Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 6/18/2017

A rising trend in urban and suburban neighborhoods is the concept of a community garden. What began as a way for people living in cities to grow some of their own vegetables has turned into a community-building sensation†across the country.

Why start a community garden?

The benefits for having a community garden in your neighborhood are endless. First, it allows people to grow their own food--a rewarding process in itself. You'll learn about sewing seeds, caring for plants, and harvesting the vegetables. When it's all said and done, you'll save money as well, since it's much cheaper to grow your vegetables than to buy them from the grocery store. Gardens are also a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood. You'll meet new people, make new friends, and have something to be proud of together. Plus, talking about what you're planting is a great ice-breaker when it comes to meeting the neighbors for the first time. Aside from helping you and your neighbors, community gardens are also a†modest way to help the environment. A garden†means more food for bees, a refuge for local critters, and more plants producing oxygen. Plus, when you get your vegetables right from your garden you cut back on all of the resources used to wrap, pack, and ship vegetables across the country to grocery stores, reducing your carbon footprint in a small way. Excited yet? I hope so! Now that you know why to start a community garden you need to know how.

Steps to making†a community garden

  1. Get the neighborhood together Invite your neighbors to a local cafe or library to talk about starting a garden. To build interest and awareness, start a Facebook group and post a few flyers in your neighborhood.
  2. Figure out the funding and logistics† At this meeting, start talking about how the garden is going to be funded. Seeds, tools, fertilizer, and other expenses don't have to put a damper on your fun if you're prepared. The three main sources†of funding for a community garden are finding†sponsors, running neighborhood fundraisers, or having a membership fee for plots†in the garden.
  3. Find a spot for your garden The best places to turn into gardens are plots of land that currently†bring down the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Find an area that could be cleaned up†and approach the owner of the land with the idea. You can offer them free membership or whatever other resources are available in exchange for being able to use the land.
  4. Throw a cleaning and a kick-off party To build the garden, invite everyone from the neighborhood over to the plot of land for pizza. Then once they're there stick a shovel in their hand (okay, maybe let them eat a slice or two first). Once the garden is ready to be planted, you can host another "kick-off party" so everyone can celebrate their hard work.
  5. Rules are made to be spoken† Community gardens are a ton of fun. But to keep them that way you're going to need to decide on some ground rules for things like open hours, membership acceptance, tool usage, leadership, and so on. Post the rules on the Facebook, website, and at the garden itself so everyone can see them.
  6. Keep the momentum If you want your garden to last you'll need to do some work to keep everyone excited. Make a Facebook group, a website or whatever else you think will help people stay connected. Ideally, you want your†messages to include everyone involved in the garden†so that everyone feels involved.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 6/11/2017

Few experiences are as exciting, motivating or as costly as buying  a new house. It's easy to get so focused on the chance to live in a larger, more luxurious house or a smaller, more open residence that you forget how important it is to choose the right real estate agent.

Avoid getting scammed when you house hunt

Yet, it's a real estate agent who will introduce you to hidden treasures on the house market. It's also a real estate agent who will tell you about neighborhoods, area businesses, property taxes and average, high and low house prices in the area you want to move to. Go with the wrong real estate agent or real estate agency and you could regret it. Steps to avoid getting scammed include:

  • Logging onto state license agency websites and confirming that real estate agents you want to work with have an active license. Check out other licenses that the real estate agent has. For example, some realtors have broker and real estate sales licenses.
  • Read reviews on real estate agents. If you don't see reviews on individual agents, pay attention to reviews on real estate agencies that the realtor works with. Reputable agencies generally shy away from poor real estate agents.
  • Verify that mortgage brokers are legitimate. Also, confirm that mortgage brokers are not currently or  have not in the past been involved with mortgage scams.
  • Ask people you know to recommend real estate agents to you. Ask these people why they are recommending the agents to you.
  • Pay attention to your gut instinct. If you get a feeling that a deal sounds too good to be true, pause and check the deal out more fully. There are lots of good houses on the market. It's better to get a good, legitimate mortgage deal than it is to rush into a bad deal.
  • Consider working with a real estate attorney. Ask the attorney to review all contracts before you sign them.
  • Conduct research on realtors and mortgage companies to make sure that they have not been involved in price fixing, kickbacks or illegal cross selling.
  • Get an independent inspection performed on the house that you are serious about buying.
  • Compare prices and contract deals that mortgage brokers offer on a house with what other mortgage lenders offer.
  • Log into secure accounts when sharing personal information with mortgage lenders. Don't simply hand workers at mortgage companies papers with your personal information on them.
  • Shy away from mortgages that entice you into signing contracts that don't require you to put a down payment on a house.
  • Steer clear of mortgages that don't require you to buy homeowners insurance.

Search for real estate scams on the Internet and may be surprised how many stories pop up. Real estate scams happen in the residential and commercial markets. With a little research, you could avoid getting scammed. Avoid being part of a real estate scam and you can save money, headaches and court proceedings. You can also get an honest deal on a good house.




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Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 6/4/2017

Everyone knows it's a bad idea to go grocery shopping when you're hungry, but we all do it occasionally!

Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach not only causes you to spend more, but it weakens your resolve to avoid foods with empty calories and unhealthy ingredients. When hunger pangs undermine your self discipline, you may also be more likely to buy a jumbo bag of potato chips, pick up a block of cheese and some crackers along the way, and maybe order a pound of Genoa salami while at the deli counter.

Then, of course, there are all those chocolatey temptations at the checkout counter -- peanut butter cups, for example! Maybe you're stronger willed than that, but I know plenty of people who are not!

Although I haven't read any scientific studies on the topic, I'd make an educated guess that when you go grocery shopping hungry, there's a tendency to buy more food than you ordinarily would -- probably to compensate for your hunger. So perhaps having a healthy snack first or going grocery shopping after breakfast or lunch would be a good strategy for avoiding the pitfalls of food shopping on an empty stomach.

Here are a few more ideas for saving money and limiting junk food purchases:

  • Create a grocery list and stick to it! That's often easier said than done, but it can make a big difference in the quantity and quality of food you buy. Impulse purchases may provide immediate gratification, but they can wreak havoc on your waistline and your budget.
  • Avoid bringing your children grocery shopping, whenever possible. When childcare is not available, there's no way around it. However, with kids in tow, expect to be buying "a few" additional items that you hadn't planned on. Try as we might to resist the requests, suggestions, and demands our kids make at the grocery store, it's not unusual for a parent's resolve to weaken -- especially if they happen to be tired or stressed out. A lot depends on the age of your children, how persistent they are, and whether they're hungry when you're out food shopping. Many factors come into play!
  • Using coupons and taking advantage of discounts, special promotions, and two-for-one sales can noticeably reduce your grocery bill and, consequently, leave more money in your wallet. It may require that you pore over weekly newspaper inserts, clip coupons, and keep them organized, but getting in that habit can help reduce the strain on your household budget. It also pays to shop at supermarkets that offer double coupons. They're often the ones that are the most competitive and willing to help you stretch your dollar.

So if you've been noticing more junk food appearing in your kitchen cabinets, and your grocery bill seems to be taking on a life of its own, consider some of these economical ideas to help reign things in.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 5/28/2017

Itís that time of the year when you are spending more time outdoors, enjoying the warm weather, friends and food. Make it complete by creating the perfect outdoor entertaining space. Perfect means something different to everyone and it certainly doesnít need to mean going overboard with a $30k investment. With just a little elbow grease and a little money, youíll be on your way. Check out the tips below for making it happen. Clean: A tidy area will always look better than an untidy one. Make sure to mow your lawn regularly and water it as well. Sweep or blow off the patio or deck. Stain or paint, if needed. Wipe down outdoor furniture and clean cushions as necessary. Tidy up your garden and plant beds for extra appeal. Having a clean space will make it much more appealing and comfortable to use. Personality: Adding personality into any space is the best way to bring it alive. Do you love bold, bright colors? Purchase seat cushions and accessories that reflect this. Would you rather a beach theme to your outdoor space? Add hints of blue, seashells, stripes and anchors to your space. Outdoor Lighting: Lighting is the perfect way to Ďlight upí your space. And there are so many different ways to add lighting to your outdoor space. Choose from string lights, hanging lights, and decorative lighting with objects like lanterns. String lights are a fun way to add unique ambiance to your space. Think of the feeling you get when your Christmas lights are twinkling outside your home. Bring that feeling to your entertainment space in the summer too. With just a few simple updates you can turn your outdoor space into a great entertainment space. Whether itís just for you or for friends and family, your updates donít need to break the bank. And most of all enjoy your space. For those living in New England, there are only a few months out of the year where you can truly enjoy sitting outdoors with friends and family. Take advantage of it!




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 5/21/2017

If you're selling a home, having high quality photos is one of the most important things you can do to catch the eye of prospective buyers. Taking great photos, however, is something that requires a combination of frequent practice and knowledge of how your camera works. Sure, these days you can take a decent photo with an iPhone camera and be done with it. While that method is a good start, if you want to progress with your photography you'll eventually have to make the leap to a DSLR where you have more freedom to change exposure settings. I know what you're thinking. High quality photos means spending a ton of money on camera equipment, right? Fortunately, entry level DSLR cameras have become more affordable in recent years. To start taking great photos you'll only need four things: your DSLR camera, a tripod, a wide angle lens, and a place to practice your photography.

Step 1: Setting up

You'll want to set up the room with the right balance of furniture, decorations and natural light. Avoid decorations that are too personal (like family photos) or eccentric (no stuffed animals, preferably). Set up your tripod against one of the walls of the room. Ideally, you'll have the target of your photo illuminated by natural light coming through windows, so you'll likely be standing in front of or next to the windows. However, before you take any photos use your best judgment to determine the room's best angles. The amount of and the placement of furniture will play a large role in how spacious the room looks, but equally important is the camera angle from which you take your photos.

Step 2: Learn your camera settings

You won't learn all of the settings in a DSLR overnight, but it is important to get an understanding of the basics. In spite of the many technical improvements that have been made, the basic concept of a camera hasn't changed much over the years. The two main components that determine what your picture looks like are aperture and shutter speed. Aperture (or "f-stop") is what is used to determine how much light enters the camera. Much like your pupils dilate in the dark to let in as much light as possible, having a wide aperture will allow you to take brighter photos. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter on your camera is open. A slower shutter speed allows more light into the camera, creating a brighter exposure. However, due to our inability to hold a camera entirely still having a slower shutter speed creates more opportunity for your photo to become blurred from camera shake. A third important setting is the ISO. This setting is unique to digital photography because it controls the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor. The higher the number, the more sensitive. Why not just crank it up all the way then to get the best quality? Because if you set it too high the photos become grainy or "noisy."

Step 3: Practice

Now that you know the basics, start taking photos in your home using various camera settings. Play around with taking photos with different light sources on, with your camera flash on and off, and at different times of day. You'll find that there are endless possibilities when it comes to taking photos of your home.  




Tags: Real estate   home  
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