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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.

A professionally installed and monitored home security system is a nice addition to your home’s defenses, but it shouldn’t be step one. First, conduct your own home security check. After you’ve inspected your home’s doors and windows, make sure these essential steps are covered:

1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.

Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.

2. Install motion detector lights.

All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.

3. Store your valuables.

Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns.

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.

4. Secure your data.

While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.

5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe. Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

For more information on how to secure your home, especially when available for sale, please contact Bristol Properties International at Bristol@BristolRE.com.

Published: November 12, 2010 - By: Joseph D'Agnese

Comments: 0

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Well-planned outdoor lighting improves curb appeal, safety, and security for your home. Outdoor Lighting For Curb Appeal Outdoor Lighting Options:

Uplighting

adds drama to a landscape. Use it in moderation to highlight different features of your home. Image: Kichler Lighting

Think about it: Most of your guests (and if your home is on the market, many would-be buyers) see your home only in the evening, when its best features may be lost in the shadows. Well-executed outdoor lighting enhances architectural detail and plays up landscape features, casting your home in the best possible light and adding an abundance of curb appeal.

Outdoor lighting also adds value. Judith Patriski, an appraiser and owner of Quad Realty Co. near Cleveland, estimates that for upper-bracket homes, an investment in outdoor lighting can yield a 50% return. "When you pull into a driveway and see a gorgeous home, you’re going to pay more for it," says Patriski.

And she emphasizes that it’s not only about aesthetics: "In all price ranges, lighting for security is important"—both to protect against intruders and falls. Here are the elements of successful outdoor lighting.

Mimicking moonlight

Much of the success of exterior lighting hinges on its design. Hang around lighting designers long enough and you’ll hear a lot of talk about "moonlight effect." That’s a naturalistic look that features light no more intense than that of a full moon, but still strong enough to make beautiful shadows and intense highlights.

Other techniques outdoor lighting designers use:

Highlight trees: Whether illumined from below or given presence by a light mounted in the tree itself, trees make stunning features.

Use uplights: Uplighting is dramatic because we expect light to shine downward. Used in moderation, it’s a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features.

Have a focus: The entryway is often center stage, a way of saying, "Welcome, this way in."

Combine beauty and function: For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the "runway" look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.

Vary the fixtures: While the workhorses are spots and floods, designers turn to a wide range of fixtures, area lights, step lights, and bollards or post lights.

Stick to warm light: A rainbow of colors are possible, but most designers avoid anything but warm white light, preferring to showcase the house and its landscape rather than create a light show.

Orchestrate: A timer, with confirmation from a photocell, brings the display to life as the sun sets. At midnight it shuts shut down everything but security lighting. Some homeowners even set the timer to light things up an hour or so before dawn.

Adding safety and security

Falls are the foremost cause of home injury, according to the Home Safety Council. Outdoors, stair and pathway lighting help eliminate such hazards.

Often safety and security can be combined. For example, motion-detecting security lighting mounted near the garage provides illumination when you get out of your car at night; the same function deters intruders. Motion detecting switches can also be applied to landscape lighting to illumine shadowy areas should anyone walk nearby.

Even the moonlight effect has a security function: Soft, overall landscape lighting eliminates dark areas that might hide an intruder, exposing any movement on your property. Overly bright lights actually have a negative effect, creating undesirable pockets of deep shadow.

Switching to LEDs

Once disparaged for their high cost and cold bluish glow, LEDs are now the light source of choice for lighting designers. "They’ve come down in price and now have that warm light people love in incandescent bulbs," says Paul Gosselin, owner of Night Scenes Landscape Lighting Professionals in Kingsland, Texas. "We haven’t installed anything but LEDs for the last year."

Although LED fixtures remain twice as expensive as incandescents, installation is simpler because they use low-voltage wiring. "All in all, LEDs cost only about 25% more to install," Gosselin says. "And they’ll save about 75% on your electricity bill."

Another advantage is long life. LEDs last at least 40,000 hours, or about 18 years of nighttime service. With that kind of longevity, "why should a fixture have only a two-year warranty?" asks Gosselin. He advises buying only fixtures with a 15-year warranty, proof that the fixture’s housing is designed to live as long as the LED bulbs inside.

Innovations

The growing popularity of exterior lighting has led to innovative fixtures. Here are some bright new ideas:

Solar lighting: When first introduced, solar pathway lights produced a dull glow that rarely made it through the night. They do much better now that they are equipped with electricity-sipping LEDs, more efficient photovoltaic cells, and better batteries. Still, they have yet to measure up to hard-wired systems.

Hybrids: Porch lights now come equipped with LED lighting for all night use, and a motion sensor that clicks on an incandescent bulb to provide extra illumination as you approach the front door. Hybrids use about 5% of the power a solely incandescent fixture requires.

Barbecue light: Tired of grilling steaks by flash light? Now you can buy a gooseneck outdoor light, ideal for an outdoor kitchen.

Estimating the cost

Total outdoor lighting costs will vary according to the size of your home and the complexity of your lighting scheme. Expect to pay about $325 for each installed LED fixture. LEDs also require a transformer to step the power down from 120 volts to 12 volts, running about $400 installed.

A motion detector security light costs about $150 installed. Porch lights and sconces range from $100 to $250 installed, depending the fixture and whether running new cable is necessary.

Contractor-installed outdoor lighting for an average, two-story, 2,200 sq. ft. house might add up as follows:

7 fixtures to cover 100 feet of LED pathway lighting: $2,275

Transformer: $400

4 LED uplights to dramatize the front of the house: $1,300

2 LED area lights for plantings: $650

2 motion detector security lights: $300

Total cost: $4,925

For more home lighting and safety information please email bristol@bristolre.com.

Published: March 18, 2010

By: Dave Toht

Comments: 0

Thursday, August 23, 2012

WEST PALM BEACH, August 22, 2012 – "Overall, the housing market in Palm Beach County is improving on all fronts…prices are up, more homes are selling and foreclosures are down," according to Bonnie Lazar, President of the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches. The median sales price for single-family homes is up 15.1 percent, increasing from $189,000 in July 2011, to $217,500 in July 2012. The median sales price for townhomes and condos is up 12.5 percent, increasing from $80,000 in July 2011, to $90,000 in July 2012. Year-over-year closed sales for single-family homes in Palm Beach County are up 20.7 percent and pending sales are up 82.7 percent. In addition foreclosed sales based on all properties are down 42.3 percent from July 2011.

Inventory levels for both single-family homes and townhomes and condos are down year over year. "Homes in Palm Beach County are selling because of several key factors: affordability, value, demand and low interest rates. For buyers who require financing the key is to get pre-qualified, maintain a good credit rating and be positioned to make a competitive offer. If priced correctly, homes are selling at, or very close to, the original list price. At times sellers are reviewing multiple offers before accepting or countering, therefore it’s very important to review recent market activity and evaluate comparable properties with your REALTOR® before making your initial offer," said Tim Harris, President-Elect for the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches.

The industry considers a six-month supply of inventory to be normal. In July 2012, the month’s supply of inventory dropped over 50 percent from July 2011. Last year in Palm Beach County, there were 11,960 single-family homes for sale and 11,872 townhomes and condos compared to 6,788 single-family homes and 6,815 townhomes and condos for sale in July 2012.

Year-over-year new listings for single-family homes rose 8.3 percent and townhomes and condos were up 1.5 percent. "The overall housing environment in Palm Beach County is positive; the key is working with a REALTOR® who can guide you through the process and help you make an offer that warrants consideration and approval from all parties involved," said Lazar.

For more information about the current real estate sales trends in Palm Beach County, call Bristol Properties International's Boca Raton office at 561-347-1303.

Comments: 0

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bristol Properties International is keenly aware of the real estate mantra: location, location, location. Bristol has adopted its own first rule of real estate, which is safety, safety, safety.

A group of Bristol Agents recently attended workshop on Realtor Safety at the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches; (RAPB) office. The keynote speaker was Andrew Wooten, an internationally acclaimed Safety and Security Consultant. Topics included personal safety in the home, office and car, children safety, social media safety concerns and identity theft prevention.

Bristol Agent, Helve Massakas, says that "one thing that particularly stuck in my mind when Andrew stated that cell phones were unsecured wireless devices! I was overwhelmed with the valuable information I was given that day." Another Bristol Agent, Irene Durocher, said "Andrew Wooten made everyone aware how easy it is to be a victim, whether thru technology or just walking down the street. The world is changing, you must be aware of your surroundings. He was a very motivational speaker and also shared self defense techniques with us."

Andrew Wooten's professional presentation was so anticipated that the event is now recorded into the Guinness Book of World Records for most participants in multiple locations attending a webinar, with 595 participants. Bristol Realtors Louise Morales and Laura Corwin are also thankful to RAPB for the workshop information and are anxious to share what they learned with their customers.

Bristol Properties International takes safety very seriously, as they have strict confidientiality standards and take actions to prevent identity theft. Bristol's offices are designed so that all professionals and their clients are safe and can feel at ease. The staff is regularly trained and updated with the latest safety measures.

Bristol's team of professionals is ready to discuss simple techniques for keeping your home safe. BPI would also be happy to provide a free market analysis and answer real estate questions. Bristol is staffed with seasoned real estate professionals, but always looking for new Realtors to grow our South Florida presence. Call 561-347-1303 in Boca Raton or 239-352-6400 in Naples or Bonita Springs to learn about the Bristol Opportunity.

Comments: 0

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bristol Properties International is keenly aware of the real estate mantra: location, location, location. Bristol has adopted its own first rule of real estate, which is safety, safety, safety.

A group of Bristol Agents recently attended workshop on Realtor Safety at the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches; (RAPB) office. The keynote speaker was Andrew Wooten, an internationally acclaimed Safety and Security Consultant. Topics included personal safety in the home, office and car, children safety, social media safety concerns and identity theft prevention.

Bristol Agent, Helve Massakas, says that "one thing that particularly stuck in my mind when Andrew stated that cell phones were unsecured wireless devices! I was overwhelmed with the valuable information I was given that day." Another Bristol Agent, Irene Durocher, said "Andrew Wooten made everyone aware how easy it is to be a victim, whether thru technology or just walking down the street. The world is changing, you must be aware of your surroundings. He was a very motivational speaker and also shared self defense techniques with us."

Andrew Wooten's professional presentation was so anticipated that the event is now recorded into the Guinness Book of World Records for most participants in multiple locations attending a webinar, with 595 participants. Bristol Realtors Louise Morales and Laura Corwin are also thankful to RAPB for the workshop information and are anxious to share what they learned with their customers.

Bristol Properties International takes safety very seriously, as they have strict confidientiality standards and take actions to prevent identity theft. Bristol's offices are designed so that all professionals and their clients are safe and can feel at ease. The staff is regularly trained and updated with the latest safety measures.

Bristol's team of professionals is ready to discuss simple techniques for keeping your home safe. BPI would also be happy to provide a free market analysis and answer real estate questions. Bristol is staffed with seasoned real estate professionals, but always looking for new Realtors to grow our South Florida presence. Call 561-347-1303 in Boca Raton or 239-352-6400 in Naples or Bonita Springs to learn about the Bristol Opportunity.

Comments: 0

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bristol Properties International is a growing, professional boutique-style real estate firm in Boca Raton. Bristol Agent, Cathy Lewis is a top producing Realtor with over a decade of experience serving the South Florida real estate market.

Cathy's professional background began with customer service and sales management, and her commitment to service is evident with the relationships she establishes with customers. Cathy is a Senior Specialist, Green Realtor, Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), and is a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS). Cathy says "the CIPS designation provided me with a broader understanding of the needs of international buyers and sellers, specifically the nuances of individual countries. It has given me the confidence to reach out to real estate Agents abroad."

Specializing in the second home, vacation homes and 55+ communities, Cathy is a great resource for buying or selling your next property in Palm Beach or Broward Counties. Call Cathy Lewis or any of the professional associates of Bristol Properties International today at 561-347-1303, visit www.BristolRE.com, or stop by the office at 253 East Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton.

Comments: 0

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