Schools can have a big impact on property value and quality of life. If you're buying a home, here are a few reasons local school ratings matter, even if you don't have kids.

  • The next buyer will consider the school ratings, too.

According to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 29 percent of home buyers listed school quality and 22 percent listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in their home purchase. Another survey conducted by Realtor.com showed that 91 percent of the people surveyed included school district boundaries in their decision-making process. You may be surprised to learn that not all of the…

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1.     Pay off any debts to qualify for loan approval - When starting the home buying process your lender will primarily look at this aspect of your finances. Having outstanding debts can interfere with the process as lenders focus on your debt to income ratio. Any chance given to pay them off can better your chances of approval.

 

2.     Pay off credit cards for higher credit scores -  Paying off your debts can help to raise your credit score and make it easier for you to get new credit, such as a mortgage loan. Consult with a mortgage lender to get a clear understanding of which debts to pay off to better increase your score.

 

3.     Can be used as a down payment – Depending on…

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  1. Maintain your property - Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.

  2. Know your neighbors - Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time…

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1. Tidy up

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter. Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated, designers say.) This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in.

2. Shrink your bills

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

  • Switch off the lights when you…

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  • First things first, get motivated. The first supply you need when putting holiday decorations away is a healthy dose of motivation. Plan a day when you can pack away decorations, and do not schedule anything else for that day.  
  • Invest in large plastic tubs for seasonal storage. But not too large, you don’t want them to be hard to lift. Label the exterior of the tubs with the contents.
  • Divide your home up into quadrants. You likely use the same decorations in the same places each year. To make decorating easier next year, dismantle holiday displays and pack them up according to specific areas of the home.
  • To keep ribbons – especially the wired kind – fresh and uncreased, save the spools so you can…

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Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold…

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BOTANICAL GARDEN | NORFOLK

More than a mile of lit displays and botanical creations make for a delightful walk through a merry wonderland. The centerpiece, however, is the conservatory. Beautifully lit and housing indoor displays, it’s not to be missed. Seek out the fire pits and make yourself a s’more along with hot chocolate to set the festive mood. More locations available visit the site for more information!

BUSCH GARDENS CHRISTMAS TOWN | WILLIAMSBURG

You won’t find anything that compares to Busch Gardens when it’s transformed into Christmas Town. The jolly elf and Santa are one of the best and the themed areas are great fun. Millions of lights paired with the top-notch shows Busch Gardens is known for equals a night your family won’t…

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  • DO AN AUDIT

Consider having an energy audit done to find out where you have energy inefficiencies and how to improve your energy savings. You can pay a professional for these checkups, but some local programs or utility companies may provide one for free.

  • WEATHERIZE

Seal leaks around the house. This could include caulking or weather-stripping around leaky doors and windows or gaps around chimneys or recessed lights. The Energy Trust of Oregon says weatherization is one of the easiest ways to increase comfort, conserve energy and save money. Fixes could be as small as covering drafty windows with insulating drapes, shades or even heavy-duty plastic. Or you may want to replace older windows with newer, more energy efficient…

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  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
    • Remain on…

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Perhaps you're not feeling candy this year. Don't worry, there are plenty of things you can give trick-or-treaters instead of the sweet stuff. 

1. Glow sticks

Could there be a more perfect accessory for Halloween? Kids can light them up with a snap and wear them as bracelets, necklaces and crowns. Bonus: they make it easier for parents to keep their eyes on their kiddos.

2. Stickers

Choose from the assortment of ghosts, witches and pumpkins available in stores in October or go with stickers with year-round appeal, like super heroes and animals.

3. Bubbles

Hours – or at least a few minutes – of bubble-blowing entertainment in every little bottle.

4. Plastic spider rings

Kids love to wear creepy-crawly bling, making spider…

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