Saturday, November 26, 2016

Holiday Pet Safety - Top 5 Holiday Dangers For Family Pets

The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. At AMG we understand that your family pets are very important and we want to help you protect them this holiday season.

Keeping your home safe is hard enough, so here's an infographic from Consumer Safety that will help you keep your pets out of harm's way.

Here are five top dangers that your pet might encounter.

1. Did you know holly, mistletoe, some holiday trees and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs or cats? If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

2. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet's way -- there's no telling where a wagging tail may end up.

3. Keep wires,  electronic devices, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and batteries can be harmful is chewed or swallowed.

4. Dangerous or excessive access to holiday foods. Here is a list from the ASPCA of foods that could harm or potentially be fatal for your pets.

5. Pets accidentally running outside getting lost. There is a lot of hustle and bustle during the holidays. Put pets in a safe area so they cannot run out during door openings and get hurt or lost.

Here you can find an infographic from the Consumer Safety with pointers for you to remember.

AMG wishes a safe holiday season for you and your pets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

7 HOA Holiday Event Ideas That Will Bring Your Community Together

The Holidays are a wonderful time to bring people together. Young and old, neighbors
gather together to celebrate the holidays with peace and joy. Most communities are very fortunate to have many diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions and traditions. One thing all people have in common is the belief that the holidays are for celebrating families, for helping one another, and for celebrating all that we have to be grateful for in life. 
 Residents who lead and volunteer on the HOA board often try to bring the community together during the holidays. They want to help residents get in the spirit of giving and sharing. Here are 7 event ideas that your HOA can plan for community togetherness during the holiday season.
  1. A Charitable Donation Drive: Organize a toys for tots drive or canned goods drive to help needy families during the holidays.
  2. Organize a White Elephant gift exchange. Have the event at the clubhouse or common area and have participating residents bring snacks to share.
  3. Hold a holiday tree decorating contest. Ask residents to decorate small trees and select a winner.
  4. Organize a Holiday cake bake off! Have residents get their best recipes and bake holiday cakes and have the HOA members vote!
  5. Organize a community Progressive Party. Each participating homeowner provides a different item: appetizer, salad, side dish, etc and you eat "Dinner" as you move from house to house. Have a sign up for families that want to be involved in the event. Each family signs up for a time slot and opens their home to the group. First family has an appetizer, second family has first course, and so on. A few families can double up to lessen the burden of preparing the dish. 
  6. Recipe Exchange - Have homeowners submit a favorite recipe for their favorite dish: chocolate dessert, favorite side dish, etc. Have the residents bring a sample of the finished dish to share and share the recipe.
  7. Organize a volunteer day or evening event for your residents to participate in. Contact your local food bank or soup kitchen and arrange for your residents to help cook or feed the needy.  It's a great way for your community to give back. 
Community events come in many varieties with many different purposes. The holidays are the best time of year to get people involved.  Regardless of the purpose or the sponsor, involvement in community events can benefit all involved.
Announce a board meeting and delegate a special committee to start planning a holiday event in your community. You may be surprised how people come together.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Seven Areas In Your Home You May Need To De-Clutter If You Plan To Sell

Your home may be in good condition and well built, yet simple clutter will create a perception of chaos, confusion, and disorder.  The purchase decision is an emotional and intellectual response, based on a level of trust in your home.  When buyers see clutter, they assume that the home has been neglected, with more to fix than meets the eye.  This perception undermines your home's market value.
De-cluttering is an essential part of your preparation, and is virtually cost free. This activity goes hand in hand with moving.  Before you put your home on the market, have a garage sale, throw some things out, and box stuff up.  Your move will be easier, and you will create an open, spacious, simplified look that buyers love.  If you need support, a local home staging service can work with your furniture and create a whole new look.  When it comes to selling your home, less is truly more.

1) Front Yard
De-cluttering starts with your front yard.  Make sure the yard is mowed and edged, and remove toys, junk piles, empty flower pots, etc.
An evenly cut yard is pleasing to the eye.  Fertilize the grass a month or two ahead.
Overgrown, woody shrubs give an old, tired look.  Trim or remove them.
Do not allow shrubs to cover windows. They block light on the interior, and give an appearance of crowding on the exterior.
Coil hoses and place any tools inside the garage.
Find a place to store extra cars or boats - other than the front of your house.
De-clutter flower beds.  Mulch is inexpensive and does wonders to simplify garden beds, especially in winter when plants are thin. Add flowers on the porch or in beds if weather permits.
Too many flowerpots are distracting - use a few large pots with healthy plants.
Never have empty pots or dead plants sitting around.
Dried wreaths may be used on doors in winter, for a simple focal point.

2) Entry
The buyers' first impression is critical, and shapes their attitude throughout the showing.
Invest in a brand new welcome mat.

Stains, scratches and dirty spots create distractions to the eye, and are a form of clutter.  Clean, paint, and eliminate as many of these as possible.
Pay close attention to your front door.  Is it dirty, darkened by mildew, or in need of re-finishing?
Fresh paint or stain will make a huge difference.
Consider having your whole house power washed to remove stains, spider webs and other clutter.
The foyer should be clear of shoes, coats, or excess items on the walls.
Create a single focal point in the entry with an attractive table or painting.

3) Living Areas
Rooms should be sparsely furnished to appear larger and lighter.
The garage or an off-site storage room can be used to hold extra pieces of furniture.
Move large pieces of equipment - drums, telescopes, exercise equipment, etc. - to the garage or off-site.
Do not allow furniture to block windows, doorways, or traffic patterns through rooms.
Do not allow wires to cross traffic patterns.
Choose one or two elements as the main points of interest in a room -  wood floors, a view, a table or piece of furniture, a nicely made bed, etc.
Too many personal collections and photographs are distracting for buyers.
Buyers must be able to imagine their own family in the home.
A few decorative items or photographs on tables are fine, but reduce these to just a few nice pieces.
Remove hunting trophies. They can be overwhelming in a small room, and may bother some buyers.
Large plants often take up too much space. Allow only a few healthy plants in the house.
Bookshelves add a warm touch to a room, but be sure that they are not overloaded.
Place books so that the backs are even. Lay some books horizontally, and leave open space for art
Open window blinds and leave on a few lamps for pleasant lighting.

4) Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home and plays an important part in attracting the heart of a buyer. This is an active area that usually needs special attention.
Clean, evenly finished cabinetry is a must.  Add new paint or stain, if necessary.
Benjamin Moore Paints has a product called "Howard's Restore-a-finish" that works wonders on scratched or worn cabinets.
New cabinet pulls are an inexpensive item that can help tie the room together in terms of colors and finishes.
Remove purely functional items - such as baking pans, small appliances, vitamins, phone books, plastic bags, etc.
Do not have notes or photos on the refrigerator.
Clear the counters completely, then add back a few decorator items.
Choose decorative pieces that contribute to a warm, elegant, organized look.
Some suggestions: Flowers, fruit, cookbooks, wine, bowls, antiques, new dish towels, small designer appliances, etc.
Often the area under the sink needs organizing and cleaning.
Never leave trash containers out in the kitchen.

5) Bathrooms
It is important to de-clutter bathrooms to give them a touch of elegance or romance.
Keep in mind that you will give up some privacy during the marketing period.
Start by removing everything from the counters.
Remove any toilet brushes or cleaners that are visible.
Put items that you use daily -  toothbrushes, soaps, razors - in a container, and place the container inside in a cabinet.
Decorate with fresh soaps, flowers, bowls, photos, or designer bath items.
Invest in new towels and fold them carefully.
Never leave medicines, money, magazines, jewelry, guns, or personal possessions of this type on display.

6) Bedrooms
Bedrooms should appear restful and serene.  Sparsely furnished is best.
Use your best covers, or invest in new ones if yours are worn.
Clear off bedside tables, and add back just a few books or nice items.
Bedside lamps add a warm ambience for showings.
Remove excess paintings or photos from the walls.
In some cases, old curtains do more harm than good. Take them down and clean the windows for a fresh look.
Children's bedrooms usually need to be simplified.  Take down posters and box up toys.  Avoid an overcrowded look.

7) Closets
Organize your pantry with everything facing forward. Remove excess food and containers.
Relieve your closets if they are stuffed.  Pack items that are not needed.
The laundry room often functions as a spill over room with junk on the shelves. Clear everything out, and have just a few soap boxes visible.
Often sellers have organized their homes to express themselves - their travels, collections, interests, favorite colors and unique tastes.  However, when selling a home, the goal is just the opposite.  It is to create a clean, simple background that many different buyers would like to move into.  Excess items and clutter confuses and distracts buyers during showings. They should not be required to “look past” your possessions.  They are there to see if your house fits them, and their emotional level response is a strong factor in their decision.  Warm, clean, simple, spacious, well lighted, neutral - and uncluttered - these are the keys to getting the best price for your home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

8 Things To Be Thankful For In Your HOA

November is the month for Thanksgiving. We always make a list of all of the things we are thankful for, but seldom has your HOA been on the list.  Let's look at a few things homeowners should be thankful for in their HOA.
  1. Amenities - HOA's  usually provide amenities that homeowners might not be able to afford in an individual single family dwelling. These amenities may include; tennis courts, swimming pools, fitness facilities, golf courses,  playgrounds, hot tubs and more. Remember that your HOA also pays out of your fees  maintenance personnel to upkeep and maintain these amenities.
  2. Security - Most HOA's will provide security to keep a community safe. You may have private security and locked gates.  Many times this service offered by your HOA help deter crime and aids in getting help to residents faster in the event of an emergency.
  3. Rules & Regulations- Property values are steady and in most scenarios they improve instead of decline. Set standards of upkeep in residential communities keep properties from deteriorating. Most people are in favor of HOA restrictions because they know all residents have to comply. Having regulations keeps homeowners from bad habits that negatively impact the neighborhood.  Rules and regulations governing homeowner's associations are created to help maintain a decent quality of life for all.
  4. Municipal Taxes and Assessments - Most associations maintain roads, sidewalks and other amenities in connection with local municipalities. In some cases this lowers assessment on properties.
  5. Input and Involvement - As a member you are able to have your voice heard on issues, volunteer and help make decisions that affect your community. The HOA is a great forum for residents who like involvement. Members can be involved in  social and charitable events bringing people in the community together to benefit all.
  6. Maintenance And Security - Most HOA's  maintain common areas that include landscaping and buildings, pool areas, playgrounds etc.. In some cases HOA's provide security to help ensure community safety.
  7. Community- There is just a bigger sense of community in a homeowners association. Many host social and charitable events that bring the neighborhood closer. A sense of unity and togetherness is never a bad thing. The good thing here is that when outsiders see this sense of community it makes them want to live in your area. Bringing better people in the community strengthens the neighborhood making it even more dynamic. 
  8. Volunteers - Be thankful for the volunteers who attend meetings, serve on boards, volunteer for community clean ups, planning activities and more. 
Your HOA board is thankful for residents who get involved in the community and serve.  Being part of your HOA is a great opportunity.  It takes good people on the Board and in the homeowners association to make your neighborhood a great place to live. Just be thankful for all the good that happens in your community. It takes everyone to make that happen.

At AMG we understand the importance of being thankful for the residents who serve in their communities and we would like to take this opportunity to tell you that we are thankful for you this season.