Spring Cleaning: 3 Weekend Cleaning Projects That Will Transform Your Home

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The season of spring may be a time for blooming flowers and warmer weather, but it's also synonymous with the idea of spring-cleaning. Whether you clean out your house every year or you haven't seen the back of your closets in years, here are a few springtime projects that will instantly change your home – and clean up your life!

Clearing Up The Garage

There are few things that manage to attract excess stuff like the garage, and leftover junk can be an even bigger problem in a 2-car space. Fortunately, spring can be a good time to get rid of the excess and improve the look of your home from one of its main access points. By making a 'throw away', 'give away' and 'keep' pile, you'll be able to whittle down the amount of stuff in your garage and find a new place for it when you're done tidying up. It may be a bit of work, but it will be worth the effort.

Re-Envision The Living Room

For most families, the living room is the place where they spend a lot of time, and that can mean that it easily gets covered in a lot of paper and the furniture's a little worse for wear. Take a weekend day to clear away the excess, vacuum the floors and wash the walls. Change the layout for an instantly updated look. If you're really invested in a renovation, you may even want to reupholster a couch or armchair that's seen better days.

Tackle The Yard

The yard may not be a room in your home, but it is one of the first things that will make an impression on visitors and passerby's so it's important to keep it looking good. It's a good start if your yard is already clutter free, but spring is a good time to clear away the flower boxes and pluck the weeds, as well as cutting back any overgrown hedges. If you're feeling ambitious, you may even want to clean out your shed or renovate your patio for an improved exterior look.

Spring-cleaning may be a dreaded term, but it can be a good opportunity to clear away some of the stuff you haven't used and instantly improve your home's appearance.
 

AMG President Paul Mengert To Compete In “Dancing With The Carolina Stars:” Charity Competition Feb. 10 Raises Money For Operation Smile 

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Paul K. Mengert, president and CEO of Association Management Group, Inc., will put on his dancing shoes Saturday, February 10, to compete in the 10th annual “Dancing With The Carolina Stars” competition to benefit Operation Smile. The pro-am event will be held at the Empire Room in Downtown Greensboro. 

For more than 30 years, Paul and his wife, May Gayle, have regularly dedicated a considerable amount of their time to philanthropy and charity work across the globe. Operation Smile is an international medical charity that provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide.  

“I have been paired with a professional dancer in a routine called ‘Come Fly With Me,’ Mengert said. “I must say we have been practicing, and it should be a very fun evening.” 

“I am excited to deliver a great performance, but what really matters is helping Operation Smile raise money to help children with cleft lip and palate deformities receive the care they need through life-changing surgeries,” Mengert said. 

Mengert noted that every three minutes, a child somewhere in the world is born with this disfiguring condition. For every $1,000 raised, approximately four children with cleft conditions will receive life-saving surgery. 

To donate to Operation Smile’s fundraising efforts through Dancing with the Carolina Stars, please visit http://bit.do/mengertsmile

For more information, please visit www.operationsmile.org

 

 

Homeowner Tips: Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

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Do you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you'll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let's take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby's Bedroom

For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You'll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs

Next, it's time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they're at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you'll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe

Finally, don't forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child's reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can't open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It's almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. 

 

Downsizing? Here's What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

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Whether the kids have moved out or you just aren't using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels 'too big' is rarely fun. In today's post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it's just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don't forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn't a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can't part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, contact our professional real estate team. After discussing your wants and needs, we will be happy to recommend some perfect local listings.

3 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More 'Pet Friendly'

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Whether you're moving to a new home or you have a new family pet, it can be a struggle to make the place a little friendlier for them. From the garbage can to the cupboards and doors, there can be a lot of dangers that have the ability to hurt your furry friend you might not be aware of. If you're looking for some simple ways to make their life a little easier, here are a few things you can do.

Take Care Of The Trash

The image of dogs sifting through the trash is common for a reason, so it's important to guard your animal against the dangers of the dustbin. In addition to taking out any perishable goods on a consistent basis, it's a worthwhile investment to purchase a tougher trash bin that your animal can't get into. This will insure they won't be able to get at foods like fruit pits, coffee grounds and chocolate, which can be very harmful to their system.

Pick The Right Flooring

If you have the choice, ceramic tile or hardwood can be a great way to alleviate the tidy-up of having a live-in pet since you can easily wipe or sweep away the damage. If this isn't possible and carpet is your only option, stick with something that closely matches the color of your pet. As well, if you're letting your pet on the furniture, it's worth investing in materials like leather and suede that are more durable and easy to clean.

Give Them Their 'Space'

You may not have to worry about cleaning up after your pet as much if you can provide them with a space that's all their own. While it doesn't have to be anything fancy or sprawling, providing a comfortable bed where they like to nap and a water bowl or selection of toys will do the trick in making them feel right at home. It may also have the added benefit of keeping them away from the family couch!

Many homeowners are so pre-occupied with making themselves comfortable in their family home that they forget about the animal in the family. While it won't necessarily take much to please your pet, watching the waste and giving them their own comfortable area can go a long way in making your home pet-friendly.

TIP OF THE MONTH - ORDINANCE AND LAW COVERAGE

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TIP OF THE MONTH 

 

ORDINANCE AND LAW COVERAGE

As we start this New Year it is imperative that every association check the master insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage is in place.  Full replacement cost coverage sounds great but doesn’t mean your association is fully insured – especially older buildings -- which may require code upgrades following a casualty.  All coverages – including the often neglected Ordinance or Law coverage which is needed for code upgrades to be funded – must be adequate.  When in doubt, call your attorney and insurance agent and make sure your insurance is adequate so your Association will have a Happy New Year -  even if disaster does strike.

Source: MEEB (Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks)

How to Become a Better, More Productive Homeowners Association (HOA) Board Member in 2018

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Being a board member of a homeowners association is stressful. You have a lot of responsibilities over your shoulders. You must attend important meetings, take the right decisions and fulfill all your duties honestly. There is always the extra demand for your time and resources, thus, you must manage everything accordingly.

So, no matter how big or small your homeowners association is, here are a few tips that you and your fellow board members can use.

1.      Read your governing documents

It is best to find out your role and responsibilities, and get used to how your association works as soon as possible. You must immediately read your covenants, by-laws, and all other governing documents. This way, you will know all the facts that will make it easier for you to communicate with your neighbors.

2.      Review and understand the financials

Go through the financial statements and in case you do not understand anything ask your board treasurer. You may even schedule an audit if the board is not satisfied with the financials.

3.      Learn before you look to change anything

Take your time and learn how you must carry out your duties. You have got a lot of time during your elected term so do not hurry. Prioritize your work. Take a closer look at all the processes and procedures before you decide to change anything.

4.      Use all the available resources

Look for other resources and mentors that may help you become more productive and effective at your position. Talk to people who have previously served as board members of your homeowners association. Listen to their ideas, opinions, common problems and challenges. Learn how they faced these problems and how they overcame them. It will help you develop the intuition to make better judgement calls and decisions.

5.      Thing big, think long term

Before taking any decision, think of its impact in the long term. For example, whether it is about re-carpeting the community room or sending an irresponsible neighbor to the collections attorney, think of all the possibilities that may happen. Keep your vision about your community’s goals in mind as you develop your next board meeting agenda.

6.      Communication is key

Make sure that all the rules and policies are transparent and there is a positive relationship between all the members of the board, and that the community is happy with the operations of the board. Inform your community about all major issues, financial results, opportunities and ideas. Keeping them updated about all the happenings is one way of ensuring their satisfaction.

7.      Patience

As a member of the board, there may be times when you encounter challenges with neighbors and other board members due to differences of opinion. However, the key is to remain patient always. Talk to them and try sorting out their queries and issues.

8.      You are a fiduciary

Always remember that you are a fiduciary whose aim is to serve their community. Therefore, all your decisions must be in the best interest of your community despite when they are not in your personal best interest.

Let's Talk Fencing: How to Put a Fence Around Your Home Without Destroying Its Appeal

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Many homeowners consider a fence around their property for a variety of reasons, whether it's to keep the dog in the yard or to maintain privacy. However, the wrong fence can entirely change the look of your property and make a beautiful yard a bit of an eyesore. If you're trying to determine what kind of fence will work for your home, here are some tips before you start to dig in the dirt.

What's Your Fence For?

Before deciding what kind of material to use, it's important to know what type of utility you want for your fence. While a stone fence may be elegant and offer a lot of privacy, it can also be quite expensive; on the other hand, a wooden fence may be more affordable but it can deteriorate over time. It's entirely possible you have a material you've already decided upon, but ensure that it's something that will live up to your expectations and have the functionality you're looking for.

What's Your Home's Style?

An imposing stone fence may be the style that instantly draws you, but if you have a relatively unassuming home or a more whimsical style, it can be a bit much for what your home. Instead of basing your fence purchase around the budget you can afford and the style you like, ensure that it will complement the style of your home and the yards surrounding yours so there is no marked contrast between your fence and the rest of your property.

What's The Neighborhood Vibe?

Most neighborhoods have a distinct style, so to get some ideas for what type of fence will work with your property, look around your local area. There will likely be homes that look similar to yours and they may be able to give you a good idea of what options you have when it comes to fencing. You'll also want to take note of how particular fences look around the gardens and patios of other homes, as these are features you won't want to obscure.

There are many fences available on the market that serve every purpose, but it's important to be aware of what will work for your property so you can make a good aesthetic decision. If you're currently renovating your home and are looking to put it up for sale, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Winter's Here: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

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From the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It's important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you're wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It's just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it's a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in.  If you happen to have plants that won't last through the winter, you'll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it's also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you'll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they'll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it's important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring. 

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You're Buying a Home in the Right Community

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When investing in a home, one of the most important things is buying a place that you and your family can feel comfortable in. However, while a place you can envision yourself in is important, it's not worth neglecting the neighborhood you'll be moving into for the perfect home. If you're wondering what you should be looking for in the neighborhood you choose, here are a few things to consider before making an offer on a home.

Is It Safe?

It may be common to feel bowled over by a home and want to invest immediately, but the right home in the wrong neighborhood may not be the best choice for many reasons. Part of feeling comfortable in your home is being safe among its streets, so ensure you research the neighborhood and its history, and check in on the crime rate. You may even want to consult with your agent or some local neighbors to see what information they can provide about the area's history.

Are There Local Amenities?

If you're used to getting in the car to run errands, it might not be important to not have a grocery store or pharmacy nearby. However, if there are no amenities you use frequently close by, it can start to be a bit of a drain on your lifestyle. While you don't necessarily need to have the trendiest restaurants or best shopping, it's important to have a few choice places in case you run out of something and need to make a quick run to the store. 

What's Your Neighborhood Style?

It might seem like a strange thing to ask yourself, but the neighborhood you live in is going to become a big part of your life and that means you'll have to see yourself in it. If you want neighbors you can trust and community-mindedness, you'll want to seek out an area with these qualities. On the other side, if you happen to prefer a busier urban atmosphere that offers more independence, this may be the way to go.

There are a lot of things that go into finding the right home, but it's important not to forget about the neighborhood you're living in and what it will mean for your lifestyle. If you're currently considering homes and are trying to determine an area that will work for you, you may want to reach out to a local real estate professionals for more information.

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

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The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let's run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It's time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather

Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds

Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it's likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they'll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts

If you haven't used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home's heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn't heating on the first cold night!

Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don't forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you're not good with heights or don't own the proper equipment, don't sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. 

7 Event Ideas That Your HOA Can Plan for Community Togetherness During the Holiday Season.

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The Holidays are a wonderful time to bring people together. Young and old, neighbors
gather together to celebrate the holidays with peace and joy. Most communities are very fortunate to have many diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions and traditions. One thing all people have in common is the belief that the holidays are for celebrating families, for helping one another, and for celebrating all that we have to be grateful for in life. 

 Residents who lead and volunteer on the HOA board often try to bring the community together during the holidays. They want to help residents get in the spirit of giving and sharing. 

Here are 7 event ideas that your HOA can plan for community togetherness during the holiday season.

1. A Charitable Donation Drive: Organize a toys for tots drive or canned goods drive to help needy families during the holidays.

2. Organize a White Elephant gift exchange. Have the event at the clubhouse or common area and have participating residents bring snacks to share.

3. Hold a holiday tree decorating contest. Ask residents to decorate small trees and select a winner.

4. Organize a Holiday cake bake off! Have residents get their best recipes and bake holiday cakes and have the HOA members vote!

5. Organize a community Progressive Party. Each participating homeowner provides a different item: appetizer, salad, side dish, etc and you eat "Dinner" as you move from house to house. Have a sign up for families that want to be involved in the event. Each family signs up for a time slot and opens their home to the group. First family has an appetizer, second family has first course, and so on. A few families can double up to lessen the burden of preparing the dish. 

6. Recipe Exchange - Have homeowners submit a favorite recipe for their favorite dish: chocolate dessert, favorite side dish, etc. Have the residents bring a sample of the finished dish to share and share the recipe.

7. Organize a volunteer day or evening event for your residents to participate in. Contact your local food bank or soup kitchen and arrange for your residents to help cook or feed the needy.  It's a great way for your community to give back. 

Community events come in many varieties with many different purposes. The holidays are the best time of year to get people involved.  Regardless of the purpose or the sponsor, involvement in community events can benefit all involved.

Announce a board meeting and delegate a special committee to start planning a holiday event in your community. You may be surprised how people come together. 

AMG Working With Charity To Benefit Underprivileged Children

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AMG  Working With Charity To Benefit Underprivileged Children 

- AMG is participating in our 3rd Operation Christmas Child supported by Samaritan’s Purse and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. The charity benefits underprivileged children who otherwise would not receive Christmas gifts.

-To participate, please visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ or visit a public Angel Tree location at News & Record [200 E Market St], Whole Foods in Friendly Center or Morehead Foundry

-Donation cut-off is December 4

-Please drop off your donations to one of the three public Angel Tree locations or bring to Jamie Rettie at the Greensboro AMG office

-Help AMG make children’s Christmas’ this year a little brighter!

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10 Tips To Secure Holiday Packages Delivered To Your Door

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Burglars scout neighborhoods prior to the holidays looking for easy targets. Packages sitting on doorsteps , on lawn chairs or sticking out of mailboxes are all a sign of the residence being unattended. Most HOA's struggle with crime during the holidays. While it is not the responsibility of the HOAs to secure or accept  delivered packages, they can assist residents with support, resources and tips to reduce burglary during the holiday season.

Around 23 million people said their packages have been stolen from their homes, according to a December 2015 survey from insuranceQuotes.com.

UPS delivers 17 million packages around the world every day and much more during this time of the year. In fact, during December, they will delivering some 585 million packages, with single-day volume surging as high as 34 million on their peak day December 22.  

Here are a few tips that all of your neighbors can use to help keep your community free of crime this holiday season.

1. Ask a neighbor to watch your home for the delivery of holiday packages and to retrieve the packages until you arrive home.

2. Consider an alternate destination. Have your packages delivered to work, family or friends. Encourage residents to use different delivery options or addresses during the high-crime season. Have packages delivered where someone can accept them, or require a signature.

3. Instruct the delivery company. Find a non visible place at your home and leave detailed instructions as to where to hide the package. FedEx and UPS drivers will place packages behind a gate, shrub, or other location; residents should contact their carrier.

4. Be diligent about tracking your expected holiday packages. Residents can often receive a text message when their package is delivered. This will eliminate your package sitting in the open for long periods of time.

5. Help your HOA by volunteering a few hours in your Neighborhood Watch program. Extra eyes can help deter crime and stop burglary in progress.

6.  Require a signature so that your item won't be left unattended. It may be a little inconvenient, but you can have the package redelivered or go pick it up at the local station.

7. Most homes have a security camera so that, if a theft occurs, you have proof for insurance purposes and to help police find the burglar.

8. Customize your deliveries. Use FedEx Delivery Manager® to customize your residential deliveries. You can change the time of delivery. You can select the actual time you will be home from work. During the holidays they deliver late evening hours.

9.  Signs for security systems can be a great deterrent for thieves. Post a security warning sign near your front door. These warning signs can help protect your packages and your whole house as well. 

10. Insure your packages if they are valuable. At least if your holiday package goes missing you will recover the money for valuables. 

Security cameras may work well, but check with your HOA about policies regarding security cameras and where they can be located. Some HOAs may restrict usage of cameras (especially "dummy" cameras) for reasons of liability. If your community has a serious crime problem ask your HOA to support asking local law enforcement to patrol the neighborhood more frequently.

Strong communities can reduce crime. Owners who know their neighbors are more likely to report suspicious behavior. Although midway through the holidays may be too late, boards should try community-building events throughout the year. At minimum, make sure that everyone has the appropriate police phone number.

Help your neighbors have a great holiday season by stopping burglary of holiday packages. Involve your HOA and at least ask them for recommendations on how to handle the issue in your neighborhood.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

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Are you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years, so it might be time to invest. In today's blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it's likely to be one of the older "set it and forget it" models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you're gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what's happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you're not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon's Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don't forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It's Easy To Use, You'll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you're unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you're ready to look at high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional real estate team is happy to show you around.

WINTER IS COMING...ARE YOU READY?

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Ready or not, winter is quickly approaching and far too often, condominium associations find themselves unprepared for Mother Nature’s wrath. Accordingly, it is essential for condominium associations to plan for the winter ahead, even as the last of our summer tans are still fading.

First, associations should ensure that the condominium’s insurance coverage is up to date and is consistent with the requirements set forth in the condominium’s declaration of by-laws. It is also recommended that the association remind unit owners to have their own H06 policies to cover their own personal property in the event of a loss. Additionally, associations should have a clear plan in place for the reporting of insurance claims to the condominium’s property manager and/or to the managing board, and the association should disseminate that protocol in advance to all unit owners, so that the association will have an easier time managing and fielding calls following a widespread loss, i.e., the reporting of ice dam conditions.

Some things (like ice dams) may be unavoidable, despite an association’s reasonable efforts to remove snow and ice. However, an association is still required to exercise reasonable care to properly maintain the condominium’s common areas during winter months and during periods of prolonged inclement weather. To that end, associations should regularly remove snow from the condominium’s common area roof(s) and/or awnings. Additionally, associations should clear ice and icicles from common areas to prevent ice from falling. In some cases, this may prove difficult if the common areas where icicles may be forming are not easily accessible (particularly during those winters where a significant amount of snow falls). However, even if these common areas are not easily accessible, it does not absolve associations of their obligations to maintain the same. Therefore, it is important that associations have a plan in place for investigating those difficult to reach areas, and it may be helpful in such instances to request that all unit owners or residents whose units are adjacent to those common areas, to promptly report any adverse condition, which the association may not otherwise be aware of.
 

It's The Season For Pumpkin Spice

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This is the time of year to enjoy the flavor of pumpkin. It seems everyone is trying to invent their own recipe.  It may not be the real Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it is pretty close. Go ahead and give it a try. Don't forget to top it with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

Ingredients You Will Need

  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso 
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Sprinkles for top (optional)

Directions

  1. Blend 1/2 cup milk, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  2. Pour milk mixture through a fine strainer. Return milk mixture to saucepan and simmer, blending, 2 minutes. Add espresso and whisk until foamy.
  3. Add whipped cream and toppings as desired.

Fall Is A Great Time For Family Outdoor Activities

Fall is a great time for families to map out and plan time for activities to ensure they are added to the daily routine. Here are some ideas for outdoor family fun and exercise.

  • Family community or nature walks - 20-30 minutes will provide the daily recommended 20-30 minutes of moderate physical aerobic activity.
  • Biking -- is a great low impact aerobic exercise the entire family will love.
  • Hiking -- If your neighborhood has walking or hiking trails this is a great activity.
  • Gardening -- is a fun way to teach the importance of daily care/maintenance and learn about healthy eating. In addition, the family can get satisfaction in eating the harvest.

Benefits of physical activity:

The benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight management. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from many health problems.

It’s important for kids of all ages to get enough exercise to help prevent childhood obesity. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that school-aged kids and teens get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. But how do you make it happen?

 Spending more time together and indulging in leisure activities strengthens the family bond.  This holds true to all type of activities. They don’t always need to be such that require a bigger sum of money. Even home-based, low-cost activities such as playing a board game, gardening or playing outdoors have a big impact on the ‘health’ of the family.

The weather is great for outdoor activities. Get the family together or get families from your neighborhood and enjoy the great outdoors.

You can also plan a few fall family outings that everyone will enjoy. Here are 5 ideas:

  • Sit around a campfire
  • Collect some leaves
  • Drink some apple cider
  • Visit an apple orchard
  • Visit a farm

Use this special fall season to make new lasting memories with your family.

 

 

A Lot Of Good People In The World

Thursday I had the honor of traveling with Samaritan's Purse on a relief mission to Puerto Rico. Since the hurricanes have decimated much of the Caribbean, Samaritan's Purse has been flying regular relief missions in its DC-8 from Greensboro, North Carolina to the Caribbean.
As a Board member and the Treasurer of the Piedmont Triad International Airport and as a commercial pilot, I was invited to accompany the organization on its mission October 5. I arrived at the airport at that wonderful time just before dawn when the sun is beginning to creep over the horizon.

First of all, I was amazed by the size and freight-hauling capabilities of the DC-8. The DC-8, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, first went into production in the 1950s and was produced through the early 1970s. It became known as a workhouse freight and long-distance carrier. To this day it is one of the most efficient airplanes available, particularly for long-distance hauling. As configured by Samaritan's Purse, its DC-8 can fly at nearly 500 miles an hour for up to 15 hours hauling freight and 32 passengers.

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Samaritan's Purse's capabilities to quickly swing into action to aid those in need is incredible. Not only does the organization have the equipment and facilities to deliver much-needed aid, but it also has a team of amazing individuals who dispense the supplies with professionalism and caring. They organization, known for its strong religious connection, has a passion to help those in need, which is truly amazing. It takes a large, dedicated team to deliver disaster relief. In this case, the team consists of dozens of highly professional individuals serving in roles from pilots to line persons, flight attendants, logistic and administrative support and legal staff.

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As we landed in Puerto Rico, a little over three hours after leaving PTI with much-needed supplies, I was struck by the thought that while the news is often filled with horrifying reports of disheartening events, how refreshing it was to see people who get up every day with the aim of helping others. I understand that in North Carolina, Samaritan's Purse has more than 700 employees supporting its worldwide relief efforts. The dozen or so people I met assisting with this relief effort are truly amazing people who I want to thank! The world needs more people from all faiths willing to help those less fortunate and in need.

Paul Mengert, President and CEO of Association Management Group, Inc. in the cockpit of a DC8 relief mission to Puerto Rico. 

Paul Mengert, President and CEO of Association Management Group, Inc. in the cockpit of a DC8 relief mission to Puerto Rico. 

Food Safety During a Power Outage

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Power failures can be one of the most annoying—and disabling—occurrences in a community. Whether caused by summer storms, power lines crippled by winter ice, equipment failure, an overloaded regional grid or an animal disrupting a power line, electrical outages can be costly, uncomfortable—and without forethought—sometimes even dangerous.

Residents can face many hazards when a power failure occurs—usually without any warning—including losing refrigerated and frozen foods. Some food items can be salvaged, however, if you’re prepared.

In anticipation of a power failure:

  • Have at least one or two coolers on hand, and at least one spare 5-pound bag of ice in the freezer.
  • Know where to get bag, block or dry ice quickly when you need it, particularly if you anticipate a long-term outage. (Caution: Dry ice is made from carbon dioxide, so it requires safe handling. Never breathe in its vapors or touch it with your bare hands.) According to the Food Safety Branch of Kentucky’s Department of Health, a 50-pound block of dry ice will keep a tightly packed, 18-cubic-foot freezer cool for up to two days.
  • Have an instant food thermometer or appliance thermometer available to ensure your freezers, refrigerators and coolers are staying cool enough store food safely.
  • Arrange the refrigerator and freezer efficiently. Frozen food will last longer in a full freezer—up to 48 hours if tightly packed—and refrigerated food will last longer—up to four hours—if there is room for air to circulate around items.

When the electricity goes off:

  • Avoid opening and closing the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary.
  • Cook and use perishable food before using canned food.
  • Check the temperature of refrigerated foods if the power is out for more than a few hours. Discard any food item than has been at 40° F or warmer for two or more hours. Exceptions include butter and margarine; hard cheeses like Parmesan and Romano; some condiments like mustard, peanut butter, soy sauce, olives and vinegar-based salad dressing; and fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables.
  • Check the temperature of frozen foods as well. While tightly packed freezer foods will stay frozen for many hours, some items that may have thawed can be refrozen if they still retain ice crystals or have remained at a temperature lower than 40°. Fruit and vegetable juices; breads, rolls and pie crusts; flour, cornmeal and nuts; meat and chicken; and prepared foods and casseroles can be refrozen safely if they have not been at 40° F or warmer for more than two hours.
  • After the power comes back on, you may need to deodorize the refrigerator and freezer by washing surfaces with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Place an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb any lingering odors.

Since the appearance and odor of a food item isn’t an accurate indication of its safety after a power outage, use the 40° rule-of-thumb. And when in doubt, discard the food.

While a power can go out any time, most power failures occur between mid-July and late September. But no matter when our community experiences an outage—and it inevitably will—knowing how to handle frozen and refrigerated foods can help us keep your food supplies safe until the lights come back on.