Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day 2011, April 22: "Billion Acts of Green


This article was sent to me by TulsaKids Magazine and has some great tips on earth friendly things your kids can do to celebrate Earth day!

The Earth was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.-Old Proverb

Each year, Earth Day--April 22--marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. This year's Earth Day theme is "Billion Acts of Green." The purpose of this theme is to mobilize one billion acts of environmental service around the world. The campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promotes sustainability. Whatever the act may be, Earth Day is a great time to generate as many as possible in your community. Collectively, these acts will not only have an impact on global carbon emissions, but will also demonstrate the power of small, everyday, individual acts of green. For more information about Earth Day 2011 check out www.earthday.org.

Earth Day is a great opportunity to discuss what changes your family can make to reduce the size of your carbon foot print. Let your children know that they can make a difference.

Here is a list of 18 Earth-friendly things kids can do to celebrate Earth Day every day.

1. Enlist friends, hand out bags and clean up a nearby park.
2. Plant shrubs or a tree in your yard.
3. Start a vegetable garden in pots or a small plot.
4. Organize a cleanup day at your school.
5. Create posters with environmental themes and ask teachers to post them in their classrooms.
6. Look for recycling symbols on products you or your parents buy. Purchase items in recyclable packaging whenever possible. Avoid products that use excessive packaging.
7. Encourage your parents to carry a reusable shopping bag, and suggest they buy in bulk to minimize packaging waste.
8. Bicycle or walk to school rather than being driven by your parents (as long as Mom and Dad say it's safe).
9. Steer your parents toward organic pesticides, such as those made from orange extract.
10. Turn off lights, fans or the TV when you leave the room (unless your little brother is still in there).
11. Check your home for leaky faucets or toilets, and volunteer to help fix those in need of repair.
12. Don't leave the water running while brushing your teeth or washing your face and hands.
13. Take shorter showers.
14. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean the driveway or sidewalk.
15. Remind your parents that washing the car less often saves water (and may get you out of the dreaded chore).
16. Ask your parents to raise (in the summer) or lower (in the winter) the thermostat a few degrees, telling them it will save energy as well as money.
17. Lower the blinds when the sun comes up to deflect heat from the windows.
18. Offer to replace air filters. A clean filter helps the air-conditioner run more efficiently.

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Earthday Network (www.earthday.net)

Article reprinted via TulsaKids -- www.tulsakids.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stretching Your Landscaping Dollar


Frugal landscaping. That sounds like an oxymoron, but not necessarily. New homeowners, particularly, may be excited about adding flowers and plants to a property they’ve purchased or built, or sprucing up a home that’s for sale, but need to do it with a smaller budget.

Frugal Landscaping Tips:

Know before you grow.

A design plan might sound expensive, but having a plan can actually save money in the long run by keeping the buyer focused on only the plants that work in their yard instead of other impulse purchases. Homeowners can create their own plan – there are many helpful books on the subject – by saving magazine photos, or taking pictures of landscaped homes nearby that have elements they like. For $50-$100/hour, would-be- landscapers can meet with a landscape designer to affirm their plan or hear other suggestions.

Buy the largest trees you can afford.

Again, this may sound counterintuitive to the point of this article, but trees take a long time to grow, and yet, they add the most value to a landscape and property. A larger, healthy, mature tree instantly improves the curb appeal of a home, which ultimately makes it more attractive to buyers.


Instant lawn or seed that saves?

Sod delivers an instant lawn, but it comes with a very expensive price tag when compared to grass seed. However, many new homeowners want to have immediate outdoor space as well as the aesthetics of a lawn that’s ready to go. One idea is to sod the front yard, which is highly visible from the street, but seed the back. It provides the family with luscious green space to enjoy right away, for a fraction of the cost.

End of season sales.

In many parts of the country, it’s common for trees, shrubs, and perennials to go on sale after the Fourth of July. The later in the season, the greater the discount! This is an excellent way to stock a yard with plants without breaking the bank. A good nursery or garden center offers a guarantee for a year or more, so look into that before purchase. These late-season plants may not look as robust as plants you purchase earlier in the spring, but most will survive winter and bloom heartily the following spring.

Go with impact items first.

Most homeowners are not able to implement 100% of their landscaping ideas right away. But, creating a dream yard in phases has benefits, too. Take the time to observe soil conditions, sizing and spacing. Some groupings work well on paper, but aren’t big enough or colorful enough once they’re planted. Start with plantings that will make the most impact on your yard, even in a limited space, and build around that. A patch of vibrant red rose bushes, or ornamental grasses can draw the eye away from other, barer parts of the landscape.

Submitted by: Cathy Meehan, Elite Financial Services, cathy.meehan@gbmail.com

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Should I Accept This Offer?



One of our Realtor Teams, Whitescarver and Perry, distribute a great monthly newsletter full of timely information. Here's one of the articles that really stood out!


Today's market can be a difficult one for many sellers to navigate. And while your real estate agent can advise you, the ultimate decision of what offer to accept is entirely up to you. This decision can come with quite a bit of pressure. Even in the most favorable of markets this can be a difficult time. How do you know when to accept an offer?


Here are some questions to consider.


Is the buyer pre-qualified/approved? Selling will require an investment of time and money. You may need to find a new home or a temporary rental. There's nothing worse than buying a new house, only to find out the deal to sell yours has fallen through.


Do you need to move? The urgency of your move may dictate what offer you accept. Many sellers need to move quickly for a new job. Or they may need to sell to avoid foreclosure. If you are in a rush, you may need to accept an offer that is less than ideal.


How much do you owe? You don't want to sell your home at a loss. And be sure to take closing costs into consideration. Many markets experienced high levels of depreciation over the last year. If you are underwater on your loan, now may not be the time to sell.


What is the market climate? Are you likely to get another offer? How long has your home been on the market? Have you had many showings? All of these are factors to consider when contemplating what offer to accept.


Above all, ask yourself if this offer was a reasonable offer. There are buyers that may attempt to low ball you. They may see that your home has been on the market longer than your competition. They may know that it's a strong buyers market. And in response they offer a much smaller amount for your home than it is worth. You are not obligated to accept or even respond to these low ball offers. But if you are in need of selling now, every offer warrants consideration or a counter offer.


In the end, you must accept an offer that works for you. You may be willing to accept a lower amount in exchange for a faster closing date. Or you may wish to hold out for the highest dollar amount.


Written by Carla Hill
 

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