Some police departments report as high as 98% of calls are false alarms. Not only is this an incredible waste of police resources that could be available for legitimate emergencies, it annoys neighbors, startles pets and results in expensive false alarm fees.36192772-250.jpg

Know your codes – entering an incorrect keypad code is a common mistake leading to false alarms. The solution is to create codes that are easy for all members of the family to remember without them being obvious to potential burglars like your street number. Let everyone know when you change your code.

Secure windows and doors – be sure that all windows and doors are closed before activating your alarm. Disarm your system before opening a window or door.

House guests – tell visitors that you have an alarm system and when you normally arm it. Housekeepers, baby sitters, outside family and close friends also need to be aware of your procedures and possibly give them a code to disarm the system if it is accidentally activated.

Batteries – most systems have battery backup in case the power goes out. Know how often you need to replace the batteries; some last considerably longer than others.

Motion detectors – pets can trigger a motion detector and then, the alarm. There are sensors made for households with pets providing an alternative to turning them off. Other things that could activate motion detectors are helium balloons or curtains and plant leaves being blown in front of a sensor.

Home alarm systems are valuable to homeowners by increasing security, providing peace of mind and lowering insurance premiums. Some municipalities require a license fee for any home with an alarm. Use your alarm wisely.

Merry Christmas 2017

December 24, 2017

Dear friends and family,

2017 has brought lots of big changes for our family. The biggest is Boyd’s retirement! Yes, he finally did it and is looking forward to cooking me breakfast, cleaning and organizing the garage, painting our house, gun shows, visiting gun shops, and in general anything he pleases. He is so excited and although it’s just happened, he’s already slipping right in to his new chapter very nicely. We also have a new addition to our family. We added a new Pomeranian this month. His name is Scout and we are already in love with him. After losing our 16-year-old Pom several years ago we didn’t think we could ever go through that again, but now with Boyd retiring and my business travel coming to an end it seemed like the perfect time to get a puppy.

My year began recovering from a knee replacement in November of 2016. I’m happy to report that after about 8 months I finally got to a point that I didn’t even notice my knee. It began to feel just like mine and it has been the biggest relief to me. I’m back to walking without pain. I traveled to Spain and France with Hillary in February and I’m convinced walking 8-10 miles a day did the trick in breaking in my new knee. I came home, and all my swelling was gone. Highly recommend a trip to Europe to recover from surgery. It was the perfect rehab.

We moved Hillary from Austin, TX to Birmingham, AL in the fall. She kept her job at IBM and continues to work from home in her tiny apartment in downtown Birmingham. Aside from that tiny apartment she seems very happy being closer to family and visits frequently. She pet sits our cat Lucy and now will be taking care of Scout when we travel. Hillary and I hope to do some traveling together this coming year as well.

Thanksgiving we drove to Wyoming to take the last of Eric & Casey’s Alabama stuff from their move two years ago. Both of us made trips out to visit them together and separately. I took my 80-year-old mom with me in October to celebrate Maggie’s 5th birthday. We had a wonderful time and mom enjoyed getting to see where they live now. Caleb started 3rd grade and every time I see him he continues to turn into Eric. Every stage he is more and more like him. Eric is the best dad to his kids. But it’s Casey that makes their home a home and she’s an awesome mom. She does an excellent job of raising our grandchildren and we couldn’t be prouder of both of them. We love visiting them and Boyd plans to spend several weeks out there this coming year to help them remodel the bathrooms and kitchen in their home among other things like hunting.

I’ve just finished my year as president of the Montgomery Area Association of REALTORS®. I visited D.C. and Chicago this year. After several years of volunteering in leadership with our Association, I’m both sad and happy to see it end. I’ve made great relationships with several agents both here in Montgomery and around the country. I’ll continue to be involved in both the local and state association, but a far smaller role. My traveling will now be concentrated with Boyd and leisure. Our company, House & Home Real Estate, continues to do well. I’ll continue with that until I retire. Our partners and agents are the best and we have been truly blessed in our success since opening 3.5 years ago.

2018…. Bring it on. Boyd and I are looking forward to this new chapter of our life. Perhaps some of you may see us this coming year. We plan to do some visiting and traveling to see some of you!

Merry Christmas!

Boyd and Carol

ATM Safety Tips

December 19, 2017

During the holidays as throughout the year, getting cash from an ATM is normal for many people. ATM’s are available 24 hours a day and they’re located in bank branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, malls, airports, sports venues and on street corners.46024154-250.jpg

Unfortunately, the convenience aspect can compromise personal safety especially if you are distracted or not paying attention. Planning for an ATM withdrawal and applying common sense can help you avoid trouble.

  • Be aware of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction like people sitting in a nearby parked car or someone offering to help you.
  • Safeguard your PIN. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t write it down. Don’t use your birthdate, last four digits of your phone number or other obvious numbers.
  • If there are other people at the ATM to make a withdrawal, shield the keypad when entering your PIN number.
  • Keep your car doors locked and windows raised, except for your driver’s window, when using a drive-up ATM.
  • Minimize the time spent at the ATM by being prepared with your card ready, what you plan to do and do not count your money until you are in a safe place away from the ATM.
  • Take your receipt with you and destroy it if you decide to discard it.
  • Be aware that some thieves use skimming devices to steal account and PIN numbers. If something doesn’t look “just right”, consider finding another machine to use.
  • Especially at night, pay attention to locations with adequate lighting and being visible from the street. Don’t compromise your safety just because it is convenient.
  • After you have your money, pay attention to see if someone might be following you. If you are concerned, go to a nearby police or fire station or well-trafficked business and call the police.
  • If you feel uneasy during a transaction, cancel it, remove your card and LEAVE.

There may be a time in the not too distant future when we don’t have a need for cash anymore. Until that time, paying attention to simple safety precautions can help protect us during the holidays and throughout the year.

If you’re beginning to feel the pressure of running out of time to find the perfect gift, here are a few suggestions that may not be on their “list” but will certainly be appreciated.The perfect gift-300.png

The gift of really listening without interrupting, daydreaming or planning your response can be exactly what people want when they have something important to say.

The gift of affection with appropriate hugs, kisses and pats on the back can demonstrate your love for family and friends better than words.

The gift of laughter by sharing articles, cartoons and funny stories will say “I love to laugh with you.”

The gift of a simple, written note shows sincerity and real heartfelt sentiment that may be remembered for a lifetime and could even change a life.

The gift of a sincere compliment supports a person’s need to be accepted and appreciated. “You look great in that color”, “That was outstanding” or “I really enjoyed that” can make someone’s day.

The gift of random kindness or good deeds like holding a door or allowing someone to move ahead of you in a checkout lane shows respect for others.

Your smile, however, may be your most rewarding gift. Invariably, the person receiving the smile will in turn, smile back. The gift you gave will now be given back to you. It will be the right size and you can always use one more smile.

You’ve got $500,000 in liquid assets for your retirement and you’re still 15 years away. All your bills are paid; you have a small mortgage on your home; cars are paid for and great credit. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back yet.31001231_s.jpg

People think more about what they’re going to do when they retire than whether they’ll have the funds to do them. Ask anyone who has retired, it takes more money than you thought it did. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation.

To retire with $125,000 income in today’s dollars with a life expectancy of 25 years after retirement, you’ll need to have a net worth of $1.5 million at retirement including what Social Security may provide. Your $500,000 will grow to $1,045,420 in 15 years which will leave you about a half million short. You’ll need to save $24,149 each year for the next 15 years to reach your goal.

Retirement Projection3.png

Is this surprising? Did you imagine that this example would be that far from its goal? It might seem staggering to save $24,000 each year but there is another way…investing in rentals.

Real estate over the long term has proven to be a solid, predictable investment. Cash flows, appreciation, equity buildup and tax advantages are the components that contribute to the rate of return. Increasing rents, available financing and solid appreciation make rentals particularly attractive in today’s environment.

Call me at (334) 230-5777 to find out more about how rental homes can help you reach your retirement goals.

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