Daryl Lippman's Blog
Have you received your 401K packet? It probably had some selections to make, such as a list of investment options to choose from. A small choice like this makes a big difference down the road. Whether you own a 401K, need to fund your own retirement, are putting a down payment on a home, or have some money left to you by a relative, there are some basic investment principles.
Stocks Are Still Your Best Bet
Every decade or two, the stock market tanks, everyone panics and some people say stocks are just a gamble. And if you get excited and buy in heavily while the Dow is nearing its peak, you will have a problem when the inevitable downturn comes. But consider this: since 1957, when the S&P 500 (an index of the top 500 stocks, a more accurate all-around market measure than the Dow) was established, its issues have returned around 9 percent a year. That’s despite a decade-long slump in the 70’s, the dot.com bust of 2000, and the “Great Recession” that started in 2008. If you’re in the market for another 20, 30 or 40 years, these setbacks are merely a dip in your long-term, upward progression.
Some other pointers:
Dollar cost average by buying small amounts regularly over time. If you’re in a 401K, this is automatically done for you. Don’t “buy high” by jumping on board when the market’s hot.
If you have a 401K, try to make the maximum contribution. If your employer matches, you’re turning down free money if you don’t.
Don’t get excited about what’s hot today. When stocks are low, some people say gold is a no-lose choice. It’s not. It will come down. In the late 90s, day traders were bragging constantly about their latest coup, investing in startups that had never made money and never would. It came to a screaming halt in 2000.
Be careful of picking individual stocks. Few people beat the market average. Even professionals who manage funds don’t do well. Favor index funds. An S&P 500 index fund buys every stock in the S&P 500. It doesn't try to outguess the market.
Financial advisers may come to you suggesting their favored investment. Be leery of anyone who presents a solution before understanding your situation.
Stick to a sound, steady plan and don’t get rattled by the noise around you, and you can build a comfortable nest egg over a lifetime.
As a first-time home seller, it can be tough to establish a competitive price for your residence. And if you set a price that is too high or too low, you risk alienating potential homebuyers or missing out on an opportunity to maximize the value of your house.
Ultimately, there's a lot to think about as you determine the price for your residence. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of pricing your home, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.
Let's take a look at three tips to help first-time home sellers set a competitive price for a residence.
1. Study the Real Estate Market
How does your residence stack up against similar houses that are currently available in your city or town? Study the real estate market, and you can find out how your residence compares to the competition.
Evaluate the prices of currently available houses in your city or town. With this housing market data in hand, you can learn how your home ranks against the competition and establish a price range for houses that are similar to your own.
Also, examine the prices of recently sold houses in your area. By doing so, you can find out whether you're about to enter a seller's market or a buyer's market and map out your home selling journey accordingly.
2. Perform a Home Appraisal
A home appraisal can make a world of difference, particularly for a first-time home seller who is uncertain about how to upgrade a residence.
During a home appraisal, a property inspector will examine a home's interior and exterior. After the appraisal is finished, this inspector will provide a home seller with a report that outlines his or her findings.
Take the results of a home appraisal seriously – you'll be glad you did. The appraisal enables a home seller to learn about a home's strengths and weaknesses, and as a result, discover the best ways to transform assorted weaknesses into strengths. Then, a home seller can perform myriad home upgrades and may be better equipped than ever before to optimize the value of a house.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent analyzes housing market patterns and trends closely and is happy to share home selling insights at any time. Thus, this housing market professional can help a home seller establish a competitive price for a home from the get-go.
Moreover, a real estate agent will promote a home to the right groups of homebuyers and work with a home seller at each stage of the property selling journey. He or she will even negotiate with homebuyers on a seller's behalf to increase the likelihood that a seller can get the best price for a residence.
When it comes to selling a home for the first time, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time home seller can set a competitive price for a house and increase his or her chances of a quick home sale.
Every winter, your home faces harsh weather, and it may benefit you to examine your home during the warmer months for any areas that may need maintenance to avoid excessive and costly repairs to your home during or after the winter. Here are few things to check before the snow starts to fall.
1. The Roof: Excess snowfall on the roof during winter adds weight to the structure, which is why it's imperative to check its integrity often. Thoroughly examine it for leaks and erosion. Check the soffits and eaves for damage. Look on the ground for loose shingles. If you see any, have the roof inspected by a qualified roofer and schedule repairs as soon as possible. Correcting potential issues early could prevent any catastrophic emergencies later on.
2. The Garden: It is a known fact that the winter is unfavorable for most flowering plants. Check your garden for any plants that may need to be pruned or given any special attention before the cold months hit. Remove dead trees; add hardy hybrids and be sure to give your garden enough attention to watch it flourish even through the winter months.
3. The Garage: Even though your garage is well-secured and covered, you'll still want to maintain its upkeep during the winter. Your cars may bring in snow, mud, deicer, sand and debris. Be sure to keep the floors cleaned and check the walls and corners for any place that may house rodents or other pests.
4. The Pipes: Your water pipes are another essential thing to check after winter. During winter, pipes are prone to freezing and can split, crack, or burst, which becomes a hard problem to fix. Ensure they are in good condition before winter and recheck them after the season to fix any issues as soon as possible.
5. Chimney: Take a cursory look at your chimney after winter. There's a good chance it may have been damaged during the season. Ice can be very destructive, especially to your chimney's mortar and flashing where the chimney joins the roof, and may cause problems in the long run. Check your fireplace to ensure proper ventilation and cleanliness to avoid fire and smoke damage. Make sure to clean the creosote from the fireplace after seasonal use to promote your fireplace's longevity and maintain safety standards.
6. Garden Shed: For people that have a separate building for their garden tools, it is vital that you check this place after winter. Ensure that the ice and excessive wind haven't caused damage, and just as you did for your primary home, check the roof, eaves and flashing for damage.
Check all these places after each winter season and before the summer heat drives it from the forefront of your mind. You may want to dedicate at least one day to checking your home for early signs of damage or for areas that may need to be updated and reinforced. Your Realtor® may have a few other suggestions for maintaining your home or preparing for any regional hardships that may arise during the winter.
Putting a new mailbox up? Be sure to follow the official guidance from the U.S. Postal Service.®
Here are a few rules, tips, and suggestions to make your mail carrier's day a little smoother.
Putting Up a New Mailbox
USPS-approved mailboxes have Postmaster General (PMG) approval labels. Have your post office approve your mailbox plans if you're making your box. Its height should be 41-45 inches above the ground, and set 6-8 inches back from the curb. Your number should be clearly marked on the mailbox. It's helpful to number your home as well. If on a corner, mark your mailbox with your complete street address.
Switching to a wall-mounted box? Get your post office's go-ahead first. No PMG approval label is required. Just be sure the box can handle your normal volume of mail, including magazines. Place it in a spot that's visible and convenient for the carrier.
Tip: Think about your carrier (and the substitutes). If you put up wind chimes and garden lighting, hanging baskets and so forth, be mindful of the carrier's path.
Installing a Post for the Mailbox
A proper mailbox post is strong and stable, but will bend or fall if hit by a car. It's two inches in diameter if made of metal. It's four by four inches if made of wood.
Posts should be buried up to two feet deep. (Concrete-filled containers are not recommended.)
Tip: When inclement weather arrives, remember that your mail carrier needs a safe approach — free of mud, ice, or snow — to the mailbox or mail slot.
Best Practices for Door Slots
If the mail comes through a slot, be sure the opening is 7 by one and a half inches, or larger. The bottom of the slot must be thirty inches above the ground.
Is the slot horizontal? The flap should open upward, hinged at the top of the slot. If vertical, it must be hinged opposite of the door hinge side.
Tip: Be sure the opening is clear for the carrier to deliver your mail without struggling. There are approved inner shields for slots to use, rather than stuffing anything in the slot to insulate your place from a draft. Oh, and do you happen to have a cat? With claws? Be sure the cat isn't making a sport out of grabbing the mail or trying to catch the carrier's hand through the slot! Being mindful might not be a rule, but it's nice.
Creating Carrier-Friendly Neighborhoods
Sun, rain, snow, or wind... Mail carriers brave it all for us. Help your neighborhood stay carrier-friendly in return. Know the rules. Consider the mail from your carrier's point of view.