Friday, January 6, 2017

10 Anti-Burglary Tips for Your Sellers

DECEMBER 2016 | BY TRACEY HAWKINS



After Christmas, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars?  It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”
That’s just one example of some unwise habits homeowners have. If you are a seller opening your doors to the public for showings, habits such as these put you in even greater danger.  Consider using this checklist to help protect your home whether you're listing it or not.
National Snapshot of Burglaries
A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.
  1. Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
  2. Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.
Courtesy of the National Association of Realtors

Saturday, December 31, 2016

9 Top Online Education Sites to Improve Life Skills

Make 2017 Your year of learning something 


Sure, we complain about what a pain technology can be. You can deposit checks without stepping foot into a bank, but what happens when there's an erroneous charge and you can't get someone that you can understand to assist?  Or when your laptop gives you the blue screen of death and all of your precious family photos that you meant to back-up onto that external drive but you were like, totally busy and you were definitely going to get around to it but your hard drive crashed right when you were going to do it...you get the point.


Technology has its bugaboos, but for all of the frustration the fact remains that it has never been easier to delve into your next hobby or even learn a skill that can launch you into a new career. From woodworking to WordPress, graphic design to cosmetology, you can indulge your intellectual and creative side through free and inexpensive tutorials. Some sites even offer class sessions that matriculate into accredited degree programs. 

Call it continuing college or life-long learning, regardless of your education goal, dabbling in a new pastime or plunging headlong into a new vocation can do wonders for both the left and right side of your noggin.

1. Lynda.com 

The instructors go through a vetting process top assure that they not only know what they're teaching, but they know how to teach it. There is a good range of offerings from business to creative and a slew of technology based classes. You can enjoy a free trial, then it shifts to a subscription based membership.

2. Udemy.com

Much like Lynda.com, Udemy specializes in technology, business and creative courses and you can pay per the course. And there are thousands of them...more than 42,000 actually.

3. Khan Academy

If you have a school-aged kid, you may have had academic tutorial experience with Khan Academy. It's a student's lifesaver when they're staring at that math formula and wondering what planet they're actually on. Kahn is not only for kids. If you're curious about learning more about programming, Parabolas or historical paintings, give it a try. After-all; Its free. For everyone. Forever.

4. Instructables

Have something to share? You can teach others too. Call it the DIY site that lets you create, document and share your creations from crafts to food to robotics. You can learn soap making, how to create your own metal forge or any of a wealth of other cool things. They have a newsletter to keep you intrigued about all the possibilities too.

5. gcf learn free

Does Microsoft Office still perplex you? Did your kids ask you to Skype them and you immediately wondered if they should have their mouth washed out with the homemade soap you learned to make from that neat Instructables.com tutorial? You can get up to speed on computer basics all the way up to beginning graphic design with a stop at Snapchat in-between. Go ahead, get cool. Your grandkids will be in-shock. And isn't that one of the best things about making it to older adulthood?



Some of these sites offer actual online courses from the world's top universities. MIT, Harvard, Berkeley...yep, you can take courses and classes from the best, for free. Are you a small business owner with an idea to grow your biz a bit bigger but lack a few of the skills? Have you always wanted an MBA but weren't sure you could hack the workload? Give it a try with less stress and maybe you'll feel more confident taking a plunge. Many of these programs actually earn credit or a certificate and when the learning is free, you can do it just for fun too.

6. Edx 

Stand out in your field and develop the expertise employers are looking for through a series of skills-based courses. Choose graduate-level courses to advance your career or accelerate your Master's degree. Or try your hand at Artificial Intelligence (insert joke here). Choose from entire programs or individual courses to suit your ed desires.


Academic Earth has been around since 2009, since before the proliferation of free online college level courses. While they have a wide-range of subjects they have fewer courses in each, instead focusing on the best, most complete offerings. And yep, all free. 


Data science, neuroscience, social science, psychology, digital marketing, algorithms, from schools like UC Berkeley, John's Hopkins and Stanford.  Coursera "provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online."

9. Youtube

In addition to make-up tutorials and video game hacks, Youtube offers quick and easy, oftentimes pretty valuable information on a myriad of things. If people do it, it's probably been posted on Youtube. The tutorials are not vetted and due to the nature of Youtube itself, sometimes the accuracy is questionable but it's free and you can usually find enough info to cobble together a basic understanding of what you'd like to learn about. It's a good way to start your quest for enlightenment or at least learn to refinish an antique armoire. Then you can check out a few of your favorite piano playing cat videos.




Thursday, December 29, 2016

13 COZY HOMES IN AND AROUND SACRAMENTO

DEC 27, 2016

During this time of year, the cozy features of a home become a bit more attractive. We’re talking about rich wooden details, stone walls, unique fireplaces, warm lighting and other nap-inducing elements. These provide a comfortable and inviting feeling within a home — perfect for the fall and winter.
Take a look at these properties that possess some or all of these cozy qualities!

1. OLD WORLD MANSION IN LOOMIS

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This estate in Loomis is absolutely extraordinary. Its unique blend of Old World craftsmanship mixed with modern touches makes it stand out in particular. Several rooms feature exposed wooden beams on the ceiling, brick detailing and other cozy design elements.

2. GOLF COURSE HOME WITH LOTS OF ENTERTAINMENT SPACE

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This property tucked away near Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista enjoys a beautiful setting and pristine views. Within the home, you’ll find warm wooden elements, travertine tile, three gas fireplaces, and lots of space for entertaining. And during the spring and summer, bask in the sun in the outdoor living area with a stone fireplace!

3. WOODSY CONTEMPORARY HOME IN AUBURN

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
We’ve mentioned this treehouse-like home in Auburn several times, and it certainly fits within the “cozy home” department. Tucked away in the woods, this contemporary home boasts incredible views and state-of-the-art architecture. Its external appearance makes it ultra-inviting, and you won’t want to leave once you step inside!

4. INVITING GRANITE BAY HOME WITH RED DOOR

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
Did you know that a door painted red can mean that this home is an inviting place that welcomes all guests? This Granite Bay home with a red door is certainly a welcoming place, furthered by its warm lighting, abundance of cozy fireplaces, and overall comforting feel it emits.

5. ARDEN PARK HOME WITH GORGEOUS WOODEN BEAMS

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
There is something about exposed wooden beams that makes a home extra cozy. That is certainly the case for this home in Arden Park! After you’re done hibernating during the winter in the comfortable living area, tend to the property’s impressive variety of fruit trees during the spring and summer.

6. PLACERVILLE HOME WITH VINEYARD AND WINE CAVE

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
There is something so comforting and cabin-like within the living area of this home in Placerville, due to its vaulted wooden ceilings, vintage fireplace and floor-to-ceiling brick wall. We also adore the cozy barrel room and wine cave, which is so appropriate for a home with its own vineyard!

7. CARMICHAEL PROPERTY WITH BRICK FIREPLACE IN THE KITCHEN

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This home in Carmichael defines “cozy” in every way with its wooden ceilings, flooring and walls, exposed beams, brick detailing, fireplaces, and small nooks throughout the home. There’s even a brick fireplace in the kitchen! This feels like the ultimate winter retreat, but you can enjoy this home year-round thanks to the pool and outdoor fireplace.

8. FRENCH ESTATE IN MEADOW VISTA WITH STUNNING VIEWS

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
Escape to this stunning French country estate nestled in a private enclave. Once you get over the breathtaking views from the yard, you’ll be swept away by its elegant interior with lots of places to gather and relax. We particularly appreciate the warm tones and lighting used throughout that make this large property feel cozy and comfortable.

9. UNIQUE CUSTOM DESIGNED HOME IN AUBURN

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This Auburn masterpiece is particularly unique as it was custom designed by local architect, Ron Lichau. It is full of surprises at every turn, but one thing remains constant — its woodsy and cozy feel, furthered by its immersion in nature. Large windows let in natural light, and details like brick walls and exposed wooden beams make you feel like you’re in a mid-century cabin.

10. COZY NEW CONSTRUCTION HOME

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This brand new property emits coziness in a fresh way, merging dark wooden details with bright white elements and modern touches. The warm lighting, mahogany cabinetry, centrally located fireplace and stonework in the backyard make this home a cozy place to be.

11. CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY ESTATE WITH A SAUNA

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This contemporary country estate in Newcastle is truly one of a kind. It combines modern features with vintage charm in such a unique and tasteful way. We particularly love the rich hardwood flooring, elegant light fixtures, the variety of decks, and of course — the sauna!

12. OASIS IN SHINGLE SPRINGS WITH STUNNING GREAT ROOM

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
Just take one look at this home’s great room with solid oak wood floors, soaring ceilings and a vintage brick fireplace — and you’ll feel right at home. This quiet and private oasis is nestled in the trees of Shingle Springs, providing a relaxing and cozy getaway.

13. DAVIS HOME WITH UNIQUE FLOORING

Cozy Homes in the Sacramento Area
This fun and artsy home in Davis has a welcoming spirit throughout — whether you’re cozying up to the fireplace during the winter or hosting guests in the incredible backyard during the summer. We especially love the unique brown flooring in the entryway and kitchen!

WHICH OF THESE LOOKS THE COZIEST?

Is there a particular home that looks like the ideal setting for your afternoon winter nap?

Courtesy of Lyon Real Estate 2016