Being a homeowner comes with legal responsibilities. If you are buying or selling a home, understanding what appraisals are about is an essential part of knowing that you will be getting your money’s worth. Before you decide to purchase or sell your property, you can have it appraised to have a professional basis on how you will be pricing a home or how much you will be investing in a property and if this amount of money you will be shelling out is truly worth it.
What exactly is an appraisal?
Simply put, an appraisal is a written estimate indicating the property’s value in the market. This value is determined by an appraiser and the value of a property is based upon factors such as recent prices of properties within the same category or style, as well as the property’s current condition.
An appraisal will be given by the appraiser, and he or she is considered as the third party who will offer the objective point of view concerning the price of a home. The evaluations will be based on market research, the appraisal’s knowledge of the market, and their overall evaluation of the property in question.
How is the value of a home determined?
There are three standard approaches when it comes to determining the value of a property:
· Coast approach – Estimates include the cost for repairs and deductions for physical deterioration is given. The land value is added into the equation as well.
· Comparison approach – Properties of similar size, style, and built are taken into comparison. Quality and location are also compared, and the price will be based on similarities and difference. Deductions or additions can be given for smaller bathrooms, or an additional room, and the likes.
· Income approach – Generally applicable for properties that are commercially owned, the value of a property is based on the net revenue that the property at its certain location gets to produce.
Why is an appraisal required?
Homes can differ in value, and when there is a lender concerned, an appraisal can be used to determine how much the loan amount should be. Lenders usually do not lend more than the home’s total value, and the value of the appraisal will be used for determining the loan ratios which will be agreeable to all parties.
How is the appraisal performed?
Appraisers are hired for the purpose of giving an objective opinion of a property’s value. They are trained and skilled professionals knowledgeable in the market, and are licensed professionals by the Division of Commerce. These professionals do not deal with valuables, and they usually have a certain liability insurance so that in case accidental property damage occurs during the appraisal, they are covered.
The lender will be the one who picks the appraiser, and that makes them work for the lender and not for the seller or the borrower. Appraisals usually do not take long, and may last only 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the property.
Factors such as the size and age of a home, size or land area of the property, location, home features such as number of bedrooms and baths, architectural features, or major renovations are taken into consideration. A seller can prepare the home for appraisal by making sure all maintenance work is done before the appraiser arrives, and that all is in working order as well.
Energy consumption can really add up to your expenses, and being able to save on how much energy you consume can ultimately lead to more savings for your budget. If you are suffering from expensive electricity bills and would like to cut on costs, you can follow these energy saving tips to have a more energy-efficient home.
Pay Attention to the Appliances You Choose and Maintain them Properly
· Smaller appliances generally consume less electricity.
· Use toasters or microwaves for preparing small dishes that only need to be heated. Microwaves cut the cooking time and save on energy.
· Use LED lights or Energy Star light bulbs.
· Clean your appliances such as cook-tops, ovens, air conditioners, and fans. Less accumulated dirt will enhance the efficiency and energy consumption of these appliances.
· Replace the lights regularly along with the air filters for cooling or heating systems.
Take Note of Your Temperature
· When you can, lower your temperature by a few degrees during the winter. Pile up on your winter clothes instead. A few degrees deducted from your heating system can show a significant reduction of overall energy consumption when done regularly.
· Install timed thermostat systems. You can choose the number of hours your heating system will be on, and the intervals when they are turned on and off. When your home is already heated, you can turn the heater off for a few hours until the internal heat is consumed, then turn it on again automatically with the thermostat system. The same can be done for cooling systems.
Seasonal Tips and How to Maximize the Features of Your Home’s Physical Structure
· Open the windows during summer and let the heat out while allowing the cool breeze in.
· During winter, keep the heat in by caulking or filling in gaps in windows and doors with spacers or sealing them with tape. The cool air from the outside can affect the performance of your heater. Keeping the heat in will make the heater more efficient.
· Make use of ceiling fans in the summer. These help circulate air much better and can keep rooms much cooler.
· Make use of the fireplace whenever you can in the winter. Also remember to turn off the heating system whenever you are not home.
· Keep your windows curtain-free to let in the solar heat during winter.
Year-Round Energy Saving Tips
· Pull the plug off when the appliances are not in use.
· Take short showers instead of baths.
· Make use of compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.
· When watering your plants, save on your water consumption by watering either in the morning or afternoon.
· Use your dishwasher’s timer, and always wash full-load. The same goes for washing machines, but make sure not to overload the appliances so that they will function efficiently.
· Dress in cool clothes in the summer and in layers of clothing during the winter to lessen the need for cooling and heating systems.
· Consider getting high performance and dual pane windows for more structural efficiency.
· Defrost your refrigerators regularly and avoid more than a quarter inch buildup of ice.
By following these tips, you can have a more energy-efficient home, more savings, and you can live in a more eco-friendly way too!
The Chinese people have a rich culture and set of beliefs. They have their Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics, and Feng Shui falls under Physgiognomy or observing appearances with the use of calculations and formulas. But what is Feng Shui really?
Understanding Feng Shui
Literally translated, Feng Shui means “wind and water.” In the Chinese culture, both of these elements are associated to one’s good health and fortune. Having good Feng Shui means positive energies while having bad Feng Shui means having misfortunes or bad luck.
It is considered as an ancient art and practice which began in China over 3,000 years ago. The main concept behind Feng Shui is how to balance the energies or Qi which flows in different spaces in order to achieve good fortune and sound health for its inhabitants. This ancient art is based on Taoist beliefs where man seeks to understand nature and that in order to be one, a balance must be achieved with the Qi or energy which flows from the earth itself and the people who are on it. Feng Shui is also governed by the theories related to yin and yang as well as the five Feng Shui elements.
Feng Shui Elements
These elements are earth, air, fire, water, and metal. One of the main goals of Feng Shui is to achieve that desired harmony between the life of a person with its surrounding environment. During the ancient times, Feng Shui practitioners were consulted for the orientation of buildings especially those with religious purposes such as temples and tombs. They would use the stars, the cardinal directions, and also bodies of water to determine how to properly build a building while staying harmonious with the land.
Back in the day, the positioning of various objects in temples, homes, and even the location of graves were calculated based on yin and yang patterns as well as the flow of Qi or energy. Today, these Feng Shui elements are taken into consideration even by interior designers when their clients would ask how to make their homes a more harmonious one to bring more good health and fortune.
Feng Shui in the Home
The elements of Feng Shui are still seen in today’s environment—even the home. To have a Feng Shui home, even the initial building stages are considered, and a Feng Shui practitioner can be asked about how to best orient a house.
Inside a home, the elements of Feng Shui are still present such as metal and wood in furniture, water in the bathroom, or fire in the kitchen. Even the placement of doors is taken into consideration where the flow of Qi is concerned. The balance between these items can be achieved by careful planning and coordination. Should one element dominate a room, it can be balanced out by incorporating another element to neutralize it.
Feng Shui has the ultimate goal of achieving harmony between humans as well as the objects around them in their usual surroundings. Being one with your dwelling certainly won’t be bad as long as you live uninterruptedly.
When you’re looking for a new home, the first thing you should do is contact us and have us take you on a tour of homes you might like, right? Wrong!
The first thing you should do before you do any house shopping whatsoever is to get pre-approved for a home loan.And before we take a look at why pre-approval is so important, let’s look at the difference between getting a pre-qualification versus a pre-approval because they are not the same thing. One gives you a general idea of what price range you can shop in, while the other gives you the power to fill out the purchase and sale agreement(s) as soon as you find the home you like.
Getting a pre-qualification is the first task in the mortgage process and it’s simple and quick. You supply a lender with the basics of your overall financial situation, such as your how much debt you have, what your income is, and any the value of any assets you might have. This will give you a general idea of how much you may qualify for on a mortgage. But the big point here is that a pre-qualification will not put you in a position to place offers in writing. That’s where the pre-approval comes in. Here are some good reasons why the pre-approval letter from a lender is so important in your home buying search:
- You will save a lot of time (and probably a lot of money spent on filling up your gas tank) because the pre-approval letter from a lender basically says the lender is ready to provide you with a home loan for a certain amount. This reduces the time you have to spend going over home listings. A big time waster for home buyers is looking at a lot of listings while at the same time asking themselves, “I like that home, but I wonder if I can afford it?” Pre-approval takes the wondering out of the equation. It’s like going fishing. If a friend told you he or she wanted to take you fishing and you agreed, where would you go fishing? Without discussing it in detail, you wouldn’t know where to go and neither would your friend. But if your friend asked you to go fishing at a specific lake because they knew that lake is stocked with a specific kind of fish that you like, then you could prepare ahead of time with the right kind of fishing pole, fishing lures and bait, etc. Pre-approvals do the same thing. You can be prepared ahead of time before you go home shopping because your pre-approval gives you an idea of what cities, what neighborhoods and what price range is right for you.
- You also have more buying leverage when you are pre-approved. It is a well known fact that sellers most often accept offers from potential buyers that are pre-approved. It’s like if you were buying a home with all cash from directly from your wallet. If you’re not pre-approved and yet you make an offer to a seller, it’s like showing the seller an empty wallet. Telling a seller you want to buy their home with no pre-approval is just a bunch of hot air, and hot air does not close deals. But if you are pre-approved and you make an offer to a seller, it’s like showing them the same wallet-this time loaded with cash. They’ll know you’re a serious and prepared buyer. And when sellers are approached by a pre-approved buyer, there’s a good chance that there will be room for negotiating on the price too.
- A pre-approval means your lender can get you on the fast track to closing the deal. Appraisals can be ordered right away, and in some cases a 60-day closing can be shortened to 30 days or even down to three weeks. And the potential for a quick closing will look very attractive to a seller who needs to sell fast because they’re being transferred by their employer to a new city, etc.
Because a pre-approval is the most important contingency to satisfy in a purchase agreement, getting that done ahead of time will make home shopping much ease.
Enjoying the beauty of the night sky or watching the sunset while staying warm in your own backyard is a relaxing experience. It is also a great way to bond with your family. To make this simple treat at home even more special, you can build your fire pit in your backyard. This isn’t only a great way to keep warm during chilly nights out, it can also be a wonderful addition to your property.
How to Build Your Basic Fire Pit
If you have a spacious backyard where you can put tents up and “camp out” with the kids or if you simply would like a nice and rustic fire pit for your home, you don’t have to spend on expensive labor and construction materials to have your own fire pit. You will need these basic equipment:
· Yard stick or measuring tape
· A shovel
· Wheel barrow
· Stackable stones or bricks; either the red ones or even solid cement
To make your fire pit, measure 4-5 feet on the area where you desire to set it.
Create a circle with the diameter you choose—starting from 4 feet is a great choice. Take your shovel and have the wheel barrow stand by. Dig out about a foot deep into the outline of the circle you made. Line up the edge of your pit with stones or bricks. Cement bricks can be easier to work with. Make it about a foot high, and leave around 2 inches of space in between every brick for insulation. You can either fill out the bottom of your fire pit with a layer of stones or pour in some quick setting cement.
Once your basic pit is set, you can begin a fire by taking some logs, old wood, or driftwood and kindle your fire. Build your wood up in a sort of teepee shape and add more as needed. Your fire will grow big and strong and it won’t spread anywhere else since you have your fire pit to contain it. When you are done, you can sprinkle the fire off with water. The coals will dry up when exposed to the sun and you can use them again next time.
Benefits of Having a Fire Pit
A fire pit right in your backyard can make you feel as if you’re out in the great outdoors. Also, won’t have to worry about the fire spreading when you construct your own pit. This can be a great substitute to a chimney if your home doesn’t have one, and a good source of natural heat. Apart from that, you can also place a wire top over the pit and make it a kind of rustic grill for outdoor cooking! Making your own fire pit can be fun, and the safety and comforting warmth it can offer will truly be worth your efforts.
During the last few years, Americans have been hit rather hard by the flu and nasty strains of the flu such as Swine Flu and the Avian Flu (also known as the bird flu) have been in news headlines quite a lot during the last two winters. Things aren’t looking so bright this year either; it seems that the flu season has hit early, and has hit hard especially in places where the flu doesn’t show up until later in the winter.
You may have already heard this over and over again, but it’s worth repeating. The best way to avoid catching the flu is to be prepared before you get sick and that starts with getting a flu shot. Some people are unable to get a flu shot, and if that applies to you it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about getting a prescription for antiviral medications that work in similar fashion to a flu shot.
One medication you can ask your doctor about is Tamiflu. It’s a commonly prescribed medication to help prevent the onset of the flue. Normally, Tamiflu is prescribed in ten day doses, but you actually can use it for the duration of the cold and flu season. If you do end up getting the flu, one medication that can be prescribed is Relenza. But of course the best option is to do what you can to avoid the flu in the first place. Here’s some tips that can reduce the risk of getting sick from the flu this winter:
Online doctors are able to prescribe antiviral medications such as Tamiflu, which are usually prescribed for 10 days, but can be used for the duration of the flu season. Relenza can be used in the event that you get the flu, but if you’re goal is to avoid it ask a doctor what you can do to help.
There are a few things that you can do to avoid getting the flu this season:
- Wash your hands! This is among the most common and easy solutions to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Wash your hands before and after meals, after handling animals and especially after using the bathroom. If you follow these simple rules you won’t need a doctor.
- Keep everything clean. Make it a routine to keep the kitchen and bathroom clean. Make sure couches are free of debris and small pieces of food that can fall between the cracks and become germ breeding grounds. Use an antibacterial cloth to wipe down the dirtiest areas.
- Avoid close contact with infected people. You can try to avoid people with flu symptoms, but if you are in an environment where many people are sick its best you consult your online doctor for an online prescription for Tamiflu. This will help if you have all ready been exposed. Ask a doctor if there are any other treatments to combat your symptoms.
- Avoid using public facilities. Public water fountains and bathrooms can be a hive of bacteria so be cautious and try to avoid using the facilities. If you can’t, then make sure to wash your hands afterward.
- Take a water bottle with you. A lot of people underestimate how effective a reusable water bottle can be. It helps cut down on the number of germs you come in contact with by allowing you one source for liquids, and of course it is good for the environment.
The flu season is right around the corner, but fortunately doctors are available with your online prescription for Tamiflu and Relenza to help you fight the most persistent flu strains. Always ask your physician before you begin any flu treatment; your online doctor can be the deciding factor in your flu season.
The steaming, homemade goodness of a pumpkin pie can evoke a feeling of coziness and warmth that you can only feel when you take a bite out of this sumptuous culinary creation. A pumpkin pie is considered as a traditional kind of dessert which is usually prepared during early winter or fall. It is one of the favorites for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and is one of the symbols of Halloween because of its main ingredient.
The pie is made up of custard-type filling that’s made from either canned or fresh pumpkins which are then baked in a pie shell. It usually does not have a top crust like other pies, and it is made more flavorful by adding ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Did you know that traditionally, pies were made from a “pie pumpkin” which is about 6-8 inches in diameter? Basically, the pumpkin is sliced in half, seeds are taken off, and the halves are heated until they become soft enough to make into a puree. The pureed pumpkin will then be combined with baking staples like eggs, milk, and other ingredients.
Here’s a recipe you can try out to make your very own homemade pumpkin pie:
· 2 cups of pureed sugar pumpkin, or a can of pumpkin puree. If you use a sugar pumpkin, take out the seeds, bake for about an hour and a half at 350°F then scoop out the insides, or boil it until the halves are soft, and then put the baked or boiled halves in a blender until you get to small enough pieces for pureeing.
· 1 ½ cup of heavy cream or a 12 oz. can evaporated milk
· Half cup brown sugar, dark preferably
· 1/3 cup table sugar
· ½ teaspoon of salt
· 2 whole eggs
· 1 egg yolk only
· A teaspoon of ground ginger
· ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom
· Half a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
· A good pumpkin crust
1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
2. Mix your salt, sugar, spices, and the lemon zest in a big bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to the big bowl.
4. Stir in your pumpkin puree.
5.Pour in the cream.
6. Whisk the ingredients all together until well-mixed and all the ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated.
7. Pour the resulting mixture into your prepared pie shell.
8. Bake this at 425°F for about 15 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, reduce your temperature to 350°F and bake for another 40-50 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
9. Cool the pie on a wire tack for about 2 hours. Don’t worry if the pie looks all puffed up as it comes out of the oven, this is because of the leavening action of the eggs. This will deflate after cooling.
10. Take a slice or two out after cooling, and serve each slice garnished with some whipped cream or some lemon rind on top.
All that’s left to do now is to enjoy your homemade pumpkin pie!
HHH: A Heck of a (Great!) School District
Residents in Dix Hills and other communities served by the Half Hollow Hills School District have a pretty good idea how fortunate they are when they look at two pages on the District’s web site: The ‘Our District’ page http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975292 , and, under the ‘Students’ tab, http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=976447 the section entitled “20 Strategies to Manage the Stress of Returning to School”. Presented by ‘The Institute for Traumatic Stress’, this list is packed with practical advice in terms students can relate to – or, at the least, understand. The first tip tells you where this list is going: ‘Stop texting and start talking. Share your thoughts and feelings with your family and friends, face to face’. Down-to-earth. Hard-hitting. With the ‘Let’s Get TO It’ attitude that could be the District’s motto.
And that the students and staff do ‘get TO it’ is exhibited clearly on the ‘Our District’ page, which spells out how thoroughly HHHSD fulfills its mission statement: “An education-oriented community with high expectations for its schools”. A list of ten outstanding achievements, most of them just reflecting the most recent school year, describes how the kids have excelled and how the District has: Way above average achievements in art and mathematics dominate the list, but another emphasis on the District’s real-world ambitions is the announcement that Mandarin Chinese is offered not only at the high school level, but it’s being initiated at the middle school level – giving students the opportunity to improve their efficiency, over at least five years, in an increasingly important language.
The District, which serves 10,000 youths, comprises seven elementary, two middle and two high schools. Both of the latter placed in the Gold Division of the 21,000 ranked high schools across the country by US News & World Report. The ‘Best High Schools of 2013’ report is, like every year’s, highly regarded both by high schools themselves and by higher-learning institutions.
What about educational offerings? What’s the course mix at the high school level? ‘Got a few minutes? The ‘Course Offerings” section http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/uploaded/User_Folders/hseguidance/2013-14/HS_Course_Book_(final_2)13-14_(4).pdf#page=9 of the web site is 75 full pages long! It includes 26 Advanced Placement opportunities as well as “several personal enrichment electives in the five core subject areas”.
Among the many very impressive features of the Course Book is the description of the Half Hollow Hills Business Academy. Its ‘academic, leadership and project-based components’ are designed to prepare students “to begin an advanced degree in a competitive college environment”. The Academy focuses on ‘interactive communication, collaboration, global awareness, financial literacy, digital literacy, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills’. This is not your granddad’s high school!
You could spend hours strolling through the vast landscape of the HHH School District’s web site – working up a good appetite as you do so. No problem! Get all kinds of good-eating advice on the nine (count ‘em!) ‘Lunch Program’ pages (under the HHH tab). Not just menus, but advice on nutrition – in downloadable files, in specific types of foods, including snacks, healthy snacks and yogurt and frozen soft serve items – and an equally information-packed allergen page. And in addition to the menus for the elementary, middle and high schools, there’s also a ‘Build Your Own Lunch’ section!
Whether you’re a newcomer to the area or a well-established resident, you should be proud that your kids (or grand kids) have access to such a thoroughly modern, highly imaginative school district, where their success is everyone’s mission.
Yes, they do! Kids of all ages delight in a day at this multi-faceted Melville facility! It’s a real working farm and a whole lot more.
It has a petting zoo. It offers pony rides. It hosts kids’ parties, and educational outings. White Post Farms has seasonal festivals that feature the likes of hayrides, or pumpkin picking, and food. Families flock here for a fun-filled day. Classroom groups get amazing opportunities to see rare and endangered animals, get up close to exotic birds in the Farms’ free-flight aviary. Kids can learn how a seed grows to becomes a flower (they get to plant and take home seeds of their own too!), they can also lean about like other things, sluice ‘mine rough’ (soil from the Farms’ mine) for gem stones, arrow heads and fossils .
Located at 250 Old Country Road in Melville (and online at www.whitepostfarms.net), this highly-popular place also has a lip-smacking Market filled with fresh pies, gourmet breads, sandwiches, salads, sushi, smoothies and more. Many of the best-of-the -fresh ingredients come right from the Farms itself.
Though the name White Post Farms dates only to 1971, the farm itself has been a Long Island staple since the 1880’s. And it truly was a staple, not just for the founding Brigati family but the area. During the Depression, when Long Island was heavily depended on the crops grown here because food from elsewhere was scarce and expensive. A wide range of produce was grown at the farm, from potatoes – the largest crop – to tomatoes, cabbage celery and onions. By the 1950’s, many of those were being distributed to grocery stores. Since 1964, they’ve been offered on the family’s farm stand, which has evolved through the years to become today’s Market.
The 1960s also saw the erection of greenhouses for growing flowers and vegetables. By then, the farm was becoming a destination for ‘foodies’. With two decades, it was also becoming a destination for people seeking a close-to-home ‘farm experience’ By the 1990s, the family was really growing the number of reasons families and school groups wanted to come.
Along the way, the Brigatis grew their support for local organizations by sponsoring fund-raisers. That’s now an important part of the family’s mission – as is providing an exciting, entertaining destination for the young and the young at heart.
Halloween is the time for trick or treating, costume parties, and scary stories shared by the bonfire. But before you go all out on those activities which you often end up doing outdoors or some other place, why not try setting the mood for Halloween right at home? Kids will love it and your guests as well as neighbors and passersby will be impressed with these fun DIY Halloween house decor ideas!
· Monster shadows – The effect of this Halloween house decor would be seen outside your home. Cut out silhouettes of monster figures on dark-colored paper. Make sure to give your monsters big or numerous eyes, and out of proportion body features! Stick them against your windows from the inside and see the effects when it’s dark out and you turn on the lights. Instant monster house borders!
· Cobwebs or hanging hair strands – Cobwebs may be one of the most common Halloween decor. To make things a bit creepier, take about half an inch-thick sections of fake black hair, preferably straight, and hang it as is or a bit ruffled up in places like over the door, some on the chandelier, or hang a whole wig somewhere where it would make a creepy impact.
· Tree branch lighting – Cut out thin, tree-branch like patterns on a sheet of dark paper, and place it around a light source to create instant dark forest-like tree branches in your rooms!
· Creepy eyes – Purchase some LED lights and install them in visible areas like bushes or by the windows of dimly lit rooms. At night, they will look like creatures of the dark ready to prey on passers by!
· Pumpkin carvings – A classic Halloween house decor, pumpkin carvings are a fun way to exercise your creativity. Popular designs include a witch’s head with matching crooked nose, ogres, or just about any monster. Don’t forget the classic jack-O-lantern carving!
· Glow in the dark lawn ghosts – Ideal for when you’re having a party or when you have some space in your lawn, you can use old chicken wire to create ghost-like figures on your lawn. Shape the chicken wire into dresses and distribute a piece or two on your lawn. Break open some glow sticks—careful not to get any in your eyes! Sprinkle the liquid onto the chicken wire and see ethereal ghostly figures on your lawn. You can even hang your creations on tree branches so they’d sway in the wind!
· Hanging bats – You can always accompany your cobwebs with plastic bat toys! Hanging a whole lot of them in the hallway or in the foyer will make them look as if they’re on their way to get you!
· Scary masks – Instead of placing just your coats on your coat hanger, bring out your scary masks and place some of them in random places of your house like doorknobs, or prop them up over the television. You can even place them inside the refrigerator to give the next person to open it a creepy shock for the Halloween spirit!