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TOP-BANNER-NL-OCTOBER-2014

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Article-2By Barbara Pronin

New homeowners can be overwhelmed with the list of things they should do to their homes on a regular basis – clean the gutters and replace the furnace filters, for example. But, say the Wall St. Journal’s home advisors, there are at least seven things a homeowner should never do—and here’s why:

Don’t do your own plumbing chores—No matter how handy you think you are, leave the plumbing to the pros, experts say. The risks are high if you mess up, and homeowners may not have a good grasp on building codes and safety requirements.

Don’t do electrical work—The same caveats apply here—and the greatest risk of all is electrocution!

Don’t be too quick to remove a wall—It may seem like a great idea to give yourself a little extra space. But don’t do anything until you check with a contractor or an engineer to be sure the wall you want to remove is not a load-bearing wall.

Re-think a bump-out—In the same vein, think twice about moving a wall only slightly to gain a little space. Contractors say these little bump-outs are too costly. You’ll get more bang for your buck by opening the new space on a bigger scale.

Don’t remodel too much—By the same token, give plenty of thought before you start remodeling. If you want the best return on your investment, keep remodeling costs in line with what other homes in your neighborhood are worth.

Don’t neglect your yard—Bad front yards anger the neighbors and bring down property values. Don’t be the one who doesn’t get around to cleaning up and caring for the yard.

Don’t forget not everyone loves your pets—even if the pet smells, hair and stains don’t bother you, they likely bother your guests—and they will certainly bother potential buyers, so keep the carpets clean and open the windows when you can.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

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Every year, more than one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in America – many of which are carved into jack-o’-lanterns each Halloween. That’s a lot of leftover pulp. In addition to creating their own jack-o’-lanterns this year, plumbers from Death Valley, California to Salem, Massachusetts will spend many brisk fall days removing gobs of pulp and seeds from clogged drains before the end of the Halloween season.

Local plumbers have become as common a Halloween visitor as little vampires or ghosts thanks to sticky pumpkin pulp and seeds. In the two weeks leading up to Halloween, calls from frantic homeowners struggling with pulp-clogged garbage disposals and stopped-up kitchen sink drains ring in to local offices faster than the Halloween candy dishes empty.

Jack-o’-lantern carvers should know that pumpkin pulp should never be put down drains or into garbage disposals. The slimy gunk is ideal for clogging sink drains.

“People think that it’s safe for disposals because it’s soft, stringy and mushy. The problem is that pulp will dry and harden, choking off drainpipes and garbage disposals and creating all sorts of havoc,” said Larry Rothman, plumbing director for Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service.

“For several years we’ve spread the word that carving pumpkins in the sink is a very bad idea,” he added. “People assume when they shove the pulp down kitchen sink drain that it’s gone, but in a little while the sink usually stops draining altogether.” Rothman says it’s also worth noting that Roto-Rooter gets several calls about pumpkin guts flushed down the toilet, usually with similar clog-causing results. “The toilet is not a better option. It just means the clog forms deeper into the pipe.”

To prevent Halloween drain disasters, carve pumpkins on a bed of newspaper. Then carvers should wrap up the mess and throw all pumpkin-related materials into the garbage can or a compost pile. The seeds can be separated and roasted for a tasty treat or they can be air-dried and planted in the spring after the last frost to grow next year’s Halloween pumpkin.

Source: Roto-Rooter
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

 

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Autumn leaves bursting into vibrant reds, lively oranges, and brilliant yellows signal a new season for home entertaining. If you need a little inspiration, look no further than your favorite outdoor spot to update your table setting with the hottest colors for fall 2014.

“Contemporary versions of classic colors are trending in the interior design realm this fall,” says John Griffith, visual merchandiser for dinnerware retailer Replacements, Ltd. Customers frequently ask Griffith and his in-house designer for creative guidance to refresh their family heirloom pattern table settings.

“Vintage dinnerware continues to be one of the trendiest design elements in the tabletop industry,” says Griffith. “Why buy a reproduction when the real thing is readily available? Search your mother or grandmother’s china cabinet to find some of the great retro patterns. Add your own point of view when you mix and match contemporary designs to create a modern look. It’s really simple to add an accent plate, or a stand-out charger in this season’s colors to update your table for fall entertaining.”

Figural pieces, such as leaf shaped plates and serving pieces, are also very popular. Many manufacturers are offering colorful accent pieces with favorites including turkey, leaves and pumpkin motifs.

The important thing to remember is that as the season changes, so does entertaining. Gatherings may be more casual as friends and family get together around the television for the big game or by the fire pit on the patio.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

 

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A. If you sell your primary residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of gain—$500,000 for married couples—from your federal tax return. To claim the exclusion, the IRS says your home must have been owned by you and used as your main home for a period of at least two out of the five years prior to its sale.

You also must not have excluded gain on another home sold during the two years before the current sale. However, special rules apply for members of the armed, uniformed and foreign services and their families in calculating the 5-year period.

If you do not meet the ownership and use tests, you may use a reduced maximum exclusion amount. But only if you sold your home due to health, a change in place of employment, or unforeseen circumstances.

If you can exclude all the gain from the sale of your home, you do not report it on your federal tax return. If you cannot exclude all the gain, or you choose not to, you must use Schedule D of Form 1040, Capital Gains or Losses, to report the total gain and claim the exclusion you qualify for.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved

 

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About CENTURY 21® New Millennium

 CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. In addition to the Capitol Hill location in Washington, D.C., the Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, Loudoun, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Columbia, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park, Lusby and Waldorf. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.

 

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