Broker Owners: Manu Ruggeri and Sonny Shanks
Broker Owners: Manu Ruggeri and Sonny Shanks

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Real Estate and Lifestyle News (Coming Soon)
Sunday, February 14, 2021

Many homebuyers choose to a purchase a house on a cul-de-sac just to avoid a busy street. However, there are pros and cons you should be aware of up front.


Since there’s only one way in and out, a cul-de-sac has less traffic than a typical street.


Depending on the size and layout of the cul-de-sac, the number of houses, and how often neighbors have visitors, parking could be a problem.


Since a cul-de-sac has significantly less traffic than other neighborhoods, it’s a natural place for children to gather and play.


Houses on a cul-de-sac often face each other.

Neighbors may see each other every day, get to know each other and keep an eye on each others properties and kids.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Whether you and your significant other are currently engaged or just recently tied the knot, congratulations! Marriage is an exciting step for a couple.

Combining your lives also means combining your finances, so youll want to make sure youre well prepared for the future together"especially since money can become a source of conflict for many married couples. Although most newlyweds focus on creating a joint savings account and budget, its also important to not overlook insurance.

With that in mind, the folks at Allstate offer these five insurance tips for newlyweds:

Assess your insurance needs.Make sure you have the right amount of coverage for your newly combined possessions. Don’t forget to insure your beautiful and costly-to-replace engagement ring via an insurance rider to your homeowners policy. In addition, you may want life insurance to help repay the mortgage and take care of your children, should one of you die unexpectedly. Depending on your age and personal health situation, you may also want to consider disability insurance.

Consolidate your financial relationships. You each may have an accountant, insurance agent and financial planner. Now that you’re a family, you should choose a single relationship in each area " whether it be a current advisor or someone new to both of you. You can rely on referrals from family or friends, or ask for a referral from other professionals you currently deal with and trust. For example, your insurance agent is likely to know financial planners in your community. A financial planner may be able to refer you to a local attorney or accountant.

Update your records.Make sure you are the beneficiaries of each other’s existing life insurance policies.

Combine your “just in case” files. Thisll make sure you can quickly find important financial documents just in case one of you is incapacitated or dies unexpectedly. The files should include insurance policies, wills and other legal documents, such as trusts, durable powers of attorney, living wills and healthcare proxies. Store originals in a safety deposit box, and make sure each of you signs the form to have access to the box.

Consider combining your health insurance.If you both have health insurance through work, compare the coverage to see if it makes sense for both of you to be covered under one of the plans. It’s likely to be less costly to insure an employee and spouse under a single plan. Many plans allow you to add a spouse within 30 days of your marriage without providing proof of insurability. Depending on your personal health situation, you might consider supplemental health insurance, which can help with doctor bills, hospital stays and even non-medical expenses (such as transportation) if you’re dealing with an accident, disability, cancer or critical illness.

By getting your insurance and other finances in order, youre bound to be better prepared to enjoy your many years together as a married couple.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Scam artists continue to find new, creative ways to defraud innocent people, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to protect themselves, their families and their money. That said, by remembering these 10 tips from the experts at the Better Business Bureau, youll have a much better chance of avoiding most scams:

1. Dont click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email. Links can download malware onto your computer and/or steal your identity. Be cautious even with email that looks familiar; it could be fake.

2. Dont believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Just because a website or email looks official, that doesnt mean it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.

3. Dont buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has https in the URL (the extra s is for secure) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Even then, the site could be shady. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure youre not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods.

4. Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone youve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but thats part of the con to get you to trust them.

5. Never send money to someone you’ve never met face-to-face.Seriously, just dont ever do it.

6. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether its over the phone, by email, on social media or even at your front door. This includes your birthdate and Social Security number.

7. Dont be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited-time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but its never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.

8. Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes and debts. Dont pay by wire transfers, prepaid money cards, gift cards or other non-traditional payment methods. Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, overpayments, and handshake deals without a contract.

9. Be cautious about what you share on social media. Consider only connecting with people you already know, and be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.

10. Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance, especially contractors wholl be coming into your home or anyone dealing with your money or sensitive information. Check them out atbbb.orgto see what other consumers have experienced.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A master suite can be a private oasis in your new homebut it can also factor into your homes value.

Typical features include a large bedroom area, spacious closets, a luxurious bathroom and other amenities.

But a master suite can be expensive and affect the homes appeal whenever you decide to sell.

Before buying a home, ask how the property compares to others in the area.

You might not mind if your suite is smaller or less elaborate now, but it could leave future buyers underwhelmed.

On the other hand, if your suite ends up too customized or showy, that could also limit the pool of future buyers.

A real estate agent can help you make the best decisions about your master suite keeping your homes resale value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Are you thinking about getting a pet? Owning and taking care of an animal is a huge commitment filled with responsibilities and expenses. Some pets more so than others. Although you or a family member may have a particular animal in mind, the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests you consider the following to help ensure you choose the right pet for your household and circumstances:

Do you already have a pet? If so, will your current pet accept another pet of the same or a different species? If youre uncertain, your veterinarian can help you answer this question.

What are you looking for in a pet? Do you want a lap warmer? A running buddy? Or a pet thats easy to care for? This will affect your pet choice.

Who will care for the pet? Consider the abilities and availability of the caretaker. If you have young children, a pet thats active at night wouldnt be as good a choice as one thats active during the time your child is awake. Although its good to involve children in caring for pets if you have them, its unrealistic to expect a child to be solely responsible for any pets care and welfare.

Do rules limit your choice? If you rent, your landlord may restrict the type or number of pets you can have. Condominium and homeowner associations may have similar restrictions. If you live in a city, your choice of pet may be very different from your choice if you lived in the suburbs or the country. Some types of pets arent allowed by local ordinances. Consider also the amount of exercise your pet will need and whether your living arrangements accommodate that need.

Can you provide enough attention and a life-long commitment? Different species and breeds of animals have differing needs for companionship and attention, as well as differing life expectancies. For example, some larger birds have been known to live more than 100 years! Do your research to ensure you have a realistic understanding of the commitment youre making when you get a particular type of pet.

Can you afford the pet? Think of the needs your pet will have for food, housing, socialization, exercise, grooming and veterinary care, and make sure you can afford and are willing and able to provide them. Some pets, such as reptiles, amphibians, pocket pets and birds, require special veterinary care, so make sure theres a veterinarian in your area who can provide that care.

How long will you be present? Some pets need more frequent exercise or feeding and might not be a good choice for owners who spend a lot of time away from home by working long hours or traveling frequently.

A cat, dog, bird, fish, rabbit, rodent, ferret, reptile"even a horse. There are so many different types of pets to consider. If youre still unsure which is right for you, do some research or consult a veterinarian.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

If you’re revamping your interior design scheme, you may be considering a new color palette. Should you go with earthy hues? Vibrant jewel tones? Cool blues and grays? Below are five ways to pick a color scheme that will work for you.

Choose from what you have. If you’re not revamping with an entirely new furniture set, then you may want to pick a color from what you already have. A boldly patterned sofa or floor rug can serve as a jumping off point.

Start with three. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with options, choose three colors you love and keep it to there, with one as your main color, another as your secondary and a third for accents. (Four if you count white, which is more of a neutral).

Base with black. If you can tie black into your color scheme, you’ll always have something easy (and versatile) to return to. No need to get macabre"think black appliances in the kitchen, black end and coffee tables in the living room, and black cabinetry in the bathroom.

Decorate with 60-30-10. This rule, used by many interior designers, gives you a mathematical breakdown of how much of each color you should use to give your space balance. Go with 60 percent of your main color (like, your walls), 30 percent your secondary (hello, furniture) and 10 percent that pop of accent"light sconces, art, throw pillows, blankets, etc.

Move from dark to light. So, you have your chosen colors"now what? A top designer tip when adding color to your home is to place the darkest colors low, like the carpet, floor or furniture, and then move to medium shades for the walls and art, and the lightest hue on the ceiling.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

There’s more to buying a home than your mortgage.

When planning for your purchase, be sure to budget for:

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Home maintenance
  • Property taxes, and
  • Utilities

When it comes to homeowners insurance, get quotes from more than one provider. This can help maximize savings.

Budgeting for home maintenance can be tricky, so, begin with the expenses you know you’ll have every year, like a furnace tune-up.

Remember that when budgeting for utilities, your costs can fluctuate from season to season, and

when it comes to property taxes, your real estate agent can be a helpful resource.

Ask them what your property taxes are, and how you can financially prepare for them.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Have you ever turned on one of your household appliances that hasnt been used in a while and watched dust fly out of it? Thats a clear sign it’s time to bring out the dusters and blow some clean air through your home to eliminate dust buildup and tiny debris particles like pet dander.

Keeping your household appliances clean isnt that hard when you follow a few basic steps:

Clean Your Home Routinely
Running a dust mop and wiping the smooth surfaces on your furniture can help get rid of accumulated dust in your home. Be sure to shake the dust mop before and after each use. If the dust head is washable, launder it every month or so. Vacuum your carpets and rugs every week to remove dirt, sand and tiny particles that have inadvertently been carried into your home. A thorough mopping of every non-carpeted floor will help remove dust and debris from those areas as well. Avoiding dust buildup in the house in the first place will help keep it from accumulating in your harder-to-clean appliances like air conditioners and laundry machines.

Keep Dust Away From Appliances
Family members who work in dust-related jobs like road repair, construction or lumber should be sure to change their clothes and shoes as soon as they get home and before using any appliances. Someone wearing dust-covered work clothes while using the microwave with a kitchen fan running or a breeze blowing through the window can spread dust into tiny crevices of home appliances. Removing dirty shoes at the door is also a good idea. When cleaning your chimney or drapes, think about covering nearby appliances or shielding the work area to prevent dust from settling.

Routinely Clean Your Appliances
As you notice dust building up in or near your appliances, remember to wipe them down periodically to remove even fine dust debris. This will help prevent buildup on the surfaces of appliances that you dont use that often. You might be able to buy covers for toasters, blenders and other appliances to protect them from dust accumulation. Refrigerator coils can be vacuumed occasionally, but refer to your manufacturers guidelines.

Have Your Air Conditioning Serviced
Air conditioning service should be performed regularly to ensure the equipment is working effectively without parts at risk of breaking anytime soon. As your AC controls the flow of air through your house, its filters must be changed regularly as well to avoid dust buildup that can then taint the airflow. Also, remember that an AC technician can provide maintenance to clean the unit and keep it working properly.

Taking care of your home and household appliances can control the buildup of dust that often contributes to health issues. Follow these steps to keep your appliances dust-free and your house comfortable and sanitary to live in!

Source: Brooke Chaplan/RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Healthcare can be expensive. If you have an insurance plan with a high deductible, youll need to pay that amount before coverage kicks in. Opening a health savings account can help you prepare for medical costs and enjoy significant tax advantages.

How Does an HSA Work?
An HSA is similar to a personal savings account, but funds in it can only be used to pay for qualified health expenses. The Internal Revenue Service allows money in an HSA to be used for a wide range of medical, dental and mental health treatments.

To open a health savings account, you must be enrolled in an insurance plan with a high deductible. You can contribute money to an HSA yourself, and your employer and others can contribute on your behalf to help you save money for health expenses. The IRS limits the total amount of money that can be contributed to an HSA each calendar year.

In most cases, contributions to an HSA are deducted from an employees earnings each pay period. Since payroll contributions are made with pre-tax funds, they arent included in gross income, which means theyre not subject to federal income taxes, or to state taxes in most cases. You can also contribute to your HSA with after-tax dollars and deduct those contributions on your tax return. Interest and dividends earned on money in an HSA are tax-free.

HSAs typically provide account holders with a debit card that makes it easy to make purchases for qualified health expenses or to pay bills by phone. Some institutions that offer HSAs charge maintenance fees or a fee for each transaction, which can reduce the amount of money available for health expenses.

If you withdraw money from an HSA and use it for qualified medical expenses, you wont have to pay federal taxes, or state taxes in most cases. If you withdraw money and use it for non-qualified expenses before youre 65 years old, youll have to pay taxes and a penalty. Once you turn 65, you will be taxed but wont have to pay a penalty on non-qualified expenses.

If you dont use all the money in your HSA for health expenses by the end of the year, you can roll it over to cover expenses in future years. If you change jobs or insurance plans or retire, you can take your HSA with you. As a long-term strategy, you can let money in an HSA grow over time to help you prepare for higher healthcare costs youll likely face in retirement.

Enjoy Tax Benefits and Peace of Mind
An unexpected illness or injury can be financially devastating. With an HSA, you can set aside money to be prepared for unanticipated medical costs, while enjoying tax advantages and the flexibility to use your savings at any time for a wide range of expenses. If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, explore the benefits of opening an HSA.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Here are four striking countertops that will up the style factor in your kitchen…

Sintered Stone

Sintered stone combines the classic look of natural stone with all the benefits of a durable, man-made surface.


Whether youre going for a traditional or modern look, this natural stone works well in a variety of styles.


Made from a blend of quartz and resin, Caesarstone is an increasingly popular manufactured surface.


With bold swirling patterns quartzite is a natural stone that can make any kitchen pop.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Unless youre living in a custom designed home, you probably wish your bathroom"or your guest bath"was bigger.

Short of pushing out the walls or totally remodeling, home editors at offer eight good tips for making the most of your bathroom space:

Pick the right colors. Save the bright hues for accessories if you like, but paint the walls and choose the flooring to create an illusion of space and serenity. Pale, soft pastel shades are best.

Up the lighting. Adding recessed lighting in the ceiling or opera lights above the vanity are good ways to increase the brightness and create a more spacious feeling.

Try a pedestal sink. A vanity cabinet provides storage under the sink, but it takes up lots of floor space. If you can find storage space in a nearby linen closet, trade the vanity for a low-profile pedestal sink. (Note, however, that if you remove the vanity, you will likely have to repair or change the flooring.)

Cut back what sticks out. Anything that sticks out into the room can make your room seem to shrink. Remove as many hanging shelves, racks, or decorative accessories as you can because they cut into the room and make it look smaller.

Use mirror reflection. Use the largest mirror you can over the bathroom sink. It will reflect all the light in the room, including the pale colors youve chosen.

Get rid of visual obstructions. Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Or, better yet, eliminate the door and install a shower curtain that can be pushed back to one side when not in use. You’ll be able to see all the way to the back wall to maximize the illusion of spaciousness.

Expand the ceiling. You can create the illusion of a raisedceilingif you install crown molding and paint it the same color as the ceiling.

Ditch the clutter. Keep only essentials on the bathroom counter. The less clutter, the more spacious the look and feel.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Most everyone knows a healthy diet is important for a healthy body. But eating the right foods every day might be easier said than done"especially with so much tempting junk food available! If youre looking to improve your diet, start by making some small changes and learning the keys to healthy eating.

Try to include all the major food groups"fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein"as part of your meals and snacks daily. Youll also want to limit added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. For further guidance, check out these 10 tips from for building healthy meals and meeting your eating needs throughout the day:

1. Make half your plate veggies and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange and dark-green vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

2. Include whole grains. Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for food labels indicating the product is 100-percent whole grain or whole wheat. Whole grains provide more nutrients, including fiber, than refined grains do.

3. Dont forget the dairy. Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. Youll get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Dont drink milk? Try drinking soymilk or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

4. Add lean protein. Choose proteins such as lean beef, pork, chicken or turkey, as well as eggs, nuts, beans or tofu. Twice a week, try to make seafood the protein on your plate.

5. Avoid extra fat. Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

6. Get creative in the kitchen. Whether youre making a sandwich, stir-fry or casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and including more veggies that add new flavors and textures to your meals.

7. Take control of your food. Eat at home more often so you know exactly what youre eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium.

8. Try new foods. Keep it interesting by picking out new foods youve never tried before, such as mango, lentils, quinoa, kale or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends, or find some online.

9. Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish"fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top them with cinnamon.

10. Remember that everything you eat and drink matters. The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Small, practical changes in how you eat can improve your diet and add up to big wins over time.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Household chemicals and medicines can be useful and beneficial, but they can also be extremely dangerous. Accidental poisonings are common, especially among children, who are curious and may not understand the dangers around them. It only takes a second for a child to ingest a toxic substance, which can cause irreparable harm or lead to death. Many poisonings can be prevented by taking precautions.

Use and Store Chemicals Safely
When you finish using chemicals, put them away immediately. Make sure lids are screwed on tight. Store containers in a cabinet that children cant reach or that has a child-proof lock. If you store chemicals in the garage or in a shed, keep them locked up.

Keep household cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals in their original containers. If you pour a chemical into another container, someone else might not take the time to look at the label, and a child who cant read wont know what the substance is.

Dont mix chemicals. Two substances that are safe on their own can become extremely dangerous when combined. Even if no one ingests the mixture, toxic gases can cause harm.

Avoid Medication Mistakes
Ask the pharmacy to supply medications in bottles with child-resistant caps. Read warning labels on prescriptions, especially if youre taking a drug for the first time. Put medicine away after the person who needs it takes a dose.

Dont share prescription medicines with others. Even if you have the same medical condition, the other person may require a different dose or may take another medication that could be dangerous when combined with your prescription.

Follow dosage instructions carefully for both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Dont take medicine at higher doses or take doses more frequently than recommended. That wont make you get better faster, but it can make you sick.

Only give your kids medications designed for children. If you have questions, consult your pediatrician.

Kids often resist taking medicine, so many parents try to make it more appealing by calling it candy. The problem with that strategy is that a child may like the taste of the medicine and take more when you arent around, which can lead to an overdose. Explain in simple, age-appropriate terms that the medicine will make your child feel better, but dont call it candy.

Get rid of any unused or expired medications. Contact the pharmacy to find out how to dispose of them. Your community may collect expired medications at designated times and places.

Know How to Prevent Poisonings and What to Do If One Occurs
Accidental poisonings can often be prevented by recognizing potential dangers and taking precautions. Be particularly careful if you have kids or if children come to visit. If you suspect that you or someone else has been poisoned, seek help immediately. If the person is unconscious and is not breathing, call 911. If the person is awake and alert, call the national Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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