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Why Flexibility Is the Watchword for Today's Homes
 
Let's roll back the clock to around 1900. If we take a tour of the average home, we'll find layouts of about 900 square feet. Fast forward to the year 2000, and we'll find that number has more than doubled, to just over 2,000 square feet.

However, the trend toward "bigger is better" has not carried into 2019. The past few years have seen a slow decrease in median home size. By the end of 2017, it was just over 2,400 square feet.

While this shrinking home size may be significant, what's even more noteworthy is the change in style. Gone are the days of formal living and dining rooms. The trends for extravagant game rooms, wine cellars and media rooms also seem to have faded into the history books.

Today's homeowners are seeking something different. They want rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that serve multiple generations.

This latest concept offers a home within a home. A common layout includes a great room that serves as both living and dining rooms and a suite that adjoins to the main house. This attached one-bedroom living space includes its own kitchen and bathroom and can function as a teen suite, college student's pad, home office, or in-law apartment.

The idea is that it can be whatever the homeowners need it to be. As parents age or adult children bounce back home, the layout offers suitable living arrangements to accommodate a variety of situations. It creates a space that allows the property to meet homeowner needs, not just for many years but for many generations.

 
Can You Become a Millionaire by Brown-Bagging It?
 
Eating out during the work or school day is undeniably convenient. There's no scrounging in the cupboards for something to prepare, searching for forks when you forgot yours at home, or eating cold spaghetti when the office microwave is out of order.

But what's better than convenience? Keeping money in your wallet.

The fact that packing lunch is cheaper than buying lunch isn't surprising. What is surprising is just how much money you can save by brown-bagging it. In fact, some simple math might be enough to convince you to do away with takeout lunches permanently.

Let's say your preferred takeout lunch is a deli sandwich with a drink. With taxes, your total is about $10. If that's your lunch choice five days out of seven, you're spending $50 a week, $200 a month, $2,600 each year.

What if you make that same sandwich at home? Maybe the ingredients (a loaf of bread, cheese, and sliced meat) cost you $15 up front, and they make about five sandwiches. Now your cost is $3 per sandwich, for a total of $15 a week, $60 a month, $780 a year. That's a yearly savings of $1,820!

There's another kind of savings that comes with bringing your own lunch: calories. While how many calories you can save depends on what you choose to bring, home-cooked meals are typically more healthful than takeout is.

No, this lunch switch won't make you a millionaire. Still, with fewer calories and lower cost, all these savings might make that brown bag look more enticing.

 
Need a Tip on How Much You Should Tip?
Should you tip them or simply say thank you? Discerning when to tip and how much can be stressful. Thankfully, there are generally accepted practices you can adhere to that will make this task easier.

Food and drink: For food delivery, tip $2-$4. For bartenders, tip them $1 per drink. Tip restaurant servers 15-20 percent of the bill.

Travel: Expect to give those who carry your bags, whether porters at airports or bellhops, $1 or $2 for each item. At hotels, pay special attention to the housekeeping staff. Your tip should reflect the quality of the hotel; the more expensive the accommodations, the greater the tip. Also, tip each day. The housekeeping staff may change during your time there. Lastly, read bills for room service carefully before tipping. Additional "service charges" don't cover the tip, but a "gratuity" does.

Holidays: If you have a nanny or housekeeper, an appropriate holiday bonus is equivalent to one week's pay. Be especially generous to the person who delivers newspapers. Keep in mind that adults, not children, are doing that job now.

Optional tip: There are times when tipping is optional. It doesn't hurt to give a barista some spare change as a tip, but it's not required. You don't need to tip someone who wraps your gifts, but it might be a nice gesture.

No tip: Not every service requires a tip. House sitters, grocery store baggers, cable installers, sports instructors, and Fed Ex delivery personnel are among the individuals who are exempt from tips.

 
Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
 
How has the price of your home or rental changed in today's market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you're wondering what's happening to prices in your area, or you're thinking about selling your house or investment property, I'll be able to help.

Just give my office a call for a no-fuss, professional evaluation.

I won't try to push you into listing with me or waste your time.

I'll just give you the honest facts about your home and its value.

And maybe I'll also give you the "inside scoop" on what's happening in the housing market near where you live!

Just give my office a call or reply to this email to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, stop by at the office.

 
Negotiation: There's More to it Than You Think!
 
When you think of real estate negotiations, what comes to mind? For most buyers and sellers, price tops the list. While this is certainly an important part of any real estate deal, did you know there are at least six others areas of potential negotiation?

Closing costs: In addition to the price of the home, buyers must pay closing costs that cover lender fees and other charges. Buyers may ask sellers to help pay for these costs with a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the fees.

Closing date: Do you need to close on a home quickly? Perhaps you need a little more time to search for your next home. There are also different advantages to closing at the beginning and end of the month.

Personal property: What will be included with the four walls and roof? Negotiations will be worked out on whether the seller includes the washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, and even items such as living room furniture or that pool table in the basement.

Contingencies: Many real estate contracts are contingent on financing or other home sales. The buyer may need to complete their lender requirements by a certain date or complete their current home sale before the contract is in full force. These details must be worked out and agreed to up front.

Home repairs: Most contracts include a stipulation that the buyers can complete a home inspection. Once the buyers receive this report, they can ask the sellers to fix items that were found to be in disrepair. Each of these items must be negotiated.

Home warranty: This can be provided as an incentive to buyers to offer peace of mind. It can be particularly appealing for older homes. It typically provides coverage for the home's HVAC system, appliances, and other major items in the event that they need repair soon after the purchase.

Does this sound like a lot to negotiate? It is. Fortunately, as your Realtor, I have 23 years of expert negotiations and can handle all of these points for you! As your agent I will identify your top needs and work hard to get you the best deal.
 
 
 
 
 
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Make it easier by requesting my free guide, "How First-Timers Can Make a Wise Buy."
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Apricot Rosemary Pork Chops
The holidays were frantic. Here's something simple for post-holiday meals.
Serves 4
4 8-ounce, bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
4 teaspoons apricot jam
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place them on prepared baking sheet. Spread one teaspoon of jam on one side of each chop.

Combine breadcrumbs, rosemary, and olive oil, and sprinkle mixture over chops, gently pressing into the jam.

Bake until crust is golden and internal temperature reaches 150 degrees - about 15 minutes.

Drizzle with more olive oil and sea salt before serving.

It's Never Too Late to Hit Your Peak

By Tim Herrera

The New York Times
 

Great news! Researchers have gathered scientific proof that it is never too late for a person to hit their career peak. Despite the common belief that people are more likely to peak earlier in their careers, the study found that your "hot streak" - the years in which you'll create your greatest, most effective work - has equal probability of happening at any point in your career.



Hide Your Inbox While You're Doing Email
By Nick Douglas



Lifehacker

It's easy to get distracted by your email inbox. That's why there's a Chrome extension that can help you protect your focus. The extension Inbox When Ready allows you to do basically anything you need to do in your email except for actually looking at your inbox. Not ready to take the full plunge? You can customize the extension's settings to meet your needs.

 
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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