SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

Bilinguals, for instance, seem to be more adept than monolinguals at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles. In a 2004 study by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee, bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares presented on a computer screen into two digital bins — one marked with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle.

In the first task, the children had to sort the shapes by color, placing blue circles in the bin marked with the blue square and red squares in the bin marked with the red circle. Both groups did this with comparable ease. Next, the children were asked to sort by shape, which was more challenging because it required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color. The bilinguals were quicker at performing this task.

The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.

The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

The bilingual experience appears to influence the brain from infancy to old age (and there is reason to believe that it may also apply to those who learn a second language later in life).

In a 2009 study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In an initial set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen. Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not.

Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.

Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?

¿Qué es Foreclosure?

¿Qué es Foreclosure?

Foreclosure no es más que la anulación, en su contra, de una hipoteca. Cuando usted compró su casa, seguramente adquirió un préstamo y el prestamista, a su vez, aseguró sus intereses en la propiedad. En caso de que usted no pueda pagar su hipoteca, esto le dará al prestamista todo el derecho de tomar acción sobre su propiedad y quedarse con las ganancias que se obtengan de ella para cubrir su inversión.

Si está afrontando la posibilidad de perder su hipoteca por medio de foreclosure, ya sabe el pánico que se siente. Sin embargo no debe perder la calma. Antes que nada pregúntese usted mismo:

  • ¿No puede hacer sus pagos de hipoteca por una situación financiera temporaria?O es que…
  • ¿Se le hace difícil hacer sus pagos aún en situaciones financieras normales?

Si esta situación es temporaria, hay varias opciones para arreglar este problema, pero si usted sabe que su situación no tiene remedio y está a punto de perder su casa, quizá el remedio sería afrontar la situación sabiendo que sería mejor para su estado emocional entregar su casa. Esto no quiere decir que usted debe resignarse con los brazos cruzados.


¿Cuáles Son Sus Opciones?

Pedir un préstamo personal

En realidad, quizá a su alrededor haya alguien que esté dispuesto a ayudarle. Explique su situación a sus amigos muy cercanos y familiares y hágales saber que su situación es temporaria. Sea siempre honesto al decirles cuanto tiempo le tomaría pagar esta deuda.

Pedir un préstamo a su Asegurador de Hipoteca Privado, (PMI)

En cuanto a un préstamo del PMI, es una buena opción si su hipoteca incluye esta aseguranza. PMI protege al prestamista, o sea, que si el banco tiene que llevar su propiedad a foreclosure o anulación de hipoteca, esta aseguranza de hipoteca privada, cubre la pérdida. Por eso para ellos lo mejor es ayudarle a que no se pierda la hipoteca y estarían dispuestos a hacerle un préstamo.

Refinanciar su préstamo actual

Muchas son la razones por las que usted puede refinanciar su préstamo. Póngase en contacto con su prestamista y pregunte si es posible, así reduce su pago y los intereses. Quizá esta sea una buena solución si lo que necesita es bajar los pagos mensuales. Busque la mejor opción de interés y quizá este trabajo se lo pueda hacer un experto en préstamos.

Vender la Casa

Finalmente, otra opción puede ser la de vender su casa. Un buen agente de bienes raíces le puede orientar y ayudar a que su venta sea lo más pronto posible y que cubra la deuda de hipoteca y cualquier otro gasto. Si el precio de la casa no llega a cubrir la hipoteca y los demás gastos, pregunte al prestamista si aceptan una venta de “short sale”, esto quiere decir que la venta de la casa es por un precio por menos de lo que debe en su hipoteca. En este caso, el prestamista llega a un acuerdo y perdona la diferencia, pero no debe olvidar que tendrá que pagar impuestos sobre esta diferencia al gobierno ya que será contada como ganancia.


Tiny Home Movement

Owning a house has grown into an integral aspect of the ‘American Dream’. This concept shared by generations of Americans was coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931 and pertains to the belief that anyone regardless of their circumstances at birth can pursue a better life by working hard. Becoming a homeowner symbolizes for many the achievement of the American Dream in terms of it’s implications of security and success. But like our cars and dinners, our homes keep on growing.


The average American home in 1950 was around 983 square feet, which grew to 2,480 square feet by 2011. Amidst an overwhelming ethos where size equals value, a tiny little movement has been quickly gaining momentum. The American Dream is being re-evaluated by homeowners who consciously choose to live small, often within 500 square feet of space or less. Much like Shipping Container Architecture, The Tiny House Movement has blossomed into a versatile, sustainable and budget friendly housing solution in a time where these things matter.


So why are Americans shrinking the size of their American Dreams? Many Tiny-Housers embrace downsizing as a way to own a home without the financial ties of a mortgage and property tax. They are more focused on enjoying life, time with family and pursuing a satisfying career than working the majority of their time to own a home they rarely use.

An InSoFast customer who is building her own tiny home in Texas from a shipping container says she’s more interested in a minimalist lifestyle that allows her to truly experience life as opposed to working hard sustaining existence. She also finds that it fulfills both her creative needs and her desire to live sustainably.

Tiny house owners Tammy and Logan of Portland, Oregon were $30,000 in debt before downsizing from a 2 bedroom apartment to their 128 square foot tiny house. “Jobs move, people lose jobs, people die,” Tammy describes, “So how can you structure your life so that you’re more flexible and embrace the good stuff even when loss makes it really really difficult?” Their small home was designed by Tiny House revolutionary Dee Williams (owner of PAD Tiny Houses). It’s minimal, cost $33,000 to build and it’s on wheels.

By putting the home on wheels Logan says, “We are legal when it comes to a lot of the building codes, because by being on wheels we are actually under the Department of Transportation and not a part of the City Building Codes”. They also do not have to pay property tax. Tammy and Logan have since moved their home to California and continue to provide advice to Tiny Home builders through their blog and a recent book release.


Dee Williams who designed Logan and Tammy’s home is a renowned pioneer of the Tiny House Movement. In 2004 Williams left her 4-bedroom home behind and built her own 84 square foot little home. Dee says, “The facts are the facts. I’ve found a certain bigness in my little house- a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there’s no place that you’d rather be”. Since changing her lifestyle she founded PAD (Portland Alternative Dwellings), where she provides consultation and workshops for future Tiny House builders. This year Williams released a memoir “The Big Tiny” that chronicles her journey into the big world of Tiny House living.


Like Dee who built her Tiny House for $10,000, a large number of new tiny homeowners choose to build themselves. Recently a family of four in Florida built a 320 square foot home out of mostly salvaged materials for only $12,000. It’s actually not even unusual for DIY Tiny Home builders to complete a project with as little as a few thousand dollars. La Mar Alexander built a 400 square foot solar powered cabin for only $2,000.

We’ve had several DIYers use InSoFast panels for insulating small structures. Earlier this year our UX panels were used to insulate a shipping container Tiny Project in Brooklyn, NY. And in North Carolina a customer built a small cabin structure with UX 2.0 panels as exterior insulation (pictured below). The DIY nature, quick installation and high performance of InSoFast makes it a great insulation option for Tiny Houses.

Tiny homes can also be an affordable solution for low income housing and crisis situations. Back in 2005 in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster thousands were left homeless. FEMA initially came up with the solution to provide emergency trailers. Over 23,000 trailers were installed in New Orleans alone from 2005 onward after Katrina wreaked havoc, but the inadequacies of these structures as livable homes quickly came to the surface. Not only did these manufactured homes feel temporary, but later on a multimillion dollar lawsuit was filed. High levels of formaldehyde were found in the FEMA trailers, causing major health issues for the trailer inhabitants.

Amidst FEMA’s decision to use the trailers during the crisis, the architect Marianne Cusato became inspired to design a solution of her own. Since the FEMA trailers were made from cheap materials like aluminum and particle board, they were structurally cheap, flimsy, and uninsulated. Cusato’s plans were designed to be permanent and safe, equivalent to an actual home. Although some of the homes went up to 1,800 square feet, most were designed with ‘tiny’ in mind.

Starting at around 300 square feet these small options were quick to build, spatially smart, and buyable in ‘kit form’. “What the Katrina Cottage is, is an alternative to the FEMA trailer. No joke. And get this: It costs less…Cusato thinks her cottage could be manufactured for about 45 grand. Or less. [where FEMA trailers cost tax payers around $75,000 each] Plus, you can add on to it. So it’s a temporary solution with a lease for permanence.”

Eventually Lowe’s partnered up with Cusato and released several Katrina Cottage kits for sale throughout the country. $74.5 million was awarded by Congress to build Katrina Cottages at four sites in Louisiana, proving Tiny Homes to be a fitting solution.


So is the age of the McMansion over? It’s hard to say. But for many people the American Dream seems to be changing. The Tiny House Movement is dipping into America’s mainstream with new TV shows like Tiny House Nation. And in certain cities like Portland, Oregon, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 homes are considered ‘Tiny’. With their versatility, cost-effectiveness, small carbon footprint, and DIY nature, Tiny Homes could very well be the norm of the future.

All Credit to: InSoFast. Great Site!






Located a short bike ride from Uptown, Plaza Midwood is a thriving urban pocket of Charlotte that fuses the best of historic and modern. Tucked beneath a canopy of lush, mature trees, Plaza Midwood is peppered with homes — some historic, some not — that exude charm. It’s not unusual to see couples strolling hand-in-hand to grab ice cream at the historic Dairy Queen on Central Avenue, or moms and dads chatting on benches at Midwood Park as children scurry around the playground or perform spontaneous shows in the amphitheater.  Plaza Midwood is a strong, supportive community with its own unique, retro vibe. First developed in the 1920s, it has a history of innovation, says Phillip Gussmann, president of the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association. The first Harris Teeter was built there, the first Family Dollar and the first Fuel Pizza. The popular Midwood Smokehouse is now opening its second Charlotte location in Ballantyne. “I’m very proud to point out that the only chains in Midwood are Dairy Queen — a historic landmark — and Fuel Pizza, which was started here.”

Vuelve NACA para ayudar a propietarios de vivienda

Vuelve NACA para ayudar a propietarios de vivienda

Jacksonville, fl.- Del 21 al 25 de marzo los propietarios de vivienda en riesgo de perderla y aquellos que deseen adquirir un hogar podrán beneficiarse de la visita de la organización NACA. Más de 500 consejeros, muchos de ellos bilingües, estarán ayudando a cientos de personas. La cita es en el Centro de Convenciones Prime Osborn, ubicado en el Downtown de Jacksonville.

Nuevamente el llamado es para los hispanos, para que no pierdan la oportunidad de participar en este evento que es gratuito.

“Los invitamos a aprovechar esta gran oportunidad. Durante los dos eventos del año pasado en Jacksonville tuvimos cientos de latinos que acudieron y ahora ya tienen su casa o pudieron reestructurar sus préstamos”, indicó Ricardo Herrera, vocero de NACA.

Herrera también informó a las personas que deseen comprar casa que a partir de mayo habrá nuevas regulaciones del gobierno para adquirir vivienda, lo que hará más difícil la otorgación de préstamos, por lo que el vocero exhortó a los interesados en aprovechar los beneficios de NACA.

“Los préstamos que se adquieren a través de NACA tienen menos requisitos, incluso podemos ayudar a personas con ITIN”, indicó el vocero.

Ayuda gratuita

Aquellos que se estén viendo en aprietos de salvar su hogar, pueden recibir la ayuda personalizada de un consejero de NACA, que el mismo día podría reducir las cuotas mensuales de su hipoteca.

Herrera indicó que las personas que deseen reestructurar sus préstamos deben llevar, el día que asistan al evento, los últimos 3 talonarios de pago de salario, la declaración de impuestos de los últimos dos años y los últimos tres meses de los estados bancarios. “Si la persona trabaja independiente, son seis meses de estados bancarios”, recomendó Herrera.

“NACA ayuda a los propietarios a ahorrar en promedio entre $ 500 y $1.000 por mes de su pago mensual de la hipoteca. Muchos reciben reducciones de interés tan bajos como 2%”, informó la entidad en un comunicado.

Califican los que están en ‘foreclosure’, ‘shortsale’, y aquellos que están atrasados en sus pagos o los que están al día, pero tienen problemas para pagar su hipoteca.

“Nosotros le ayudaremos con su banco para reducirle el interés para que obtenga una nueva hipoteca y sea una hipoteca que pueda pagar, basada en sus ingresos”, informó el vocero.

Si desea comprar casa

Si usted está pensando comprar casa, durante el evento de NACA también le pueden ayudar a obtener préstamos justos con bajas tasas de interés. NACA informó que los compradores de viviendas pueden calificar para hipotecas de tasa fija de NACA sin pago inicial, sin costos de cierre, sin puntos ni honorarios. Y los consumidores no necesitan crédito perfecto.

“Somos de los pocos programas, quizás el único, que todavía acepta a individuos con ITIN válido para calificar para un préstamo. Esto es posible gracias a que en NACA somos los que calificamos y originamos los préstamos”, explicó Herrera.

Aquellos que deseen comprar casa, indicó Herrera, deben participar en uno de los seminarios diarios de orientación, que se llevarán a cabo a las 9 de la mañana y a la 1 de la tarde, todos los días que transcurra el evento.

“Es importante que las personas asistan los primeros días del evento para que si les falta un documento, puedan ir al día siguiente para finalizar su trámite”, recomendó Herrera.

Para asistir a esta jornada no debe hacer cita, solamente presentarse al Centro de Convenciones Prime Osborn donde se realizará el evento.

Derechos de Autor: HOLA Noticias


How Homeowners Insurance Works?

By Marcy Tolkoff | December 20, 2007

Do your eyes glaze over just reading the word? It may not be the most thrilling subject, but it’s essential for new homebuyers to understand the nuts and bolts of their homeowners insurance. Virtually all mortgage lenders require insurance coverage to protect their investment. If the house you live in is destroyed, the real owners – and in most cases, that’s the bank – would suffer a huge monetary loss.

Tutorial: Introduction To Insurance

You don’t even have to “own” your home to need homeowners insurance; many landlords require their tenants to have coverage. But whether it’s required or not, it’s smart to have this kind of protection anyway. We’ll take it step by step as we walk you through the basics of this type of policy.

What a Homeowners’ Policy Provides
The elements of a standard homeowners’ insurance policy provide that the insurer will cover costs related to:

  • Damage to the interior or exterior of your house In the event of damage due to fire, hurricanes, lightning, vandalism or other covered disasters, your insurer will compensate you so that your house can be repaired or even completely rebuilt. Damage that is the result of floods, earthquakes and poor home maintenance is generally not covered and you may require separate riders if want that type of protection.
  • Loss or damage to your personal belongings Clothing, furniture, appliances and most of the other contents of your home are covered if they’re destroyed in an insured disaster. You can even get “off-premises” coverage, so you could file a claim for lost jewelry, for example – no matter where in the world you lost it. There may be a limit on the amount your insurer will reimburse you. Even if your Rolex or mink coat is damaged at home, there will be a limit on the coverage for that, too – unless you purchase a separate “floater” policy that insures the item for its full appraised value.According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance companies will provide coverage for 50-70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If your house is insured for $200,000, there would be up to about $140,000 worth of coverage for your possessions – would this be enough for you? In order to answer this question, you would need to have a list of all your possessions and their value, also called a “home inventory”.
  • Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you or your familyThis clause even includes your pets! So, if frisky Fido bites your neighbor Doris, no matter where the bite happens to occur, your insurer will pay her medical bills. Or, if Junior breaks her Oriental vase, you can file a claim to reimburse her. And if Doris slips on the broken vase pieces and successfully sues for pain and suffering or lost wages? You’ll be covered for that, too, just as if someone had been injured on the premises of your home or property. While policies start in the range of $100,000 coverage, experts recommend having at least $300,000 worth of coverage according to the Insurance Information Institute. For extra protection, a few hundred dollars more in premium may buy you an extra $1 million or more through “umbrella coverage”.
  • Hotel or house rental while your home is being rebuilt or repaired It’s unlikely you’ll ever need this protection, but if you do find yourself in this situation, it will undoubtedly be the best coverage you ever purchased. If your house has been completely destroyed or is so damaged that it’s uninhabitable, you may need to rent another house or live in a hotel until it’s repaired or rebuilt. This portion of homeowners’ coverage would reimburse you for the cost of rent, hotel, restaurant meals and other incidental costs because you were unable to live in your house. Before you book a suite at the Ritz-Carlton and order caviar from room service, however, keep in mind that policies impose strict daily and total limits – but, of course, you can expand those daily limits if you’re willing to pay more in coverage.

Different Types of Coverage
All insurance is definitely not created equal. The least costly homeowners insurance will likely give you the least amount of coverage, and vice versa.

There are essentially three levels of coverage:

  • Actual cash value This value covers the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them).
  • Replacement cost This is the actual cash value without the deduction for depreciation, so you would be able to repair or rebuild your home up to the original value.
  • Guaranteed (or extended) replacement cost The most comprehensive, this inflation-buffer pays for whatever it costs to repair or build your home – even if it’s more than your policy limit! Certain insurers offer extended replacement, meaning it offers more coverage than you purchased, but there is a ceiling; typically, it is 20-25% higher than the limit.

How Much Does It Cost?
The average yearly premium cost for U.S. homeowners insurance in 2008 (as of 2010, the latest year for which data is available) was $791, according the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but premiums vary widely and depend on multiple factors. First, of course, price will be determined by how much coverage you buy, a decision you can only make after evaluating the market value of your house, completing a household inventory, and deciding how much liability protection you want.

Other variables that need to be considered include your zip code. If you live in a high-crime area, for example, insurance premiums will be higher. Companies also take into account the size of your house, how close it is to a fire hydrant, the condition of your plumbing, heating and electrical systems, how many claims were filed against the home you’re seeking to insure, and even details like your credit score that reflect on how responsible a consumer – and, therefore, a homeowner – you are.

No matter what initial price you’re quoted, you’ll want to do a little comparison shopping. And don’t forget there are many other ways to slash costs, such as raising deductible levels, buying multiple policies from the same insurer, getting all available discounts (for security devices, such as burglar alarms, for example), checking for group coverage options through credit or trade unions, employers, or association memberships, and boosting your credit score.

Selecting an Insurance Company
Price is important, but it is not the only or even the most important factor. When it comes to insurance, you want to make sure you are going with a provider that is legitimate and creditworthy. Before you sign on the dotted line, first contact your state’s insurance department to make sure the company is licensed, as all insurers are required to be. Second, check its financial strength by going to websites of the top credit agencies (ex. A.M.Best, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s) and searching their financials. Finally, consider asking relatives, friends and coworkers for referrals. It always makes sense to benefit from the experiences of others, so ask someone you know who has filed a claim about an insurer’s customer service representatives, the speed with which a claim was appraised, processed and paid, in addition to your friend’s general level of satisfaction with the insurer.

As with all insurance policies, they are under-appreciated until they are needed, and then they quickly become a godsend. Getting yourself set up with a comprehensive homeowners policy can go a long way toward making your home truly a place of comfort and security.


Philosophers Stone closes in Elizabeth

Philosophers Stone closes in Elizabeth

The Philosophers Stone Tavern in the Elizabeth neighborhood has closed. A note taped to the restaurant’s door at 1958 E. Seventh St. shared the news with customers.

Owners Chris and Josh Settle couldn’t be reached for comment. The brothers opened the Philosophers Stone in 2005. The restaurant, tavern and live-music venue built a loyal following over the years. The closing comes just days after the CBJ reported Faison Enterprises is exploring the development of that 1.5-acre site at the corner of East Seventh Street and Caswell Road. The site could become the home of 160-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail space.

Jennifer Thomas

When Is the Best Time to List Your Home?

You’ve heard it before: List your home early in the year. That way, you’ll be ready to close the deal when home sales peak in June. But what exactly does “early in the year” mean?

Based on an analysis of supply, demand and sellers’ outcomes in “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” co-authors Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries have revealed the magic window to list your home: mid-March to mid-April. (For those who like sports analogies, think March Madness to The Masters.)

We also went one step further to determine the exact weeks you should list in different parts of the country. Turns out, the best time to list follows weather patterns. In markets with warm climates like Miami, the magic window starts now. But in places with harsh winters like Boston, waiting until mid- to late April is your best bet.

What’s so magical about the magic window? It’s when you’ll sell your home faster and for more money. The data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. That’s a national premium worth more than $4,000. And in hot markets like San Francisco, that could mean an extra $22,000 in your pocket!

Here’s why:

Out with the old, in with the new

Because the majority of home shoppers now start their search on Zillow or another site refreshed multiple times a day, listings can become old news fast.

As a home seller, your biggest competition is a surge in new homes for sale, pushing yours lower in search results. The largest surge nationally occurs in the last weeks of February and into early March, so if you list your home before then you may quickly become outranked.

Listing your home in late March or early April, however, means you’ll likely bypass this surge.

You want a marriage, not a fling

When you’re looking to sell, you don’t want to attract people who are just looking. You want someone who’s serious about buying.

How do you know if a buyer is serious? One way is to see if they’ve contacted a real estate agent or mortgage broker, signaling they’re ready to take the next step in the home buying process.

Data shows agent and lender contacts build in early April, so this is a good time to put your home on the market if you want to attract serious buyers.

Time is money

In addition to attracting a serious buyer, you likely care about two things: how quickly and how much you sell your home for. Turns out, the two go hand-in-hand.

After Jan. 1, the first significant drop in the time listings typically spend on the market is in late March. This is also when the difference between final sale prices and list prices is highest.


Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Porchlight, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design.

How to Pet-Proof Your Home

A pet makes a wonderful addition to any household. Cats and dogs mean furry snuggles and tons of comic relief; they can also teach us all a few things about unconditional love. Unfortunately, they also bring with them some less desirable traits: sloppy table manners, a propensity to break things, and truckloads of animal hair.

It’s true, pets can be messy. In fact, your beloved animals can actually ding the value of your property if you’re trying to sell by adding scratches to your doors and floors, funky, semipermanent smells, and other flaws that prospective buyers might just catch. However, there are precautions you can take to pet-proof your home so that their negative impact is greatly reduced.


Follow these tips to do dog-and-cat damage control.

Create a separate eating area for them

When Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Woolwich, NJ, remodeled her kitchen, she took the opportunity to turn a room in her basement into a kitchen that caters specifically to her nine dogs and four cats. The vet took her old cabinets, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and even a Keurig machine downstairs to create an eating space just for the animals.

“They eat down there so they won’t scratch the new kitchen cabinets when they are excited and jumping up to see their food being prepared,” says Morgan. “We keep their food in the downstairs refrigerator and warm it in their own microwave. The Keurig is for making hot water to rehydrate or warm meals.”


Get smart about flooring

Not everyone has room to create a second kitchen for their cats and dogs, so Morgan also recommends bamboo flooring in common areas.

“Bamboo is much harder than most woods so it doesn’t scratch easily,” she says. “It also has no grooves between boards like other hardwood floors. Grooves are a real pain when there is a urine or poo accident.”

Tile is another good option, says Morgan, who used that material in her sunroom because it’s easy to clean. She also recommends recycled tire rubber flooring as a great basement floor covering for people with kids and pets.

“Phenomenal product, comes in large rolls, used in a lot of gyms,” Morgan says of rubber flooring. “Comes in an amazing array of colors and thicknesses.”

As you might have guessed, carpet is not a terrific choice. “We have no carpet, other than on the stairs,” notes Morgan. “Carpet holds hair and odors and is an allergy disaster for people with allergies.”

Decorate your windows wisely

Pet owners should also pay special attention to windows in their home.

“Curtains, for their own sake, should not drag the ground”, says Michelle Newfield, a veterinarian in Slidell, LA. “Exploring kittens love to climb them.”

Newfield suggests thick blinds for window coverings (think wood or even faux wood, material meant to stand the test of claws). “And be sure to secure the cords out of reach,” Newfield says.


Set up some barriers

If you have a beloved vase or rug that you fear could be ruined by your pet, the answer may be as simple as setting up a barrier to keep curious creatures out.

“Most animals explore their environment with their noses and mouths,” explains Patrick Mahaney, a vet based out of Los Angeles. “It’s common for indoor and outdoor items to be sniffed, licked, or chewed upon, so it’s crucial to use physical barriers. Baby gates, doors, screens, and other barriers can do the trick.”

Or, if it’s all but impossible to keep your pets off your gorgeous new couch, try a different type of barrier by covering it in a large throw blanket. That way, they can lounge and shed with abandon; then, when company comes, you can lift it off and see a clean couch!


Keep pet paraphernalia out of sight

There’s nothing like a gnawed-on ham bone in the center of your living room floor to ruin the ambiance. So get a cute basket in which you can stash pet toys and set it off to the side and out of sight. You can also give pets a place to call their own that doesn’t detract from your design. Place a cozy crate or dog bed in a kitchen nook, under a table, or in a corner. We’re not saying pets should neither be seen nor heard, but, well, sometimes that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

By, Brittney Gilbert

Inspections & Disclosures

There’s no place like home.

A home inspection will help to inform you about the current condition of the property. An objective inspection provides a buyer with a clearer understanding of the home’s condition and true value. It may also give sellers a checklist of things important to buyers to fix before the sale.

Whether buying or selling, a Tierra Bella Home Services agent can help you through the home inspection process. Our agents routinely recommend inspections for properties of all types – from older properties to newly built homes.

Expect our agents to …

  • Refer you to reliable inspectors to perform a thorough examination of the property.
  • Share and analyze all inspection reports with you.
  • Advise you regarding the need for an “inspection contingency clause” in your contract, which may help you negotiate needed repairs before a sale is finalized.

Remember, a home inspection is a crucial step toward finalizing your real estate transaction and full comprehension of inspection results is essential. A Tierra Bella  Home Services agent will close the gap between a home’s unknowns and it’s proper repairs, speeding you on your way to your purchase or sale.

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