.

Add insulation. Another energy-saving idea you can tackle by yourself is improving your home’s insulation. A great deal of the home’s heat escapes through the attic, but adding more insulation can help trap warmth, making your home more energy efficient. Insulation also helps resist moisture infiltration and condensation, which is particularly concerning during the winter months.

Tile accents. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of laying your own tile floor, starting with some accent tile is a simple way to practice. A bathroom or kitchen backsplash is a small space that requires a relatively small amount of material and a well-defined workspace. When selecting your tile, be conscious of how much trimming you’ll need to do to accommodate features like electrical outlets; choosing a smaller tile or using sheets of tile may make that step easier.

Add storage. Spending extra time indoors is likely to remind you just how cluttered some areas have become. Take advantage of the time to organize and add storage elements to help keep your space neat and clean. Organizer shelves and closet systems are typically easy to assemble and can serve as functional additions to your home.

Source: Great Stuff

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Keep Pipes From Freezing

Brrr, it’s cold outside! This means your home is taking the brunt of the weather to keep you snug indoors, and your pipes often take a beating when exposed to cold temps.  To help keep your pipes from freezing – which can lead to costly repairs – Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professionals offers a few simple tips:

Allow the faucet to drip. Keeping water moving will prevent pressure from building up and keep the pipe from bursting. This is typically good for short-term fixes like overnight when the temperature lowers to freezing, and you are still home. That way, you can still turn the water off during the day and limit your water usage. A few pennies spent on water overnight is better than salvaging water damage after a burst pipe.

Keep inside doors and cabinet doors open. A lesser known trick, but an easy one. A closed cabinet door essentially seals your pipes in a refrigerator. The open doors help air flow move and let the heat from the rest of the house help avoid frozen pipes.

Add extra insulation. Keep your pipes warm by using formal pipe insulation or newspaper. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold; if you have had a problem with frozen pipes anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the answer.

Seal up cracks and holes. You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in. A simple project that can make a big difference!

Know the signs of frozen pipes and call a plumber immediately if you expect your pipes have frozen. If you notice frost on your exposed pipes, such as the ones in unheated garages, crawl spaces and attics – or if it’s below freezing outside and you experience slow or uneven water supply – there’s a good chance your pipes are frozen or in the process of freezing. Go to the home’s main water valve and shut it off immediately, and call a plumber.

Source: http://bit.ly/1xE4dXL.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

4 Reasons to Buy During the Off-Season

Instead of decorating your home for the holidays, why not buy a new one? While winter is part of the off-season in real estate, many buyers find that it’s the perfect time of year to buy the home of their dreams. After all, you’ll have a lot more fun decorating a new home than your current one. Here are some reasons to consider buying real estate in the off-season:

Fewer Buyers
More people choose to move during the spring and summer months than at other times of the year; therefore, when you choose to buy in the winter, you have fewer people looking at properties. This ultimately means you’ll be up against less competition as you search for your new home.

Low Figures Accepted
When you buy during the off-season, you may be surprised that people accept your low bid amount. People don’t want to wait long to sell their house, and they’ll often settle for less during the winter. Most sellers who list their home in the winter are motivated to sell. Since there are fewer purchases being made, you can also usually get home inspections done at a faster rate, and mortgage companies may speed through your paperwork.

Personalized Attention
Your real estate agent only has 24 hours in their day. During busy times, those hours must be divided among more clients. During slower periods, however, the agent can focus more on your needs and desires. This allows them to find you the perfect property without having to see properties that aren’t suitable for your needs. Most experienced real estate agents can tell amazing stories of houses that they saw sell during winter at a low price because the seller didn’t want to wait until the warmer months.

Winter Heating
Approximately 30 percent of home energy is spent on heating and cooling a home. When you buy in the winter, you can find where the cold drafts are in a prospective home, allowing you to insist that they are fixed before you buy the home. Alternatively, finding these drafts quickly and fixing them yourself allows you to save money quickly. Fixing a draft may be as simple as applying weatherstripping to a gap.

There are many reasons not to wait until spring to buy your home. Buying in the off-season when not as many people are looking often allows you to get a home that you want at a lower cost. Then, you can be singing “I’ll be Home for Christmas” this year!

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

By Lizzie Weakley

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

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