Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Before putting your home up for sale, it pays to take a good look around. Is your home d├ęcor out of date? Will it appeal to prospective buyers, or send them running out the door?
Barbara Ballinger, architecture coach and columnist for the Style, Staged and Sold blog, says that while vintage features may appeal to some buyers, they could cost you a sale. Here are a few designs that could turn off potential buyers.

· Excessively bold or dark paint or tile colors, such as deep plum or jet black

· Walls painted with lacquered or high-gloss finish, faux- and sponge-painted walls, and wallpaper

· Worn, cracked laminate countertops and backsplashes

· Outdated bathrooms with small sinks, short toilets, squat bathtubs and tight shower spaces

· Stained and worn wall-to-wall carpet or worn linoleum

· Bedrooms decorated with a theme that is incorporated through the carpeting, walls, ceilings, light fixtures and furnishings

· Too many mirrored walls, ceilings and doors in a single room

· Ceilings with too many recessed lighting spots

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


While many homeowners say home security is a priority, they may not be taking the necessary precautions with their keys and locks. A recent survey by Kwikset, which manufactures locks and hardware for residential homes, finds that 47 percent of homeowners did not change or re-key their locks when they first moved in to their home, and nearly one-third have never changed or rekeyed their locks. More than half of homeowners surveyed also say they routinely loan house keys to friends or contractors, increasing the chance that the keys could fall into the wrong hands and be copied. Home security experts at American Lock and Key offer several tips to help you secure access to your home.

· Don’t hide keys in obvious places, such as under an exterior floor mat or a planter. Most burglars know the most common places to hide keys. If you must hide them, keep keys stored in a secured key box.

· Keep keys separate from your address, so if they are ever lost or stolen, no one can identify where they belong.

· Immediately change or re-key the locks when you move to a new home. A locksmith may charge $40 to $100 or more to re-key locks or, if you prefer to do it yourself, re-key kits are available at hardware stores for less than $20.

· Keep garage doors secure, especially those that connect to the house from inside the garage and doors leading to the garage from outside. Use a padlock to secure the inside of the garage door.

· Keep windows locked, especially on the home’s lower level where they can be an attractive target for criminals.

For all of my personal security lock and key needs as well as my business needs I use Gary Beaver with Bay to Beaches. Great service, great prices and when he’s done the sense of security feels great! Gary can be reached at (415) 388-9020.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Tired of heading to the computer room every time you want to look something up? A wireless network can offer a solution. Even if you’re not fluent in tech-speak, setting up a network is easy. If your computer isn’t already outfitted with wireless capabilities (most newer models are), there’s an easy fix: desktops need a USB wireless adapter; laptops need a wireless card. If your desktop is already using all of its available USB ports, you can buy a hub that plugs into the computer, leaving open ports on the hub that are still connected.

Once you begin to set up the network, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s best to purchase a wireless router versus a wireless access point. Access points let one user access a single network, while routers allow for more than one computer to access the same network using one IP address that is provided to connected computers. Another key difference between a router and an access point is that routers include firewall technology for better network security.

When choosing a router, pay attention to the letter after the speed (it’ll be “a,” “b,” “g,” or “n,” in order alphabetically from oldest to newest). Though “n” is the newest choice, the better choice may be “g” if you don’t have the latest computer model. If not fully compatible, you might experience a lag in service.

If you live in a large home rather than an apartment, you may want to purchase a signal booster. It will increase the strength of the base station, improving wireless connections throughout the home. If you choose to go without a signal booster, choose a central location for the router, such as the living room or den, where you would most likely use your computer.

Be sure to secure your network with passwords and network names that are difficult to guess. If possible, enable settings to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption versus WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy), which offers better protection from would-be hackers.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's Your Transit Score?

Transportation costs are an important — and often overlooked — factor when consumers consider moving to a new home. According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, suburban households with little or no access to public transportation spend up to 32 percent of their income on transportation costs, while households in walkable areas with greater access to public transportation spend as little as 12 percent.

The website Walk Score has launched several tools to help consumers gauge the proximity of public transportation to a selected address, their commuting options and associated costs. The resulting Transit Score (www.walkscore.com/transit-score.php) rates an address on a scale of zero to 100 to indicate how well it is served by public transportation. Transit Score is currently available in 30 cities, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Custom commute reports give consumers a summary of commuting options for a specific location, such as driving, biking or walking, the estimated time it would take to arrive at that address and a list of nearby public transit stops and routes. By entering a few pieces of information, the transportation costs calculator generates an estimated monthly amount that consumers can expect to pay for housing and transportation.

As commute times and transit costs continue to grow, tools such as Transit Score can help you understand how the location of your home and workplace affects your daily life.