Category Tips From the Pros

How to Choose the Right Firewood

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about choosing firewood.

How to Choose the Right Firewood

While warm fires are the last thing you want burning in your house in the summer heat, fall and brisk winter nights are right around the corner. When cooler days come around, you should start by cleaning out your fireplace and getting a chimney inspection. Once your chimney has been prepped, you need to choose the right firewood.

Clean Sweep choosing firewood

Dry Firewood is the Best Firewood

As a general rule of thumb, remember that dry firewood is the best firewood. Wood is filled with small tubes that run water from the roots below the ground into the trunk and branches. When the wood is cut, those tubes will still have moisture in them...

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Weekly Mortgage Rates

Thanks to Mark Hines of Fidelity Bank for this episode of Tips from the Pros about mortgages.

Looks like FHLB (Federal Home Loan Bank) Grant has used all of its funds. There could be small amount come back as available but no more applications are to be taken for this valuable grant this year. Looks like 2019 in mid-January looks like the next window of opportunity.

The projection for the rates going into new week is to downright avoid floating any locks as news is mortgage rate un-friendly.

Don’t forget we have the FHA 203k full and streamline and Fannie Mae Homestyle rehab loans available.

As always feel free to use the rates below as a guideline for this weekend’s business.

Feel free to call with any borrower questions!

tips from the pros mortgage rates tips from the pros mortgage rates for this week

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big move can be messy but it can be organized

The Big Move

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about moving.

Whether you are downsizing, upsizing, moving for work or for another reason, making the move go as smoothly as possible is the main goal. Here are some tips to make things easier.

Create a timeline

Don’t wait until the last minute to do everything. Things like setting up your utilities, moving your cable, phone, internet access and forwarding your mail need to be done ahead of time. Schedule movers or rent a truck and organize your friends and family to help you move. Create a timeline with each task and when it needs to be completed – and stick to it.
Make lists if you need them and check off tasks as you complete them. Keep your lists and timeline together so you can easily find them.

Me...

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Shopping verses Organizing – Friend or Foe?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about organizing.

tips from the pros shoppingPeople who have organizing issues sometimes have shopping issues, too. The more one likes to shop, the more items accumulate in the home. Many shoppers have a hard time resisting a good deal and if it is a really good deal, they feel the urge to buy more than one item and often times many more. Some shoppers are always thinking of others when they see various items in the stores or online. For example, a relative who loves cats may appreciate the 75% off canvas bag with cats on the outside. Or, the cousin who gardens might like the 80% off book on garden design...

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Fireplace Safety for the Winter

This issue of Tips from the Pros is brought to you by Clean Sweep Chimney, Gutter & Slate Service.

clean sweet fireplace safety

Staying warm during the winter could mean piling on blankets, slipping on socks or huddling on the couch in front of a space heater, but for many people, it means lighting up the fireplace. Before you get cozy, refresh your fireplace safety knowledge with these simple tips.

Is Your Chimney Clean?

Before you worry about what type of logs to burn, you need to ensure that you have a clean chimney. Your chimney should be professionally swept at least once a year. Creosote, soot and debris will all be removed from the inside and the structure will be inspected for safety. If there are any problems with your chimney, it’s much better to find them out before something dangerous occurs.

How Low Sh...

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Do I need to organize?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how to organize your home.

organize your home

When you organize, you will find you have more time for yourself.

“I can find everything I need, it might just take me a while.”

“I know where all of the important stuff is in my home.”

Are these statements you’ve made? Do you spend time every day looking for things? It’s time to get organized!

Having clutter can be like carrying weights around with you all day. It slows you down and takes away time that could be spent with more productive or fun tasks. You may have trouble reaching your personal and business goals.

Once you have eliminated clutter and organized what is left, you’ll find that your mind seems more clear and you actually feel better...

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Tax Reform Bill and What it Means

Thanks to L.K. Benson for this issue of Tips from the Pros.

L.K. Benson Tips from the Pros tax reform

Over the past several months we have been closely following the tax reform bill and providing you with regular updates on the proposals and planning opportunities surrounding those proposals. Both the House and Senate passed the final version of the bill and received the President’s signature. The bill was signed into law and will be effective for the 2018 tax year. That leaves you with very little time to implement any tax planning strategies!

We have written a more detailed overview of the reform bill and some tax strategies you should consider before December 31 that you can find on our website here. Below is a brief summary of these planning ideas:

  1. If you have not yet fully paid your 2017 state income taxes, consider maki...
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L.K. Benson Tips from the Pros tax reform

Tax Reform Moves Closer to Reality and Capital Gain Distributions Incoming

Thanks to L.K. Benson for this issue of Tips from the Pros.

Last Friday night the Senate passed a tax reform bill that would bring sweeping changes to our income tax system for individuals and corporations. The House of Representatives had already passed a similar bill earlier in November, and now the reconciliation process has begun. While significant differences between the two bills remain (see here for a good summary), there are enough similarities that we believe the odds are high that a compromised version of the bill will be signed into law before the end of the year. Unfortunately, you won’t have much time after the bill is passed to determine exactly how it will impact your own situation and implement any tax planning strategies before year end...

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fireplaces clean sweep

The Role of Fireplaces in Home Value

Thanks to Clean Sweep Chimney, Gutter & Slate Service for this episode of Tips from the Pros about fireplaces and home sales.

Fireplaces Play an Important Role in Winter Home Sales

Fireplaces have a direct positive effect on home sales, provided that they are in good condition. A study by the National Association of Realtors showed that fireplaces were one of the top three amenities requested by prospective homebuyers.

How Do Fireplaces Affect Home Value?

Almost half of homebuyers indicate that they are willing to pay more for a home with a working fireplace. On average, both wood-burning and gas fireplaces increase a home’s selling price by 12%. Their value is undeniable, whether they are inside of a home, condominium, townhouse or apartment...

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Preparedness for big storms

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how to organize your home.

preparedness is important when storms are on their way

With the number of hurricanes happening this season, it’s time to talk about planning for an emergency. It might seem corny or unnecessary, but having family fire drills can save lives. An emergency plan can come in handy when you need it.

In Baltimore, we have been spared the worst of the hurricanes, but the storms that end up here can be serious. They cause downed trees, water coming inside and a loss of power. Preparedness before a big storm is always a good idea.

Doctors recommend you have at least a week of your medications on hand at any given time. Having only one or two day’s worth of your medication could cause you extra stress in an already stressful situation...

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