Here you can see our blog posts relating to the real estate industry.

Top 3 iOS 8 Features for Homeowners

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We’re all looking for faster, better ways to manage our households, and if you’ve already snagged a new iPhone 6 or installed iOS 8, that just got a whole lot easier. Here are three new iPhone 6 features that will make any homeowner’s life a breeze.

Apple Pay

No more digging around in your purse or fidgeting with your wallet to gain access to that tightly-fitted credit card at the checkout counter. With Apple’s recently launched Apple Pay function, you can expedite your purchase with just a single tap of your new iPhone at the register. There are over 220,000 partnered retailers and Apple’s also gotten multiple major credit card companies and banks on board, so no additional account is necessary.

How Apple Pay Works in 3 easy steps:

  1. Open Passbook on any iPhone 6 and up or iOS 8.1 device. (Note: If you haven’t downloaded the new iOS, make sure to make room on your device before attempting. The latest version takes up a whopping 1.6 GBs. of storage.)

  2. Add a credit or debit card. The app will prompt you to take a photo of any major card that is accepted by Apple Pay. It currently works with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express (Apple.com).

  3. Shop with a simple wave. At the register, look for the Apply Pay device and pay.

 

Handoff

Oops—you made your grocery list on your iPad, but you rushed out to the store with only your iPhone 6. No problem! Handoff will let you see your list on any of your other Apple devices. Handoff also works for Messages, Reminders, Contacts, Maps, Safari, Mail and Calendar. Start something on one device and seamlessly finish on another without saving or syncing.

Widgets

Now it’s a snap to get the information you need to start your day. A downward swipe from the top of your iPhone screen reveals a customizable widget page with all of today’s to-dos, that eBay item you’ve been bidding on, today’s weather, sports updates and much more. And each widget is linked directly back to an app for full information and accessibility.

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More Homebuying Options to Come in 2015

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The number of first-time homeowners reached its lowest level in three decades.

According to an annual survey of homebuyers by the National Association of REALTORS

® (NAR), only 33 percent of total purchases this year were by first-timers, down from 38 percent a year ago. The long-term average, dating back to 1981, shows that 4 out of 10 purchases were by first-time buyers.

The reason? “Rising rents and repaying student loan debt makes saving for a down payment more difficult, especially for young adults who’ve experienced limited job prospects and flat wage growth since entering the workforce,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. He added that a shortage of homes in affordable price ranges, competition from investors, tighter credit conditions and high mortgage insurance premiums provided additional bumps in the road.

However, recent announcements from the two biggest housing agencies, Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC), may help this number in the coming year.

Proposed Lending Changes to Encourage Homebuying
In mid-October, changes were proposed by the two government-regulated housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While the agencies don’t directly lend money to consumers, they do buy mortgages made by banks and other financial institutions, which frees up money to lend to more homebuyers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the proposed changes include looser credit guidelines as well as the possibility for a 3 percent down payment option when buying a home. Stay tuned as the details become clearer in the first quarter of 2015.

This is good news for people in markets where rents are skyrocketing more than they can keep up, and for prospective buyers who had been unable to buy before.

The Bottom Line
Rates are still at advantageous annual lows. If you have any questions regarding housing or know of friends, family or colleagues who are renting and wish to discuss buying a home next year, please get in touch.

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6 Ways to Keep Appliances Ship-Shape

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Appliances aren’t given much thought when running properly. But as soon as they’re not, they’re all you think about. A broken appliance can wreak havoc on your home. Take these simple steps to help keep things running smoothly.

A little preventative maintenance can go a long way when it comes to lengthening the lives of common household appliances. The following tips require almost no tools or previous experience, and can be accomplished by even the most novice home do-it-yourselfer.

Clean Your Coils: Refrigerator condenser coils are easily overlooked. To clean, most require removing the kick plate and likely getting down on your hands and knees. But the benefit will most certainly outweigh the inconvenience. Once the coils are exposed, use a handheld vacuum to clean and rid the coils of loose particles and dust. Once cleaned out, your refrigerator won’t have to work as hard to keep the contents at the correct temperature.

Dryer Exhausted?: A clogged dryer exhaust is not only inefficient, it’s also a fire hazard. In most cases, all it takes to clean it is loosening the clamp to the exhaust and then gently pulling it off the back of the dryer. A vacuum attachment should be able to remove the lint and clear the vent. Once vacuumed, simply reattach the cleaned exhaust.

Down the Drain: A garbage disposal may seem like a convenient way to get rid of food and debris, but blindly dumping everything can damage the disposal and drain. Small scraps are fine, but items like chicken bones, or stickers from fruit and vegetables, can cause clogs. Use a flashlight to check your disposal and if you spot anything, use tongs, never your hands, to free the debris. Once the disposal is clear, turn it on while running cold water. Then, add citrus peels to rid any lingering odors.

A Clean Machine: You use the washing machine to get clothes clean, but what happens when the machine itself isn’t clean? Make sure that the washing machine is able to do its job by occasionally using a hot water wash and wiping down the door after the last use of the day to remove moisture. The best preventative maintenance for a washing machine is to simply follow the instructions. Using the amount and type of detergent recommended can do wonders. Dumping in too much detergent won’t get your clothes any cleaner and may damage the washer.

Dishwasher: Most dishwashers are not designed to remove large pieces of food or other residue left on dishes. A quick rinse and swipe with a sponge can make the work your dishwasher has to do a little easier. Plus, food and other residue can clog your dishwasher’s drain—if your dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they should, take a look at the drain and consider having it cleared.

Oven Lovin’: One of the simplest ways to ensure your oven is operating at an optimal level is to check that the oven door has a tight seal. Without a proper seal, more than 20% of the oven’s heat can be lost, leading to longer cooking times. Check the rubber, or fiberglass, seal around the door for breaks or cracks, and replace the seal for optimal oven performance.

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