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    • What Are Your Chances of Being Burglarized?

      A property break-in is a homeowner's worst nightmare. But how likely are you to have your home burglarized? According to a recent report, 63 percent of American homes are at high risk of burglary. A survey conducted by DIY home phone and security company Ooma asked 1,000 Americans about how they protect their homes when they're away. The results may surprise you.

      Window worries
      - Sixty percent of Americans surveyed leave their windows open when they're away.
      - Forty percent never leave their windows open.
      - Fifteen percent open their windows when it's hot.
      - Eight percent of Americans burglarized say the cause was an open window.

      Door damage
      - Forty-two percent of Americans leave their doors unlocked when they're gone.
      - Fifty-eight percent never leave their door unlocked.
      - Forty-two percent leave it unlocked for various reasons, such as if they plan to come right back (14 percent) or if they forget (12 percent).
      - Fourteen percent of Americans who have experienced a burglary say an open door was the cause.

      Security sound-off
      -  Only 37 percent of Americans own a security system, which means six in 10 American homes are at risk.
      - Sixteen percent of Americans who report having their home robbed say having no security system was what put them at risk.

      Source: Ooma

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Things to Pay Attention to on a Walk-Through

      You’ve done your research online and narrowed down the neighborhoods and homes you’re most interested in. The next step? Visit your top picks in person. But what should you look for? What real estate information will you be able to determine live that you couldn't find in the photos and details you already looked at online? Here’s a list of what to look for when on a walk-through:

      The neighborhood. Sure, you found out all about school quality, crime stats, proximity to transportation and more during your online research, but nothing compares to being there. Take a look at traffic patterns, the condition of surrounding homes, the neighbors, their yards, etc. After you’ve toured the house, take a few minutes for a quick stroll around the block. This will give you a much better sense of the neighborhood you may come to call home.

      The home’s exterior. Photos online only allow you to get so close, so while you’re on site, carefully inspect the entire exterior of the home, advises Forbes. Is the paint chipping? Are the shingles in need of repair? How about the gutters? Repairs needed in any of these areas will factor greatly into your bid or can serve as a helpful negotiating point.

      The smell. One thing you definitely cannot research online is how a home smells. So put your nose to work to sniff out mold, pet damage, air quality and general cleanliness.

      The light. Sure, those appealing descriptions may have raved about the home’s natural light, but visit every room of the house to make your own assessment.

      The size. But wait - with loads of photos and the exact square footage listed online, you already know the size of the home, right? Yes and no. You know the size on paper but you don’t really have a sense of size until you’re there. Photos tend to make rooms look more spacious and ceiling height adds another layer to perceived spaciousness.

      Above all, the most important thing you will determine from a walk-through is completely intangible, namely, how the home feels. Square footage, gourmet kitchen and wrap-around porch aside, you need to be able to picture yourself living there. And that is something you can’t determine until you’re there. So don’t rush - take your time and really try the house on.

      I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • It’s Not a Bug; It’s Stress

      If concerning aches, pains or other physical ailments have you on your way to the doctor for tests, be sure not to rule out stress. While it's easy to recognize the emotional effects of stress, you may be unaware that stress takes a physical toll, as well. The mind/body connection runs deep and stress will start to present itself in a variety of ways. Here are five physical symptoms that may actually be caused by stress, according to Self magazine.

      1. Exhaustion – Our brains produce the hormone cortisol to give us short boosts of energy to get us through stressful situations. Feeling stressed for an extended period, however, releases too much cortisol, which can cause us to feel wiped out.

      2. Gastro Pains – The excess production of cortisol along with epinephrine during stress can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system and cause cramps. Stress also exacerbates the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

      3. Chest Pain – When you feel anxious or stressed, neurotransmitters are activated through your sympathetic nervous system, which can create a feeling of tightness in your chest. This leads many to fear they're having a heart attack, but chances are, your heart is just fine. Stress can also intensify heartburn, which can also mimic a heart attack.

      4. Hair Loss – Everyone loses about 80 hairs or so a day, but increased cortisol due to stress puts your body in an inflammatory state, which means nutrients that usually go to your hair follicles go to other parts of your body instead. This can cause follicles to slow or stop production. Talk to your dermatologist about special shampoos and supplements.

      5. Skin Issues – Skin rashes like psoriasis or eczema are intensified during stress. Similarly, the inflammatory state caused by stress also often leads to skin blemishes, such as acne.

      While your doctor can offer medications and supplements to treat the above symptoms, remember that the ultimate cure is getting to the root of the problem and relieving the stress.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.