Each month, we publish a series of articles of interest to homeowners -- money-saving tips, household safety checklists, home improvement advice, real estate insider secrets, etc. Whether you currently are in the market for a new home, or not, we hope that this information is of value to you. Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.
Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?
Each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all
childhood diseases combined. Taking preventive measures to protect
your children against unintentional injuries at home is essential. With
foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings,
drowning, choking, and other serious injuries.
Also This Month...
The 9 Step System To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
Buyers are far more discriminating now than in the past, and a large
percentage of the homes listed for sale never sell. It's more critical
than ever to learn what you need to know to avoid costly seller mistakes
in order to sell your home fast and for the most amount of money.
Protecting Your Home from Fire and Carbon Monoxide
Thousands of people die from fire every year. Most residential fire deaths
occur because of inhalation of toxic gas, rather than contact with the flames.
The tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented by taking a few
Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?
Taking preventive measures to protect your children against
unintentional injuries at home is essential. Each year more children die
from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined. With
foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings, drowning,
choking, and other serious injuries.
Use these four checklists to ensure that your home is healthy and safe for
the children living in it:
In the Bedroom
- Install smoke alarms outside bedrooms and on every level of the home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month and change batteries at least
once a year.
- Practice fire escape routes and identify an outside meeting place.
- Place a baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with no pillows
or soft bedding underneath.
- Use a crib that meets national safety standards and has a
- Never use an electric blanket in the bed or crib of a small child or
- Keep small toys, balloons, and small balls away from young children.
- Check age labels for appropriate toys. Make sure toy storage chests
have safety lid supports.
- To prevent strangulation, use safety tassels for mini blinds and
avoid strings on children's toys and pacifiers.
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms outside bedrooms to prevent CO
In the Bathroom
- To prevent poisonings, lock away all medicines and vitamins, even
those with child-resistant packaging.
- Have syrup of ipecac on hand, but use only at the recommendation
of a poison control center or physician.
- Never leave a young child alone in the bathroom, especially in a
- Before bathing a child, always test bath water with your wrist or
elbow to make sure it's not too hot.
- To prevent scalds, set the water heater thermostat to 120° F and install
- Make sure bathtubs and
showers have non-slip surfaces and grab bars.
- Keep electrical
appliances, like hair dryers
and curling irons, out of the
reach of children and away from water.
In the Kitchen
- Keep knives, plastic bags, lighters, and matches locked away from
- Avoid fires and burns by never leaving cooking food unattended,
turning pot handles to the back of the stove, and keeping hot liquids
and foods away from the edges of tables and counters.
- Make sure you and your children know the STOP, DROP, and ROLL
procedure in case their clothes catch on fire.
- Keep appliance cords unplugged and tied up. Replace any frayed cords
- Securely strap young children in high chairs, swings, and other
- Do not give young children hard, round foods that can get stuck in
their throats - like hard candies, nuts, grapes, popcorn, carrots,
- Avoid scald burns by keeping children away from the hot water taps
on drinking water coolers.
In all Living Areas
- To prevent asthma attacks, eliminate sources of mold, dust, and
insects, such as cockroaches. If you have a pet, keep it and its
bedding clean and keep the pet off the furniture.
- If you must smoke, avoid smoking in the house, and especially around
- Make sure furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, space heaters,
and gas appliances are vented properly and inspected annually.
- Use safety gates to block stairways (and other danger areas), safety
plugs to cover electrical outlets, and safety latches for drawers and
- Keep children - and the furniture they can climb on - away from
- Install window guards (on windows that are not fire emergency
- To prevent falls, keep hallways and stairways well-lit and use
non-slip backing for area rugs.
- Keep cleaning solutions, pesticides, and other potentially dangerous
substances in their original, labelled containers, and out of the reach
- If you have guns or rifles in your home, store the firearms and
ammunition in separate containers and lock them out of the reach of
- Learn First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
- Keep an updated list of emergency telephone numbers, including your
local poison control center, physician and hospital emergency room,
next to every phone in your home.
- Make sure your family knows what to do during a natural disaster. In
an earthquake, drop to the floor and get under something sturdy for
cover; during a tornado, take shelter in a basement or an interior
room without windows; and during a hurricane stay away from windows.
Have handy supplies of food, flashlights, and water.
The 9 Step System To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
The Real Estate Market Has Changed . . .
"Buyers are far more discriminating, and a large
percentage of the homes listed for sale don't sell the first time. It's more
critical than ever to learn what you need to know to avoid costly seller
mistakes in order to sell your home fast and for the most amount of money."
Remember not so long ago, when you could make your
fortune in real estate. It was nothing then to buy a home, wait a short
while, and then sell it at a tidy profit.
And then do it all over again.
Well, as you probably know, times have changed. As good as the market
is right now, home prices are still below what they were at their peak.
Buyers are far more discriminating, and a large percentage of the homes
listed for sale never sell. It's more critical than ever to learn what
you need to know to avoid costly seller mistakes in order to sell your
home fast and for the most amount of money.
The 7 Deadly Mistakes Most Homesellers Make
- Failing to analyze why they are selling.
- Not preparing their home for the buyer's eye.
- Pricing their homes incorrectly.
- Selling too hard during showings.
- Signing a long term listing agreement without a written
- Making it difficult for buyers to get information on their
- Failing to obtain a pre-approved mortgage for ones next home.
The 9 Step System to Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
Selling your home is one of the most important steps in your life. This
9 step system will give you the tools you need to maximize your profits,
maintain control, and reduce the stress that comes with the homeselling
1. Know why you're selling, and keep it to yourself.
The reasons behind your decision to sell affect everything from setting a
price to deciding how much time and money to invest in getting your home
ready for sale. What's more important to you: the money you walk away with,
or the length of time your property is on the market? Different goals will
dictate different strategies.
However, don't reveal your motivation to anyone else or they may use it
against you at the negotiating table. When asked, simply say that your
housing needs have changed.
2. Do your homework before setting a price.
Settling on an offering price shouldn't be done lightly. Once you've set
your price, you've told buyers the absolute maximum they have to pay for
your home, but pricing too high is as dangerous as pricing too low. Remember
that the average buyer is looking at 15-20 homes at the same time they are
considering yours. This means that they have a basis of comparison, and if
your home doesn't compare favorably with others in the price range you've
set, you won't be taken seriously by prospects or agents. As a result, your
home will sit on the market for a long time and, knowing this, new buyers on
the market will think there must be something wrong with your home.
3. Do your homework.
(In fact, your agent should do this for you). Find out what homes in your
own and similar neighborhoods have sold for in the past 6-12 months, and
research what current homes are listed for. That's certainly how prospective
buyers will assess the worth of your home.
4. Find a good real estate agent to represent your needs.
Nearly three-quarters of homeowners claim that they wouldn't use the same
realtor who sold their last home. Dissatisfaction boils down to poor
communication which results in not enough feedback, lower pricing and
strained relations. Another FREE report entitled "10 Questions to Ask Before
You Hire an Agent" gives you the straight, to-the-point questions you should
be asking when you interview agents who want to list your home. You can
obtain a FREE copy of this report from my website.
5. Maximize your home's sales potential.
Each year, corporate North America spends billions on product and
packaging design. Appearance is critical, and it would be foolish to ignore
this when selling your home.
You may not be able to change your home's location or floor plan, but you
can do a lot to improve its appearance. The look and feel of your home
generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. Clean like
you've never cleaned before. Pick up, straighten, unclutter, scrub, scour
and dust. Fix everything, no matter how insignificant it may appear. Present
your home to get a "wow" response from prospective buyers.
Allow the buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. The decision
to buy a home is based on emotion, not logic. Prospective buyers want to try
on your home just like they would a new suit of clothes. If you follow them
around pointing out improvements or if your decor is so different that it's
difficult for a buyer to strip it away in his or her mind, you make it
difficult for them to feel comfortable enough to imagine themselves an
6. Make it easy for prospects to get information on your home.
You may be surprised to know that some marketing tools that most agents
use to sell homes (eg. traditional open houses) are actually not very
effective. In fact only 1% of homes are sold at an open house.
Furthermore, the prospects calling for information on your home probably
value their time as much as you do. The last thing they want to be subjected
to is either a game of telephone tag with an agent, or an unwanted sales
pitch. Make sure the ads your agent places for your home are attached to a
24 hour prerecorded hotline with a specific ID# for your home which gives
buyers access to detailed information about your property day or night 7
days a week without having to talk to anyone. It's been proven that 3 times
as many buyers call for information on your home under this system. And
remember, the more buyers you have competing for your home the better,
because it sets up an auction-like atmosphere that puts you in the driver's
7. Know your buyer.
In the negotiation process, your objective is to control the pace and set
the duration. What is your buyer's motivation? Does s/he need to move
quickly? Does s/he have enough money to pay you your asking price? Knowing
this information gives you the upper hand in the negotiation because you
know how far you can push to get what you want.
8. Make sure the contract is complete.
For your part as a seller, make sure you disclose everything. Smart
sellers proactively go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known
defects to their buyers in writing. If the buyer knows about a problem, s/he
can't come back with a lawsuit later on.
Make sure all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the
contract of sale, and resist the temptation to diverge from the contract.
For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no.
Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through.
9. Don't move out before you sell.
Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is
vacant because it looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could
even cost you thousands. If you move, you're also telling buyers that you
have a new home and are probably highly motivated to sell fast. This, of
course, will give them the advantage at the negotiating table.
For more information about any of our innovative homeowners
programs, give us a call.
Protecting Your Home from Fire and Carbon Monoxide
Safety & You
Everyone wants to live in a safe and worry free environment with their
families, spouse, and children. However, most people are closer to a
disaster waiting to happen than they think. Safety may not be an issue that
comes to mind as you go about your daily routine. You may feel safe. Yet,
lurking in your home are dangers that can take lives and destroy property.
Thousands of people die from fire every year. Most residential fire
deaths occur because of inhalation of toxic gas, rather than contact with
the flames. The tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented by
taking a few precautions.
General Fire Prevention Tips
- Do not plug too many appliances into an electrical outlet.
- Make sure that combustibles are not too close to heaters, stoves and
- Never smoke in bed, or leave a burning cigarette in an ashtray.
- Do not use damaged or frayed electrical cords or extension cords.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Teach your children about the dangers of playing with fire.
- Never use extension cords with heating or air conditioning equipment.
- Purchase smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for each floor of your
Have an Emergency Escape Plan! Practice it frequently!
- Develop an emergency exit plan and an alternate exit plan. The most
obvious way out may be blocked by fire. A window will usually be the
second way out of a bedroom. Make sure that screens or storm windows can
be easily removed. If you live in a two story home, you should have an
escape ladder for each occupied bedroom. Escape ladders are available for
purchase, and they can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet.
- Establish a meeting place outside your home to be sure everyone has
escaped. Every family member should participate in practicing escape
drills at least two times per year.
- In the event of fire, do not stop to get dressed or gather valuables.
Seconds count - do not search for the family pet.
- Teach your family that in a fire they must stay low to the floor to
avoid smoke and intense heat. Passageways may be completely filled with
dense smoke, so everyone should practice exiting on their hands and knees
- Train family members to feel a closed door before exiting. If the door
is warm, open it slowly, and close it quickly if heat or smoke rushes in.
- Establish a rule that once you're out, you never re-enter under any
circumstances. As soon as two people have reached the meeting place, one
should call 911 from a neighbor's house.
Through education and media campaigns, most people now realize the
importance of smoke alarms, and most homes in North America have them.
- Purchase a smoke alarm for every floor of your home, and read the
instructions on how to use it and where to position it.
- Smoke alarms should be placed near bedrooms, either on the ceiling or
six to twelve inches below the ceiling on the wall.
- Local codes may require additional alarms. Check with your fire
department or building code official.
- Locate smoke alarms away from air vents.
- Test your alarms regularly to ensure that they still work.
- If you have a battery powered alarm, change the battery every six
months when you change your clocks.
- For maximum protection, install BOTH ionization and photoelectric
smoke alarms in the home for the optimum detection of fast flaming fires
and slow smoldering fires.
To guard against small fires or to keep a small fire from developing into
a big one, every home should be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Because
almost all fires are small at first, they might be contained if a fire
extinguisher is handy and used properly. You should take care, however, to
select the right kind of fire extinguisher, because there are different ones
for different kinds of fires. Install fire extinguishers on every level of
the home and include the kitchen, basement and garage.
Selecting a Fire Extinguisher
Extinguishers are classified according to the class of fire for which
they are suitable. The four classes of fires are A, B, C, D:
- Class A fires involve common combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth,
rubber, trash and plastics. They are common in typical commercial and home
- Class B fires involve flammable liquids, solvents, oil, gasoline,
paints, lacquers and other oil-based products. Class B fires often spread
rapidly. Unless they are properly suppressed, they can re-flash after the
flames have been extinguished.
- Class C fires involve energized equipment such as wiring, controls,
motors, machinery or appliances. They can be caused by a spark, a power
surge, or a short circuit and typically occur in locations that may be
difficult to see or reach.
- Class D fires involve combustible metals.
A typical home or office fire extinguisher should have an ABC rating.
One of the greatest threats to your safety is the quality of air within
your home. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a subtle yet dangerous threat because the
gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless.
Each year, hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thousands of other people suffer the effects of the gas without realizing
it. Because CO symptoms mimic the flu and other common illnesses, CO
poisoning can be easily missed during a routine medical examination.
CO is produced when any fuel does not burn completely because of
insufficient oxygen. Mild exposure to CO gives most people a slight
headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue ("flu-like" symptoms) followed by a
throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, and fast heart rate. If the
entire family becomes ill after a few hours in the home, and feels better
when they leave the home, carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected.
Possible sources of CO include:
- Furnace or boiler
- Gas or fuel-oil water heater
- Gas or wood fireplace
- Gas kitchen range
- Plugged, rusted, disconnected, or defective chimneys or vents
- Back drafting of combustion gases into the home
- Automobiles in attached garages
Certain clues can indicate a carbon monoxide problem. Check to see if you
have any of the following:
- Rusting or streaking on chimney or vent
- Loose or missing furnace panel
- Soot on venting or appliances
- Loose or disconnected venting
- Debris or soot falling from chimney
- Moisture on interior side of windows
CO can be produced and spill into your home without any of the preceding
clues present. Heating appliances that appear to be operating correctly can
still be sources of CO. Burning charcoal or wood produces CO that can spill
into the home. Gasoline engines, when first started, produce large amounts
of CO. Autos in attached garages are often sources of CO.
How To Protect Yourself
To avoid CO exposure in the home, it is important to:
- Make sure heating appliances are installed and used in accordance with
- Make sure chimneys and vents draw all gases out of the home.
- Have the heating system, chimney and vents inspected and serviced
annually by a qualified heating contractor.
- Never use charcoal grills indoors.
- Never heat your home with a gas kitchen range.
- Always use a kitchen range hood, vented to the outdoors, when cooking
on a gas range.
- Never warm-up or run vehicles or other gasoline engines in garages or
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that every residence
with fuel burning appliances be equipped with at least one CO alarm. For
added protection, place one on every level of the home. Read and follow
If your alarm indicates high levels of carbon monoxide in your home:
- Immediately move outdoors to fresh air and do a head count
- Call your emergency services
- Do not re-enter the home until emergency service responders have
arrived, aired out the house, and determined it is safe to re-enter
- Correct the problem before starting the heating appliances
- If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds again, repeat the above steps. Do
not ignore alarms.
Fires are traumatizing and frightening, as is a carbon monoxide incident.
It is essential to fully recognize the hazards of fire and carbon monoxide
poisoning and to take preventative action. A regular home inspection, smoke
and carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and an emergency exit plan
will help you and your family live more safely.