Showing posts from 2017

Life will never be the same

It pretty much goes without saying that life will never be the same for an incredible number of people whose lives were not just “affected” but have been essentially devastated by one of the unprecedented number of recent disasters worldwide.  2017 has seen not just damaging but deadly hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, mudslides, wildfires, droughts, and violent acts of terrorism on top of the accidents and diseases that kill and injure our loved ones and ourselves.  I can’t imagine there is anyone anywhere who has been completely unscathed by these events.

It seems almost indifferent and insensitive to do “business as usual” in the face of these catastrophes, especially with the lengthy and challenging recovery ahead for so many.  However, I believe that it is essential that those who are able to pick up the pieces do their best to do just that for the sake of those who cannot.  Here in the Houston area in the path of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, there has been a tremendo…


OK, I'm not really here to look at green cars, but....
Going Green is not just good for Planet Earth, but it can be good for your piece of it AND for your pocketbook.  There are "green" measures and lifestyle decisions that can touch every aspect of our lives, but this article I thought could make us take a bit harder look at green options and ideas so that we can make informed decisions.

1.  Myth: Green Homes are Expensive
Fact: Eco-friendly homes come in different types, sizes, and price tags, from a green-minded prefab that can cost less than $150,000 to an eco-urban condo for $690,000 or more. The big difference is in resale value: Eco-friendly homes fetch higher prices compared with conventionally built homes.
2.  Myth: Green Homes Look Kooky
Fact: Not all green homes look like grass-roofed hobbit holes or extra-crunchy Earthships. That’s old school. Eco-friendly abodes being built today can look just like traditional houses — except they may have solar panels or small w…

Speed Dating for a Mortgage Partner

NOW I’ve seen everything! 

OK, I know, as soon as I say that, someone will come along with something even MORE bizarre…

BUT, I have to say Speed Dating for a Mortgage Partner MUST be way up there at the top of the “Most Bizarre Financial Ideas” list, if there is one. (There should be!)

It kind of takes the idea of searching for roommates to share an apartment to another level. Basically the plan is for people who would buy a house or condo together with a perfect stranger to get acquainted in a “speed dating” scenario and invest a few minutes into determining if their pocketbooks and credit ratings are compatible.

It’s happening in Toronto where the housing market has gone so nuts that it’s pretty much impossible for a single one-income person to qualify and buy a house, any house.  Pooling resources may be the only way they can make it happen, and, of course, being priced out of the market is not a problem unique to Toronto.

Most lenders will write “friends and family” loans for unmarried…

Planning to move?

Is a "Moving Day" in your future?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

That is, if you don’t ask moving companies the right questions, they may not tell you about add-on charges that could surprise you unpleasantly when you get their final bill.

There are some potential expenses you may not have considered when using a moving company. When people start planning a move, they might begin by going online to get a few moving quotes. Most companies will offer you a free quote, online or over the phone, so it’s really easy! BUT, you should keep in mind that these quotes will only give you an approximation of your total moving cost.

Here are a few things that won’t typically be in their off-the-cuff figure. Not exactly a “hidden fee” but some things you may have failed to ask about.

1. Extra weight
Many moving companies base their quotes on the weight of the shipment, but this means that the accuracy depends on how close the weight estimate is.  Whose figure is it? If the movers pick up yo…

How brave are you?

Would you build or buy a house like the one above that I call “Jumbalaya”?  How about a media room that took its design cues from Star Trek? 

Want to surprise your guests with a “fishy” powder room feature?

We all want our homes to be unique in some way, but some folks don’t just think outside the box, they don’t even seem to know what a box IS! 

I enjoy the “Extreme Homes” show on TV, lots of fabulous ideas, some of which I might “appropriate” myself. 
How about YOU? How far would you go to make your home unique?  Have you already done it or are you looking at how you can assemble your extreme dream house ideas and make them reality?  I would love to help you whether you are looking to shoot for the moon, or maybe to go for something unique but less outrageous.  

You can start your search HERE.

PS, if you know someone who is considering buying or selling a home (extreme or not), if you would please pass my contact info on I would appreciate it!

Please visit my website for a…

Is Your House Spying On You?

A bit of a follow-on to my last blog about smart device security, this month TV maker Vizio was fined $2.2 million for not telling 11 million owners of their internet-connected TVs that it was spying on them, collecting and selling customers' locations, demographics and viewing habit info. They have been ordered to delete everything and quit doing that.

That’s the good news – the bad news is that pretty much all of the other TV brands, set top boxes, game machines and other internet viewing gadgets are doing the same thing to some extent.  They typically give you the opportunity to opt out of being tracked when you set the device up for the first time, but most people tend to be in a hurry and don’t carefully consider what that particular setting actually means. 
Bottom line, it’s a good idea for device owners to check the manual or call support for the way to get to the setting and check whether it’s on or off.

AND, while you’re at it, if the device has some voice-recognition funct…

How Smart Is Smart?

It seems like companies big and small all over the world are working furiously to make the things around us smarter than we are.

I’d say by far the leading examples we all know and love are our phones and our cars, but there are game systems, Smart TV’s and the ever popular “much much more”:
Security systems and surveillanceSmoke and fire alarmsHeating and A/C thermostatsDoor locksRefrigeratorsLightsBaby monitorsFootballs that track your throws (!!!!)Egg cartons track freshnessWater bottles track your hydrationMattress covers that turn off the lights and set the alarmJars that tell you when contents are getting lowAnd more every day!

What you might not realize is some of the technologies that are now being integrated into homes and our lives can provide an open portal to “the web” that may leave them (and YOU) vulnerable to danger, harassment and attack.  
Many of these smart devices prioritize simplicity over security and the default security and privacy settings may be “OFF”. You reall…