AMY PELL

REALTOR®    CA BRE License #01438754

Coldwell Banker,  301 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills,  CA 90210
T (310) 777-6200   F (818) 647-1050   Cell (818) 516-3422
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:: July 2013 ::

July is the peak month for grill fires.

There's nothing like outdoor grilling. It's one of the most popular ways to cook food. But, a grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. They can be very hot, causing burn injuries. Follow these simple tips and you will be on the way to safe grilling.

Safety tips

*Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
*The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
*Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
*Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
*Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

*There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
*If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
*Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
*There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
*When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

From LAPD Van Nuys

 

:: April 2013 ::

Exterior Replacement Projects Provide Biggest Return on Investment for Homeowners

Homeowners looking for the most return on their investment when it comes to remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

"REALTORS® know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck, because a home's exterior is the first thing potential buyers see," says National Association of REALTORS® President Gary Thomas. "Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale. REALTORS® know what home features are important to buyers in your area and can provide helpful insights when considering remodeling projects."

A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000.

The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home's existing footprint.

"A REALTOR® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most upon resale in their market," says Thomas. "Each neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies depending on where you live. When making a home remodeling decision, resale value is just one factor that homeowners should take into consideration. Consult a REALTOR® to make sure you are making the best decision."

For more information, visit www.realtor.org
Article printed from RISMedia: http://rismedia.com

 

:: March 2013 ::

Getting Rid of Hazardous Wastes

No matter how much we reduce, reuse and recycle, sometimes the dumpster is our only choice.

Most garbage can be tossed out normally, but hazardous materials require special treatment, and bulky items like furniture usually are collected by appointment. Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW) offers assistance, but hazardous materials still end up in landfills.

"The number one reason people dispose of hazardous waste improperly is because they don't know they are hazardous." said Natalie Jimenez, Household Hazardous Waste program manager. "The main thing we want people to do is look at the label."

According to the department website, "any product labeled toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable, combustible or irritant" is hazardous. There's also electronic waste, or "e-waste," which includes everything from computers to hair dryers, and "Universal wastes," like batteries and fluorescent tubes, which contain corrosive chemicals and mercury. Home medical wastes including "sharps" and unused or expired medications are also considered hazardous.

These wastes cause serious problems when tossed in the trash or poured down drains. They injure sanitation workers, contaminate groundwater and disrupt biological processes used to treat wastewater before it goes to the ocean.

Of course, the hazardous materials themselves also end up in oceans and waterways, contributing to unsafe beaches and polluted ecosystems. Fines for improper disposal can be as high as $10,000.

If you need to dispose of hazardous wastes, use permanent disposal facilities in Los Angeles City or take advantage of the mobile collection events organized by the county. Public Works recommends listing unwanted but working electronic items on the Los Angeles County Materials Exchange, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff offers convenient drop-off locations for sharps and expired medication.

Of course, the best way to ease impacts of hazardous waste is to reduce how much of it you discard.

Large household items-furniture, fridges and other appliances-are not accepted by hazardous waste collections and must be disposed as "bulky items" by contacting your local trash collection agency.

As always, before trashing items, see if someone else can use them. Charitable organizations and thrift stores take large items on a donation basis. Your trash could be someone else's treasure, and you'll lessen the load on landfills in the process.

reprinted in part from Zev Yaroslovsky's blog

 

:: January 2012 ::

Trouble-Proof Your Roof

You can prolong your roof's functional life by spotting potential problems before they become costly catastrophes. Check out our tips that will help you keep your roof in tip-top condition.


Vent it out

What to notice: Over time, exposure to moisture in the attic space may cause the roof structure to rot. Moisture buildup can also speed mold growth, reduce the efficacy of insulation and cause structural deterioration.
What to do: Proper roof ventilation may help extend the life of the roof covering and help prevent ice dams from forming in the winter. The ventilation system should include both intake and exhaust vents that allow fresh air to flow through the attic space. Also, make sure your bathroom ventilation is not directed into your attic space. Use ductwork to push problem-causing moisture to the exterior of your attic.

Be an eagle eye

What to notice: Check the rubber flashings around roof penetrations like fans or plumbing vents for splits or cracks, which can lead to leaks. Inspect metal flashing areas, such as those found around chimneys, to see if they're present and in good condition. Also look for raised shingles: They're a sign your roof isn't properly venting hot temperatures. Never inspect your roof alone, when you're tired or when you're in a rush. If you don't feel comfortable walking on the roof, hire a qualified professional to do regular inspections.
What to do: Little problems don't fix themselves, and they have a way of causing bigger troubles. If you're seeing one or more of these problems, call a roof specialist. Have the professional inspect your roof thoroughly and make necessary repairs.

Call for help

The solution to roofing problems isn't to just slap more roofing tar on the area. Tar doesn't expand and contract with temperature changes the way a roof is supposed to, so it can actually make the problem worse-and harder to properly correct later on. For most roof repairs, calling a professional is your best bet.
To find a roofing contractor or get answers to your roofing questions, contact the National Roofing Contractors Association.

reprinted from State Farm Newsletter

 

:: November 2011 ::

Don't let identity thieves ruin your holiday.

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and while holiday shoppers are out and about, so are identity thieves. That's why it's important to be observant, and take steps to help protect yourself against identity theft.

Here is a list of top tips to help you protect yourself against identity theft this holiday season:

Be aware of shoulder surfers-Protect credit cards, driver's licenses, and checks from wandering eyes.

Be aware of skimmers-Skimming occurs when a clerk slides your credit card through a second machine to download its information onto a counterfeit card; remember to keep your eyes on your cards at all times.

Be aware of your surroundings-Pay extra attention in crowded malls as pickpocketing numbers noticeably increase during the holidays.

Minimize purse/wallet contents-Carry only the cards you know you will use.

Secure your cards-Never leave your purse/backpack/bag unzipped, and keep a hand on it when in crowded stores.

Use your online shopping smarts-Keep printouts of information detailing your Web purchases; use a credit card instead of a debit card if possible, and make sure the company's website is on a secure server.

Visit trusted websites-Shopping on trusted websites or those recommended via secure comparison shopping sites can be a good way to reduce online shopping risks.

Be careful with personal items when shopping-Don't leave your laptop, purse, or any item with credit cards, checks, driver's license or Social Security Numbers visible in your car.

reprinted from AAA

 

:: July 2011 ::

July 1 marked the start of a number of new state and local laws, many of which are aimed at improving safety.

Plastic bag ban
Large supermarkets and pharmacies in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County may no longer offer plastic bags for carryout, except for fruit, vegetables and raw meat. Paper bags will cost 10 cents each.

Restaurant employee tests
Current restaurant employees must pass a food-handling course. Those hired after July 1 have 30 days to take the course, available online or in a classroom.

Carbon monoxide detectors
Residents who have a gas stove, fireplace or attached garage must install a carbon monoxide detector.

No carpool lane for hybrid drivers
Solo drivers of hybrid vehicles with yellow Clean Air decals can no longer use carpool lanes. Plug-in hybrids and vehicles with hydrogen internal combustion engines will be issued a green Clean Air decal effective next year. Zero-emission vehicles with a white Clean Air sticker may continue to use the carpool lane until Jan. 1, 2015.

Insurance information for homeowners
Insurance companies must make their disclosure notices for homeowners short and concise. The statements must make it easier for homeowners to determine the adequacy of their coverage in the event of a loss or a major catastrophe.

Classrooms locks
Construction projects submitted to the state must provide plans for rooms in schools to be locked from the inside. Violent campus incidents prompted the law, which seeks a more effective way to conduct lockdowns.

Push-to-talk cellphones
Drivers who use push-to-talk cellphones are no longer exempt from the hands-free law that took effect in 2008.

Whooping cough vaccination required
Students entering grades seven through 12 must provide proof that they have received a
whooping cough shot, known as Tdap, before the fall 2011 school year.

Donor registry
Drivers license application forms will force Californians to decide if they want to be an organ donor.

Source: Times staff writer Corina Knoll

 

:: January 2011 ::

Emergency Preparedness
Important Documents
Keep important documents in a safe place that you can access easily. If it is a safety deposit box away from your property, simply grab the key. Otherwise, gather the following documents in one place before you need them:

Insurance policies (life, auto, homeowners, renters, etc.)
Copies of health insurance information (insurance card, doctor's name and number, prescriptions, allergies and immunizations)
Personal records (birth certificate, marriage certificate, military records)
Passports
Drivers license or personal identification
Automobile papers (bill of sale, registration, etc.)
Social Security cards
Recent tax returns (you may want to include home improvement records/receipts)
Employment information (including recent pay stubs and employee benefits information)
Wills, deeds and power of attorney, medical DNR, donor info.
Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
Traveler's checks or other forms of currency
Housing documents (mortgage, property deeds)
Personal property inventory (item description, serial number, receipt, warranties and photographs or videos)
List of emergency contacts, (family, friends, lawyer, financial advisors, etc.)
Backup disks of critical computerized information
Negatives of irreplaceable personal photographs (with protective plastic sleeves)

You will need to update these documents once a year.

 

:: July 2010 ::

Most of you know I am a huge pet fan. I have 2 rescue dogs of my own and one foster dog at the moment. They constantly make me smile.

Even with all my years of experiences as a dog owner, I found new information in the attached article. Our pets depend on us for food, exercise, and most of all, safety. Here is an article from Andrea Arden, pet expert at the Today Show that reminds us how we can best protect the furry members of our family:

Summer is a time for the whole family, including our pets, to enjoy the great outdoors. However, just as there are safety precautions to ensure warm-weather safety for humans, there are precautions to make sure pets stay safe and happy.

Warm-weather precautions
Many of the safety concerns we have for ourselves during the hottest months of the year also apply to our pets. Hot weather makes us all a little uncomfortable. But when it's hot for you, it is probably even hotter for your pet - especially if it has a dark coat, a short muzzle (brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs), is in its elder years, or has a tendency to overexert itself. Dogs aren't as efficient at cooling down as we are, since they release most of their body heat through panting and the pads of their feet.

Decrease the risks of letting your pet enjoy the outdoors in summer with these tips:

Adjust their exercise routine by taking them out for playtime in the early morning and evening hours. This is especially important if your dog is your jogging partner. While you can alter the type of clothing you wear, your dog can't. Many dogs will keep running to stay with you, even if they are suffering due to the heat.

Be cautious when walking your dog on pavement (which can get very hot and may burn your pet's paws) and at the beach. Running on sand is strenuous and can cause injury to a pet that is out of shape. Start with slower, shorter walks and gradually increase according to your pet's ability and health.

Provide your pet with plenty of water.

Try a simple keep-cool tactic such as soaking a bandanna in water and putting it in the freezer before you put it on your dog to wear on a walk.

Make sure your pet has plenty of access to a shady area to rest when outdoors. During supervised playtime in the yard your pet might enjoy access to a child's wading pool to cool off in.

Perhaps most important, be sure never to leave your pet unsupervised in a car. Not only are they are susceptible to being stolen, but even on a mild day a car can heat up quickly and your pet could suffer heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke
Some of the signs of heatstroke include (but are not limited to): excessive panting; rapid breathing; excessive drooling; dark or bright red tongue or gums; staggering; body temperature of 104-110 F degrees and bloody diarrhea or vomiting. If heatstroke is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately. Offer your pet ice cubes to lick, Pedialyte to restore electrolytes and apply rubbing alcohol to its paws. If you apply water, be sure it is cool and not very cold, which could cause shock.

Sun protection
Most of us are aware that we need to use sunscreen everyday in order to avoid sun damage. The same may hold true for your pet, especially if it has short hair, white fur or pink skin. Limit your dog's sun exposure during the day and talk to your vet about choosing a sunscreen for your pet, which is especially important on the ears and nose.

Also, shaving a pet during summer may seem like a good idea, but this can actually make it more susceptible to sunburn. If you and your vet decide shaving your pet is best, try to do it at the beginning of the summer so the hair has time to grown in a bit by the time the hottest days are here.

Water safety
Be sure not to leave your pet unsupervised around water. Even a good swimmer can drown due to exhaustion if it can't figure out how to get out of a pool. Teach your pet where the pool steps are and consider placing a cone or a stick with a little flag on it by the pool steps so it has a highly visible marker of the exit. You can also teach dogs to climb out using a pet ramp such as the Skamper Ramp www.Skamper-Ramp.com. As an extra precaution, they can wear a doggie life vest.

Garden and garage safety
Be careful to restrict your pet's access to lawns or gardens that have been recently sprayed with fertilizers or insecticides, as these can be poisonous to animals, too. Also, car antifreeze is a year-round hazard. During the warmer months your car may leak antifreeze whose sweet taste may be inviting, but is also highly toxic to pets. Consider using propylene glycol, which is a safer alternative to ethylene glycol antifreeze. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Parasite prevention
In summer, mosquitoes (which can carry heartworm disease), fleas, ticks and other parasites are out in full force. Be sure to talk to your vet about preventives such as Frontline and Heartgard to protect your pet and your family from parasites carried into your home by your pet. Keeping your pet well groomed is especially important during the summer months so you can quickly and easily find any potential parasites.

High-rise syndrome
When the weather warms up, people tend to open their windows. This can be an enticing spot for your pet to sit and enjoy the fresh air and watch the world go by. Whether you live in a house or in a high-rise apartment, be sure to put in screens to prevent your from pet escaping or from slipping and injuring itself in a fall.

© 2010 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints

 

:: January 2010 ::

The Fire Dept. gives FREE training in Disaster Preparedness. I am taking the course and it is fascinating. We cover basic information that any homeowner or family would find beneficial. These are the headings for the classes:
Disaster Preparedness
Disaster Fire Suppression
Disaster Triage
Disaster Patient Assessment
Search and Rescue
Incident Command System
Disaster Psychology
Terrorism
To find schedules and sign up for classes go to www.cert-la.com.

The courses are taught many times during the year. You can take them in or out of order. You can complete them at your own pace. So if you have a difficult schedule, and most of us do, don't let that get in your way.

 

:: January 2010 ::

The Fire Department offers wonderful advice in the booklet "Los Angeles Fire Department Emergency Preparedness." This can be downloaded and printed so you all have a copy in your home. Please go to http://www.cert-la.com/EmergPrepBooklet.pdf.

It offers suggestions in case of earthquake, fire and other emergencies that may arise. It is worth taking the time to prepare now for what may happen later.

 

:: April 2009 ::

Dear Friends,

Have you ever considered being an organ donor? There is more to it than just the pink dot on your license.

Prior to 2004, no Registry had existed for those who wished to give consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor. Historically, while signing a donor card and placing the pink dot on your license served as an important symbol of your intent, it did not place you on any list or Registry.

Officially formed in 2004 after being authorized by the state, California's four federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organizations (facilitating the donation process across California), are committed to giving every person waiting for a transplant a second chance at life.

Right now over 21,000 Californians wait for an organ transplant. That's 21 percent of the more than 100,000 people waiting across our country. Tragically, one third of them will die waiting.
Now, Donate Life California allows you to express your commitment to becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor. The Registry guarantees your plans will be carried out when you die.

My cousin’s life was extended by 9 years after a heart and lung transplant. She was a nurse who used those years to train others who continue her work in caring for patients and training other nurses. She was able to make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many others with this extra time she was given.

You have the power to donate life—sign up today to become an organ and tissue donor. Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation.

From the website Donate Life California. For more information: www.donatelifecalifornia.org

I appreciate all the real estate referrals and take them as the ultimate compliment to my work.

Thanks and have a great summer.
Amy

 

:: September 2008 ::

Dear Friends,

September is National Preparedness Month and with the recent earthquake as a reminder of Southern California living, it seemed like a good time to recheck, restock or assemble our emergency kits. This list is taken in part from http://www.ready.gov/america/npm08/getakit.html
Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
• Prescription medications and glasses
• Pet food and extra water for your pet
• Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
• Cash or traveler\'s checks and change
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
• Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes.
• Fire Extinguisher
• Matches in a waterproof container
• Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
• Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
• Paper and pencil
Wishing you safety and happiness-

Amy

 

:: June 2008 ::

Dear Neighbors,
William Temple said “Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it.” Health is the greatest treasure of life, one that must be tended and appreciated for the wonderful gift it is.
Just as it’s important to have a roof over your head, it’s also important to eat right and exercise to maintain your health. In tending to your health, it is wise to keep a personal health record checklist to be ready for any challenges. You can build this file gradually, but here is a list of important information you will want at your fingertips:
Personal Identification, including name and contact information, birth date, and Social Security number.
Emergency contacts, including phone numbers.
Physician contacts, including specialists and dentist.
Health Insurance information.
Living will, advance directive or power of attorney.
Organ-donor authorization, if any.
Current medications and dosages.
Significant illnesses and surgeries, with dates.
Immunizations and their dates.
Allergies and other sensitivities.
Results from most recent physical.
Test results and eye and dental records.
Family Health history.
Opinions of specialists.
Correspondence with providers.*
*AARP (2008)
For yourself and for the ones who love you, keep this valuable information in a safe place that is easily available. You may also want to set some personal goals, such as hiking in Italy or visiting the Grand Canyon, to keep you focused on your health. Having tangible goals helps keep us motivated and excited about maintaining the best health possible.
I hope you find this information useful.
As always, I thank you for your continuing support in my real estate business. If you know of anyone interested in buying or selling a home, a referral is the highest praise I can receive.
Wishing you good health and a great summer-
Amy Pell

 

:: April 2008 ::

Tax Exemption. You or someone you know may be eligible for a big tax exemption when they sell their home under PROPOSITION 60.

This proposition helps homeowners with tax relief by preventing property reassessment when a person 55 or older sells his or her existing residence and purchases or constructs a replacement residence worth the same or less than the original. For married couples, only one spouse must be 55 or older.

This means that if you meet all the requirements, you can take your property tax base (which may be significantly lower) with you when you purchase a new home. I’m not a tax specialist, so make sure you check with your accountant before you claim this exemption.

You will need to buy your replacement home within two years of selling your original property in order to qualify. A claim for relief must be filed within 3 years of the date a replacement dwelling is purchased or new construction of that replacement dwelling is completed. Both properties must qualify for a homeowner’s exemption, which requires that a property be the owner’s principal place of residence.

You can only apply for this exemption once, unless you become disabled after receiving the property tax relief. In that case you may transfer the base year value a second time because of the disability. This requires a separate form.

It is also important to note that if you sold the original property to your parent, child, or grandchild and that person filed a claim for the parent-child or grandparent-grandchild change in ownership exclusion, then you may not transfer your base year value.

PLEASE NOTE: Transfers between counties are allowed only if the county in which the replacement dwelling is located has passed an authorizing ordinance. The acquisition of the replacement dwelling must occur on or after the date specified in the county ordinance. This information is easily obtained at your county tax assessor’s office.

I am happy to explain further and help you with any transfer you may be considering. Contact me for the paperwork for easy filing. I am always available to help you with your real estate needs.

 

:: January 2008 ::

Happy New Year.

During the fires of 2007, I thought of the many unfortunate people who were forced to decide very quickly what they should bring with them in case of an evacuation. I’m sure many were prepared, but many more were not. I decided to gather my most important papers long before any emergency presents itself to me. After researching, this is a list I came up with that you could use as a guide for essential documents.

Important Documents
Keep important documents in a safe place that you can access easily. If it is a safety deposit box away from your property, simply grab the key. Otherwise, gather the following documents in one place before you need them:
 Insurance policies (life, auto, homeowners, renters, etc.)
 Copies of health insurance information (insurance card, doctor’s name and number, prescriptions, allergies and immunizations)
 Personal records (birth certificate, marriage certificate, military records)
 Passports
 Drivers license or personal identification
 Automobile papers (bill of sale, registration, etc.)
 Social Security cards
 Recent tax returns (you may want to include home improvement records/receipts)
 Employment information (including recent pay stubs and employee benefits information)
 Wills, deeds and power of attorney, medical DNR, donor info.
 Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
 Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
 Traveler\'s checks or other forms of currency
 Housing documents (mortgage, property deeds)
 Personal property inventory (item description, serial number, receipt, warranties and photographs or videos)
 List of emergency contacts, (family, friends, lawyer, financial advisors, etc.)
 Backup disks of critical computerized information
 Negatives of irreplaceable personal photographs (with protective plastic sleeves)
You will need to update these documents once a year. And if you own a home, consider opening a home equity line of credit so emergency funds will be available when you need them.

Hope this is helpful and that you never have to use it.

Be safe and well in the New Year,

Amy

 

:: October 2007 ::

Dear Friends,

This is a reminder that Daylight Saving Time is ending one week later than in the past. It will change at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 4, 2007.

Change in Daylight Saving Time:

Previously ended:
Last Sunday in October
With the new law, will end:
First Sunday in November

Would have been: October 28, 2007
Will now be: November 4, 2007

All the best-

Amy

 

:: September 2007 ::

Dear Friends,

We are all interested in doing our part to save energy. Not only does it help our environment but it can also save us money. But where do you begin? Sometimes it’s best to start small and slowly add energy-saving habits a little at a time. Here are some helpful suggestions to get you started.

1. Automate your energy use: Programmable thermostats can lower heating and A.C. bills. Installing motion detectors and light timers can save on juice by only turning on lights when needed.

2. Pull the plug: Most TV’s, stereos and other electronic devices are used only a few hours a day, but because of their displays and memory chips, they consume energy around the clock. In fact, inactive electronics account for a whopping 5% of our nation’s energy use. When you are gone for more than a week, make it a habit to unplug these devices.

3. Slow the flow: Even though showering is more energy efficient than a bath, they still account for 40% of hot water energy costs. By installing low-flow showerheads and aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets, you can reduce your hot water usage as much as 50%.

4. Dust off the fridge: When dust accumulates on the coils at the bottom or back of the refrigerator, it forms a barrier that makes it more difficult for the fridge to dispel heat and keep food cold. Vacuum these coils every 3 months (more often if you have pets) to boost your fridge’s efficiency by up to 30%.

5. Stop being the dishwasher: A fully loaded dishwasher can use 40% less hot water than hand washing the same number of dishes. And it saves you time.

6. Stay pumped: Under inflated tires reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by as much as two miles for each gallon of gas. Also, check your car’s air filter regularly. Replacing a dirty filter can translate into a 10% increase in mileage.

Simple and small changes in our energy habits can lead to large savings, both for us personally and for generations to come.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, I thank you for your continuing support in my real estate business. If you know of anyone interested in buying or selling a home, a referral is the highest praise I can receive.

Best,

Amy
P.S. Some of these tips were suggested in AARP Magazine, 2007.

 

:: June 2007 ::

Dear Friends,

Summer in Southern California is a delightful combination of visits to the beach, trips to the mountains, and lots of outdoor time at home. Barbeques, pool parties, just lounging around with friends or a good page-turner—we know how to relax here in the privacy of our own space.

When adding up all the good points, potential good points, and challenges of a new home purchase, be sure to put the outdoor space in the plus column. I always consider outdoor space as a bonus room, even though it is not counted in your home’s square footage, because of the wonderful possibilities you have to extend a home’s usable space beyond its walls.

Whether a balcony, an expansive green lawn, a cozy deck or a tree-filled yard, Southern California homes offer many opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, and there are several ways to extend the use of your open space.

Kitchens may be the heart of a home, but now they can be the heart of your yard, too. You can enjoy a simple outdoor grill or pair it with other equipment to fashion a full-fledged outdoor cooking station, keep things cool in an outdoor refrigerator, crank up the sounds with a stereo system hooked up to satellite radio, and catch up on the soaps on an all-weather television.
Portable fire pits or stone fireplaces are another way to add to your outdoor space and extend your enjoyment of the yard into cooler months.
Landscaping adds a layer of beauty, and can transform a suburban back yard into a peaceful sanctuary of green lawns, beautiful rock gardens, and tranquil ponds. You can discover that the great outdoors is a natural place to connect with your inner self. Meditation areas can be separated from the other “zones” such as cooking, dining, and sitting. Sling-back chairs, big pillows, and fountains can also add to a tranquil, outdoor ambiance.
Landscape designers and home owners are discovering that masses of colorful perennials can create a bold, colorful look that doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. Include the wise purchase of a rain sensor that adjusts water schedules based on precipitation.
Take advantage of all that your home has to offer as a vacation getaway: no airport hassles, no long, hot drives and expensive gas bills - just rest and relaxation with all the comforts of home.

Have a great summer!! And visit my website at amypell.com.

 

:: March 2007 ::

Dear Friends,

Like most of you, I am concerned with the growing threat of identity theft. In this era of sophisticated technology, thousands of names, addresses, and social security numbers are stolen in major breaches of data security every day. Monitoring your personal information is absolutely essential, especially when you are about to embark on a major decision like purchasing a home.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to make it difficult for a thief to steal your identity:

• Check credit reports at least semi-annually. (You can go to annualcreditreport.com and choose from 3 different bureaus)
• Check spouses, parents, and even children’s credit reports
• Shred all documents rather than just toss in the trash
• Make certain that all legal documents, account numbers, tax documents, and cancelled checks are secure
• Destroy all pre-approved credit card offers
• Place mail in secure, outgoing mailboxes or at the Post Office
• Call the Post Office if you go more than 4 days without mail
• Pay attention to delivery dates of all bills
• Pay attention to bank and credit card statements
• Reconcile bills and statements diligently and in a timely manner
• Pay attention to the expiration date of credit cards and look for arrival of new cards
• Sign all new cards immediately
• Avoid using your Social Security Number for accounts or other public information whenever possible
• Have bank-ordered checks delivered to the bank and not your home

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Even with diligent attention it is important to understand that we all are vulnerable to having our identity compromised. As long as you are shredding old documents, checking your credit, and developing an awareness of your personal information, you will have a much better chance of stopping an identity thief from ruining your credit.

Thank you for your continuing support in my real estate business. Your referrals are the greatest praise I can receive.

Best,

Amy

 

:: December 2006 ::

Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to announce my new website at amypell.com. As you can see, I am now sending my newsletters via email. Please visit the website to see any newsletters you may have missed.

The end of the year is a time for celebration. Thanksgiving and the Holidays allow us all a time for reflection and enjoying friends and families. I wish you all a wonderful year ahead full of joy and adventure.

As the end of the year approaches, it is also time to prepare for tax season. Here is some helpful information about possible tax deductions for your home:

1-Home acquisition mortgage loan fees: If you bought your primary or secondary residence in 2006, you probably obtained a mortgage to finance the purchase. The mortgage is called an “acquisition mortgage” because it enabled a purchase of the residence. If you paid a loan fee to obtain that acquisition mortgage, usually called “points,” that loan fee qualifies as an itemized deduction. Each point paid equals 1 percent of the amount borrowed.

2-Home improvement loan fees: If you paid a loan fee to obtain a home improvement loan, that loan fee is fully deductible in the tax year it was paid.

3-Loan fees paid to refinance a home loan or borrow against other real estate: If you refinanced your existing home loan in 2006, or borrowed against other real estate, such as an apartment building, any loan fee you paid must be amortized and deducted over the life of the mortgage, i.e., if you paid a $1000 loan fee to refinance with a new 33-year home mortgage, you can deduct $33.33 for each of the next 30 years.

4-When refinancing, deduct any undeducted loan fees: Due to mortgage interest rates, many home owners refinanced again in 2006 after previously refinancing a year or two earlier. These home owners should remember to deduct on the 2006 income tax returns, any undeducted loan fees from a prior mortgage refinance.

5-If you bought or sold property in 2006, remember to deduct prorated real estate taxes: A major tax deduction many real estate buyers and sellers overlook is the prorated property tax they paid at the close of escrow. Even if the other party remitted the payment to the tax collector, but you were charged a prorated portion of the tax bill, be sure to deduct your share on your 2006 return.

6-Deduct prorated mortgage interest in the year of property purchase or sale: Similarly, if you bought a residence (or other real estate) and took over an existing mortgage, do not forget to deduct your prorated interest share for the month of the sale (even if the seller made the payment to the lender). Your closing settlement statement shows your prorated share of mortgage interest.

7-Mortgage payment penalty: If you paid off an existing mortgage early and were charged a prepayment penalty by the lender, that prepayment penalty qualified as an itemized deduction.

8-When land rent payments qualify as interest deductions: Millions of homes are located on leased land and Internal Revenue Code 1630 allows land rent to be deducted like interest when the lease: (a) is for at least 15 years, including renewal periods; (b) is freely assignable; (c) contains a present or future option to buy the land; and (d) is like a security interest, such as a mortgage. Of course, payments to buy land are not deductible, nor are ground payments deductible if you do not have the option to buy the land, such as in a mobile home park.

9-Home construction loans: If you built a new home in 2006 or are building one now, do not forget to deduct the construction loan interest paid. It is deductible if the construction period does not exceed 24 months before occupancy of the principal residence.

10-Deduct prepaid property taxes and mortgage interest: If you prepaid your 2007 real estate taxes in 2006, as home owners do to increase their tax deductions, or if you paid your January 2007 mortgage payment in December 2006, do not forget to deduct these extra mortgage interest and property tax payment on your 2006 income tax returns.

I thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and referrals.

Wishing all a healthy and happy 2007.

Best-

Amy

 

:: August 2006 ::

Dear Friends,

During the heat of the summer, have you ever considered a vacation home? In the next 5 to 15 years the vacation home market will expand tremendously. Housing forecasters expect Americans to purchase more than 4 million second homes over the next 10 years, in part because of some 76 million retiring baby boomers will be moving into smaller homes and new neighborhoods.

Some areas pegged for strong appreciation are Hilton Head, South Carolina; Park City, Utah; and Sun River, Oregon. There are thousands of locations to look for a vacation home. Beach, river, lake, and mountain locations are good choices. Important points to consider when gathering information are migration trends, the inventory of homes, and the potential of home growth.

For financing, you might choose to withdraw equity from your present property to invest, or trade down by selling your primary residence and moving to a smaller home, then applying the remaining capital to the purchase of a vacation home.

If you are interested, I can help you search for homes across the country and refer you to a specialist in the area.

The greatest compliment I can ever receive from a satisfied client is a personal referral. So when you have conversations with friends, family and business associates who are considering buying or selling a home, please feel free to refer my name.

Stay cool,
Amy Pell

 

:: April 2006 ::

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Albert Einstein said "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."

As the cold chill of winter gives way to warmer days of spring, consider these tips for home maintenance and safety:

* Replace your furnace and air conditioning filters
* Clean the kitchen exhaust fan and air filter
* Always have a fully-charged multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible
* Make sure the light bulbs in your fixtures are the correct wattage
* Review your fire escape and earthquake plans with your family
* Have your roof inspected for potential leaks every few years
* Protect your home from sewer or drain back-ups
* Check all fascia and trim for deterioration
* Clean clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer
* Replace all extension cords that have become brittle, worn, or damaged
* Inspect and clean dust from smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
* Check recreational equipment
* Check your outdoor decks and patio for possible deterioration
* Check exterior siding

We all have the periodic surprises to deal with so it is important to stay ahead of home issues wherever possible. The best line of defense is to prepare against avoidable problems.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful spring. As always, thank you for the referrals.

Best,
Amy Pell

 

:: November 2005 ::

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With all the recent natural disasters in this country and abroad, many questions have arisen regarding what perils are generally covered by a basic standard homeowners\' policy. Most policies include coverage for perils such as fire, lightning, explosion, wind, hail, falling objects, and water damage as a result of a busted pipe or leaky roof.

Damage from mudslides and landslides are not covered by typical homeowners\' insurance plans. If damage is caused by rising water and actual flooding from outside, it is not covered unless there is a separate flood policy in place. However, storm damage from wind and rain seeping through roofs and windows are generally covered by basic homeowners\' policies.

Flood insurance is required by lenders in some areas that have a high risk of flooding, such as those adjacent to waterways, flood plane, or property below sea level. Flood insurance is available but typically takes 30 days to activate.

As far as landslide insurance goes, the majority of insurance companies in California do not offer this. It is very difficult to obtain, as there are only a few companies that specialize in this field or even offer it and the premiums are often unaffordable.

Earthquake insurance is also an additional policy and can be very costly. Depending on the amount of the deductible, it can cover damaged goods within the home as well as replacement of the entire dwelling. It may also cover additional living expenses for loss of use of home.

It is best to speak with your personal insurance agent to determine what suits your needs. The first line of defense is to understand what your policy is, what type of coverage you have, and what you may need.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season. As always, thank you for the referrals.

Best,
Amy Pell

 

:: April 2005 ::

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The market remains strong. Interest rates have inched up a bit but due to continued low rates and a limited inventory, home values continue to rise. Investment in real estate is consistent as a strategic money maker. Compared with the volatile stock market and poor interest rates in savings and loans, real estate consistently proves to be the best investment over time.

Every L.A. neighborhood seems to be under some construction. Pride of ownership has reached an all-time high as the value of our property soars. One of my favorite activities in this business is helping my clients invest wisely in remodeling and tuning-up their homes to ensure favorable yields on their investments when it is time to sell. A little extra effort on my part in consulting with you can make a substantial difference in your home’s market appeal. Please call me if you’re planning to invest in your home and wondering how improvements will enhance the value.

There is also a practice referred to as Staging Your Home for Sale. I realize that most of you understand the value of preparing your home when it comes time to sell. For years, sellers have been getting their homes ready for sale by planting, patching, and clearing out clutter. But recently, this process has been taken to a higher, more sophisticated, and deliberate level called “staging.” Staging heightens your home’s market appeal by setting up each room with appropriate accessories, furniture, flowers, and plants to help buyers perceive the space as “home.” It can make a huge difference in how quickly you sell your property and how much you get.

Be sure you plan at least a few weeks of staging into the beginning of your schedule when it comes time to sell. I can walk you through all the steps in person when you’re thinking about selling.

It should be a glorious spring due to the recent rains. Enjoy the wonderful mountains and landscapes of Los Angeles. As always, thank you for the referrals.

Best,
Amy Pell

 

:: January 2005 ::

To Whom it May Concern:

Buying your first home can be a daunting and discouraging process, but Amy was very supportive and always made us feel important. With Amy’s impeccable grace and guidance we were able to successfully purchase our first home. From our first meeting up to the present, Amy has always been willing to give her advice and sound guidance. We began our process with little hope for a house but because of Amy’s knowledge of the San Fernando Valley and diligent searches, she was able to match us with a house that fits our needs and our price range.

She was very patient with us and never made us feel rushed, pushed, or unimportant. In fact, she very clearly pointed out the pluses and minuses of every house we looked at. At no time did Amy ever force us to look at a property. Moreover, she even told us when she thought a property was not a good fit for our needs. Amy is very well versed in the San Fernando Valley real estate market. Amy searched thoroughly for us. We felt that there was not a property in the locations, price or within our needs that we did not look at. Amy’s focus is matching people with the properties that will make them happy and satisfied.

Once we decided to make an offer on the property we actually purchased, Amy carefully explained the entire process to us. We felt very safe that she would take care of all of the issues that arise in the escrow process. She successfully negotiated a fair charge-off for us and made sure that escrow closed on time and correctly.

Even after we had purchased and moved into our home, Amy offered her support with recommendations for gardeners and housekeepers to help with dealing with neighbors. We know if we ever had any problems arise with our home we could call Amy and she would gladly help us with advice and support.

When we ever have a need for a real estate agent in the future, without question we would go with Amy Pell. We would recommend her to anyone who wants an honest, positive and hard-working agent for any real estate transaction.

Debra Slabo and Eric McAvoy

 

:: January 2005 ::

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

2004 was an incredible year and real estate market for 2005 continues to be robust. However, it is clear that prices have peaked, inventory has increased, and sales are slowing. What does this mean? Larger inventory and fewer buyers increase the average days on the market. Property that 3 or 4 months ago would have sold in the first week now may remain on the market for weeks or months. Buyers are starting to resist the steep increases over comparable properties.

What does that mean to you? If you are considering buying or selling a home at this pivotal time, it is important to these trends. As long-term interest rates move up, we expect the demand for homes to continue to slow. Pricing your property correctly has never been so important. Aggressive marketing -- including a full-page Los Angeles Times advertisement, which we will create and place for you -- is a must.

I am here daily to match people with their first or dream home, to make selling their home an easy and enjoyable experience, or to find the right income property in an appropriate neighborhood. Referrals are the key to the real estate business and I want you to feel confident about referring me. Not only am I working with a team of experts headed by Peter J. Maurice, but our group is the top producing team in our Beverly Hills Office and we are ranked among the top 20 Coldwell Banker agent teams in all of Southern California. I have enclosed an excerpt from a client letter to let you understand how I do business.

I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to call me if you have questions.
Remember, when you’re ready to move I can make it happen.

All the best,
Amy Pell