The 50s. Maybe it was an illusion…

Maybe it was a reminder that America changes in every instant and never changes at all. Our streets have always been filled with music and temptation; addiction has always been with us, long before “us” was even America, from the Lotus Eaters of The Odyssey to the opium dens of the Wild West to the crack epidemic and on to our own new opioid crisis.

via Teen Idol Frankie Lymon’s Tragic Rise and Fall Tells the Truth About 1950s America | History | Smithsonian

Brighten Your Home This Winter

5 Ways to Brighten Your Home This Winter

With fewer hours of daylight and an array of stormy weather to contend with, our homes can often feel dark and dreary during the winter months. With just a few magical touches, however, you can lighten things up instantly. Try these ideas from

  1. Remove the screens from your windows. Depending on where you live, you might not even open your windows in the winter. Removing the layer of mesh created by a screen will let unfiltered light right in, brightening up your home.
  2. Invest in light-colored slipcovers. Cover your furniture in shades of ivory, white or even a sunny yellow. This will not only make your whole room feel lighter, but will also help brighten your mood. Try lighter-colored bedspreads and tablecloths, too.
  3. Uncover your hardwood. Remove area rugs from your hardwood floors so that natural light can reflect off the warm tones of the wood and onto your walls.
  4. Swap out your lightbulbs. Take a close look at your home’s lighting. The difference between a warm white, a cool white, and daylight bulb can greatly change the feel of a room. Try different bulbs in different rooms to create bright enough light at the right temperature.
  5. Lighten up your window treatments. Ditch the heavy, dark drapes for light-colored and sheer curtains. Placing them at the far edges of the window will go a long way toward letting in plenty of light.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Copyright© 2017 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News.

Colors of 2018 – Is Yours a Top Pick

Painting Project in the Works? Consider the Colors of 2018

When it comes time to refreshing our walls with a new coat of color, we all have our favorite hues. But it’s always worth taking a look at the colors the experts choose as trending shades for the year ahead. The editors at compiled the 2018 picks from the top paint companies. So before you spread the drop cloth and don your coveralls, consider whether any of the following fashion-forward colors will work in your home:

The Green Hour: This blue-green with a healthy wash of gray from Dunn-Edwards can pass as a neutral shade, but also lends a moody or dramatic look to a room. If you’re looking for something light and airy, this isn’t it.

Black Magic: This choice from Olympic Paint is a shade of black that offers striking contrast when used for trim and accent furniture. You can also consider painting one or two walls in this color, depending on the size and purpose of the room in question.

In the Moment: Another blue-green hue, this one comes from Behr, and offers a softer, more pastel option. This versatile shade would work equally well in a bedroom, kitchen or living room—and is a nice gender-neutral option for a baby’s room.

Deep Onyx: This shade from Glidden is another twist on black, offering a classic, timeless approach, just like “a little black dress,” as the firm’s marketing department aptly describes it.

Caliente: Just like the name implies, this fiery red from Benjamin Moore will quickly heat up a room. It’s perfect for a large dining room or any room that can handle a bright pop of color.

Oceanside: Yet one more take on a blue-green, this color from Sherwin-Williams is very deep and intense, just like its namesake.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

Now is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

6 Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays

Traditional real estate wisdom may be telling you to hold off selling your home until after the holidays, but there are plenty of good reasons to list your home right now. Consider the following:

  • People who are looking for a home during the holiday season are most likely pretty serious about making a move. In fact, they may be in a bit of hurry. Putting your home on the market now might result in a faster sale at a higher price point.
  • Between family gatherings and holiday parties, you’ve probably got your home in bright and shiny, tip-top shape for entertaining. What better time to show off your home to prospective buyers, too?
  • In most areas of the country, yard maintenance decreases during the wintry holiday months. While you may have to blow a few leaves and clear away some snow from walkways, you won’t have to worry about keeping the lawn mowed, the garden beds weeded and the flowers blooming as you would if listing your home in the spring and summer.
  • The end of the year is usually a slower time for real estate professionals, so you will get lots of attention from your agent if you decide to list your home during the holiday season.
  • You will also have less competition in terms of other homes on the market, allowing your home to stand out more to prospective buyers.
  • You can stage your home to make an emotional connection to the holidays. Work with your real estate agent to tastefully decorate so that prospective buyers envision themselves hosting loving family celebrations in your home during the holidays. Stay away from overtly religious decorations and stick with decorations like small white lights, natural evergreens and a few shimmering metallics. An evergreen- or cranberry-scented candle will also emphasize that home-for-the-holidays feel.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Copyright© 2017 RISMedia, T

Get Ready NOW if You Are Thinking of Buying a Home in the Near Future

By Novelda L. Sommers, Marketing Content Manager, The Long & Foster Companies.

home dream

If you’re already looking ahead to 2018 and planning to make it the year you buy a home, now is the time to start getting your financial house in order.

By giving yourself plenty of time to address any factors that could be dragging down your credit score, you can save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage. Having stellar credit also gives you a better chance at sailing through the loan process and getting your offer accepted in a housing market that’s expected to continue to favor sellers.

Prosperity Home Mortgage offers tips for prospective homebuyers who are beginning the process of applying for a home loan. The company also makes mortgage consultants available, who will walk clients through the sometimes-complicated process of getting a mortgage.

At the outset, these are some measures you can take to make sure your credit is in good shape as you embark on the journey to homeownership:

See what’s in your credit files. Three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, maintain detailed reports on our financial lives, and we’re entitled by law to see each one of those for free once every 12 months. You can access them through Don’t be fooled by look-alike sites. You can also get to the site through links on the government’s Federal Trade Commission or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) websites. Your credit report has a lot of information about you, such as previous addresses, loans you hold or have paid off, open lines of credit, bankruptcies, liens and judgements. It’s important to make sure all of that information is correct. One in five credit reports contain errors, and correcting them takes time, so don’t wait to check.

Dispute any erroneous information with the credit reporting company and the creditor who made the report to them. Find out more about what to include in your dispute documents at the CFPB’s site. The site has instructions, template letters and guides for how to go about this.

Find out your credit score. Check your bank and any credit card companies you use to see whether they offer a free FICO score or other credit score. You might need to pay for a one-time score from one of the credit bureaus or, just steel yourself for sales pitches for monthly credit monitoring you might not want or need. Scores usually range from 300-850, and the higher the score, the easier it is to qualify for a loan and get a lower interest rate. A great place to be is in the high 700s and up, but a lower score won’t necessarily keep you from getting a mortgage. You just might have to pay more for it, because a lower score places you in a category of borrower that’s at higher risk of defaulting.

What goes into a credit score? Commonly, it’s:

  • 35 percent your history of paying accounts on time.
  • 30 percent debt-to-credit ratio (how maxed out you are).
  • 15 percent length of credit history.
  • 10 percent credit mix.
  • 10 percent whether you have opened accounts recently.

If you’re trying to bring your score up, it’s vitally important to pay all your accounts on time and make sure they stay current. You might be tempted to consolidate debt and close credit accounts, but that’s not always a good idea, because doing so can cause your debt-to-credit ratio to skyrocket, which makes you look maxed out.

For example, if you have two credit cards each with a limit of $10,000, and you are carrying a balance of $5,000 on one of them, then you close one of the cards, you suddenly go from using 25 percent of your available credit to 50 percent. A credit utilization rate below 30 percent is usually considered good.

You shouldn’t open new accounts if you’re about to apply for a loan. Especially avoid making any major purchases on credit. Don’t move a lot of money around between accounts, co-sign on another person’s loan, or change your job, name or address. Stability is key.

As long as your financial habits are healthy, your Prosperity mortgage consultant will recommend you continue using credit just as you normally would, because deviations can raise red flags.

Once your credit is optimal and you’ve gotten a mortgage preliminary approval from your lender so you know your exact price range, contact a Long & Foster real estate agent who can help you get the best deal on your ideal home.


Finding a Builder to Construct Your Custom Home on Your Lot

By Suzanne Whitenight Pilcher, Marketing Coordinator, Long & Foster Companies.

Perhaps you were lucky enough to inherit property or bought a parcel of land to build your dream home. Now, how do you select the right builder to construct the home you’ve envisioned? Whatever style and size home you’re building, you’ll want to know you’re purchasing a good quality home from a reputable builder.

Where do you start?

It’s best to find companies who are familiar with the building codes in your area, according to Pauline Dent, director of builder & developer services with the Long & Foster New Homes division. Each jurisdiction has specific building codes, so you’ll want to hire someone who knows the codes and can comply with them. The National Association of Homebuilders offers a list of local builders on their website.  In addition, a real estate agent familiar with custom home building can be a great resource.

What’s the builder’s specialty and reputation?

Whether it’s a traditional colonial, modern or craftsman-style home you have in mind, take a look at pictures of the houses each builder has constructed. Ask how many homes they have built that are similar to the design you have in mind.  Then, go to see the products they’ve built in the last few years.

In addition, ask for personal testimonials from past clients. Dent adds you’ll want to talk to a variety of customers, in every stage of owning – meaning those that recently moved in, individuals who have lived in the home less than two years and people who have lived in their houses longer than two years. Ask them if the work was completed on time and on budget and if they had any major issues during construction. Your real estate agent may also have had some experience with the builder to help attest to their reputation.

How much will it cost?

Although it’s important to hire a qualified builder, finding one who can construct a home in your price range is just as critical. Gather quotes from the list of builders you’ve collected and be sure you understand what’s included in each quote. For instance, does the price include site and finish work, landscaping and clean-up of the property? What level of finishings will be included – will you have granite or laminate countertops?

Site work, including land clearing and grading, the construction of driveways and walkways, installation of utilities, permits and fees, can cost more than $60,000 in some areas, according to John Jorgenson, a leading new homes agent in Long & Foster’s McLean, Virginia, office. Check to be sure your builder includes it in the price or you’ll have to budget for these necessary costs.

Just as with any new home purchase, a knowledgeable Realtor can help you find a reputable builder and can guide you through the homebuilding process.

Home Based Business – Insurance is Important

Operating a Business from Home: Make Sure You Have the Right Insurance

By Novelda L. Sommers, Marketing Content Manager, The Long & Foster Companies.

It could happen in a heartbeat – a client slips and falls on your property, a hacker figures out how to steal your customers’ data, or any number of other possible hazards – and suddenly your home-based business could be in real trouble if you don’t have the right insurance.

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover all of the risks associated with doing business from home. There are policies that specifically cover incidents that might come up related to your business.

An insurance agent can help you determine your exact needs. The experts at Long & Foster Insurance recommend that home-based business owners have a commercial insurance policy in place to ensure they are properly covered.

These are among the types of policies an agent might recommend, depending on your business’s situation:

  • Business property coverage: It covers property used in business operations.
  • Business income coverage: This provides coverage for the loss of income a business suffers after direct damage of the covered property.
  • General liability: These are policies for damages that you could become legally obligated to pay due to bodily injury, property damage or personal and advertising injury that occurs on your business’ premises, operations, completed operations and products.
  • Electronic data processing: A policy would cover loss of electronic data processing equipment and media that’s owned, leased or used by the homeowner.
  • Goods in transit: This covers product that is either owned by the insured or the insured’s customer while it is being transported.
  • Valuable papers and records: A policy would cover loss of paper and records which have no duplicates.

Another type of coverage that is becoming more popular is cyber insurance, covering risks having to do with vulnerabilities that come with being online. One example of that is data breach coverage. If a home-business owner stores payment information, social security numbers, etc., and that data is compromised – depending on what type of policy you have – a policy might cover the cost of mailing notifications to customers that were affected, public relations expenses and credit monitoring services, among many other coverages. It might also cover defense and settlement costs if the business is sued by someone who was impacted by the breach.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free online guide to choosing insurance for your business. A Long & Foster Insurance agent can also help evaluate your needs and select a plan that will keep your business safe and sound.

Home Based Business – Know the Local Rules

Make Sure You Know the Local Rules Before Moving with a Home-Based Business

By Novelda L. Sommers, Marketing Content Manager, The Long & Foster Companies.

If you’re among the many small business owners who operate out of your residence, and you’re looking to relocate, you don’t want to move to your new dream home only to find out your enterprise isn’t allowed to operate there.

More than half of small businesses registered in the United States are home-based, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Entrepreneurs who maintain home offices should research local licensing, homeowner’s association covenants and zoning rules before committing to buy a house.

Often a home business is not permitted if customers are required to come to the home or it involves specialized equipment.

“In most situations, determining the permitted uses of a property is entirely the buyer’s responsibility.  Once you buy the house, it’s likely too late to do anything about a use restriction,” said Tony Boone, deputy general counsel at The Long & Foster Companies.

If the local zoning rules prohibit your type of business, there may be a process for applying for a variance.  However, that is often an expensive and difficult endeavor with no guarantee of success.

Business-owning home shoppers should call the department of planning and zoning in their prospective locality and ask if their at-home business is allowed at the new address, said Callie Dalton, a top producing Long & Foster agent in Roanoke, Virginia. Buyers also need to review any homeowners’ association documents whose covenants, rules and regulations likely to govern the use of the properties in the neighborhood.

“We do suggest that they check with the HOA and local zoning boards to be sure that the property can accommodate a home business prior to writing an offer,” Dalton said. “That way, we aren’t tying up someone’s home, only to find out later it is not suitable for the buyer’s needs.”

Most HOAs prohibit any business that increases foot traffic in the neighborhood, Boone said. Mail-order businesses, on the other hand, might be allowed because they don’t require customers to visit the property. However, there is no standard rule and what is permitted in one neighborhood may not be in another.

Boone recommends speaking with a real estate attorney if the use of a home for business purposes is an important factor for the buyer, “Zoning, covenants of title and HOA rules can be complex and the distinction between permitted and prohibited businesses can be very subtle.”

Mike Mavromates, a Long & Foster agent and managing broker in Avalon, New Jersey, said most of his clients who plan to work from home in his state, for example, don’t need special zoning permission because they only maintain small, single-person offices, with the bulk of business conducted elsewhere.  These professionals – such a loan officers or real estate agents – might perform office work at home, but don’t usually bring clients to their personal residences.

But a number of home-based business owners do need to obtain proper approvals with the municipality’s zoning authority, he said.

“They have to provide details, to include how many clients will visit, parking information, how many customers may visit at one time, etc.,” he said. “Depending on their industry or store, there are signage restrictions and strict requirements for lighting and restrooms, to name a few. They must be aware of and have appropriate approvals.”

The SBA offers general guidelines for researching your location and making sure you are correctly registered with state and local authorities. The administration has offices throughout the country where business owners can get advice about complying with state and local regulations.

11 Reasons Fishing Makes You a Healthier, Happier Person

11 Reasons Fishing Makes You a Healthier, Happier Person

angler holding dolphin fish mahimahiIf you are reading this, I probably don’t have to sell you on the wonders of fishing – you are probably already a fan of heading out to the water, rod in hand, to see what’s biting.

And you aren’t alone: Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities in the world, and the number of new anglers grows every year.

But few people realize that fishing is not only an enjoyable pastime, it provides a wealth of mental, emotional and physical benefits too.

In fact, many of these benefits endure much longer than a given fishing trip, which means that you’ll not only feel better while you’re on the water, you’ll feel better after you come back home too.

So, while you probably don’t need any additional reasons to go fishing, we’ve given you 11 more below.


1. Enjoying nature can help you heal more quickly.

person sitting outdoors

In the early 1980s, researcher Robert S. Ulrich noticed that post-operative patients in a hospital had different views outside their room windows.

Some of the patients could only see another building outside their window, while others had a good view of a natural area, which was full of trees. Ulrich began studying the differences in recovery times between the two groups, and his results were quite interesting: Those patients with a view of trees healed more quickly than those in the other group.

Additionally, the patients who could see trees suffered from less post-operative pain and required less pain medication than the other group.

Subsequent research has shown that there isn’t anything special about a view of trees, per se. Rather, it is the view of natural habitats that helps accelerate the healing process and reduce pain. So, this means you don’t have to go fishing in a forested stream or pond to enjoy these benefits – you simply need to go fish in any natural setting.


2. Time spent in nature can help reduce your blood pressure.

person checking blood pressure using monitorAlthough the exact reasons that it happens are not yet clear, time spent hanging out in nature helps to reduce your blood pressure.

High blood pressure (or hypertension, as it is also called) can lead to a host of serious health problems, and put you at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. And while there are medications doctors can use to help reduce blood pressure, many have negative side effects.

Additionally, research has shown that the benefits provided by spending time in natural surroundings last for some time after you come back to civilization.

And don’t think you have to spend 8 hours on the water to enjoy these benefits – researchers have determined that, while more time spent outdoors is better, it only takes about 30 minutes per week to improve blood pressure and overall health.


3. Some types of fishing can help you burn calories in a low-impact manner.

fisherman actively fishingMost of us could stand to lose a few pounds and get more exercise. In fact, a 2013 study found that 80 percent of American adults fail to get the proper amount of exercise each week. But inactivity doesn’t only lead to obesity, it can also cause cardiovascular problems, depression and a host or other illnesses.

Fortunately, fishing can help you prevent these outcomes.

No, you won’t burn many calories while sitting on a dock with a cane pole and doing 12-ounce curls with your favorite beverage. But if you are actively fishing, you can end up burning about 200 calories per hour ( even more when fly fishing in a stream ), which can be significant.

Even a relatively relaxing day of bank fishing will require you to walk up and down a shoreline, while casting and retrieving for hours at a time – all of which burn calories. And if you are fortunate to hook up a true giant, you’ll expend a ton of energy battling it to the shore, boat or kayak.


4. Fishing gives us a chance to enjoy some peace and quiet.

fisherman fishing in a peaceful forested area

In the modern world, we are increasingly assaulted from all directions by noise and commotion, and it is causing many people to suffer from anxiety.

Think about your daily routine: You get up in the morning and watch the news over coffee, you ride to work with the radio blaring, you get to work and deal with ringing phones and blinking inboxes, you head home later while sitting in traffic and then you spend your night watching digital screens and listening to ear buds. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.

But fishing gives you a chance to unplug from all of that, and let your brain enjoy some peace and quiet. Mind you, fishing is rarely a silent activity, but the sounds you’ll most commonly enjoy are of the relaxing variety.

After all, who could be stressed by listening to the sounds of the waves rhythmically rapping against the hull of the boat or the birds and frogs calling off in the distance. Alternatively, some anglers like to listen to relaxing music while they are fishing, and this can have positive health effects too.


5. Fish are a healthy protein source.

While the majority of recreational anglers probably release most of the fish they catch, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few home for the dinner table from time to time.

Fish is a low-fat, healthy protein that can help you shrink your waistline, and several species are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, some species of fish are among the best dietary sources vitamin D.

You’ll obviously want to follow all your local laws and regulations regarding the harvest of fish, and you’ll want to concentrate on consuming ecologically sustainable species, rather than those that are rare or at the top of the food chain.

For example, a healthy lake will not miss a stringer full of bluegill; in fact, removing a reasonable number of bluegill from a lake can help ensure the population stays balanced. But on the other hand, you don’t want to take home too many wild trout, as many of their populations are in decline.


6. Fishing can be a great way to spend time with your family and friends.

family fishing from a bridge

Perhaps nothing is more meaningful than spending time with loved ones, and fishing provides a great opportunity to do so. Whether that means bringing along a good fishing buddy, your spouse or your kids, you’ll often have a great time fishing with those close to you.

Of course, you’ll have to make adjustments when fishing with others – particularly when fishing with those who are not avid anglers. You may want to target more easily caught species and fish in less demanding environments, for starters.

You can learn more about taking children on their first fishing trip here.

Also, be sure to consider the types of creature comforts that will make your companions have a better time, and do your best to make sure they catch fish too. You may not have the type of fishing success to which you are accustomed, but the smiles, love and companionship will help make up for it.


7. Fishing gives you a reason to stand up.

angler casting fly rig

Many of us spend too much time sitting down according to healthcare researchers. In fact, it is thought that more than one-half of an average American’s day is spent sitting down, and this isn’t good for your health.

Excessive sitting (defined as more than about 8 hours per day) is linked with an 18 percent increase in the likelihood of dying from cardiovascular problems and a 17 percent increase in the likelihood of dying from cancer.

But fishing often forces you to stand – particularly if you are fly fishing or wading out into the water to access deeper pools. And if you are fishing from the bank, you may end up walking for a mile or two in search of productive waters. So, get up from your chair, head to the water and start fishing (while standing).


8. The intellectual side of fishing can help keep your brain sharp as you age.

fish inside a brain

Unfortunately, memory problems and a generalized cognitive decline often occur as we age. However, one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and operating at light-speed is by challenging it with mentally stimulating activities.

And as we know, fishing often presents myriad mental challenges that require innovative and creative solutions.

Harvard Health Publications provides an overview of some of the best ways to fight off cognitive decline, which is worth reviewing. Spoiler alert: Their recommendations align nearly perfectly with fishing.

For example, the first three tips recommend that you keep learning, use all your senses and have confidence in yourself – all three of which you’ll have to do to have success while fishing.


9. Sunshine helps boost your mood.

sun shining on angler

Unless you are fortunate enough to work outdoors for a living, you probably spend most of your time indoors. And that’s unfortunate, as sunlight provides a number of important health benefits.

For example, exposure to sunlight triggers your brain to release serotonin – an important hormone that is thought to help improve your mood and encourage happy thoughts. Fail to get enough sunshine in your life, and you may become depressed.

But don’t forget to practice good sun-safety. Be sure to cover up with lightweight fabrics during the hottest part of the day and coat yourself in sunscreen before opening your tackle box and getting to work. And don’t forget to protect your eyes too, by investing in a pair of high-quality, polarized, UV-blocking shades.


10. Sun exposure helps boost your immune system.

Sun light doesn’t just provide mood-enhancing benefits, it also helps to bolster your immune system.

Most of the immune-system boosting effects sunlight provides precipitate from the production of Vitamin D, which our bodies synthesize when exposed to sunlight. Among other things, vitamin D plays an important role in bone formation and allows the body to use the calcium present in the blood stream.

But recent research suggests that Vitamin D synthesis is not the only way in which sunlight helps prop up the immune system.

It appears that exposure to the some of the wavelengths present in sunlight (remember that sunlight is actually composed of many different colors of light) causes some of the body’s infection-fighting cells to begin moving more rapidly.


11. Fresh Air Is Better for Your Lungs

fishing a calm river in the morning on a dock

Although you may come home stinking of fish and bait worms, you’ll breathe easier while out on the lake or in a secluded mountain stream. Here, you’ll spend the day breathing relatively clean air, which will give your lungs a break from the polluted urban air many of us breathe of a daily basis.

This constant exposure to things like ground-level ozone, smoke and dust particles can lead to a number of health problems, including chronic respiratory conditions (such as asthma), heart disease and lung cancer.

While healthy adults can and do suffer from the effects of polluted air, children and seniors usually suffer the most. So be sure to grab your kids and your parents and bring them along the next time you head out to fish.


Understand that there are undoubtedly dozens of other reasons fishing will help you be a healthier, happier person. Being a moderately-active, outdoor-oriented, fun activity, this should come as no surprise.

But we’d love to hear about the ones we may have missed, so let us know in the comments. Each of us enjoy fishing in our own unique way, so share your experiences and outlook on this fantastic hobby with us.

What kinds of mental, emotional and physical benefits do you derive from fishing?